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Alabama Port Seeks Cuban Trade

In Mobile, Ala., the rich port and its residents see Cuba as a historical trade partner and not a Cold War casualty. Barges routinely drop off cotton, corn, soybeans, railroad ties and utility poles to the island country, part of the USA's $718 million of goods shipped there.

The state's politicians, both Democrat and Republican, favor lifting the Cuban embargo and increasing trade with their Communist neighbor, according to the Los Angeles Times. They want cruises to the island, more shipments of goods and reciprocal tourism. There are approximately 11 million people in Cuba, only about 600 miles away from Mobile.

Maybe the desire for trade goes further back in history, when Mobile, part of the Spanish empire in the 18th century, traded with Cuba on a regular basis.

It is no surprise that Mobile, Ala., and other ports like it, are thinking about the positive economic impacts of Cuban trade rather than the political or ideology impacts. Although most of the anti-Fidel Castro rhetoric comes from Florida amid Cuban refugees -- other areas of the country, even close neighbors, may see the problem differently.

Instead of maintaining a stance, Alabama sees open trade as a benefit to the state and its residents. They have no beef with Castro and they see the Cuban people as nothing but warm.

"I grew up in the Cold War," Ron Sparks, the state commissioner of agriculture and industry, told the Times. "I thought Russia was the worst thing that could ever happen to America. But I also remember the day President Reagan stood on the wall and said, 'President Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' I supported that. Now let's tear down the wall between us and Cuba."

Perhaps it is now time to rethink our policies on Cuba, for ourselves and to improve our economy.

Photo of Port of Mobile courtesy of Alabama State Port Authority