I can recall when Arkansas' First District Congressman Bill Alexander was working on the Cuban embargo issue and he provided me an opportunity to visit there on behalf of the American Agriculture Movement and the farmers it represented.

Some wanted to label us pro-communists. They were wrong. I'm no foreign policy expert, but I sincerely believe that had we begun trading and having dialogue with President Castro in 1987 when I was there, all sides would be far better off today.

The group I traveled with had two separate meetings with Fidel Castro during our trip, and we also met with all his government department heads. They were not bashful in pointing out that they valued their independence highly and had strong resentment for anyone, like the U.S., who tried to tell them how they should govern.

Exposing the Cuban people to democracy seemed to be a far better method of winning people over to it versus trying to cram it down their throats with a trade embargo.

In addition to that belief, we never could understand why it was all right to sell wheat to communist Russia and cotton to communist China but not rice to Cuba.

It's been a long time coming and the embargo is still in place, but we are currently able to export some goods to Cuba and hopefully this recent step will result in more cooperation in the future.

I think it's a win for our farm communities and a win for democracy too.

Harvey Joe Sanner
Des Arc, Ark.