Illinois crops can make more inroads into Cuba, says an active exporter who heads the Illinois Cuba Working Group. “I would argue that, by continuing to maintain the status quo, we are only supporting the existing structures. I believe that Cubans want to do more business with the United States,” says Paul Johnson, director of the Illinois Cuba Working Group. “Every time there’s a little bit of opportunity, it seems that the United States is the first one to close those doors; not the other way around.”
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Johnson, owner of Chicago Foods International, is part of a group urging Congress and the president to amend the Trade Sanction and Reform Act to allow Cuba to trade with the U. S. on credit, among other things. “What we've seen since 2008 is a decline in exports between the U.S. and Cuba because of that one obstacle,”Johnson says.