Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar begs to disagree with President Trump’s modest curtailment of Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba’s Communist regime. CNN gives Klobuchar’s column the jarring headline “Trump, we need Cuba’s business.”
I don’t think Senator Klobuchar would ever address the president as “Trump.” I seriously doubt that the form of address was supplied by her for the headline. It’s just not her way. I also don’t think we “need” Cuba’s business.
Klobuchar’s column is a throwback of sorts. It harks back to the American capitalists’ ardor to do deals with the Soviet Union. It is the ardor that supposedly inspired Lenin’s aphorism “The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.”
The implication that President Trump somehow erred by curtailing any of our business with the Cuban regime is the theme of her column: “Doing business with Cuba is good for America. It’s that simple. American business owners get it.”
She strikes a local note in her first example: “Take the turkey growers from my home state who are hopeful that income growth among Cubans will lead to higher demand for American poultry. Or the farmers throughout the Midwest who want to export their crops to Cuba.”
Klobuchar argues: “Nationwide, American businesses export about $300 million in agricultural products to Cuba each year– and that’s just for humanitarian purposes. If the trade embargo were lifted, the US Department of Agriculture believes that number would be more than three times as much.” Klobuchar doesn’t link to any source that supports the Department of Agriculture estimate, but she concedes that Minnesota farmers already export turkey to Cuba.
I don’t want to get lost in the weeds, but let’s pause here for a moment. Minnesota is ranked number one in the United States for turkey production. If you seek turkeys, Minnesotans, look around.
According to Minnesota Turkey Industrial Facts (dated November 2014), only five percent of Minnesota’s turkey production is exported to international markets. The top five export markets for United States turkey meat are given as Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia and South Korea. Klobuchar to the contrary notwithstanding, I doubt the great impact on Minnesota’s turkey industry of any change in American policy toward Cuba.
Klobuchar’s column is presented as a dissent from Trump’s policy, but it appears to me that this is highly misleading. Klobuchar disagrees with the United States embargo of Cuba. The embargo remains the law of the land. Klobuchar seeks its repeal.
Klobuchar nowhere acknowledges how Communism has turned Cuba into a slave state or impoverished the island, rendering the Cuban economy a pitiful wreck. In its 2017 Index of Economic Freedom the Heritage Foundation notes, for example: “In the absence of significant future oil subsidies from nearly bankrupt Venezuela, Cuba’s dysfunctional economy is even more dependent on external assistance such as remittances from Cuban émigrés.”
Klobuchar presents herself as a forceful advocate of American economic interests, putting all other considerations to one side. She doesn’t acknowledge that the Castro regime is an enemy of the United States or mention that the Castro regime has provided refuge to American fugitives such as Joanne Chesimard (a/k/a Assata Shakur), whom President Trump called out in his remarks in Miami on Friday.
I had forgotten about Chesimard until I read Bryan Burrough’s riveting Days of Rage when it was published two years ago. Chesimard was a member and leader of the cop-killing Black Liberation Army. Burrough quotes others who characterize her as the group’s “heart and soul.” In 1973 she participated in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which Trooper Werner Foerster was murdered and Trooper James Harper seriously injured. In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the shootout.
Chesimard escaped from prison in New Jersey and has been on the lam since 1979. She is believed to be holed up in Havana, in the sheltering arms of the Communists who run the asylum and the asylum operation. In 2013 the FBI made Chesimard the first woman to be named to the Most Wanted Terrorists list. She has had a substantial reward out on her capture for several years. It’s too bad Klobuchar couldn’t find room for any mention of Chesimard in her column.