Engage Cuba Coalition Draws the Midwest into the Conversation About U.S.-Cuba Relations

By JEFF ST. CLAIR

WKSU 89.7 NPR

Jeff St. Clair: James Williams is president of the Engage Cuba Coalition.  He’s brought together a wide-ranging group of Ohioans to join him in lobbying Congress to allow trade and travel with Cuba. That group, the Ohio State Council, includes Ohio State President Michael Drake, Cleveland Foundation CEO Ronald Richard, and a long list of agriculture, trade and development advocates pushing for an end to the 55-year-old embargo.

James Williams: The Ohio Farm Bureau, the Ohio Soy Bean Association, the Corn and Wheat Growers are all joining on becuase they see a market opportunity. But we also have manufacturing; Proctor & Gamble is a member of ours, as well university systems, and there's also cultural and educational opportunities. 

Jeff St. Clair: Williams says a recent survey shows 78 percent of Ohioans from both parties support the Obama administration's restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba. Analysts estimate that without the embargo US trade with Cuba could be worth $4.3 billion per year.