Dayton among the governors calling for end to Cuban trade embargo


Mark Dayton is one of nine governors who have written to Congress leaders asking for U.S. sanctions against Cuba to be lifted.

Although the once-frosty relations between the U.S. and the Communist state have improved immeasurably in the last year, the decades-long embargo preventing much of the trade between the nations remains in place.

Earlier this month, Gov. Dayton and eight U.S. governors wrote to the leaders of the U.S. Senate and House calling for an end to the "financial, travel, and other restrictions that impede commerce and trade between our nation and Cuba."

Dayton believes that lifting the embargo could be of great benefit to Minnesota's businesses – particularly those in rural areas.

"Ending the embargo will create jobs here at home, especially in rural America, and will create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture," the letter says.

"Expanding trade with Cuba will further strengthen our nation’s agriculture sector by opening a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores, and continue to maintain the tremendous momentum of U.S. agricultural exports, which reached a record $152 billion in 2014."

A limited of amount of trade is permitted between the nations following a change by the Bush administration, allowing U.S. food and agricultural products to be sold to Cuba, according to the Council of Foreign Relations.

But the vast bulk of trade remains restricted, with the CFR estimating that over the 50-plus years of the embargo implemented during the Cold War, it has cost the Cuban economy $1.126 trillion.

The governors said that reasons for lifting the sanctions go "beyond trade," saying it would "engender a more harmonious relationship" between the nations, and would "usher in a new era of cooperation that transcends business."

Gov. Dayton's call echoes that of Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who earlier this year introduced a bill to end the embargo.

She is one of the biggest supporters of the movement to re-open relations between the nations, saying allowing trade would boost job creation and exports in the U.S., and "help improve the quality of life for the Cuban people."

The Association Press reports that Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport has this weekend opened a new art exhibit in Terminal 1 that explores the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba through the trade embargo.

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