A memorandum of intent has been signed between the Alimport company of Cuba and the Agricultural Office of the state of Indiana to buy $15 million worth of foodstuffs.
In the presence of Democratic Senator Evan Bayh, the document covering the purchase of corn, soy, cattle, poultry etc was signed on October 8.
Pedro Alvarez, president of Alimport and Don Villwock, representing Indiana farmers, signed the agreement.
The blockade maintained for more than 40 years and restrictions on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens has not worked, Bayh affirmed.
Alvarez noted that $512 million dollars of U.S. produce has been bought to date, of which 96% have been sold at subsidized prices to Cubans on lower incomes.
This year the total will be $310-320 million as opposed to the $175 million in 2002, he stressed.
Washington authorized sales of U.S. agricultural produce to Cuba after Hurricane Michelle hit the island in December 2001.
The U.S. Treasury and Trade Departments have reiterated the transitory and unilateral nature of those mercantile operations on various occasions, and that all transactions must pass through the filter of prohibitions established 40 years ago to sell their foodstuffs (the only goods authorized) to Havana, meaning that enterprises have to go through complicated bureaucratic procedures.
On the other hand Cuba cannot export anything to the United States, and has to pay in cash for every cargo contracted through banks in third countries.
The island cannot use its mercantile fleet for transportation and is refused access to the credits normally granted by international financial institutions.