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Anti-Castro leaders support Peterson bill

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

More than 70 anti-Castro leaders say they support legislation by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th Dsitrict, to open Cuba to trade and travel.

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Peterson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, released Thursday the letter he received signed by more than 70 pro-democracy Cuban leaders that strongly encourages passage of Peterson's bill, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.

"When the strongest pro-democracy activists in Cuba say that the current travel and agriculture trade restrictions only support the Castro regime, you have to ask yourself why we would keep these restrictions in place," Peterson said in a statement

"The statement of these pro-democracy, anti-Castro dissidents supporting H.R 4645 is a strong indication that people who oppose this bill are not speaking on behalf of the Cuban people, regardless of what they say," he said. "Who are we helping by continuing a policy that has been in place for 50 years and has yet to change anything?"

The bill would facilitate expanded U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba and allow Americans to travel more freely to Cuba. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by 56 other U.S. House members.

"We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society," states the letter from Cuban leaders.

"We value the experience of all the western countries, including the United States, who favored opening trade with all the countries of the former Eastern Europe," it states. "We are sure that isolation does not foster relationships of respect and support for people and groups around the world who are in favor of democratic changes in Cuba."

The letter quotes the late Pope John Paul II: "Let Cuba open itself to the world and the world will open itself to Cuba."

It adds, " ... we strongly believe that the problems of Cuba and its path to freedom and democracy are a responsibility and a labor that belongs to all Cubans, those of us who live on the island as well as those who suffer in exile in the Diaspora, who also love this nation we all share."

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a hearing earlier this year to review the bill, and supporters are working to garner support to pass the bill.

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

More than 70 anti-Castro leaders say they support legislation by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL-7th Dsitrict, to open Cuba to trade and travel.

Peterson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, released Thursday the letter he received signed by more than 70 pro-democracy Cuban leaders that strongly encourages passage of Peterson's bill, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.

"When the strongest pro-democracy activists in Cuba say that the current travel and agriculture trade restrictions only support the Castro regime, you have to ask yourself why we would keep these restrictions in place," Peterson said in a statement

"The statement of these pro-democracy, anti-Castro dissidents supporting H.R 4645 is a strong indication that people who oppose this bill are not speaking on behalf of the Cuban people, regardless of what they say," he said. "Who are we helping by continuing a policy that has been in place for 50 years and has yet to change anything?"

The bill would facilitate expanded U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba and allow Americans to travel more freely to Cuba. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by 56 other U.S. House members.

"We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society," states the letter from Cuban leaders.

"We value the experience of all the western countries, including the United States, who favored opening trade with all the countries of the former Eastern Europe," it states. "We are sure that isolation does not foster relationships of respect and support for people and groups around the world who are in favor of democratic changes in Cuba."

The letter quotes the late Pope John Paul II: "Let Cuba open itself to the world and the world will open itself to Cuba."

It adds, " ... we strongly believe that the problems of Cuba and its path to freedom and democracy are a responsibility and a labor that belongs to all Cubans, those of us who live on the island as well as those who suffer in exile in the Diaspora, who also love this nation we all share."

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a hearing earlier this year to review the bill, and supporters are working to garner support to pass the bill.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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