December 14, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Jerry Moran, a farm-state Republican, is heading to Cuba this week to meet with trade officials. His congressional office said Moran may even meet with Raul Castro, the brother of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who is leading the country because of Fidel's declining health. "I have long fought for the opening of trade and easing of the embargo of Cuba," Moran said in a news release. He said the meetings "come at a unique time," as Castro's health deteriorates. "I want to get a better understanding of the political situation in Cuba," explore further opportunities to export U.S. agriculture commodities and work to establish a framework for our countries' relations during this time of transition in Cuba," he said. Moran was among the lawmakers who helped pass legislation in 2000 that allowed the export of agriculture products to Cuba for the first time in 38 years. Five years later, the U.S. Treasury Department did away with cash payment on delivery - requiring cash payments for farm commodities to be made before ships left U.S. ports. The change reduced agriculture trade between the U.S. and Cuba. (The Bush administration strongly opposes any relaxing of the economic sanctions against the Castro government.) Moran is a senior member of the House Committee on Agriculture.