Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with several of my colleagues on a 3-day congressional delegation. On this trip, we saw the country and were warmly welcomed by citizens and government officials alike. While everyone knows that the cars and architecture look like the year is still 1959, so much has changed, and in a very positive way. Cuba is becoming a modern country, and very much wants to engage with and trade with America.
While much about our past relations with Cuba can be debated, one thing this trip cemented for me is how dramatically our current policy of isolation has failed. Cuba has moved on, as has the rest of the world. The 50-year-old embargo now only serves to generate animosity toward America and to arbitrarily limit our citizens’ chances to engage with Cubans. The moves over the last two years toward greater engagement are already paying dividends in peoples’ hearts and minds. Folks there are getting a taste of capitalism, and are craving more.
Opening relations with Cuba should be a win-win for Cuban and American citizens. A healthy relationship with the country would foster greater mutual security, additional trade opportunities and greater human rights. For our Kansas farmers and ranchers, Cuba is a natural export market. They represent a potential top-10 wheat market, and as their tourism continues to grow, demand for higher quality protein sources will match well for our livestock producers. In a time of record low commodity prices, we cannot be arbitrarily choosing markets in which not to sell. We are only holding ourselves back.
This trip was a remarkable opportunity to learn more about the opportunities ahead of us with Cuba. I am proud to be a member of the Cuba Working Group, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to build relations between our two countries.
—Congressman Roger Marshall serves on the House Ag Committee, the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and the House Small Business Committee.