Sunday, August 27, 2006

Cuba Signs Trade Deal With Navajo Nation

It has recently been reported that NAPI, the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, has signed a letter of intent with the government of Cuba for the sale of agricultural products including corn, wheat, beans and other commodities. The value of the deal is said to be $16 million.

The deal is significant for another reason, and that is that it validates the Navajo Nation as a serious international player in the agricultural commodity export trade. In the opinion of Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., it also validates the Nation as a sovereign entity. President Shirley also made the commonsense observation that people in Cuba have to eat, too, and that includes grandmas and grandpas.

Back in April, when a deal was signed between Alabama farmers and the government of Cuba for agricultural products, we here at Law Down On the Farm opined that we thought it was high time that the barriers to trade between Cuba and the U.S. come down.

If trade is indeed a liberalizing influence that is good for all (and we do think so as a matter of policy, considering our relationships with Viet Nam and China) then we ought to be thinking hard about whether we ought to be continuing the embargo against Cuba after all this time. Whatever their politics, people have to eat, and American farmers know how to meet that need.

This scribe clearly remembers huge grain deals between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. during the height of the Cold War. Even a state of war did not prevent the liberalizing message from farmers to hungry folks from getting through, loud and clear.

It's time to separate the issues of what kind of government ought to replace the Castro regime (which has not, it is true, been kind to dissidents and freethinkers and respectful of property rights) and what sort of remedies ought to be available to the Cubans who lost their properties in the revolution, from the larger issue of maintaining an embargo that only serves to justify and validate the politics of the Cuban emigre community in this country.

This issue is far too large for the emigres to wield such power, when it works such a detriment on American farmers.

One might recall the words of Oliver Cromwell to the Rump Parliament in 1653. They seem peculiarly applicable to the embargo against Cuba: You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of G-d, go!


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