Farmer plows his field with oxen in Viñales, Cuba | Credit: Bodow/Wikimedia Commons

Congressmember Salud Carbajal punctuated this year’s rousing non-defeat in the midterm elections by
taking what he stressed was a “bipartisan” delegation of members of the House Agriculture Committee
to Cuba. In a Saturday press release devoid of a single quote from Carbajal, the press statement
announced that because the “United States is one of Cuba’s largest suppliers of agricultural imports, we
look forward to seeing the impact of U.S. products and the opportunity to survey local agricultural

Carbajal, a Democrat, is taking the trip along with Jim Baird of Indiana — a Republican — and
Representative Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, a Democrat. The delegation reportedly will meet with
Cuban farmers and agricultural business operators with an eye on “opportunities for mutual economic
benefit.” What exactly this means was hidden behind the verbiage of an unusually opaque press release.
Cuba’s agricultural sector — which employs roughly 20 percent of the population — has been struggling
in recent years as crop production has plummeted in the face of heavier rains, hotter temperatures, and
sea-level rise all associated with climate change. Perhaps inspired by this bleak scenario — coupled with
less-repressive travel restrictions — Cubans have been leaving their island nation off the coast of Florida
in record numbers this year, with a 471 percent increase in the number crossing into the United States
from the Mexican border.

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