Abbott Wants More Cuban Trade
December 3, 2015 7:05 AM
AUSTIN (AP) – Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ended his Cuba trip
Wednesday heralding trade opportunities with an eagerness that closer
aligned him with the Obama administration than top 2016 GOP presidential
Abbott left Havana without announcing new partnerships but suggested
some are in the works. He also defended making a relationship-building
trip to Cuba after having previously vowed to limit business travel to
when there is a deal to make, unlike his globe-trotting predecessor,
Cuban officials told Abbott a day earlier that there were little
opportunities for Texas businesses on the island at the moment, and
Cuba-U.S. trade remains frozen in almost every area except tourism.
Texas has traded some goods allowed under the embargo with Cuba for
years but sees the potential for more as the U.S. and Cuba normalize
relations after a half-century of hostility. Abbott would not say
whether he supports ending the trade embargo but seemed pleased with the
doors opened by the White House.
The governor, who brags about suing the Obama administration 30 times
when he was attorney general, said those disputes were over his beliefs
that the law was being broken.
“Sitting here right now, I cannot say they are doing that with their
current decision” to normalize relations, Abbott said during a
conference call with reporters from Havana.
But Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who
calls Abbott a mentor — favors a more hardline stance with Cuba and
return to old restrictions, as does fellow GOP candidate Marco Rubio.
Both have blasted the White House over easing tensions with Cuba, and
Cruz has accused Obama of legitimizing Cuban President Raul Castro.
A spokeswoman for Cruz, who once worked under Abbott as Texas solicitor
general, did not return an email message seeking comment.
Cuba’s minister of foreign trade and investment told Abbott Cuban
officials don’t think the White House’s next occupant will affect the
“We think whoever gets elected president this process will continue,”
said Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz, according to a press pool report of the
Abbott did not meet with Castro. Nor did two other U.S. governors,
Arkansas Republican Asa Hutchinson and New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo,
during their visits to Cuba earlier this year.
Cuomo visited in April and announced that a Buffalo cancer institute had
signed an agreement with a Cuban medical center to develop a lung cancer
vaccine. Abbott said Cuba is also interested in forging new medical
technology partnership with Texas.
Hutchinson returned in September adamant in his views that the embargo
should be gradually eased. He has called on Congress to relax travel and
financial restrictions that he once enforced as the undersecretary of
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Cuban officials have been using visits by U.S. politicians as
opportunities to advocate for Congress to lift the half-century-old
embargo. Abbott, however, declined to take a stance.
“I consider this to be an issue of federal prerogative,” Abbott said.
“It’s not within the parameters of my job to be able to set the rules.
But it’s my job to play within those rules.”
Source: Abbott Wants More Cuban Trade « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth –