New Jersey Joins Group to Improve U.S.-Cuba Relations

Washington, March 26 (Prensa Latina) New Jersey became the nineteenth US state to join Engage Cuba, reported Tuesday the coalition seeking the rapprochement to the Caribbean island and the end of the blockade imposed by Washington.

According to a statement from the organization, prominent leaders of that territory launched the bipartisan New Jersey-Engage Cuba State Council, which will support ‘policies in favor of rapprochement and urge Congress to lift trade and travel restrictions to Cuba’.

Removing such restrictions could provide new opportunities for New Jersey’s major export industries and create jobs across the state, said coalition Head James Williams, who announced to Prensa Latina last January the creation of this state council.

According to Williams, at a time when New Jersey faces a budget deficit of billions of dollars and certain industries are victims of commercial disputes, opening new markets is the key to strengthening the economy of the territory.

But to give that boost to industries and improve Cubans lives, Congress must lift arbitrary limitations on trade and travel, which impede US competition in the Cuban markets, he said.

In turn, Democrat Gordon Johnson, Assemblyman of the state, said that for a long time he has supported the normalization of relations with Cuba, and was proud to help the state council to boost commercial and diplomatic ties with the Caribbean nation.

The business community must be free to meet the demand in foreign markets and truly compete in the global market.

From biotechnology, agriculture and manufacturing, products have the potential to change lives in Cuba and create jobs in New Jersey, said Republican Declan O’Scanlon, state senator.

Engage Cuba highlighted that New Jersey has long been a center of cultural exchange with the Caribbean nation, and said that, according to a survey by the Atlantic Council research institute, almost 70 percent of its inhabitants favor the United States to get more involved, directly with the island.

He also noted that with the resumption of commercial flights between the two nations, people from New Jersey now enjoy daily trips to Cuba from Newark.

With the third largest container port in the country, the state has a unique opportunity to export goods and services from a wide variety of industries to the Caribbean country, the organization said, and recalled that Cuba can not currently acquire them in the United States due to the economic, commercial and financial blockade for almost 60 years.

Along with New Jersey, the other US states that joined Engage Cuba so far are Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.


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