The Minnesota-Cuba connection will grow a little stronger next month when a group of lawmakers visit the country for a week.
The trip will be the first by a group of state lawmakers since the U.S. and Cuba began steps to normalize relations last December.
“Our goal is to build relationships and to really understand what’s happening in the country now as it makes this transition,” Representative Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, said. Hornstein came up with the idea for the trip and enlisted the help of the Augsburg College Center for Cultural Education and Experience to get it organized.
The group won’t be an “official” delegation. They’ll pay their own expenses and will travel to Cuba as a cultural and educational exchange. About 20 Minnesotans will be on the trip, including three DFL and two Republican lawmakers, some legislative staff members and spouses.
Minnesota exported about $20 million in agricultural products to Cuba in 2013, the latest figures available. That number is expected to grow significantly if trade relations are normalized. In 2015, the legislature included $100,000 in the omnibus agriculture bill to help identify new trade opportunities with Cuba.
Hornstein said, although it’s an unofficial trip, the lawmakers will come back with more knowledge about Cuba that will help when they vote on trade and economic development legislation.
“This will have tremendous benefit to our farmers and agriculture community into the future,” Hornstein said.
By Tom Hauser, 5 abc NEWS
October 28, 2015