Texas State Council

GLEN JONES, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND POLICY DEVELOPMENT
TEXAS FARM BUREAU

JOHN P. LARUE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
PORT OF CORPUS CHRISTI AUTHORITY

G. GRANGER MACDONALD, CHAIRMAN AND CEO
MACDONALD COMPANIES

DR. MOLLY BETH MALCOLM, VICE PRESIDENT EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

CAPPY MCGARR, PRESIDENT
MCM INTERESTS

MUSTAFA TAMEEZ, ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN
SOUTH ASIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

WOLFGANG NIEDERT, PRIVATE EQUITY MANAGING CONSULTANT

BRIAN OTTIS, PH.D., GLOBAL SOLUTIONS DEVELOPMENT LEAD, 
RICETEC, INC

DICK OTTIS
TEXAS RICE BELT WAREHOUSE, INC

JOE OUTLAW, PROFESSOR & EXTENSION ECONOMIST, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

SANJAY RAMABHADRAN, MANAGING PARTNER
VERSA GROUP

LG & LINDA RAUN, RICE FARMERS
TEXAS RICE PRODUCERS LEGISLATIVE GROUP/USA RICE

JENNIFER RANSOM RICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
TEXAS CULTURAL TRUST

jenifer Sarver, Principal
Sarver Strategies

DAVE SHAW, PRESIDENT
TEXAS LYCEUM

WALT SMITH, PRINCIPAL
THE MALLARD GROUP, LLC

ERIK STROMBERG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ADVANCES IN PORT MANAGEMENT
LAMAR UNIVERSITY

ZANE J. VAUGHN, GENERAL COUNSEL
ARMTECH INSURANCE SERVICES, INC. 

MICHAEL YOUNG, VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS & PUBLIC POLICY
DELL INC. 

PAT YOUNGER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
GULF PORTS ASSOCIATION OF THE AMERICAS

Dean Corgey, Commissioner
Port of Houston Authority

Chris Wallace, President
Texas Association of Business

Aimee Sanborn, Senior Associate, Director of Sustainability
Merriman Anderson/Architects, Inc.

Jerry Merriman, President
Merriman Anderson/Architects, Inc.

Michael Skalicky, Treasurer
Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group

Jagdip S Ahluwalia, Founding Secretary/Executive Director
Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston

Carlton Anderson, CEO and Co-Founder
Mercurio Biotec

Tony Bennett, President/CEO
Texas Association of Manufacturers

Daniel Berglund
Texas Rice Farmer

Ric Bonnell, MD, Director of Global Health
Dell Children's Medical Center

Theldon R. Branch, III, Commissioner
Port of Houston Authority

John Sibley Butler, The J. Marion West Chair in Constructive Capitalism
The University of Texas at Austin

Robert Brignac, PE, Director of Engineering
Braeden Engineering

J Allen Carnes, Farmer
Carnes Farms, Inc.

Felix Chevalier, Partner
The Chevalier Law Firm, PLLC

Brian Craig, PhD, PE, CPE, Professor and Chair, Department of Industrial Engineering; Director, Mariner, Safety Research Initiative
Lamar University

Randy Cubriel, Attorney and Counselor at Law
Law Office of Randy Cubriel

Dr. Bill Cunningham, James L. Bayless Chair for Free Enterprise
The University of Texas

Erika de la Garza, Program Director, Latin America Initiative
Rice University’s Baker Institute

Lex Denherder, Vice President Government and Industry Affairs
Universal Weather and Aviation

Jason Roth Fuller, Government Affairs Consultant

The Honorable Antonio Garza, U.S. Ambassador (Ret.), Counsel
White & Case, Mexico City

Keith Gray, Director
Riviana Foods

Bill Hammond, CEO
Bill Hammond & Associates 

ANDY ICKEN, CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
CITY OF HOUSTON

BOB INMAN, CHAIRMAN
LIMESTONE CAPITAL ADVISORS

Josh Bryan, Operations Manager
Braeden Engineering

Steve Van, President & CEO
Prism Hotels & Resorts

GERARDO INTERIANO, HEAD OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, SOUTHWEST U.S.
GOOGLE, INC. 


