WACO, Texas — Thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets of Havana, pushing back on the 62-year-old communist regime, but better relations between the island nation and Texas could mean big dollars for the economy.
"Our history and our connections go back literally over 100 years," said C. Parr Rosson, Associate Head for Extension at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. "There was a time when Cuba imported rice from Texas and some meat products. This goes back to pre-embargo days."
It's that history experts like Rosson say Texas stands to profit from if the U.S. trade embargo, imposed in October 1960, could be lifted soon under the Biden administration.
For over 61 years, exports like nickel and tourism are still heavily restricted from the communist nation as are remittances, or payments made oversees to loved ones in foreign countries.
Easy restrictions toward the Cuban economy could be a sure bet for American companies, according to Rosson. Especially, for private enterprise in Texas.
"You know if the embargo were gone, and we had relatively open trading relationships, Cuba could be a billion-dollar market for U.S. companies," Rosson said.
Though, this isn't the first time Texas has called for opening up the Cuban economy to American companies and their dollars.
Rosson said the state has spearheaded efforts to educate the public and agricultural companies toward doing business with Cuba since 2000. In fact, Governor Greg Abbott traveled to Havana back in 2015, which his office called an "effort to improve Texas-Cuba relations."
"We were one of the first states to pass a bill urging Congress to lift the embargo," Rosson said. "Texas has really led the way in more ways than one when it comes to trying to work with our own government and the government of Cuba."
In the hopes recent protests among the Cuban people will spark change, he said Texans should be ready to invest their business and tourist dollars if a breakthrough happens between Washington and Havana soon.
"In the future what we can expect to see is Texas companies being interested, ready and prepared when the time is right," Rosson said.