Cuban Ambassador Visits Southern Minnesota Farm
GARDEN CITY, MN
Miguel Fraga is the First Secretary at the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C.
With relations picking up between the two nations in recent years after decades of silence, leaders and citizens in both countries want to explore more trading possibilities, especially in the agricultural sector.
In an attempt to build a relationship, Kevin Paap and his family invited Fraga to their farm.
"You know we are so blessed in this country that we grow more than we can use," said President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Kevin Paap. "We often times forget that 95% of the people of the world don't live in the United States, 95% of the people that need food. Cuba is an excellent example. It's a country that imports 80% of their needs and Minnesota wants to be part of that solution."
With six out of every ten rows of beans in Minnesota leaving the state, farmers are always looking for potential buyers.
Because Cuba and the United States are so close and don't trade as much as they could, it only made sense to Paap to begin building a relationship.
"We really believe that it's about building trust you know," said First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy Miguel Fraga. "For many years we have been neighbors but we have not been able to sit down and talk and build a better relationship that is good for both sides. Now that we are able to travel to sit down and talk, we need to do it."
"As you talk about international trade it's all about relationships," added Paap. "It's knowing each other, respecting each other, trusting each other and you do that through face to face contact. It's that ability to see first–hand about what our farms are like."
Paap took Fraga out on the farm to show him how the everyday process works on a southern Minnesota farm.
"The experience has been amazing," explained Fraga. "Why? Because the hospitality of the Paap family here has been great and wonderful. I only want to be able to explain that to my people in Cuba and say okay we have friends all over the United States, but in Minnesota."
Increased trade between countries in the future is possible, but current embargoes are making it difficult for Cuba to buy in bulk from the United States.
This tour did however bring two sides together to start building the trust it takes to make a successful trading operation.
--KEYC News 12