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. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  2. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  3. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  4. Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to supporters as former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, left, stands near during a campaign stop at at Century Village in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Crist is locked in a tight race against Gov. Rick Scott in one of the most negative gubernatorial campaigns in Florida history. The two disagree on most major issues, including health care, the minimum wage, Cuba policy, gay marriage and medical marijuana. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) ORG XMIT: FLAD102 ALAN DIAZ  |  AP
    The Florida Republican-turned-Democrat said Biden’s ‘record of getting things done speaks for itself.’
  5. FILE - In this June 20, 2018 photo, immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them in Homestead, Fla.  Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their trauma. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead.
  6. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  7. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  8. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to an unidentified man outside of Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Corcoran has convinced the State Board of Education to sign off on a new funding formula for the 28-college system, which, with more than 320,000 students, is widely viewed as one of the...
  9. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Miami while visiting Ball & Chain in Little Havana for a meet-and-greet with Hispanic voters on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. [CARL JUSTE CJUSTE | Miami Herald]
    While candidates vie for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, the struggle in Florida six months from the primary election is about big money.
  10. A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge. VRAGOVIC, WILL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The lost money is from unpaid tolls stemming from problems with the vendor Conduent State & Local Solutions.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement