Congressman Tim Ryan Pushes Trade With Cuba

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By ideastream’s Brian Bull

Establishing trade with Cuba would bring billions of dollars to Ohio and the U.S.  That’s according to lawmakers who are pushing for improved relations with the island nation, after decades of an economic embargo. 

Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan is back from a recent trade mission to Cuba.  He says the streets there are filled with cars dating all the way back to the 50s…those that still run, that is.

“I think that country would look great with some Chevy Cruzes riding around in it,” says Ryan.

Cruzes manufactured in Lordstown, Ohio, that is.  Earlier this month, Ryan and a contingent of Mahoning Valley business representatives traveled to the island nation to talk economic partnership and innovation with Cuban officials. 

“We had close to fifteen Ohio companies, that ranged from food service to health care to manufacturing to plastics, electrical switches,” continues Ryan. “We had a good diverse crew.  And they all made some connections, and I think obviously some will be more fruitful than others, but I think everybody had a very, very, positive experience down there.”

Since President Obama re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba this summer, some restrictions on trade and travel have been lifted but it’s up to Congress to lift the economic embargo – imposed nearly 60 years ago – which could prove tricky. 

Republicans have been critical of the White House’s gestures toward Cuba, pointing out human rights violations by the ruling Castro regime.

Ryan – a Democrat representing the Kent/Warren/Youngstown area -- says lawmakers need to get past their Cold War mentality and see Cuba as a viable economic partner.

“They’re not involved in terrorism,” Ryan tells WCPN. “They want to slowly become more and more a free enterprise. They want the investment. They’re a long way from the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis.  They haven’t had a really solid relationship with Russia in the last few years ever since the (Berlin) Wall fell.”

This summer, President Obama re-opened the U.S. embassy in Cuba. 

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