On the heels of the U.S. removing Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, Tampa City Council members passed a resolution asking the Obama Administration to hold any signing ceremony it has with the country in Tampa.
The resolution was brought about by Councilwoman Yvonne "Yolie" Capin.
“As the president's actions lead to normalization of cultural, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic relation with Cuba, and our two nations' relationships are appropriately normalized, this resolution is stating the obvious, at least to us: that the President please take note of our city's positive history with that island nation,” she said.
“It is only natural that Tampa be the location for formalizing the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba," Capin said. "It has been well established that no city in the United States has stronger ties with Cuba than Tampa does.
“As someone whose grandparents came here from Cuba to make cigars in the cigar industry...I'm very proud to speak in favor of the [resolution] because frankly it's something that should have been done a long time ago,” activist Vic DiMaio told the council ahead of the vote.
The council appears to have come a long way on the issue.
Four years ago, when then-Councilwoman Mary Mulhern tried to get her colleagues to sign a letter to Cuba expressing good faith and the desire to restore trade the night before she took her second trip to the country, but there was little interest.
“It was just purely ceremonial,” Mulhern, who last month left her seat due to term limits, said in a recent interview. “I couldn't get a second. I could not get a second.”
It's unclear if the Obama administration will take Tampa up on its offer to host milestone meetings between the U.S. and Cuba, but Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce president Bob Rohrlack told Tampa Tribune reporter Paul Guzzo the administration is "already aware" Tampa would like to do so "and seems to have some interest."
Last week, Panama City hosted a meeting between President Obama and Cuban President Raoul Castro.
An ideal venue? Probably the Cuban Club, Capin said, noting that every Cuban president, except for the current one, has visited there throughout its various incarnations, and President Obama did a little stumping there in 2007 during his first run for the White House.