HAVANA, CUBA -- Gov. George H. Ryan today arrived in Havana, Cuba to meet with Illinois pharmaceutical firms willing to sell medicines and medical supplies that are badly needed in the wake of last November's hurricane.
“By reaching out to our neighbors, we are further extending a bridge of understanding and goodwill,” said Governor Ryan. “We’re exploring a market for Illinois businesses and farmers with a neighbor, just 90 miles from U.S. shores. The people of Illinois are ready, willing and able to provide help to the people of Cuba in their time of need.”
This afternoon, Governor and Mrs. Ryan were greeted at the Havana airport by Cuban officials. Later, Governor Ryan and representatives from the Illinois businesses will meet with officials from the Cuban Ministries of Public Health and Foreign Affairs and MediCuba, the purchasing arm of the Ministry of Public Health.
“In the two years since I first brought a delegation of Illinois government and business leaders here, we have worked together to solve problems that face all of us and have established strong relationships that I know will endure for years to come.
And just as we have made headway in the sale of food products to Cuba, now we must make the same headway in the humanitarian sale of other products,” Governor Ryan added.
The firms meeting with the Governor and Cuban officials include: Ferris Manufacturing, of Burr Ridge; Medline, of Mundelein; DMS Pharmaceutical, of Park Ridge; JLR International, of Chicago; and 21st Century Healthcare, of Woodridge.
The Illinois Trade Office contacted the state's pharmaceutical firms last month, after the Cuban Interest Section in Washington asked for assistance. The request was in response to depleted medical supplies due to the devastating hurricane.
While in Cuba, Gov. Ryan will also address the International Congress on Diagnostic Imaging on Friday at the invitation of Dr. Robert Brossard, chair of medical imaging at the Methodist Hospital of Chicago and a participant in the Congress.
Also on Friday, The Governor will tour the National Oncology and Radiology Institute and present donations from the Illinois companies to the Cuban people. Mrs. Ryan will also present teddy bears to the children in the hospital wards. The donations include medical supplies sought after by the Cuban government such as blood pressure kits, surgical instruments, wound dressings, thermometers and stethoscopes.
Gov. Ryan and the Illinois business delegation traveled to Cuba under the humanitarian license of the New York-based organization "Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba." The group will return on Saturday, January 26, 2002.
In December, Gov. Ryan joined agri-business firm Archer Daniels Midland in sending the first grain shipment to Cuba since 1962. That shipment was also a response to Cuba's needs after Hurricane Michelle.
In October of 1999, Gov. Ryan was the first U.S. governor to lead a humanitarian mission to Cuba in nearly 40 years. The trip was an effort to build a bridge of good will with the people of Cuba and to offer humanitarian aid and cultural exchanges.
Since 1962, the U.S. government has had an economic embargo against Cuba under the regime of Fidel Castro. The sale of American medicines to Cuba was always exempted. In 2000, President Clinton signed into law a Congressional package that allowed for cash transactions for U.S. agricultural products.