Better Government Association: ILLINOIS POLS FORGE CUBA CONNECTION
“The restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has sparked a renewed effort to boost Illinois agricultural exports to the island nation, which has been under crippling economic sanctions for more than 50 years.”
President Barack Obama met with President Raul Castro on his historic trip to Cuba Monday. The two leaders talked about human rights issues and, of course, the half century U.S. trade embargo. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports agricultural trade with Cuba is something that hits home here in Illinois. 90 Miles Café gets its name from the distance between the U.S. and Cuba. “It was incredible I never thought I would see it in my lifetime,” said Tony Alvarez.
Pantagraph: Cuba Visit Could Help Illinois, Delegate Says
Illinois has a lot to gain from improved relations between the United States and Cuba that President Barack Obama is trying to foster through his trip to the island nation, according to an agribusiness person who is part of a delegation currently there. “We are way ahead of the game as far as building relationships," said Mark Albertson, director of strategic market development for the Bloomington-based Illinois Soybean Association. “Illinois has a lot at stake here and because of our (rail and shipping) infrastructure, we have a direct pipeline to Cuba.”
President Barack Obama spoke to Cuban citizens Tuesday and called upon the US Congress to lift the decades old trade embargo on Cuba. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, nearly 75 percent of the state’s land area is used for farming. So with President Barack Obama’s call to lift the trade embargo, this will allow farmers a larger market for their crop exports.
The Washington Times: 3 Members of Illinois Congressional Delegation Going to Cuba
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and U.S. Reps. Cheri bustos and Jan Schakowsky will travel to Cuba on Sunday with the president. They are among 20 members of Congress going on the trip to Havana. They will meet with Cuban officials, attend an Obama speech, state dinner and a baseball game.
Illinois soybean growers are being represented in Cuba this week. The state’s soybean association is there talking with farmers. Mark Albertson, Director of Market Development with the Illinois Soybean Association, says while there have been no formal changes as a result of the president’s visit to the island nation, it’s a major step forward.
Normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba is an exciting new chapter for many, both at home and abroad. But Illinois was ahead of the curve more than 10 years ago when Governor Ryan took a delegation there. In 1999 Governor George Ryan wanted to go on a trade mission to Cuba. After realizing that wasn’t possible, the trip turned into a humanitarian and cultural exchange. Journalist Bill Wheelhouse covered the trip for WUIS.
With the move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and President Obama’s visit to the country, we remember a trip an Illinois governor took there nearly 17 years ago. George Ryan led what was termed a humanitarian mission that included politicians, business leaders and other dignitaries. A group of reporters also went along. Among them, our Bill Wheelhouse. “I think it was important,” Wheelhouse said of the trip. “I think it was an incremental turn of the screw (toward opening Cuba).”
The restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has sparked a renewed effort to boost Illinois agricultural exports to the island nation, which has bene under crippling economic sanctions for more than 50 years. Admittedly, the attempt to sell more products such as corn and soybeans grown in Illinois to Cuba is hindered by hurdles, not the least of which is existing federal legislation that forces Cuban businesses to buy U.S. agricultural products with cash paid in advance.
United Airlines wants to provide regularly scheduled flights to Havana from Chicago and three other U.S. cities, the airline told the U.S. government Wednesday. Chicago-based United earlier expressed interest in serving Cuba in the wake of the two countries signing a deal last month to re-establish air service for the first time in more than 50 years. At the time, United didn’t specify which U.S. cities from which it sought to provide service to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport.
Illinois BUsiness: Let's make a Cuba trade deal
The Obama administration's decision last week to again loosen trade restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba means it will soon be easier to enjoy a fine Cuban cigar and savor a swig of that island's flavorsome rum. But some major Illinois companies and industries hope that greater access to smokes and spirits is only the start of the festivities. They are continuing to push Washington lawmakers to lift a longtime embargo and normalize trade between the U.S. and that Caribbean country, which resides only 90 miles from the U.S. mainland but has been almost totally off limits to U.S. companies since 1960.
peoria Journal Star: Word on the Street: Lawmakers see benefits of trade with Cuba
“Central Illinois has a longstanding interest in Cuba, what with the opportunities there as a market for Illinois farm products and the built-up infrastructure repair needs after 55 years of embargo that could unquestionably benefit a certain manufacturer of earthmoving equipment [Caterpillar, Inc.].”
THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER: ILLINOIS COLLEGE STUDENTS, PROFESSORS GOING TO CUBA TO STUDY GHOST ORCHIDS, SIGN AGREEMENT
“Before Illinois College officials sign a landmark collaboration agreement with two academic institutions in Cuba Jan. 9-10, two professors and two students will spend a week or so doing what brought the parties to the table in the first place: research.”
Chicago Tribune: Illinois Firms Race to Establish Foothold in Cuba
When Cuba’s foreign minister raised his nation’s single-star flag outside its newly opened embassy in Washington last month, construction equipment giant Caterpillar did the same outside its Peoria headquarters. Caterpillar is one of a growing number of Illinois and Chicago-area companies, civic organizations and cultural institutions rushing into a nationwide race to establish a foothold in the tiny communist country just 90 miles off the florida shore — a potential trove of new profits on an island that has been off-limits, for the most part, for more than a half-century.
When the U.S. resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba in July and Secretary of State John Kerry reopened the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos had an idea. “The first thing I thought of is that agricultural trade between Cuba and Illinois had a tremendous opportunity for growth. I talked to our staff about a trade mission focused on Illinois to see if we could increase exports of ag products to Cuba,” said the East Moline Democrat, who was in Rockford today to meet with area farmers.
The State Journal-Register: Illinois College Students, Professors Going to Cuba to Study Ghost Orchids, Sign Agreement
Before Illinois College officials sign a landmark collaboration agreement with two academic institutions in Cuba Jan. 9-10, two professors and two students will spend a week or so doing what brought the parties to the table in the first place: research. Particularly, Lawrence Zettler, professor of biology and two students, Justin Mably of Pleasant Plains and Shannon Skarha of Hillsboro, Missouri, will be working alongside Ernesto Mujica in identifying and studying rare ghost orchids in Guanahacabibes National Park on the island’s westernmost trip.
The Caterpillar Foundation announced that it will donate half a million dollars to the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation, an organization that works to restore and preserve the house of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, including historical documents and other items that belonged to the US writer. The grant will support the construction of a laboratory with a file storage facility in the Hemingway Museum, known as the workshop building, which is extremely important for the safety and protection of Hemingway’s belongings.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: After Trip to Cuba, Illinois Congressman ‘Disappointed’ by Lack of Progress
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who returned Thursday from a trip to Cuba with Illinois agricultural officials, said he was disappointed in the lack of a shift toward free enterprise and improvement in living standards in that country compared to what he saw 10 years ago. Davis, R-Taylorville, first visited Cuba as a congressional aide to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, 10 years ago. His latest trip this week came after President Barack Obama began normalizing relations with a country that the United States had had little relations for 50 years, and on which the U.S. had imposed economic sanctions.
Pantagraph: Illinois AG Groups: Cuba is Market in Waiting
Anticipation of increasing trade with Cuba has grown dramatically for businesses since President Barack Obama announced his goal of normalized relations in December. But for decades, agriculture groups never stopped thinking about ending the embargo. Some individuals and groups, especially in Illinois, kept an eye on the tiny nation with hopes of future trade. “As the nation’s top soybean-producing state, the momentum on this issue is exciting for Illinois agriculture and our soybean farmers,” says Ridgway farmer Bill Raben, chairman of Illinois Soybean Growers.
Illinois State University: AG Alum Found His Future at Illinois State after Fleeing Cuba
When Marcos Fernandez ’80 and his family left Cuba in 1963, they did so looking for opportunities that couldn’t be found under the Communist regime of the island nation. The opportunity they most valued was education. In the United States, Fernandez’s mother and stepfather took on physically demanding factory work with a goal of providing better options for the next generation. “They would tell me, ‘Marcos, education is the key,’” Fernandez reflected. “‘You have to gain an education and you will gain respect.’"