Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Elian and Cuba-US Trade

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Elian and Cuba-US Trade

Article excerpt

Like global bloodhounds, US exporters know how to sniff out new markets, no matter how small.

Their desire for trade can often compete with other US interests in compelling Washington to deal with old adversaries, such as Vietnam, China, Iran, and lately, North Korea (Coca-Cola arrived there last week).

Now their latest target is Cuba. With a population of only 11 million very poor people, Cuba yearly buys about a million tons of wheat - mostly from France - and about 350,000 tons of rice, much of it from Asia.

So why should 38 years of US economic sanctions against this former Soviet ally and 90 miles of ocean prevent American exporters from selling that grain to Cuba?

This week, Congress takes up that issue, the same week that little Elian Gonzalez is likely to return to his homeland with his father. In fact, the public tug of war over Elian helped soften up the public mood for better ties with Cuba. It exposed the power of the Cuban-American lobby - which now battles with the farm lobby over a House vote on the sanctions. …

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