North Dakota in Cuba -- and a note on some of its War attitudes

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at
Fri Sep 27 04:43:23 MDT 2002

            Note by Hunterbear:

            "Cuba is a socialist country, and the Cubans are impressed by
the [N.D.] state mill's socialist roots, Taylor said."

            North Dakota has a well-established and very broadly supported
state flour mill at Grand Forks --  a very socialist arrangement..  And, in
the old days, there was a very strong socialist movement in the state --
much of this manifested through the Non-Partisan League.  In those days,
immediately prior to World War I, North Dakota farmers worked out amicable
agreements with the I.W.W.

            In the last generation, several thousand farmers and ranchers
have lost their land -- and the state is poor.  Many small towns across the
state, especially in the central and western cattle ranching areas, have
functionally died. Several years ago, my youngest son, Peter, then still in
his early 20s and  state editor of the state-wide Bismarck Tribune, did a
major -- and very sad -- series on the dying towns in the ranching areas.

            Of course, in contrast to the AP writer, I certainly don't see
Castro as a "dictator" -- but, at this point, the general North Dakota
setting is predominately Republican.  [I've always seen the Cuban Revolution
as very close to those in 20th Century Mexico -- including, of course, the
homegrown caudillo traditions.] On the other hand, North Dakota isn't caught
up in high paranoia. A major labor leader in the eastern part of the state,
and a good personal friend, is a formal member of CPUSA.

            And this North Dakota sojourn in Cuba  is an interesting story
to read in the Grand Forks Herald whose editor resisted military service
during the Viet Nam era [fine with me] --  and has then vociferously
supported every United States military action ever since. A few days ago,
the Herald had a venomously hawkish editorial supporting war against Iraq.
An immediate, signed response took very sharp issue with the paper's
position.  It came from the wife of an Air Force fighter pilot based at
nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base.

            Hunter [Hunterbear] [AMVETS]


           Posted on Fri, Sep. 27, 2002

            Castro munches on N.D. pasta at Cuban food fair  [Grand Forks

            By Dale Wetzel
            Associated Press

            BISMARCK Cuban dictator Fidel Castro munched on North Dakota
fettucine noodles Thursday at the start of a Havana trade show, which North
Dakota producers hope will give them an entree into a new export market.

            During a tour of the exhibit hall after the show's Thursday
opening, Castro stopped by the North Dakota booth and walked over to the
Dakota Growers Pasta Co. display, Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a
telephone interview from Havana.

            Castro ate some fettucine, holding up his fork for the benefit
of photographers, and said he liked it before he began talking about the
satisfaction of making one's own pasta sauces, Dalrymple said.

            The news was especially pleasing to Dalrymple, who is chairman
of the Carrington-based company. "He tried some of our noodles, and in front
of hundreds of cameras, said that he thought it was very good," Dalrymple

            Castro did not know where North Dakota was, and an aide produced
a map of the United States to show him. "We also had to show him where Iowa
was," Dalrymple said.

            Present companies

            Dakota Growers is one of 10 companies that have sent
representatives to Cuba. The group includes seed companies; RDO Foods, a
Grand Forks potato processor; the state Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks,
which makes semolina and hard red spring wheat flour; and Premier Pulses
International Inc., a Minot pea processor.

            They are based in the same area in the exhibit hall, about 100
feet from the main entrance and near a huge display by one of the event's
main sponsors, Archer Daniels Midland.

            ADM, an agribusiness giant that is based in Decatur, Ill., is
one of the sponsors of the event, which is officially called the U.S. Food &
Agribusiness Exhibition. Almost 300 exhibitors, representing more than 30
states, are present.

            Other cropsDalrymple said North Dakota representatives met
Thursday with Pedro Alvarez, the director of Alimport, the Cuban
government's food-buying agency. Alvarez expressed interest in buying green
and yellow peas, black beans and semolina, which is made from durum wheat
and used to make pasta.

            Alan Juliuson, who raises dry edible beans near Hope, N.D., and
is representing the Northarvest Bean Growers Association, said Cuba has the
potential to be the cooperative's largest market for dry edible beans.
Demand is about 100,000 metric tons annually.

            "It's going to take a while to develop . . . but that's what the
need is," Juliuson said.

            The cooperative, which is based in Frazee, Minn., includes
growers from North Dakota and Minnesota.

            Bread flour, tooVance Taylor, manager of the state-owned Mill
and Elevator, said Cuban buyers are interested in high-protein bread flour
as well as semolina. He hopes to sell as much as 1,000 metric tons of
product, he said.

            Cuba is a socialist country, and the Cubans are impressed by the
state mill's socialist roots, Taylor said.

            "They do identify with that. We think that has got to be one of
our strong selling points as we put this deal together," Taylor said. "We're
unique in that way."

            The North Dakota Farm Bureau helped organize the trip. Last
July, the Farm Bureau also organized a separate trade mission to Cuba, which
was led by Gov. John Hoeven.

            Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said the July mission and
work by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., in advocating more U.S. trade with Cuba
has given the North Dakota delegation an advantage at the trade show.

            "It's a unique mixture . . . from the Cubans' perspective of
buying products, but at the same time being very attuned to the political
ramifications," Johnson said. "Every one of them knows Sen. Dorgan, and they
love him because of the work that he's done in advocating to open this
market up."

            Most U.S. trade with Cuba is prohibited, although sales of food
and medicine are allowed. American banks and the federal government are not
allowed to finance any sales to Cuba, which effectively means the Cuban
government must pay cash for its purchases.

            Dorgan wants to lift U.S. trade restrictions with Cuba, while
President Bush wants to retain them as long as Castro does not allow free

            "Obviously, they want the embargo fully removed," Johnson said
about the Cubans. "From many different angles, they're coming at us with
different reasons . . . why our federal government policy isn't a sensible
one, and it isn't being fair to Cuba."


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