Mississippi Joins Engage Cuba Coalition
Over the past two years, the Obama Administration has issued five rounds of regulatory changes to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba, but the travel ban still exists.
Engage Cuba, an organization dedicated to the lifting of travel and trade bans to Cuba, made Mississippi the 10th state to hop on board the effort. News 25’s Kristen Durand has more.
Right now, Cuba is the only country in the world with a congressional travel ban from the United States. President of Engage Cuba James Williams said, “As a tourist, you can go to North Korea, you can go to Iran, you can go to Syria, you can go to Saudi Arabia, but you can’t go to Cuba? That’s nuts. We think the federal government shouldn’t be policing people’s vacations.”
That’s just one reason Williams started Engage Cuba. Part of the group’s mission is to urge states to get their congressmen to vote to lift the ban.
This ban restricts American travel and ability to do business in Cuba. Williams says lifting the ban would reap benefits for both Cuba and the U.S. “Tomorrow, Congress could, with the swipe of a pen, pass a law that would bring hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth into this state and be on ships heading to Cuba, into the pockets of farmers and the agricultural industry here and the shipping industry and the transportation industry and the manufacturing. There’s humongous opportunities for the state.”
Mississippi is the fifth top U.S. exporter of poultry and sixth for rice. Cuba imports between 60 to 70 percent of its food, food that could potentially come from farms right here in Mississippi and pass through state ports. Director of Gulf Coast Business Council Ashley Edwards said, “Our ports are so important to the Gulf Coast and they are export hubs. Our ports are places that products made across Mississippi ultimately get exported out across the United States and across the world. When you think about the opportunities for Mississippi businesses to open up markets in Cuba, this ultimately would be the hub of that export and so you can see how that activity would really concentrate itself on the Gulf Coast.”