LA Trade Delegation Heads to Cuba

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana's first trade delegation to Cuba in half a century departs next week. It's a sign the state is benefiting from a relaxing of the United States' economic embargo against the Communist country.

But the fact that Louisiana has decided to send an official mission to a trade event usually attended by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has opened some old wounds in New Orleans, which had close ties to Cuba before Castro seized power. Local lawyer George Fowler, general counsel of the Cuban American National Foundation and Castro critic, derided the mission headed by new Louisiana economic development secretary Michael Olivier. Fowler says Louisiana officials shouldn't be making formal visits to a "terrorist state."

The U.S.State Department has officially designated Cuba as a terrorist-supporting country. The Havana trip is sponsored by Alimport, Cuba's agency in charge of food and agricultural trade.