Following death of Castro, Louisiana lawmakers look to future of trade

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Fidel Castro is gone and reaction in Washington is mixed. Members of Congress are considering the effects his passing will have on their constituents. For Louisiana lawmakers, they're interested to see how Castro's death will impact the trade possibilities between the two countries.

Congressman Abraham (R-LA) says now more than ever, the possibilities are unlimited for the Cuba-U.S. relationship.

"I'm all about doing things that would be good for the Cuban people, which by the way, would also be good for folks in Louisiana," said Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

Cassidy thinks the passing of former President Fidel Castro could bring better times for the Cuban people. With Castro gone, Cassidy imagines a strengthening of ties between the U.S. and Cuba, which could mean plenty of opportunity for Louisiana agriculture products to reach the island nation.

"One thing that would be good for Cubans, is if American Louisiana rice could be exported to Cuba," said Cassidy. "That would be good for Cubans, not for the ruling regime, but good for the people."

Cassidy says Cuba could also learn from Louisiana's offshore drilling tactics to ensure safer practice.

"If there's an oil spill it's going to wash right up that gulf stream on to those Florida beaches," said Cassidy.

But, questions remain as to how President-elect Donald Trump will work with Cuba. In the wake of Castro's passing, Trump hinted that if current President Raul Castro fails to make some changes, like freedom of religion and the release of political prisoners, he would terminate the relationship.

"They should want to be friends with us," said Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-LA). "We...need to leverage this power vacuum that will certainly occur."

Abraham made a trade mission trip to Cuba earlier this year. He called the possibilities unlimited when it comes to a relationship with the country.

"It's going to be us, or it's going to be...another country such as a China or a Russia or a South American country that is going to come in and take advantage of this opportunity. So we have to be smart enough," said Abraham.

Senator Cassidy is planning to visit Cuba at the end of this year. Congressman Abraham says he is planning another trip for the Spring.