Castro, NAACP Discuss Trade Links Between Cuba, Black U.S. Farmers

Cuban leader Fidel Castro "seemed very interested" in creating trade links with thousands of black American farmers under a U.S. law allowing some agricultural transactions with the island, the NAACP's leader said Wednesday.

Kweisi Mfume and other members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People delegation discussed the issue with Castro during a four-hour meeting Tuesday. The delegation includes John Boyd, president of the National Association of Black Farmers, representing more than 12,000 growers in 38 states. Another meeting between the NAACP delegation and Pedro Alvarez, president of Cuba's food import company, is set for later this week, Mfume said.

Another meeting with Castro is possible before the group returns to the United States on Friday, Mfume said.

The NAACP, the oldest and largest civil rights organization in the United States, is also exploring the possibility of establishing a branch in Cuba, Mfume said. The NAACP, with about 500,000 members, currently has overseas branches in Japan, Germany and South Korea.

"We hope to build a bridge between the NAACP and the people of Cuba, many of whom are descendants of Africa," said Mfume, the organization's president and chief operating officer.

The former U.S. congressman first traveled to Cuba a decade ago as part of a delegation.

During the current visit, the NAACP delegation also met with government opponents, American diplomats in Havana and representatives of the National Assembly, Cuba's unicameral parliament.