Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Joining Cuomo Delegation To Cuba

Photo credit: jpupdates.com

Photo credit: jpupdates.com

The NY Daily News reports that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Wakefield) confirmed that he will be part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s trade mission to Cuba. The trade mission comes at a time when President Barack Obama has signaled his intentions to normalize diplomatic and trade relations with the island nation.

“I am pleased to represent the New York State Assembly as part of the governor’s trade mission to Cuba,” Heastie told the Daily News in a statement.

The Cuomo delegation planned travel comes just as the White House announced President Obama would remove Cuba from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism, clearing a major hurdle toward the normalization of relations. Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea rank among the few nations still clinging to Communist ideology.

“Cuba’s deplorable record on human rights speaks for itself.  With the unfinished work left in Albany, a ceremonial trip to a communist nation would not be near the top of my to-do list,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb in an email.  Kolb fumed that there’s more than enough business at home requiring both leaders’ full attention than a trade mission to Cuba.

Citing New York as having the nation’s highest taxes and worst business climate, Kolb added, “exploring trade opportunities with a foreign country can wait until our own problems are resolved.”

Last year, Cuomo visited Israel with former Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein, leader of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference. Senator Skelos declined to visit Cuba citing the island nationès human rights record and his pressing legislative business.

The Daily News reported that the Cuomo-led delegation will leave Monday and return to New York late Tuesday.

The Legislature returns to Session on Tuesday, April 21.