Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Cuban Ambassador to US will meet with Rick Kriseman. But Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and City Council chairman Luis Viera pass.

Castor’s spokeswoman cited ‘prior commitments.' Viera said he supports engagement, but doesn’t want to meet with José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez when the high-ranking Cuban official visits between June 23 and June 25.
BRONTE WITTPENN | Times St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman will meet with the Cuban ambassador to the United States later this month. But Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and City Council chairman Luis Viera won't.
Published Jun. 11
Updated Jun. 11

TAMPA—St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has made no secret of his desire to forge closer ties to Cuba. The second-term mayor has visited the island several times and urged the Communist country to open a consulate in the Sunshine City.

Just last week, Kriseman was on a family cruise to Cuba when more stringent travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump forced his ship to divert to the Bahamas.

READ MORE: Kriseman cruise ship diverted

Kriseman may well sip some cafe con leche with José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez on June 24, but a breakfast meeting hasn’t been formally scheduled yet. Kriseman spokesman Ben Kirby said the mayor will definitely sit down with with the ambassador, but the two sides are still working out the details.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor won’t meet with Cabañas , continuing a tradition of Tampa mayors who have kept representatives of the Cuban government at arm’s length since relations thawed between the countries in recent years, culiminating in the resumption of diplomatic relations in 2015.

Castor had “prior commitments,” texted Ashley Bauman, the mayor’s spokeswoman.

READ MORE: Buckhorn out of step on Cuba?

Trump’s more recent harder line on Cuba has likely curdled dreams of a consulate in St. Pete, whose Cuban population is a fraction of the U.S.'s third-largest community of Cubans who call Tampa home.

City Council chairman Luis Viera, whose parents fled Cuba after Fidel Castro took power, also declined to meet with Rodriguez. Viera said he supports engagement and ending the economic embargo imposed on Cuba since the early 1960s.

But meeting Rodriguez “isn’t something I feel inclined to do at this time,” Viera said.

Rodriguez’s visit is to foster grassroots engagement, said Albert Fox Jr., who is helping to organize the visit. Fox through the Alliance for Responsible Cuban Policy Foundation, has worked for years to strengthen ties between Cuba and Tampa Bay.

Many of Rodriguez’s meetings will be private, but he’ll address a lunchtime group at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City on June 25. Media will be invited, Fox said.

Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson hasn’t been invited to meet Cabañas yet, but he made himself available Tuesday afternoon, saying Tampa shouldn’t fumble away its advantage over Miami. He has met Cabañas several times previously.

“The power of trade with Cuba is Tampa’s position to lose and we shouldn’t cede it to Miami so a few rich people can control it,” Carlson said.

Carlson plans to introduce a resolution at Thursday’s council meeting calling on an end to the embargo, saying it violates the rights of American citizens to travel where they want to internationally.




ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  2. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD  |
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  3. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  4. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  5. Nearly two dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein voiced their outrage at a hearing in Manhattan on Aug. 27, 2019. EMILY MICHOT | Miami Herald
    In the wake of several nationwide cases dealing with sexual assault and abuse, advocates are pushing Florida to ease its statutes of limitations
  6. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Because Israel is a constitutional officer elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to...
  7. El gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, hace una declaración sobre el hecho de responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno en Fort Lauderdale en el Complejo de Seguridad Pública Ron Cochran el 11 de enero, luego de que nombró al ex sargento de la policía de Coral Springs. Gregory Tony reemplazará a Scott Israel como sheriff del condado de Broward. (Al Díaz / Miami Herald / TNS)
    Several Senate leaders told the Times/Herald they are prepared to accept new evidence during a daylong hearing scheduled for today. They could decide against DeSantis when they vote Wednesday.
  8. District 3 City Council candidates Orlando Acosta, left, and Ed Montanari. Scott Keeler, Chris Urso
    The St. Petersburg City Council races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Partisan politics are leaking into the campaign anyway.
  9. Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Lawrence Mower
    It’s unclear how state and county officials plan on complying with the judge’s order, however. The “poll tax” issued wasn’t addressed, either.
  10. The Florida Capitol. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times] SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The job entails being a part-time lobbyist, part-time expert on the Florida Sunshine Law.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement