Celebrations are underway in south Florida after Cuban leader Fidel Castro temporarily signed over his presidential powers late Monday while recovering from surgery. Should Castro’s departure become permanent, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says Midwestern farmers would see a trade boon if the U.S. embargo on Cuba is lifted.
Grassley says the lack of freedom is why the U.S. has so long held the embargo against Cuba, but he says if freedom comes to Cuba, the export market would open up not just for farmers but to help all people in the U.S. with trade.
Castro has handed power to his brother, Raul, who some fear will be a worse dictator than Fidel. Still, Grassley says he’s holding out hope for progress that would see the U.S. again opening relations with the island nation. The embargo was put in place in 1962.
Grassley says “We’ve had that embargo for a long period of time because we felt that squeezing Castro as much as we can would help the cause of freedom down there though I wouldn’t expect an overnight change, considering the fact his brother has stepped in right now.”
Grassley says Cuba’s secret police division keeps tabs on all happenings, much like the Russian K-G-B of years past. He says Cuba’s governmental listeners are set up in every apartment building. Grassley says “There’s some secret policeman monitoring what everybody does and under those circumstances, such a lack of freedom — it’s going to be difficult just because Castro’s gone that freedom is going to immediately come on the scene unless the people would riot or something of that nature.”
The economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba is an effort to put pressure on the communist government. At 44 years, it’s considered one of the most enduring trade embargoes in modern history.