Davis cheers Cuba move

Davis cheers Cuba move

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis hailed an Obama administration move to normalize relations with Cuba, saying the shift has the potential to be good for the Cuban people and for American agriculture.

"What I hope this brings to the American people is the ability to trade with a country that is craving our products and craving assistance from our agricultural sector," the Taylorville Republican said Wednesday. "Illinois stands to gain from leaps and bounds with the ability to sell our crops. The terms of purchasing and selling products are changed in this decision by the president. In the past Cuba would have to pay in advance before the product got there. From what I'm reading there's been some modifications that allows for more normalized trade relations. That really helps out Illinois agriculture."

Cuba already was purchasing some farm products from Illinois, said Davis, "but not on a large scale.

"What's been holding them back from purchasing American products has been this cash in advance provision. Now they can use credit like any other country would. When the product is delivered, when the title is exchanged, then the payment is made. That's why you see so many organizations in the agricultural sector that have been in favor of normalizing trade relations. I think normalized trade relations is the best way to changes the system of government in Cuba that has oppressed its citizens and restricted freedoms. We still have to achieve that goal."

Davis, who traveled to Cuba almost 10 years ago as a staff member for U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, has been a longtime supporter of relations with the island nation.

"After traveling to Cuba in 2005 I came away believing that the United States ought to work toward lifting some of the restrictions, especially the travel and trade restrictions, because I believe the only way to get the Castros out of power is through economic growth for the Cuban middle class."

Davis sees Cuba as a popular destination for tourists as well.

"I really think if we could normalize trade relations and continue to update the travel restrictions I think Cuba could become another tropical destination for American tourists," he said. "It allows Cuba to take advantage of American tourism and for Americans to take advantage of travel opportunities, and to sell more American-made products. That's what I think helps the Cuban people the most. And at the same time takes out the Castro regime that has been holding back Cuban citizens for decades."

He cautioned that he didn't want to be "too optimistic about any government changing. We had a lot more hope than what we've seen in Russia. We have to make sure that due to the proximity of Cuba to the United Stars that we Americans do everything we can to make sure that these normalized trade relations lead to less oppression, lead to more democratic freedoms and lead to more telecommunications advances which will open up a new world for many Cuban citizens."

The freshman Republican, reelected to a second term last month, said he hoped to get another chance to visit Cuba.

"I was asked to go during my first term but I didn't," he said. "Frankly I'm glad I didn't because I would rather go back to see what progress has been made after these steps are taken. That way I'll be able to compare and contrast my visit in '05 with my visit in the future."

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