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Castro views Gov. Blanco as his lobbyist
by Felipe Eduardo Sixto
Governor Kathleen Blanco who just met with Fidel Castro believe she has just acquired a new client for Louisiana products. Fidel Castro however, believes that he has just hired political lobbyists.
Havana’s purchases in the United States are designed to increase Castro’s leverage on Congress and the White House. Cuba has spread its purchases among several states and congressional districts. This is very important to Castro because he is not looking for sales. He desperately needs American credits and export insurance. He also needs American sanctions to be lifted so that his regime can gain access to funding from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development bank and other international financial institutions.
Take note that there are few countries with worse credit ratings than Castro. He has been unable to make payments on his substantial debts for many years. Yet, as long as the current U.S. trade restrictions are in place, his American purchases will be made on a cash and carry basis. This cash is actually money that he owes creditors in other countries, a fact made known to the US Congress by the Administration.
Castro expects his commercial partners to support him in his disagreement with Washington and to work towards ending trade and travel restrictions so that an influx of millions of dollars from the United States could assure his permanence in power. There is a lot more than commercial interests in dealing with Cuba. The long range commercial interests of the state however, could be damaged if the Cuban people were to conclude that sales of Louisiana products are set aside for foreigners and tourists on the island rather than for the benefit the people.
Cubans know that their suffering is due to the regime not to American policies. Identifying the State of Louisiana with the dictatorship is a strange way of building support among millions of Cubans for future trade with Louisiana.
Felipe Eduardo Sixto is Chief of Staff at the Center for a Free Cuba and Executive Director of the Center for International Justice and Human Rights.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Friday, March 18, 2005