By Grand Forks Herald
Agricultural officials say hopes of selling more North Dakota-grown products to Cuba have dimmed since Fidel Castro’s crackdown on dissidents.
“It’s definitely a setback,” said Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.
The communist nation has come under heavy world criticism in recent weeks for sentencing 75 dissidents to prison terms ranging from six years to 28 years, on charges of collaborating with American diplomats to subvert the socialist system. The dissidents and diplomats deny the charges.
Cuba received even harsher criticism for the April 11 firing-squad executions of three men convicted of terrorism in the attempting hijacking of a ferry filled with passengers.
State Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said Castro’s mistreatment of his people should not obscure Cuba’s economic importance to North Dakota.
“Entering long-term, more stable business relations with Cuba would substantially increase opportunities for North Dakota farmers,” he said.