This weekend, some of the leading U.S. advocates who support an end to the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba were in Tampa for a conference on brokering better relations with with Castro-led government. Many in attendance said they were blown away by Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor's speech on Friday night, when she said it's time for the economic sanctions that the U.S. has placed on Cuba, for more than 51 years, to fade away.
"I don't meet anyone anymore here or wherever I go, who doesn't believe that the restriction on trade and travel makes sense any longer," Castor said to a cheering crowd at Tampa's Mise en Place, where she was supposed to be the warm-up act for Miami Congressman Joe Garcia.
Garcia was scheduled as the main attraction on the first night of the "Rapprochement With Cuba: Good for Tampa, Good for Florida, Good for America" conference, which was part of an event presented by Tampa activist Al Fox with the The Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. (You can read our report about the event here).
But the Miami Democrat never showed (reportedly he appeared at about 8:40 p.m., 40 minutes after the event was scheduled to end), so it was Castor who gave a speech that thrilled anti-embargo advocates like Fox and former U.S. diplomat Wayne Smith.
Castor said she thanked President Obama — when he made a late October campaign appearance in Ybor City's Centennial Park — for approving charter flights from U.S. airports (like Tampa's) to Cuba. But she stressed to Obama, "This is a community that supports him, but we are a community that wants change."