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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Kathy Castor in Cuba to look for economic opportunity with Tampa



U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, traveled to Cuba yesterday on a "four-day, fact-finding visit to, foremost, learn about opportunities to poise Tampa as a gateway to Cuba, and create economic opportunities for small businesses in this area," her office said this morning.

Rep. Castor traveled to Cuba with staff and the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

Her objectives:

Local Economic Ties

Enhance relationships between people and businesses in Cuba and Tampa. Tampa can serve as a “gateway” for those traveling to Cuba. This will give Tampa Bay an economic edge as the relationship moves forward.


·         Meeting with MINTUR, the Ministry of Tourism

·         Meeting with the leadership of the Asociación Nacional de Economistas de Cuba (ANEC) (English:  National Association of Cuban Economists) to learn about the economic transformations in Cuba.

·         Visit the small family farm of Miguel Martínez, who has been growing tobacco there since before the Cuban Revolution.

·         Meeting with Marta Nuñez, an expert in gender studies, and Daybel Pañellas, sociologist at the University of Havana, to discuss how economic reforms are affecting women. 

·         Visit Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology


Tampa Cultural Ties

Improved people to people exchanges will create a culture for change and cooperation between the two countries.


·         Walk through Old Havana talk with cuentapropistas (private, small business owners), visit homes.

·         Meeting with Chief of Mission of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, John Caulfield, to discuss issues of family reunification and visas for Cubans wishing to visit family in Tampa Bay.  Also focus on aiding Americans, church mission groups and others who visit Cuba.

·         Visit to Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigía, and a meeting with the Vice-Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, and the winner of the national poetry award, Pedro Pablo Rodriguez.

·         In Viñales, delegation will stay in “casas particulares,” rooms in local homes that have been set up to receive travelers.



Rep. Castor has continued to push for improved human rights in Cuba. She has met with dissidents like Yoani Sanchez and Pedro Pablo Alvarez in the United States, and will use this trip as an opportunity to expand on those conversations.


·         Meet with Orlando Marquez and/or Cardinal Jaime Ortega of the Catholic Archdiocese to discuss human rights and the relationship between church and state.

·         Lunch with foreign diplomats – EU, Canada, Norway, and Brazil.

·         Meeting with MINREX, the Foreign Ministry of Cuba.


Florida Environmental Concerns

Cuba continues to plan to drill for oil offshore and that remains a concern for Rep. Castor. She will press for the need for cooperation and safety in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly after the BP Oil Blowout in 2010.


·         Ministerio de Energía y Minas, the Ministry of Energy

[Last modified: Thursday, April 4, 2013 9:56am]


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