Quietly the U.S. and Cuba are continuing to hold bilateral meetings on various topics. Recently, for example, the meetings have covered cybersecurity, drug trafficking, terrorism, irregular immigration and money laundering.
The latest, on April 10 and 11, in Washington, D.C. was on the subject of agriculture.
This meeting provided the opportunity to review the state of the implementation of the countries’ Framework Memorandum of Understanding on Agriculture and the Memorandum of Understanding on Animal and Plant Health. In particularly, both parties reviewed the compliance with the activities previously agreed upon, and analyzed the new actions proposed and other initiatives to give continuance to the technical exchanges.
This bilateral cooperation benefits both Cuban and U.S. farmers and helps promote the sustainability and development of agriculture, which are related to organic agriculture, soil management, water conservation, the prevention and treatment of plant pests and animal diseases, as well as to the actions for organic certification and seeds, among others.
The Cuban delegation was led by Moraima Céspedes Morales, Director for International Affairs at the Ministry of Agriculture, and composed of other officials of the ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs. The U.S. delegation was led by John P. Passino, Director for Western Hemisphere at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and composed of other officials of that agency and of the Department of State.
The meeting was held in an ambiance of respect and professionalism. Both delegations shared the view to underscore the importance of maintaining the bilateral cooperation in these topics.
It is refreshing to know that the U.S. and Cuba are continuing to hold meetings on various subjects of mutual interest despite all the hostile rhetoric from the U.S.
At the same time it is disappointing that there was no mention of this latest meeting on the websites of the U.S. Departments of State or Agriculture or in the U.S. major news media.
However, on April 5, U.S. Senator John Boozman (Rep., AR) addressed the subject of U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba in a short article that stated the following: “United States’ producers are unable to fully tap into the Cuban market because federal law prohibits private financing for agricultural trade with Cuba. This misguided policy creates a major roadblock to trade. That’s why Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and I introduced the Agriculture Export Expansion Act to lift the ban on private banks and companies offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba. It’s a small step that would help level the playing field for farmers and exporters, while simultaneously exposing Cubans to American ideals, values and products. A true win-win for American farmers and the Cuban people.”
 This blog has commented on these bilateral meetings. E.g., Cuba and U.S. Continue To Hold Bilateral Meetings on Various Issues (Jan. 18, 2018).
 Cuba Foreign Ministry, Representatives from Cuba and the United States talk about cooperation in agriculture (April 11, 2018); Cuba Embassy in U.S., Representatives from Cuba and the United States talk about cooperation in agriculture (April 11, 2018); Cuba and the United States exchange on cooperation in agriculture, Granma (April 12, 2018); Washington and Havana talk about agriculture in a new technical meeting, Diario de Cuba (April 12, 2018).