Texas and Cuba in the News

Press Release: Cuba Advocacy Group Launches Engage Cuba Texas State Council

KTSM: Cuban Asylum Seeker Shares His Experience As He Heads from El Paso to Miami

“If there was more knowledge that anyone crossing illegally will be federally charged and have to serve time in federal prison, I assure you that no one, at least not Cubans, would cross illegally.”

Houston Press: Cuba’s New Mambo Kings

The band already has dates booked across the United States for the first half of the summer before heading to Europe. But new travel restrictions just recently put in place by the Trump administration for travel to and from Cuba – with possibly more to follow – may not bode well for the band.

Houston Chronicle: Turning the Screws on Cuba Hurts Texas, Too.

Until recently, an end to decades of hostilities between the United States and the Caribbean island of Cuba appeared imminent, and prospects for Texas reaping enormous benefits from that thawing of tensions held great promise.

Texas farmers were eagerly anticipating the possibility of increasing exports of poultry, corn, soybeans, wheat and rice to the island nation. Nonstop flights between Bush Intercontinental Airport and Havana were available to the public before the end of 2016, and the U.S. and Cuban flags were flying atop reopened embassies in Havana and Washington after full diplomatic ties were restored for the first time in 50 years.

Gov. Greg Abbott visited Cuba in late 2015, when he touted Texas’ abundance of easily available exports to Cuba. Months later, a delegation from Houston led by Mayor Sylvester Turner and local corporate leaders deepened local ties to Cuba. That 2016 trip also set the stage to explore opportunities in such areas as health care, energy, trade and the arts and played a part in Houston securing next year’s World Petroleum Congress.

The death of Fidel Castro in November 2016 only seemed to cement expectations that a new, more cooperative future lay ahead. But just three years later, all that promise appears stalled — and Texas is poorer for it. Better relations with Cuba had been a hallmark of President Obama’s administration, perhaps one reason they have found no ally in his successor, President Trump.

On April 17, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the U.S. will impose new sanctions and other punitive measures on Cuba and Venezuela, seeking to ratchet up U.S. pressure on Havana to end its support for Venezuela’s discredited socialist president, Nicolas Maduro. The timing of Bolton’s announcement wasn’t happenstance. It was made on the 58th anniversary of the disastrous CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion and clearly served as a nod to those anti-Castro hardliners and Trump supporters in South Florida. The new sanctions include restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba, reductions in remittances to Cuba to $1,000 per person per quarter, and authorized Cuban-Americans and other U.S. citizens to sue companies doing business in Cuba over property confiscated after the 1959 revolution. Last week, Exxon Mobil filed a lawsuit against Cuba’s national oil company seeking compensation for the value of assets seized when the firm was known as Standard Oil.

For Texas farmers, it’s a matter of working under current rules of trade while maintaining relationships. “We don’t expect any movement on Cuba under the current administration,” Dwight Roberts, president and CEO of the U.S. Rice Producers Association, told the editorial board. He described the recent developments as “depressing.” U.S. companies exported close to $230 million worth of agricultural goods to Cuba in 2018, down an estimated 18 percent from the year before, according to Cuba Standard, an independent news site covering political and economic news in Cuba.

Felix Chevalier, a Houston lawyer of Cuban descent who represents U.S. firms internationally, told the editorial board that he remains hopeful. “Despite the current circumstances, it’s inevitable the U.S. and Cuba will normalize relations and Houston is well positioned to benefit. It’s a matter of time before the politics become current with the perspective of the majority of Americans, Cubans and the business community.”

Cuba’s brand of governing has been a failure. Shortages of food and electricity are the norm, and the government routinely abuses human rights and stifles dissent. Its people deserve liberty.

