Delahunt touts the benefits of trade with Cuba
This article by reporter
Joseph Reppucci appeared in the Massachusetts daily, The Patriot Ledger,
on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006.
-- Normal trade relations with Cuba would be a boon to the South Shore, U.S.
Rep. William Delahunt says.
‘‘There’s such a list of potential opportunities there,’’ said the Quincy
Democrat, the head of a 10-member congressional delegation that returned
yesterday from a two-day trip to the communist nation. The lawmakers met with
Cuban government and economic officials.
Cuba is a nation in transition, Delahunt said, and he is hopeful that trade
relations can be normalized within a few years.
Delahunt and other Massachusetts officials have made many visits to Cuba in
recent years that leave the state ‘‘perfectly poised’’ to do business there.
‘‘Over time, we have developed contacts ...that will serve us well,’’ he said.
‘‘We will be warmly received.’’
Delahunt envisions leading a delegation from the South Shore Chamber of Commerce
and other South Shore business groups to Cuba sometime in the next three or four
According to Delahunt, South Shore industries that could benefit by trade with
• Health care, because Cuba needs health products made here.
• Colleges and
universities, because Cuban students would want to come here for education.
• Housing, construction and high tech, because Cuba needs the expertise found
• Tourism, because Cubans would visit.
‘‘We have so much that the Cubans need and would be purchasing,’’ Delahunt said.
Since 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew President Fulgencio Batista and
installed a communist government, relations between the United States and Cuba
have been strained.
‘‘The current policy has been ineffective for almost 50 years,’’ Delahunt said.
Most trade with Cuba has been restricted to agriculture since 1959, when the
United States ended diplomatic relations and instituted a trade embargo.
But Delahunt believes change is coming.
‘‘There’s a substantial number in Congress that realize this is a policy that
has failed,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s time to change direction.
The United States trades and has diplomatic relations with nations such as China
and Saudi Arabia that have poorer human rights records than Cuba, Delahunt said.
Delahunt believes engagement is the best way to move Cuba in the direction of
democracy. ‘‘The long-term goal is to see democracy come to Cuba,’’ he said.
The U.S. delegation was told that the ailing Castro, who was last seen in public
July 26, is not terminally ill, Delahunt said.
Nevertheless, transition is happening, he said.
‘‘The transition, in respect to daily administration of the government, is under
way,’’ he said. ‘‘The functions are being transferred.’’
Castro will likely direct policy if he recovers and leave day-to-day operations
to others, Delahunt said.
The 80-year-old Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother, Raul, in July.
His medical condition has been a state secret since he underwent surgery for
intestinal bleeding in late July.
The Communist Party newspaper reported over the weekend that Fidel Castro had
spoken on the telephone with several Cuban lawmakers on Friday.
The congressional delegation, which was made up of members of the Cuba Working
Group in the House, was led by Delahunt and Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz..
The lawmakers met with the foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, the National
Assembly president, Ricardo Alarcon, and Yadira Garcia, an economic minister.
They did not see Raul Castro.