Nine governors across the United States have asked the U.S. Congress to lift the blockade against Cuba in order to facilitate increased trade between the two countries.
"It's time for the Congress to act and remove the sanctions that prevent the normal trade between our country and Cuba," the governors wrote in a letter dated October 9. The message was addressed to the leadership of both the Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
The governors say they are driven by an interest in gaining access to the Cuban market for agricultural products produced in their states.
“Ending the embargo will create jobs here at home, especially in rural America, and will create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture,” they wrote.
The letter also expressed support for U.S. President Barack Obama's policy toward Cuba, which has led to the restoration of diplomatic relations.
The letter was signed by Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama, C. L. Otter of Idaho, Steve Bullock of Montana, Edmund G. Brown of California, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Thomas Wolf of Pennsylvania, Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Terence R. McAuliffe of Virginia, and Jay Inslee of Washington state. Signatories include both Republicans and Democrats.
Earlier this month U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker held high-level meetings between U.S. and Cuban officials and business representatives in an effort to promote trade and investment.
Cuban officials have repeatedly called on the United States to lift its embargo, which was imposed more than 50 years ago.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez claimed in September that the blockade imposed on Cuba by the U.S. has impacted the country's economy to the tune of US$833.7 billion in lost revenue.