Saturday, August 18, 2018
Politics

Port of Alabama signs agreement with Cuba that Florida ports can't

Alabama came to Tampa on Thursday to sign an agreement with Cuba.

The seaport in Mobile and Cuba's National Port Authority pledged to find ways to expand the business they do with each other — the kind of deal that three ports in Florida had worked toward until Gov. Rick Scott last week scuttled them with a threat to pull their funding.

Alabama State Port Authority CEO James Lyons said the timing was coincidental. The memorandum of understanding had been planned for at least three months. Tampa was convenient since both parties would be here.

The occasion Thursday was an international conference called "Planning for Shifting Trade," sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

Some U.S. exports to Cuba — such as agricultural products and food — already are allowed as exceptions to the trade embargo imposed more than 50 years ago after the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro embraced communism.

Nothing is shipped to Cuba out of Tampa today.

Mobile ranks fifth among U.S. ports in exports to Cuba, said John Kavulich of the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, but still sent just 47,024 tons to the island in 2016. Working with Cuba is mostly about potential, not the present, Kavulich said.

That future may lie in the Mariel Economic Special Development Zone. Less than 50 miles from Havana, the zone has Cuba's largest container port and may grow into a shipment hub for the Caribbean.

"On this occasion, it was not possible to sign the MOUs with the ports in Florida," said Ana Teresa Igarza, director of Mariel. "The authorities of the ports we visited indicated interest to sign this agreement in the future."

Cuba now has five agreements with U.S. ports. This was the first signed in the U.S.

Port Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach had planned to sign memorandums of understanding similar to Mobile's during visits to their cities by a delegation from Cuba.

Igarza said Port Tampa Bay decided against signing a memorandum Jan. 20, five days before Gov. Scott issued his funding threat in a series of tweets. Scott followed up in the 2017 budget he submitted this week with a provision denying state money for port infrastructure projects that expand for trade with Cuba.

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

 
Comments
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Two Seminole council members face challengers

SEMINOLE — Six candidates have filed to run for two open seats on the City Council.Incumbents Chris Burke, first elected in 2012, and Trish Springer, elected in 2015, face challenges from former council member Dan Hester, who served from 2005 to 2010...
Published: 08/16/18
In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

As the Aug. 28 primary election approaches, three Republicans are battling to represent a Pinellas County Commission district that hasn’t witnessed a competitive contest for more than 15 years.State Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole and Kathleen Peters o...
Published: 08/16/18
Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as "misleading’’ and "ambiguity’’ and "wordsmithing.’’That’s...
Published: 08/16/18
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Published: 08/15/18
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco Political Notebook for Aug. 17

Republican Club hosts candidate forum at meetingThe West Pasco Republican Club will host an "Election Extravaganza" candidate forum at its meeting Aug. 21 at Heritage Springs Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway, Trinity. A social time will...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting Pasco County begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 25, with 11 locations across the county for voters.Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20-24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug...
Published: 08/13/18
Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candi...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

The political kerfuffle around Melissa Howard began when a news site reported that the Florida state House hopeful is not a college graduate, as she claims to be. To prove the story wrong, Howard, R, reportedly flew to her proclaimed alma mater, Ohio...
Published: 08/12/18