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South Dakota Pols Absent from Bipartisan Backers of Lifting Cuba Embargo

South Dakota's Congressional delegation may be sticking in the ideological mud on lifting the failed embargo on Cuba, but sensible rural politicians are not. The new U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba has the support of some rural Democrats and Republicans:

Speaking in support of the coalition were U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; as well as Representatives Sam Farr, D-Calif.; Kevin Kramer, R-N.D., and Rodney Davis, R.-Ill. Jay Nixon, Missouri's Democratic governor, was there to lend his backing, as was U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack, a former governor of the key agriculture state of Iowa, said the president's policies will remove technical barriers between U.S. and Cuban companies and create a more efficient and less burdensome opportunity for Cuba's 11 million citizens to buy U.S. agricultural products.

"Cuba imports about 80 percent of its food," Vilsack said. "Which means there is significant economic potential for our producers. It's a $1.7 billion market. Our rice growers, our wheat growers, our corn growers, our soy growers, poultry and beef producers, all have opportunities in this new day" [Daniel Enoch, "Ag Stakeholders Combine to Back End to Cuban Embargo," Agri-Pulse, 2015.01.08].

Why would North Dakota's Rep. Cramer jump at the chance open trade with Cuba?

Cramer said he thinks he had been invited because, while other Republicans initially expressed opposition to Obama’s announcement he said, “It doesn’t sound dumb to me.”

He said, “What motivates me to come out so early” on Cuba is not just the sales of North Dakota peas, lentils, beans, durum and potatoes, but “the opportunity to influence an oppressed country” [Jerry Hagstrom, "Cramer, Klobuchar Lead Cuba Coalition," AgWeek, 2015.01.09].

Missouri's Governor Nixon says he and his counterparts see no ideological divide on opening Cuba:

Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who traveled to Washington for the event, said, “When it comes to Cuba, we are not on a level playing field. We cannot ignore 11 million customers, 90 miles from our country.”

Nixon said support for normalizing relations with Cuba is not only bipartisan in Congress, but “extremely bipartisan” among the nation’s governors [Hagstrom, 2015.01.09].

...but if that's the case, where is Governor Daugaard?

Big Ag wants 11 million new customers 90 miles from Florida. Can you blame them? Let's put their capitalist urges to work and, as Rep. Cramer suggests, put good relations to work influencing Cuba toward more freedom.


  1. Tim 2015.01.10

    The Three Stooges will do as they are told, this doesn't explain why Daugaard isn't looking for any market he can find for our goods. But as has been pointed out several times on this blog, Daugaard lacks any vision at all, getting SD involved in a potential new market like Cuba could be considered visionary could it not?

  2. jerry 2015.01.10

    How in the world will Daugaard line his pockets on this? It makes no sense to him as their is not a personal profit. Now if we are talking about the EB-5, whole different deal. Regarding the three amigos in Washington, same thing. Whoever is paying the pay to play bonus is the way this crew will lean.

  3. Lynn 2015.01.10

    The US has normal relations with China that has more journalists imprisoned than any other country and we are worried about Cuba? How about China having a dedicated military unit that constantly hacks our private industry stealing intellectual property which can basically gut companies here in the US causing widespread economic damage besides military espionage. Certain congrassional members are still worried about Cuba?

    What about women's rights in Saudi Arabia? We could go on and on about countries that are our supposed allies and trading partners that have some human rights issues.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.10

    The governor and the state's republican delegation will continue to keep their collective heads in the sand regarding the Cuban embargo and will be first in line for trade when the embargo is lifted. And then to make it even sweeter they will brag that it was their idea in the first place.

  5. Troy 2015.01.10

    Sometimes you say Republicans are greedy and when they "don't follow the money" you criticize. Phony.

    Personally, I haven't made up my mind. Thought maybe I'd get something to consider here. I overestimated you.

  6. Tim 2015.01.10

    Well good Troy, stay at War Toilet then, I'm sure you won't have any issues overestimating that crowd.

  7. mike from iowa 2015.01.10

    Cubans in Florida will be pissed that they might lose their most favored nation status. Any Cuban that lands on American soil gets an automatic free pass to stay. Everybody else has to prove they are in danger if they get sent back.

    Cubans should not get free passes just because.They consistently vote for wingnuts so we got to keep them out.

  8. Rorschach 2015.01.10

    The cold war is finally ending, and it's about time. The embargo should have been lifted by Clinton 20 years ago.

  9. Nick Nemec 2015.01.10

    What is there to consider Troy? After 50+ years what has the embargo of Cuba accomplished? Why would we ignore a market of 11 million consumers 90 miles off the coast? They are a natural trading partner, let capitalism reign, sell them whatever they want to buy.

  10. Troy 2015.01.10


    Here are some reasons to maintain the embargo or at least get Congressional approval.

    Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917: This declaration was done by Kennedy. Obama probably has the authority to reverse this.

    Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: This also goes back to Kennedy but possibly in purview of the President

    Cuba Assets Control Regulations of 1963: I think since we haven't rectified the seizure of American owned assets in Cuba, I don't know how we can trade without this resolved.

