Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rep. Castor to Obama: Let families visit Cuban kin

TAMPA — Florida congressional leaders are wasting no time asking President-elect Obama to roll back hard-line Bush policies against Cuba.

In a letter sent Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, asked Obama to lift restrictions limiting Cuban-American visits to the island.

She also wants him to remove the $300 annual limit on how much people in the United States can send family members in Cuba. "I respectfully urge you to breathe fresh air into our relationships with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean and to modernize policies relating to Cuba," Castor wrote. "The restrictions have proven ineffective in altering the political situation and interfere with fundamental family relations with human rights."

In 2004, President Bush instituted changes in the Cuban travel policy, principally limiting Cuban-Americans to visiting the island once every three years instead of once a year. The move aimed to stop the flow of dollars to the country until Cuba improved on human rights.

But Castor said the restrictions hurt families unable to visit sick or dying relatives without being subjected to "the worst kind of bureaucratic red tape."

In one case, Castor's spokeswoman said, a woman received a license in 2003 to travel to Cuba to visit her gravely ill grandfather, but canceled plans when he got better. When his health deteriorated in 2006, she was denied.

Castor wrote of Cuban-Americans unable to assist relatives when Hurricane Gustav ripped through Cuba this summer.

Castor's request appears to be in line with the majority of Cuban-Americans. The 2007 annual Florida International University Cuba Poll, which measures the political attitudes of Cuban-Americans in South Florida, found that about 64 percent of the respondents would like to return to the 2003 policies governing travel and remittances.

Anti-Castro activist and Tampa attorney Ralph Fernandez agreed with the easing of restrictions. "Let's not waste time on these senseless regulations that only affect a few," he said.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or

Rep. Castor to Obama: Let families visit Cuban kin 12/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 22, 2008 4:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Too much of education bill done ‘behind closed doors,’ GOP contender for governor says


    Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam joined the chorus of critics of the Florida Legislature’s massive K-12 education bill that heavily favors charter schools over traditional public schools.

    2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam and Gov. Rick Scott talk on the first day of the Legislature's annual session in March.
  2. John Morgan 'prepared to invest $100M' in medical marijuana

    State Roundup

    John Morgan spent nearly $7 million pushing two statewide ballot initiatives to expand medical marijuana throughout the state of Florida.

    Personal injury lawyer John Morgan says he's ready to invest $100 million in medical marijuana. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Avalos gets life in prison for killing Bradenton neighbor, pastor


    BRADENTON — A Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor.

    Andres "Andy" Avalos has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a neighbor and a local pastor. 

[File photo from Manatee County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Manchester police hunt for accomplices; Islamic State group claims responsibility for blast

    Public Safety

    MANCHESTER, England — Investigators hunted Tuesday for possible accomplices of the suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, killing 22 people and sparking a stampede of young concertgoers, some still wearing the American pop star's trademark kitten ears and holding pink balloons.

    Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured.  [Peter Byrne | PA via AP]
  5. Why's Pam Bondi raising money? Not to run for office, she says.


    Term-limited Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi may have restarted her political fundraising, but she says she's not considering a run for another public office.

    Attorney General Pam Bondi