Port officials and Congressman Solomon Ortiz were in Cuba Friday to promote trade and send a message about relations between the two countries. But that message is not exactly in line with recent actions by the U.S. government.
Over the past two years, the government has tightened the trade embargo on Cuba to keep U.S. dollars from reaching the communist country. For example, there are now limits on money transfers back to Cuba from people here. The government is also discouraging tourism to Cuba.
At the exact same time, though, the trade of certain products through ports like Corpus Christi is growing and Friday’s agreement lays the groundwork for even more.
Agricultural products and medicine are the only U.S. exports that can be legally shipped to Cuba. Congress made that possible back in 2000. Already, close to $450 million worth have been shipped, and Cuba hopes to triple that, because of the low cost and high quality.
Local leaders are in Cuba this week to solidify relations between the communist country and the local port, as well as pave the way for future growth. Ortiz said more important than political views are economic opportunities.
“This means hundreds and hundreds of jobs for Corpus Christi. This is why we’re here,” Ortiz said. Jobs are the obvious benefit on every level of the supply chain with salaries that flow right back into other local pockets.
Port officials believe that while beans, frozen chicken, and wheat are currently being shipped, tomorrow the products in demand might be those grown and sold right here in South Texas.
The image of local leaders negotiating with communist leaders face to face is still somewhat controversial. but clearly, it’s becoming less controversial than ever before.
Monday, we find out where U.S.-Cuba relations are heading. The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba will come out with its third report to include recommended policy changes that the president will likely adopt.
Port officials said they don’t believe there will be any negative local impact from the changes, but nobody knows yet what exactly is in that report.