Push in Columbus to end trade embargo with Cuba

NBC Columbus

By: Katie Love

COLUMBUS (WCMH)  — The fight to end the trade embargo in Cuba is a personal challenge for one Columbus attorney.

Luis Alcalde was chosen by a Washington-based coalition called ‘Engage Cuba’ to help lift the 54-year-old embargo.

Alcalde was born in Cuba and came to Columbus through a refugee resettlement program at a young age.

His father had just been released from prison in 1963 after being arrested during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Alcalde’s family disagreed with the communist government run by Fidel Castro and wanted a better life for his family.

Now, Alcalde is trying to use his history to make a difference in Cuba’s future.

“I know Cuba. I’m Cuban-American. I go to cuba all of the time,” Luis Alcalde said. “I just know the more we interact with Cuba, the more Cuba is going to be our ally and our friend.”

Engage Cuba created an Ohio State Council to end the trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Alcalde believes it could help businesses in Central Ohio.

Ohio’s largest agricultural export is soybeans. According to Engage Cuba research, of Cuba’s $2 billion in agricultural imports, 13% are soybeans. However, the U.S. is losing opportunities to export to countries like Brazil and Argentina.

“What is really going to create change in Cuba is to have normal relations with them,” Alcalde said, “I’ve seen more changes in Cuba in the last 3 years than I have seen in the last 16 years of going to Cuba.

Engage Cuba’s conducted a survey that found 78% of people in Ohio support lifting the embargo, but it would require a vote from Congress.