Kathy Castor says she'll be going to Cuba

Recently acting Tampa City Council Chair Mary Mulhern traveled to Cuba for the second time in three years. She went to "advance the dialogue necessary for Tampa Bay to take advantage of the limited travel and trade allowed and to help position us for the inevitable expansion of trade and travel to Cuba," as she wrote in an op-ed published in the St. Pete Times upon her return.

Congresswoman Castor said she's been waiting to fly to Havana from Tampa, an action now possible with direct flights going from Tampa to Havana as of last month.

"I'm in the planning stages, so stay tuned," she replied, adding that she is reaching out to a "lot of different folks."

Undoubtedly some of those folks are the same handful of Tampa hardliners that Castor's predecessor in the 11th Congressional District, Jim Davis, met with before he traveled to Cuba in 2004. Castor did tell CL that there would be "an economic element" to her trip, which is what a growing number of business officials in Tampa have been calling for for years.

In 2002, an amendment to the five decades long official trade embargo with Cuba allowed U.S. companies for agriculture products to be traded with the Communist island.

Many other people in the community are hoping she does promote, given that unlike many other parts of the U.S., Tampa does zero trade with Cuba, though in fact a 2002 amendment to the official embargo allows for for agricultural products and medicine to be traded with the Communist island.

Chicken, corn, soy, wheat, pork and other products from all parts of the U.S. have been sold to Cuba over the past nine years.

The fact that Castor is contemplating such a trip was originally reported in La Gaceta by Patrick Manteiga.

Tampa area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor says she is definitely planning a trip to Cuba soon, though she's not sure she'll be able to book a trip before the end of the year.

"It's in the planning stages," the Congresswoman told CL on Monday, adding that it might be difficult to get away because of the potentially detailed work that Congress may be dealing with in the next few months - that being the recommendations from the 12 member so-called super committee of Congressional Republicans and Democrats who are charged with coming up with a plan to reduce the federal budget deficit by at least $1.5 trillion by November 23.

Should the joint committee fail to produce a plan that can win the support of at least 7 of the 12 members — or should the Congress fail to pass it — automatic spending cuts are mandated to kick in beginning 2013, including $600 billion to come from defense spending.

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