By the 1860s Cuba was the chief sugar producer in the world and by the 1880s the US consumed most of Cuba’s exported sugar. In 1898, following the Spanish-American War, the US effectively acquired Cuba. The U.S. came close to annexing Cuba but sugar beet producers in Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado were able to prevent it so that Cuban sugar wouldn't destroy their profits. By the time of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the value of U.S. investments in Cuba was over three times that for all the rest of Latin America, with american companies owning about half of the country's sugar refineries. In the 1960s the embargo ended the sugar trade with the U.S. entirely. Sugarcane is still Cuba's top crop and number 1 export– but not to the U.S., where Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) have worked to keep U.S. consumer prices high on behalf of the domestic sugar industry that has financed both of their political careers. The three anti-Cuba reactionaries have effectively kept inexpensive Cuban sugar out of the U.S. and forced American consumers to spend billions of dollars more for food items that includes sugar.
Yesterday, President Obama issued a presidential directive on Cuba that seeks to cement his policy changes toward the island and encourage further engagement even after he leaves office. In another step towards normalization of relations, the administration released a sixth set of regulatory changes designed to enhance business and trade between the United States and Cuba. Under the new rules, which go into effect Monday, travelers can purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban rum and cigars in any country where they are sold so long as they are for personal consumption.
Obama also called on Congress to end the dysfunctional 50-year-old economic embargo, something Wasserman Schultz and Ros-Lehtinen will never allow to happen while they are still wielding any power whatsoever. Anyone who is playing attention to what did and did not happen, will have notcied that there is no change in American policy towards Wasserman Schultz's, Ros-Lehtinen's and Diaz-Balart's financiers in the surf industry. The cartel stands. Obama:
Today, I approved a Presidential Policy Directive that takes another major step forward in our efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. This Directive takes a comprehensive and whole-of-government approach to promote engagement with the Cuban government and people, and make our opening to Cuba irreversible.
In December 2014, following more than 50 years of failed policy, I announced that the United States would begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. Since then, we've worked with the people and the government of Cuba to do exactly that– re-establishing diplomatic relations, opening embassies, expanding travel and commerce, and launching initiatives to help our people cooperate and innovate. This new directive consolidates and builds upon the changes we've already made, promotes transparency by being clear about our policy and intentions, and encourages further engagement between our countries and our people.
Consistent with this approach, the Departments of Treasury and Commerce issued further regulatory changes today, building on the progress made over the last two years, to continue to facilitate more interaction between the Cuban and American people, including through travel and commercial opportunities, and more access to information. This follows previous changes that helped facilitate interconnectivity between our peoples, and to promote economic reforms on the island by providing access to the dollar in international transactions. These changes are representative of the progress I saw firsthand when I visited Havana to personally extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. The quick flight over 90 miles of blue water belied the real barriers of the past that were crossed that day, but my interactions with everyday Cubans told a promising story of neighbors working to build broader ties of cooperation across the Americas.
Challenges remain– and very real differences between our governments persist on issues of democracy and human rights– but I believe that engagement is the best way to address those differences and make progress on behalf of our interests and values. The progress of the last two years, bolstered by today's action, should remind the world of what's possible when we look to the future together.
By the way Wasserman Schultz has taken $138,450 in direct bribes from Big Sugar since being elected to Congress. She has also been their bag man among Democrats, tell the Fanjul brothers which Democrats to grease and which ones not to pay off. Mario Diaz-Balart has taken $121,350 and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, more cautious about easily stackable bribes, has gobbled up $70,415.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis