by Tammi Arender, KNOE-TV Monroe
Sorry I didn’t get to blog yesterday. I was spent as a $100 bill on Friday night! Between the jam packed itinerary and the double H (heat and humidity), my mind had turned to oatmeal. Now, I said I would never again complain about the heat after staring -9 below zero in the face and 4 months of the snow on the ground, living one winter in West Virginia, but Heavens to Betsy, Havana feels more like Hades! Whew… I am somewhat refreshed this morning so let me see if I can recall some of the highlights of the day from Thursday.
I gained such insights into Cuba for sure. Some business leaders from Cuba met with Commissioner Mike Strain and our Louisiana delegation. Very informative. I was surprised to learn that Cuba is internationally known for its biotechnology. They’ve developed medicines and vaccines that are cutting edge. For example, one of the Cuban speakers told us about a drug they’ve developed that has actually helped diabetics save a foot or appendage that is within inches of amputation. He says they’ve also developed a vaccine for use in cattle that prevents ticks from latching on to the bovines.
In this country that seems so far behind the US and the rest of the world, they’re making incredible progress in science and medicine. They have doctors and other highly educated people here because education is free. Healthcare is free. Even PLASTIC surgery in this country is free! (Don’t get any crazy ideas. I’m not getting any work done while I’m here, even though I know every inch of me could use a “lift”. Not gonna happen.)
Back to the subject at hand…our focus of course is being able to sell our commodities (rice, sugar, oil, cattle, wheat, soybeans) to these people who desperately need it. Not only do the current residents need these life sustaining items but with tourism in this country of approximately 11 million people about to explode, they’ll need even more food and fuel to keep the country from imploding.
I truly believe the meeting between the Louisiana delegation and the Cuban business leaders will pay off. Both sides are willing to push through what will no doubt be a slow and difficult process. As the Cuban news anchor/reporter we got to visit with last night told us, this American/Cuban relationship isn’t going to be rectified in a week. She said it’s like a big breakup with a boyfriend, and after 50 years the ex returns saying, “let’s get back together”. She said it could be years before the trust factor is no longer an issue.