Come trade with me
The cattlemen have told The Palm Beach Post that the commercial and travel restrictions should be lifted immediately to make it easier for American farmers to sell their produce across the Florida Straits.
Currently, US primary producers can sell as much food as they want to the Castro brothers – provided they get paid in cash rather than via credits.
One of the cattlemen interviewed by the paper, 52-year-old Jim Strickland, said he had visited the island no fewer than eight times.
And as far as he is concerned, the Cubans he has dealt with are just a bunch of down-home, no-nonsense, hard-working vaqueros, eager to share experiences with their American counterparts.
"When we go to Cuba, we don't talk politics,” said Mr Strickland, who will probably be surprised to discover that those same nice vaqueros he has been chewing the fat with are in fact paid representatives of the Cuban communist authorities.
The reason why the likes of Mr Strickland should be careful about dealing with the regime, embargo or otherwise, is highlighted in this article by Reuters.
According to official statistics published by Havana, Cuba’s “active” foreign debt rose by nearly USD2 billion last year to a grand total of USD7.794 billion.
It seems foreign suppliers more than doubled their credits to the country during 2006, with much of these new lines of credit coming from Venezuela and China.
But here is the crunch: Reuters confirms that apart from this new debt, Cuba also owns another USD8 billion to Western banks and businesses but has refused to pay a single cent back since 1986. In short, it's defaulted on the debt.
And this does not include the country’s debt to the now-disappeared Soviet Union, estimated to be worth at least USD20 billion, which, of course, will never be repaid.
Not surprisingly, the international ratings agency Moody’s rates the regime’s creditworthiness as “poor”.
H/T to our friends at Babalu.