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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Kathy Castor supports lifting Cuba travel ban



U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, is signing onto a bill that would lift decades old travel restrictions to Cuba, becoming the first member from Florida to do so. Her goal: To secure charter flights from Tampa International Airport and spur activity at the Port of Tampa.

"Now is the time to remove the obstacles and hassles that have prevented Cuban-Americans without direct family ties and other Floridians from traveling to Cuba, and for our region to reap the benefits that freedom of travel can bring," Castor said of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which was authored by Rep. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass.

"I think the policy toward Cuba is going to change and Tampa has got to be well positioned to maximize the job opportunities," Castor said.

Introduced in 2009, the bill states, "the President may not regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or legal residents." Castor said she hopes the legislation would spur economic activity in Tampa.

But her position puts her at odds with what has been the standard line among Florida's congressional delegation. In 2009, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, gathered signatures to oppose the bill.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:14am]


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