Montana Politics

A Little More on Dennis Rehberg’s Love/Hate Relationship with Cuba

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Just a little more looking into what Denny Rehberg thinks about trade with Cuba demonstrates that the change in his thinking is much more than a question of technocratic nuance. He seemed committed to the principle that trade with Cuba was the right thing to do, for both the Cuban people and Montana farmers, before changing his mind and making a deposit in his campaign coffers.

In fact, On April 22, 2003,  he seemed to tell Ken Guggenheim of the Associated Press that it was immoral to hold back food from any people to punish their government:

"While we may not like his government, food is not something that ought to be held back from any community in the world," said Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who sees Cuba as a potential market for wheat, barley and dry beans grown in his state.

On September 13, 2003, Representative Rehberg seemed absolutely excited about the idea of trading with Cuba. He told Courtney Lowery how excited he was to sell Montana agriculture to Cuba:

Rehberg said there is also room for Montana organic farmers to sell their products to Cuba. The last time he was in the country, he met with President Fidel Castro, who he said was specifically interested in importing organic products.

In the past year, as sugar markets dropped for Cuba, the country has made a big push to increase its cattle industry.

Cuba this year is hoping to buy 100,000 head of cattle, Rehberg said, and so far, the country has imported a "minuscule" amount of that. That leaves ample room for Montana cattle ranchers to step in.

In my mind, it’s actually a sign of political courage to change one’s mind when the circumstances change. Betraying deeply held principles for the sake of a few campaign dollars? Positively Burnsian.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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