McAuliffe headed to Cuba; Va. Beach lawmaker says he should address human rights

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be joined by officials from the Virginia Port Authority and other agencies on a trade mission to Cuba, his office said Friday.

The governor and other state officials will visit Cuba from Sunday to Wednesday following a recent re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States.

A press release from the McAuliffe administration said meetings would be held with potential customers and partners for Virginia companies that include Smithfield Foods, Perdue Agribusiness, T. Parker Host, Mountain Lumber Company, Virginia Natural Beef, Forever Oceans and Onduline North America.

“Virginia has been a leader in the development of relations with Cuba since federal law allowed for the export of foods and agricultural commodities to the country,” McAuliffe said in the press release. “As relations between our nations continue to normalize, this mission will further enhance Virginia’s position by expanding current agricultural export business, achieving new agricultural exports, and opening the doors to future collaboration into additional sectors.”

Del.-elect Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach, who is Cuban-American, issued a press release and Facebook post Friday calling for McAuliffe to address the issue of Cuban dissidents imprisoned for political beliefs.

“Currently the citizens of Cuba have no freedom of speech, worship, or the ability to dissent from a government that derives no consent from the governed,” Miyares said in the post.

In addition to officials from the port authority, the press release said, McAuliffe will be accompanied by: First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe; Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore and officials from his agency; Health Secretary Bill Hazel; Technology Secretary Karen Jackson; and representatives from Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art.

McAuliffe will host a reception for Virginia companies and Cuban officials as the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Cuba in Havana, according to the press release.

Patrick Wilson, The Virginian-Pilot 
January 1, 2016

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