In the News: Augustana Professor Reflects on Castro's Death
By Carlos O. Gonzalez, KSFY News
The death of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro has triggered a variety of emotions — not only in Cuba — but across the world.
Here in South Dakota — leaders in the agriculture industry say Castro's passing is a step in the right direction for a future expansion of trade.
“It's an exciting time for Cuba and it's a moment where this could really shape what's going to happen for the next 20-30 years.”
— Dr. Cory Conover
Associate Professor of History
Conover's specialty is in Latin American studies and he has visited Cuba with a group of his students numerous times.
"There are very few figures like Fidel Castro. He is polemic like no other," added Conover.
He says although Castro just passed away three days ago — Cuba has already seen a number of monumental reforms since his time in office.
"Opening up of the telecommunications, opening up of the internet, allowing outside information in Cuba for the first time really in decades. So, it's easier if you are a Cuban citizen to know what's going on in the world," Conover said.
And while South Dakota agricultural leaders believe the death of Castro is a positive thing for the people in Cuba — it can also have a big benefit right here in South Dakota.
"Their main imports are chicken, pork and animal feed. So, obviously being a heavy pork state, we would benefit from that. Also, I know Cuba hasn't imported any wheat from the U.S. in many, many years and that would be an opportunity for South Dakota, too, being a major wheat producer," said President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau Scott VanderWal.
But in making that possible — people in the agricultural industry believe there needs to be a lift on the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
"Congress has to act on that and we've been advocating for quite sometime to open up trade with Cuba, and it's not because of their leaders, it's because we can see very clearly the last 50 years shutting them off from trade has not helped their people. All it does is put money in the pocket of their leaders," VanderWal said.