By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, August 23 — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson left for Havana, Cuba on Sunday for a week long visit “to strengthen trade and cultural partnerships.”
The governor has a record of supporting an end to the US travel ban on Cuba and a relaxing of the half century economic embargo on the island.
Richardson visited Havana in 2009 trying to boost his state’s agricultural trade potential with Cuba, a major food importer. The current visit is considered a follow up on the previous trip.
He is traveling with New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Miley Gonzales and Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman, the governor’s office told AP.
Under an exemption in the US blockade, Cuba can purchase some food products from US exporters but cannot sell any of its products for shipping to US importers.
Foreign corporations or companies trading with Cuba outside the limited exemption items can face heavy fines if they want to continue doing business in the United States. Just last week the London based Barclay’s Bank was forced to pay a $298 million dollar fine for financial transactions with banks in Cuba and four other countries.
Eleven US administrations have unsuccessfully tried to bring down the Cuban government through the economic stranglehold. Gov. Richardson said last year: “I am for getting rid of the embargo.” Regarding the US travel ban on its citizens he also said: “Let anybody go to Cuba.”