Gov. Greg Abbott, much like his predecessor, is hardly one to forgo an economic opportunity, even when the politics are tricky.
That’s why Abbott will be leading a delegation from the Lone Star State to Havana, Cuba, on Monday.
The governor, his staff and a team of business and economic leaders from around the state will spend three days in the island nation, discussing trade, tourism and investment. Capitalizing on export opportunities for Texas agriculture is a top priority for the delegation.
Cuba has long been on the receiving end of a strict trade embargo, a vestige of the Cold War during which the communist nation was aligned with the Soviet Union.
The thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, announced last year by the Obama administration, brings with it a new market for Texas businesses.
Such economic benefits are good for the state.
Abbott seems to agree.
But they aren’t enough to convince some other Texas leaders that the restoration of relations with Cuba serves an ultimate good.
Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, himself of Cuban extraction, has sharply criticized the administration’s decision to reopen diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.
“Fidel and Raul Castro have just received both international legitimacy and a badly needed economic lifeline from President Obama,” he said at the time.
Fort Worth’s own Rep. Kay Granger, who is chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, expressed her own opposition to the move while Cuba’s leaders “continue to repress the Cuban people.”
Such criticisms aren’t wholly without merit.
But there is good reason to believe that increased trade will provided a secondary benefit for the Cuban and American people.
As Abbott declared in a press release announcing his trip, “Opening the door to business with Texas will expand free enterprise and the freedom that flows from it.”
Some Texans know to never underestimate the power of economic freedom.