NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to return to New York from Cuba on Tuesday with two major business deals in hand.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, although the trade mission was supposed to be about developing future business, the group actually came back to the states with two deals made, including one where an upstate medical facility is going to be able to run clinical trials of a lung cancer vaccine developed by Cubans.READ MORE: Doctors Seeing More Neck, Back Pain Related To Working From Home
Cuomo, who became the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba in decades, said he also laid the groundwork for more New York-based businesses to get a foot in the door on the island nation.
“We believe this is going to be a dramatic change that is going to be to the benefit of the people of Cuba and also to the people of the United States,” Cuomo said.
While the embargo would have to be lifted by Congress, President Barack Obama can grant licenses to businesses to trade with Cuba.
The governor was accompanied by other New York lawmakers and executives from JetBlue, MasterCard, Pfizer, Chobani and other companies.
Cuomo took a tour of a new nearly $10 million deep water Port of Mariel, which could be just the ticket for New York businesses to get their goods to Cuba and the rest of Latin America.
Cuomo is no stranger to big construction projects, but still, he was suitably impressed with the Cuban government’s efforts to build a massive commercial port and duty free zone west of Havana that could revolutionize the way Cuba does business, Kramer reported.
“We have had a friendship that went on for decades. It is about rekindling that friendship,” Cuomo said.
The port could be a place for a New York company, maybe a biotech firm, to build a plant, Kramer reported.READ MORE: Harrison School District Taking Action To Bring All Students Back Into Classrooms Full Time In Coming Weeks
But Cuomo’s trip wasn’t all business.
For a man who is a classic car fanatic, a visit to the cobblestone Plaza De Armas seemed like the high point for the governor, even if the car was pink.
“The car is very cool. The color is a little so-so,” Cuomo said. “(Pink is not your style?) This car in pink? I could see some cars in pink, but not this Chevy.”
Cuomo also met with Cuban Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino while in Havana.
The governor expressed admiration for the cardinal’s efforts in expanding the church’s reach in the Communist-ruled country.
“We’re very proud of what his eminence has done,” Cuomo said. “We’re very proud of what the Catholic church has done.”
When asked if his decision to move so quickly to help end the embargo had anything to do with his late father Mario, Cuomo said “My father said isolation is not going to work. Isolation is just going to cause bitterness and it’s going to accomplish nothing.”
Back in New York, Republicans called the governor’s trade mission a political stunt.MORE NEWS: Blackface Costume Controversy Hits N.J. Town Of Lakewood
One lawmaker said it was offensive to Cuban-Americans whose families have been victims of the Castros’ rule.