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0000017b-35e5-df5e-a97b-35edaf910000Interest in Cuba has surged since the Obama administration’s announcement of a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations. Opportunities may exist to build trade with the communist island nation, with exports of both manufactured and agricultural goods. And “I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba,” is a refrain that may help spur tourism between Michigan and the “Pearl of the Antilles.” Michigan Radio has two journalists in Cuba to tell some of the stories of Michigan’s connections to the Caribbean nation.

Michigan farmers oppose changing Cuba policy

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan farmers are among those criticizing President Trump’s plan to impose new business and travel restrictions on Cuba.

President Donald Trump is clamping down on some commerce andtravel between the United States and Cuba, but leaving intact many new avenues President Barack Obama opened.

Diplomatic relations, restored only two years ago, will remain intact, but Trump says some penalties will stay in place until a long list of prerequisites is met.

Many recent changes to boostties to Cuba will stay as they are, and Trump still wants to engage with Cuba in hopes of forging "a much stronger and better path."

Michigan bean growers have been hoping the Obama administration’s move to normalize relations with Cuba would open a new market.

“It’s not just all about us selling things to Cuba.  It’s about us helping them and their people as well,” says Jim Byrum, the president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) says President Donald Trump's new Cuba policy closes off a potentially lucrative market for American farmers.

In a statement Friday, Moran says. "Putting America first means exporting what we produce to countries across the globe." He says he remains focused on finding ways to "increase trade with Cuba, rather than cut off relationships that have the potential to create new jobs, bring in revenue and boost our national economy."

The Cuban government is rejecting what it calls the "hostile rhetoric" of President Donald Trump's speech announcing a new U.S. policy toward the island, but says it is willing to continue "respectful dialogue" with the U.S. on topics of mutual interest.

Cuba says "the last two years have shown that the two countries can cooperate and coexist in a civilized way."

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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