A group of Illinois farmers visited Cuba recently and got a taste of “people-to-dictatorship” contacts.
Report on Cuba trip highlights Farm Bureau annual meeting
LAWRENCEVILLE – A presentation regarding an Illinois Farm Bureau marketing study tour in Cuba was among the highlights of the 93rd annual meeting of the Lawrence County Farm Bureau Monday night.
The presentation, which included a slide show, was entitled “The Cuban Market: Challenges and Opportunities,” and was presented by county Farm Bureau member Glenn Leighty and Jasper County Farm Bureau President Joe Bierman.
The two noted that Cuba imports 80 percent of its food and the crops it does grow are grown without any chemicals, fertilizer or hybrid seed.
During the June 28-July 2 tour, the Farm Bureau delegation, among other stops, visited a flour mill, the country’s Chamber of Commerce, a farmer co-op, the Ministry of Agriculture, a farmers market and Alimport, the state-run organization responsible for making decisions on all food imports into Cuba.
Both Leighty and Bierman noted that the group was always watched and listened to by government representatives, were given a list of topics they could not talk about, including politics, told they could not take pictures of certain things, including military personnel. A request to take a tour out into the country, where farmers raise chickens and have some crops, was denied. It is also an area where poverty is at its worst.
Leighty described the country as a step back into time. The cars on the streets all dated from the mid-to-late 1950s, there is no or very little air conditioning, and technology is at a minimum.
Naturally, after experiencing the repressive nature of the Castro dictatorship, the lack of freedom on the island, and how the Cuban regime controls all aspects of trade, the bureau came to the conclusion that they should continue to lobby Washington D.C. to lift sanctions against the Cuban government.
Vaya, le ronca los mameyes…