Governor Bill Richardson is traveling to Havana, Cuba, today as part of a trade mission designed to capitalize on potential agricultural and cultural partnerships between Cuba and New Mexico. The delegation will market New Mexico agricultural products and plant the seeds for possible cultural exchanges in the future.
The mission’s primary objective will be to promote the sale of New Mexico agricultural products. Under a provision of the US Treasury Department Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), states are authorized to sell agricultural, medical and IT products in Cuba on a cash basis. Since 2000, a total of 42 other states have participated in similar trade missions to Cuba with total sales of more than $3 billion. The mission will include meetings with officials from Alimport, which is the Cuban Government agency responsible for agricultural commerce.
Accompanying Gov. Richardson to Cuba will be state Agriculture Department Secretary Miley Gonzalez, Cultural Affairs Secretary Stuart Ashman, Katherine Miller, Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, and Gilbert Gallegos, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
Governor Richardson is paying for all of his own expenses during the trip. The delegation will return to New Mexico on Friday.
This will be New Mexico’s third mission to Cuba to promote its agricultural goods. The first took place in 2007 and was led by then-Congressman Tom Udall; the second in 2008 led by Cultural Affairs Secretary Ashman.
The Art Museum at the National Hispanic Cultural Center is bringing a major exhibition on contemporary Cuban art to New Mexico. Confluencias Inside: Arte Cubano Contemporáneo provides an exciting overview of what is happening now with significant Cuban artists and various media. The exhibition, which opens at the NHCC on September 13 and runs through May 16, 2010, includes approximately 100 works by 40 artists working inside Cuba.