A ‘clear national security risk’ at the Port of Wilmington | Eastern North Carolina Now

    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    On the floor of the United States House, Congressman David Rouzer R-7th District announced that the Cuban government had visited the Port of Wilmington in late February.

    The port in Wilmington ranks in the top 25 for container traffic in the US, according to a report from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the Department of Transportation. Under the North Carolina State Ports Authority, Wilmington is the largest port and helps contribute $678 million each year in state and local tax revenues.

    "Cuba's Border Guard and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been hosted in the North Carolina congressional district that I am honored to represent," Rouzer said on the House floor, noting that the visit was green-lighted by the federal government. "The Wilmington port facilities visit was planned and authorized by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State."

    Laura Blair the Vice President of Administration and External Affairs with the North Carolina State Ports Authority said in an email to Carolina Journal, "USCG Sector North Carolina requested and coordinated the delegation visit. This was not an Authority-initiated or sponsored event. The Ports provided the access and support as requested by Sector North Carolina."

    In 2016, under then-President Barack Obama both the United States and Cuba signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allowed both countries to conduct reciprocal port visits. President Donald Trump had different thoughts about Cuba, and designated them a State Sponsor of Terrorism for "repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists."

    "Cuba has a history of being a strategic Western asset to our greatest adversaries, including China, Russia, and Iran," Rouzer said, echoing that designation. "They regularly cooperate with narcotics traffickers bringing cocaine, fentanyl, and other deadly drugs to our country."

    The State Sponsor of Terrorism designation still stands under the Biden Administration and caused great concern for Rouzer.

    "Now, there is no reason any nation with a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation should be hosted by the United States, let alone be allowed to analyze sensitive coastal and maritime security protocols., he said. "Ironically, the decision to designate Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and the decision to authorize this trip were made by the same agencies."

    According to Rouzer, the reason for the visit surrounds immigration, "Now I'm told this trip, as well as others in the past, have been arranged as part of a reciprocal relationship to turn back Cubans fleeing to the United States."

    It is unclear if Wilmington has a large number of Cubans that are attempting to flee their communist government.

    Rouzer ended his just over two-and-a-half minute comments by stating, "This visit, Mr. Speaker, was a clear national security risk. I don't know how one could view it otherwise. Mr. Speaker, bottom line is this visit should have never happened and the American people deserve to know what steps were taken to protect our national security interests."
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