BOISE — Idaho Rep. Tom Trail, a Moscow Republican, is scheduled to introduce a bill Monday morning to encourage Congress to “remove all trade, financial and travel restrictions” in relation to Cuba.
Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, sips a coco loco at a farmers cooperative in Cuba in April 2007 Photo by Nathaniel Hoffman
Trail was part of a delegation that visited Cuba last Spring with Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter. It was Trail’s second trip to the Caribbean island.
The proposed Joint House Memorial has the support of the governor’s office, according to Trail. It states that Cubans and Americans desire better relations, that the U.S. must engage Cuba in order to make the island more democratic, that other nations are reaping benefits from trade with Cuba and that Idaho producers could benefit from free trade with the island.
“The whole problem with not having normal relations with Cuba is the Cuba lobby,” Trail said last week. We have normal relations with China and Vietnam, other countries with communist forms of government, he added.
“Our diplomatic stance on Cuba is unjust when compared to other countries,” Trail said.
Before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Cuba was the leading purchaser of lentils and peas from Idaho, Trail said.
The state’s trade delegation last year to Cuba did not yield the millions of dollars in sales that were hoped for. Only about $100,000 in pork products were contracted following the visit. Limited food and medicine sales to Cuba are allowed under the ongoing U.S. embargo.
The print hearing for the Joint Memorial is 9 a.m. Monday in the House State Affairs Committee, Room 145 at the Annex.