They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I won’t comment on the sanity of Mauricio Claver-Carone because I’d never heard of him until a few days ago.
But you really have to wonder about someone who demands the United States continue a policy that basically says if we just keep blocking or disrupting shipments of nearly everything t Cuba for decades eventually the Castro government will give in and step down from power.
Fidel Castro, the primary focus of the ire of Claver-Carone and other Cuban immigrants in the Miami area, died Nov. 25, but the Cuba observers we follow expect little to change with Cuba policy under a Trump administration at least until Raul Castro leaves office in 2018.
In some respects, Claver-Carone and those Cuban immigrants, some of them related to the Fidel Castro by marriage, have been holding U.S. farmers – and the entire country, for that matter – hostage because of their anger at the late Cuban dictator and his confiscation of their land and other holdings in the 1960s.
The Cuba lobbyists, of which Claver-Carone was one until recently, have exerted an inordinate amount of influence on U.S. policy through a number of administrations because of ideas they controlled votes in Miami, which could determine elections in Florida and, well, you know the rest.
Several members of Congress, including Arkansas Republican Rick Crawford, have put forth a lot of effort to get those policies changed. Now the future of Rep. Crawford’s legislation is uncertain.
President-elect Trump named Claver-Carone to work on the transition team for appointments to the Treasury Department, which includes the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the agency which issued regulations for trade with Cuba, including the rule that Cuba must pay cash in advance for shipments of U.S. rice rather than using letters of credit like most of our customers.
USA Rice Federation officials have indicated they don’t consider Claver-Carone’s appointment to the Treasury Department team a particularly good omen.
Selling 300,000 to 400,000 metric tons of rice to Cuba this year would do wonders for U.S. rice prices at a time when U.S. rice farmers need all the help they can get.