Photo: Granma

WASHINGTON.—Nine U.S. governors sent a setter to Congress leaders calling for decisive steps to open up trade with Cuba and put an end to the blockade.

“It is time for Congress to take action and remove the financial, travel, and other restrictions that impede normal commerce and trade between our nation and Cuba,” the letter dated October 9 reads.

The governors highlighted increased Cuban agricultural purchases from the U.S. following a change in legislation in 2000, but indicate that a “sustainable trade relationship cannot be limited to one sector or involve only one-way transactions.”

“Though U.S. food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba under current sanctions, financing restrictions imposed by the embargo (blockade) limit the ability of U.S. companies to competitively serve the Cuban market.”

Competitors such as Canada, Brazil and the European Union, which are not subject to such limitations, are taking market share from U.S. industry, the document adds.

Ending the blockade would create jobs and new opportunities in the U.S. agricultural sector and open up a market of 11 million people just 90 miles away, the letter notes.

The governors also highlight the potential of enhanced exchanges between the two peoples should the restrictions on tourist travel by U.S. citizens be lifted. This constitutional right is currently limited to 12 approved categories of travel, including cultural, scientific, journalistic and “people to people” trips.

The politicians expressed their support for the executive actions taken by President Barack Obama, but called on members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to act to end the blockade.

The letter is signed by Governors Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Jay Inslee (Washington), Thomas Wolf (Pennsylvania), Steve Bullock (Montana), Mark Dayton (Minnesota), Butch Otter (Idaho), Robert Bentley (Alabama), Jerry Brown (California) and Peter Shumlin (Vermont).

Since the announcements of December 17, 2014, which opened a new chapter in relations between Cuba and the United States, many U.S. state delegations have arrived in the country to explore business opportunities and have criticized the continued restrictions.