Unfortunately, new sanctions on travel won’t help address any of that. They will punish Cuban entrepreneurs, since fewer Americans will be patronizing their restaurants and shops. A reduction in remittances will directly impact Cubans who rely on family in the U.S. for support. That doesn’t seem like a strategy to win the hearts of the Cuban people, or to secure for U.S. exporters the valuable market the nation could become.

As the Trump administration tightens the screws on Cuba, we urge U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz as well as other members of the Texas congressional delegation and the Texas Legislature to raise their voices to remind the president that ties to Cuba, especially in trade, offer enormous opportunities for Texas. The sooner we strengthen those ties, the better.

Houston Chronicle: Astros’ Cuban contingent hopes more countrymen get crack at majors

The landmark deal between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation in December forced Cuba to release contracted players who wished to sign with MLB clubs. Professional leagues in Korea, Japan and China have similar agreements with MLB. Last week, President Donald Trump’s administration canceled the agreement.

Houston Chronicle: Opinion: Texas will benefit from better U.S.-Cuba relations

Texas Tribune: Starbucks in Havana? Close, But No Cigar

Houston Chronicle: Texas Leaders Join Coalition to Lift Cuba Embargo

Austin Business Chronicle: Texas coalition wants to boost trade with Cuba

Texas Tribune: Texans Enlisting with Pro-Cuba Trade Group

Austin Business Journal: Engage Cuba Wants to Boost Texas' Trade with Cuba

WBAP: Texas Group Tries to Build Relations with Cuba

Houston Chronicle: Cuba and the U.S. need to End Entrenched Positions that No Longer Make Sense. 

KUT: For Texans, Building Business Ties With Cuba Isn't a Sprint – It's a Decades-Long Marathon

Fox News Latino: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott heads delegation to Cuba, explores $57M trade deal 

Houston Chronicle: Texas Ready to Feed Cuba's Tourists

Houston Chronicles: Texas could benefit from Houston-to-Cuba air service

Houston Public Media: Texas Eyes Expanded Export Ties With Cuba 

KXAN: Abbott on Cuba: laying foundation despite trade embargo 

The Houston Chronicle: Gov. Abbott in Cuba refuses to back end of U.S. trade embargo 

The Dallas Morning News: Gov. Abbott: Abundance of economic opportunities in Cuba

Dallas Morning News: Texas Business Leaders Push to Open Cuba for More Trade and Travel

Dallas Morning News: Texas Sees Business Potential in Trade with Cuba

Reuters: Texas governor seeks business opportunities in Cuba

The Texas Tribune: Texas Ag Industry Seeks Swifter Action on Cuban Thaw

Houston Chronicle: Abbott's trip to Cuba good for Texas business  

The Dallas Morning News: Editorial: Abbott’s Cuba trip challenges conservatives to rethink embargo 

Texas Tribune: Abbott's Trip Shows New Politics of U.S.-Cuba Relations 

My Statesman: Gov. Greg Abbott to lead Texas trade delegation to Cuba 

The Texas Tribune: Abbott Leading State Trip to Cuba Next Week  

The Dallas Morning News: Gov. Greg Abbott heading to Cuba 

The Texas Tribune: Abbott: Texas ready to deal if Cuba embargo lifted

CBS Local: Abbott Wants More Cuban Trade 

Jacksonville Progress: Businesses see green in prospects for Cuban trade

My Statesman: Greg Abbott: Cuba dedicated to expanding private sector 

texas' Champions

Governor Greg Abbott (R)

Governor Greg Abbott (R)

Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX-11)

Representative Mike Conaway (R-TX-11)

Representative Randy Weber (R-TX-14)

Representative Randy Weber (R-TX-14)

Representative Roger Williams (R-TX-25)

Representative Roger Williams (R-TX-25)

Representative Brian Babin (R-TX-36)

Representative Brian Babin (R-TX-36)

Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27)

Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27)

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18)

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18)

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30)

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30)

Representative Marc Veasey (D-TX-33)

Representative Marc Veasey (D-TX-33)

Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX-34)

Representative Filemon Vela (D-TX-34)

Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35)

Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35)