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CHICAGO (CBS) — Two Illinois lawmakers are heading for Cuba, in an effort to ensure Illinois is first in line when trade resumes with the island nation, which has been under a trade embargo since 1962.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports, state Reps. Daniel J. Burke (D-Chicago) and Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) are leading about a dozen lawmakers to on the trip to Cuba.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
Burke says Illinois Bar Association members returned from Cuba, saying the time is right to resume knocking on trade doors.
He hopes to develop some rapport with Cuban leaders, and assess the future of the U.S. trade embargo.
“There might be opportunity for us to recommend to the Congress that they lessen or eliminate. It’s still under discussion,” he said.
Under former Gov. George Ryan, Illinois received an embargo exemption and started doing $650 million annual agricultural business with Cuba. But that figure has dropped off to $70 million.
State Rep. Jack Franks wants to find out why the business dropped off, and plan for the future.
“Frankly, Cuba is going to be open sooner rather than later, and it only benefits the state of Illinois if we’re at the ground floor, and to continue to grow the economy there,” he said.
Franks and Burke leave Tuesday for Cuba, and return the following Monday.