East Texan In Cuban Timber Trade talks

For over 40 years since the communist revolution in Cuba the U-S has had an embargo of all exports to that island nation, and strained relations with Castro strangling communist regime.But oddly enough Texas trees could play a part in normalizing relations.

"Of course in east Texas the largest single economic factor other than oil and gas is timber." said Steve Dean representative of the Texas-Cuba trade alliance.

The U-S lifted the embargo on foodstuffs in 2000 and in a July trip to Havana. Dean of Gilmer represented the alliance and says the Cubans desperately need what Texas has. Dean was selected for the trip for his experience in the materials export field and wasn't sure what he was going to see when he got there.

"The average persons reaction when you tell them you're going to Cuba is they fear for your safety," says Dean. What he found was a country in dire need of raw materials and a people eagerly wanting the things we sometimes take for granted. "You sometimes see how it has stood still for the last 30 or 40 years. The people down there are absolutely friendly , they very warm and their cordial."

The communist regime is warming up to the idea of trade with Texas. "I think the Cubans to them Texas could be a notch in their belt so to speak if they could claim that they're dealing with Texas. I think they're looking forward to it." Dean plans another trip to Havana in October for further talks.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.