Since the visit of former president Jimmy Carter to Cuba in May, U-S business leaders are suggesting ending our decades-long embargo of that country. At the Iowa-based Stanley Foundation, Sherry Gray says it’s not entirely off-limits. You can travel there legally but can’t spend any U-S dollars, even on hotels or food, without a license from the treasury department, and she says it’s “a cumbersome process” to get that. Gray spoke recently to the Dubuque Area Committee on Foreign Relations. She says right now Cuba doesn’t produce drugs or allow them to be shipped through its area, though that could change and Cuba’s asked for U-S help in halting drug traffic. As for Iowa’s farm exports, Cuba’s a strong farming region also — but might still buy some of Iowa’s products if the embargo’s lifted. They can produce a lot of their own food, but not everything they need, so Cuba’s a close market for our products, and a fairly large one. Gray says there are other ways Iowa could benefit from improved relations with the island nation just 90 miles from Florida. She says Iowa schools and universities can set up legal exchange programs, though it requires licensing through the U.S. treasury department. Gray is a program officer in the U.S. foreign-policy department of the Muscatine-based Stanley Foundation.
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