MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura is tentatively scheduled to address students at the University of Havana during his September visit to Cuba to attend the U.S. Food and Agribusiness Exhibition.
"That's their Harvard," said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a nonpartisan business organization that is helping to coordinate Ventura's visit.
Kavulich said the telling of Ventura's life story, as a pro wrestler and entertainer who went into politics, would be "a definition of what our political system is capable of."
Long a foe of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, Ventura has made it clear that his trip will have a political mission -- to argue against his country's 40-year-long attempt to isolate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
"I want to go there to bring light to the fact that it's a failed policy," Ventura said recently. "It's time to change how we view Cuba today. Cuba's no threat to the U.S. anymore."
Ventura, who is leaving office at the end of the year, has been looking for an opportunity to visit Cuba for several years.
U.S. restrictions on travel and trade make it difficult for states to undertake wide-ranging trade missions to Cuba, as Ventura did in Japan, Mexico and China. So the governor's staff linked up with business groups sponsoring the mammoth trade show designed to show off the bounty of U.S. farms.
The arrangement allows Ventura and his staff to travel to Havana from Sept. 25 to 28 under the permits granted to the show's sponsors. Ventura's staff hopes most of the governor's costs will be paid by sponsors and by Minnesota companies flying down for the event. Cargill, Land O'Lakes and Hormel Foods are among the 150 U.S. corporations participating in the food exposition, the governor's office said.
Ventura would be only the third U.S. governor to visit since the trade embargo was first imposed in 1962. Illinois Gov. George Ryan made a five-day visit in October 1999.
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