Cuba, Offshore Drilling and Tampa Politics

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"This is a colossal foreign policy failure.  Cuba wanted to partner with

us in oil exploration in the Gulf and we said no because we don’t like

Castro!  Now, China will drill for oil near our coast and we will have

no ability to monitor, supervise, or control that drilling.  If there’s

an oil spill, that oil will devastate Florida’s shores and wildlife.

Yet, the anti-Castro officials in Washington are more interested in

punishing Castro.  What they should be doing is addressing this as an

economic issue which has tremendous national security and environmental

overtones. “This is what we get when our policy toward one country

namely, Cuba, is based on personal animus, vengeance and retribution

rather than the best interests of the United States.


1998, I founded the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation.

I’ve made more than 50 trips to the island nation and have met with

Cuban citizens from every walk of life, Cuban government officials, and

Fidel Castro himself.   

“On one of

those trips, I took Senator Larry Craig to Cuba and we held meetings

with Cuban energy officials.   At these meetings we discussed a joint

oil drilling venture in Cuban waters with the US.  This venture would

have been governed by US environmental laws.


recently as this past November, I discussed this issue again with Cuban

officials.  Now, because of our unwillingness to engage the Cuban

government, China is taking advantage of this opportunity.   I know

that our current policy toward Cuba is untenable.


pressing issue of a Cuba-China oil drilling venture in our backyard

demonstrates how vital it is to change our energy policy, not to

mention our overall policy toward Cuba.  We deserve better from our

elected officials in Washington DC than pandering to a small group of

former Batistites in Miami who put their hatred for Castro first before

the best interests of the United States. “

(Disclosure: Two former political consulting partners of mine are involved with Fox's congressional campaign.)

Well, there's three non-controversial topics.

Democratic congressional candidate Al Fox has released a statement on oil and Cuba in the wake of a St. Petersburg Times story on the subject.  Fox has made more than 50 trips to the communist nation, and he has infuriated some in the Cuban community in Tampa by doing so. He trails Hillsborough County Commission Kathy Castor and state Sen. Les Miller in fundraising for the seat now held by Jim Davis, so he has to throw some long passes like this. (Fox also has some teaser billboards up throughout Tampa.)

He writes:

“As an expert in US-Cuba policy for the past eight years and the founder of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, I read with great interest Susan Taylor Martin’s article on Cuba’s oil drilling efforts.  In the midst of all the hoopla and political posturing about drilling off Florida’s coastline, officials in Washington and Tallahassee have lost sight of two issues that are as equally urgent as the environment.  First, any oil that is captured in the Gulf of Mexico only prolongs our dependence upon oil as our major source of energy.  This is the issue that needs our urgent and immediate attention. Second, Cuban officials approached the US government several years ago urging us to partner with them in oil exploration.  At the time, the Cubans were willing to drill for oil using our standards and our protocols. Yet, because of our intransigent Cuban policy, we now face the grim reality of having China partner with Cuba 70 miles from our coast! 

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