    Cuban Democracy Act of 1992

    Helms–Burton Act of 1996: I don't know how this can be done without Congressional approval. Obama isn't king and as liberals, I'm shocked at your ambivalence of his usurption of Congressional purview.

    Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000: An act supported and signed by Clinton. Again, I don't know how this executive fiat is good.

    Clinton Executive Action In 1999 which also prohibits foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba: Probably within Obama's purview.

    If Obama had done the handwork of going to Congress (even when Dems controlled the Senate) and made a case, I'd be very open because I've never been a big fan of embargoes against countries who we don't like. I think it should be only used against countries who do things internationally we don't like (Russia, Iran, North Korea).

    The fact he wasn't willing to do the work, I'm inclined to oppose Obama's action on preservation of the prerogatives of our multi-branch, anti-imperial form of government. And, despite your likely presumption, it isn't because it is Obama. I think the Presidency is currently too powerful and have for years, solidified when Bush 2 was President.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.10

    I'll admit, Troy, seeing the corporate Big Ag backers of the end-the-embargo coalition gives me pause. I think of all the local self-sufficiency promoted by Cuba's hard economic times and hate to see those small farms and farmers' markets swamped by Big Macs, Cheetos, and corn syrup.

    But I also recognize that the only way Noem, Thune, and Rounds will vote to end this futile embarge is if big business tells them to.

    What's worse: maintaining ineffective policy and waiting for the Cuban dictatorship to collapse on its own, or letting our evil corporations sink their hooks into Cuba, opening the door to trade and travel, and having a chance to more directly hasten Cuba's surrender to democracy and capitalism?

  12. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.10

    Last week the United States announced additional trade sanctions against North Korea. What? This country is actually trading with one of our worst enemies, North Korea consistently threatens our security and mocks our president.
    North Korea, Communist China, now add Cuba to our trade, what difference does it make at this point?
    And of course there is the middle East dictatorships that have declared a perpetual war on America and yet we are first in line to buy their oil.

  13. Nick Nemec 2015.01.10

    None of those are good reasons Troy. The embargo is a textbook example of a failed foreign policy. It's time to give it up. Arguably it's done more to prop up the Castro regime than bring it down. Let's try capitalism.

  14. Don Coyote 2015.01.10

    Embargo? What embargo? The US is and has been one of Cuba's top trading partners. In 2013 the US was Cuba's fifth-largest trading partner after Venezuela, China, Spain, and Brazil. We were even larger than Mexico and Canada both of which have diplomatic relations with Cuba.

    Embargo? What embargo? The US trade with Cuba in 2013 amunted to $349M, ranking Cuba 46th out of our 224 export trading nations.

    Embargo? What embargo? The US is not only the main food supplier to Cuba, Cuban Americans remitted $2.6B in hard cash to Cuba in 2012 not to mention countless TVs, computers, toilet paper, soap and clothing.

    Speaking of soap. Soap is one of the easiest items to make at home and yet it remains in chronic short supply and is one of the most requested items.

    Speaking of food. A tropical country with a 12 month growing season, excellent soil and abundant rainfall is suffering through a potao shortage because? Perhaps it's because acres of fields lie fallow.

    While the trade embargo may have hurt Cuba, it's Communist government has hurt it worst. Most people don't remember that it was Fidel Castro who instituted the embargo with the US by imposing trade restrictions and confiscating US corporation property.

    Normalizing relations with Cuba will give us no more leverage over Cuba because they can already purchase anything they want on the world markets. In fact by easing the embargo, such as it is, will only hand a victory to an oppressive government with no regard for human relations. Cuba can end the embargo anytime by holding democratic elections and releasing it's political prisoners. It is really that simple. That's all we ask.

  15. jerry 2015.01.11

    Embargo, this embargo. I know that you are right Don Coyote and Wikipedia is wrong.

    In tropical countries, wheat and cereal grains do not grow well, or Florida would be putting growing winter and spring wheat. This has always been why trade is done in countries that are tropical and why we have a good market relationship with all countries but Cuba it seems. Cuba released the prisoners and the spy that were requested by the government of the United States with the help of the Pope. The only reason I can think of to keep the embargo in place is that it loosens the grip of the republican party in Florida. Farmers and ranchers would see a very good benefit on their grains, pork and cattle demand in that country. It makes good economic sense to get rid of the damn thing because as you note, it does little good in its present form.

  16. Winston 2015.01.11

    End the embargo now! It is ludicrous to continue this 20th century political relic well into the 21st century.

    No doubt, the embargo has propped-up the Castro regime for far too long and has for far too long given it a political stage which it does not deserve.

    I think it is also fair to say, after 25 years without the Berlin Wall, that it is time that we as Americans be allowed to freely smoke and purchase a Cuban, if we so wish….. Viva America and Viva Cuba!!

  17. larry kurtz 2015.01.11

    Don: considering self-immolating in protest.

  18. larry kurtz 2015.01.11

    Statehood for the tribes, Mexico and Cuba.

  19. grudznick 2015.01.11

    Mexican statehood for the tribes, and territorial rights for Cuba!

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