PALMETTO -- At Thursday's Manatee Port Authority board meeting, members were asked to consider what if the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba was lifted. Would the port be ready to do business? According to Port Director Carlos Buqueras, the answer is "yes."
Leonard D Moecklin, Vice President of Havana Ferry Partners LLC, gave a presentation at the meeting, focusing on just how to prepare for post-embargo trade, should the U.S. Government change its policy, a move that could mean billions to the Florida economy.
"We need to be in a position to trade with Cuba," Moecklin said, adding, "We need to take the steps today so we will be ready."
The idea of Port Manatee and Havana being trading partners isn't new. Port Manatee has shipped phosphate to Cuba in the past, and Cuban port officials have met with Manatee port officials to discuss trade, dating back to May of 2003.
In November of the same year, then Manatee Commissioner Joe McClash traveled with a delegation to Cuba to speak with port officials there, discussing increasing the amount of products that were legal under current restrictions (food, lumber and medical products).
Moecklin says, "We can't just wait for everyone to die off," referring to the "old guard" Cuban following that was forced to leave the country during the revolution, and who still support "no trade" while the current regime is in power.
Moecklin is the Executive Vice President and founding partner of Havana Ferry Partners, and former Vice President of Miller Farms Exports of Basalt, Colorado.
Miller Farms was instrumental in opening trade between the USA and Cuba and helping the Clinton Administration in forming the Trade Sanction Reform and Export Exchange Act.
Buqueras added, "With Cuba's proximity to Port Manatee, it would be foolish to not be ready for trade."
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