Trade with Cuba

March 19, 2002

We have been struggling with low farm prices for several

years now. We simply need more demand. You increase demand

by opening markets.

In spite of the fact that China continues to be criticized for human rights violations, despite the fact that china held our military personnel prisoners last year after our plane went down on their soil, we still trade with China. We worked hard to bring China into the World Trade Organization. Engagement with China is the correct policy. And then, of course, you remember that we fought a war with Vietnam. It was a communist government then and is today. Yet we trade with Vietnam and even have an Ambassador stationed there.

Turn back the clock 20 years when I was Secretary of Agriculture. We sold grain to the Soviet Union. Tons of grain to the "Evil Empire." No one was tougher on Communists than President Ronald Reagan.

I think it was true then and it is today that trade and exchange of people will move communist counties toward democracy and a free economy. That's what has happened to Russia and the former Soviet States.

So why is Cuba so different? We don't have to like Castro. That old man with a beard and his backward island are no threat to us. So what if their government is communist. They'll get over it some day. Maybe after Castro dies. The island isn't halfway around the world. It is only 90 miles from our shore. The more contact we have, the more influence we can exert.

On the positive side, we have sold Cuba more the 70 million dollars worth of ag products in recent months. Trading terms are still very restrictive. If our government would extend normal trading and travel relations, we could sell them 1 billion $'s worth ofproducts.

We need markets for our products and the Cubans need what we have to sell.