Political Notebook

California delegates’ reaction to U.S.-Cuba softening falls along party lines

While some San Joaquin Valley agricultural organizations have long sought more open trade with Cuba, California political reactions to Wednesday’s news that efforts are underway to normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S. fell at least in part along partisan lines.

The state’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both praised the diplomatic initiative, with Feinstein saying that “reconciling our differences, opening embassies, increasing trade and building people-to-people relationships are all long overdue.”

In July, underscoring the trade potential, a group of nearly 20 Cuban sommeliers visited the state’s Napa and Sonoma wine regions for a first-hand taste of California wines. Valley farmers have participated in trade and agricultural shows in Cuba, and the state’s top agriculture official has visited the country.

But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, whose district stretches into Tulare County, denounced the move as a sign of weakness.

“It will suggest to adversaries and allies alike that the United States lacks resolve in standing up for its interests and its principles,” McCarthy said.

Lawmakers from Southern and Northern California, but not from the Valley, have co-sponsored bills this year to lift the trade embargo with Cuba; the bills did not advance in the Republican-controlled House.