Illinois Group Commends Cuba Breakthrough

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

WILMETTE ILL. – December 17, 2014- The Illinois Cuba Working Group (ICWG) is pleased with President Barack Obama’s actions to improve trade and business relations with Cuba. ICWG also applauds the release of U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who has been held by the Cuban government since 2009. This is a major step forward.

“This is a victory for U.S. businesses and also for the 11 million Cubans who can have a better quality of life because of potential increased trade between our two countries.” says Paul Johnson, ICWG executive director.

“We also feel this is the beginning of opening up relations and improving financing that will allow Illinois businesses and agricultural products to reach Cuba,” says Duane Dahlman, Illinois Soybean Growers Marketing Committee Chair and soybean farmer from Marengo, Ill.

The ICWG believes that the improvement of economic trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba is the foundation for future success between the two countries. The development of the Cuban economy is as beneficial to Cuba as it is the U.S.

We encourage Congress to take the next step and remove the embargo in 2015.

The President also is allowing expanded commercial sales and exports of goods and services to Cuba, including agricultural equipment for small farmers; allowing greater business training; and permitting greater communications hardware and services to go to the island. Other changes permit U.S. and Cuban banks to build relationships and travelers to use credit and debit cards.

The Illinois Cuba Working Group was formed at the request of the Illinois General Assembly. The organization grew out of an initiative that began in 1999 when Illinois was the first state to travel to Cuba during the embargo. Through the collaboration of Illinois political, business and community support, Congress passed the Trade Sanctions and Reform Act in 2001. That act permitted the sale of agricultural products, and represented the first major effort to remove the embargo and barriers to normalized trade relations with Cuba. For details, visit