The governor of Texas wrapped up a three day economic development tour of Cuba on Wednesday without meeting with any Cuban dissidents.
The information was revealed during a press conference held by Governor Greg Abbot via telephone from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Abbott said he met with business leaders, small business owners and entrepreneurs, Cuba’s minister of foreign trade, and the vice president of Cuba. He did not directly address the issue of dissidents after Breitbart Texas asked the question.
Breitbart Texas asked the governor during the conference why this was the time to take this economic development trip to Cuba given the communist nation’s record on human rights violations. Abbott said the concern of human rights violations is a valid concern and remains a valid concern. He went on to say that people become empowered to find freedom when they experience free enterprise. Abbott said he hoped to affect change in the island nation by exporting the “Texas brand of freedom, entrepreneurship and free enterprise.”
Aman Batheja with the Texas Tribune asked Governor Abbott why he did not fight the Obama Administration on Cuba like he has done on so many other issues. Abbott replied that he has fought the White House when he believed they violated federal law or worked outside the guidelines of the Constitution. He said that in this case, the government acted within the law.
Abbott said he was impressed with the way the Cuban business leaders and small business owners handled themselves. “They are hungry for economic opportunity,” he said.
Phil Prazan with KXAN TV asked the governor about rice exports from Texas. Abbott responded that Cuban’s like Texas rice. He explained there has been a decrease in rice exports from Texas to Cuba because of the cost and Cuba’s lack of cash flow. Other countries, like Vietnam, are able to offer longer payment terms to Cuba.
Abbott would not call for a lift of the embargo on Cuba. He said repeatedly that is an “issue of federal prerogative.” He said his job as governor is “to look for potential opportunities and help Texas businesses capitalize on them.”
He was again asked if it was time to end the embargo. “I am working under the way the law is today,” Abbott responded. “I can aid Texas business leaders in working within the confines of the existing law.”
Cuba’s minister of foreign trade and investment told the Texas governor, “This is an historic process. It’s historic because it’s been a long time and a lot of administrations and there weren’t any changes, and now is when the changes are taking place. We think this process is irreversible, it’s not going to be taken back.” Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz made the comments during meetings on Wednesday morning, according to a pool report issued by the Governor’s Office.
“So many businessmen and women in Texas are very successful entrepreneurs that can a find a way to work with Cuba very, very successfully, in a way that will be beneficial to Texas, to the United States and for Cuba,” Abbott told Diaz.
Abbott also had an unexpected meeting with Ricardo Cabrisas, Cuba’s vice president of the council of ministers.
Abbott told reporters that this trip was more of a ground breaking trip. He said, “Texans can capitalize on Cuba.” He suggested that in addition to exporting Texas’ agricultural products, the state can also benefit by exporting agricultural technology. He said Texas ag technology was far superior to that found in Cuba. He also said the Cuba could benefit by importing medical technology from Texas as well as technology to help Cuba develop its “wealth of untapped energy.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.