NCBA CLUSA calls on President Trump to build relationship with Cuba and its co-op sector

The apex organisations for co-operative enterprises, NCBA CLUSA, has sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of progress on the US-Cuban relations.

The memo, US Policy Towards Cuba: The Case for Engagement, is signed by NCBA CLUSA, the Cuba Study Group and 16 other organisations.

The letter highlights how the USA can benefit from the engagement with Cuba, including job creation – while disengagement would present a risk to national security and human rights.

The Cuban private sector accounts for 30% of the country’s workforce, with the co-operative model preferred by businesses. January saw Cuba’s first export to the US in 50 years, from co-op which is selling charcoal to a US firm at $420 a ton.

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“Co-operative businesses and the private sector in Cuba will continue to grow through engagement between the US and Cuba. There is a rich history of the US co-operative sector supporting co-operative business around the world and Cuba is no exception,” said Amy Coughenour Betancourt, head of the US – Cuba Co-operative Working Group of NCBA CLUSA and chief operating officer for International Development.

“With collaboration through groups like the US – Cuba Cooperative Working Group, co-operative sectors from both countries can only advance.”

NCBA CLUSA’s Cuba Working Group was launched in 2014, after Barack Obama announced plans to normalise diplomatic ties between the two countries. The group aims to promote collaboration between the two countries’ co-operative sectors.

As part of this engagement, NCBA CLUSA member, Organic Valley, will host Cuban co-op farmers during their MOSES Organic Farming training conference. A US delegation also visited Cuba last July.

Cuba has signed an agreement with the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an agency financing agricultural development project, and will receive funding to set up livestock co-operatives.

The Cuban government said the partnership with IFAD played a key role in its objective to consolidate a sustainable agricultural sector. The project will benefit 34,500 people and 105 co-operatives with over 11,500 families in the rural areas.