With the recent move by President Obama to normalize relations with Cuba, a door to economic opportunity has been opened to Tampa Bay business, cultural and educational interests. The Obama initiative has been praised by those who feel the embargo has been ineffective in advancing human rights for Cubans and, after 50 years, it’s time to try a new strategy. But others oppose any relaxation of the embargo until the Cuban government commits to human rights reform.
The implications of this policy will be debated by a panel of prominent local leaders at a forum sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College and the Global Action Coalition. The forum, titled Cuba: Embargo or Not?, will be from 6-8 p.m. June 30 at the Poynter Institute, 801 Third St. S., St. Petersburg. Admission is free, but advance registration is requested.
Debating the pros and cons of easing the trade embargo will be:
- Janet Long, Pinellas County Commissioner who led a local delegation on a good-will visit to Cuba last fall
- Patrick Monteiga, Editor and Publisher of La Gaceta weekly newspaper in Tampa and frequent traveler to Cuba
- Col. E.J. Otero, (U.S. Air Force, ret.) former senior officer at Central Command and Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base
- John Wilson, former anchor, Fox Channel 13, will serve as moderator.
Relaxing of the trade embargo offers a special opportunity for the Tampa Bay region, which has a rich history of relations with Cuba as well as airports and deep-water ports capable of handling increased trade with the island nation. Miami, which might be considered the natural hub for such commerce, is home to 850,000 Cuban exiles, many of whom strongly oppose easing of the embargo until political prisoners are released from Cuban jails and reparations for confiscated property are made.
For further information, call 727-394-6942.
The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College is a resource for academic enrichment, a non-partisan venue for civil, objective debate of topical public issues, and a center to promote better government. Its mission is to support a broad array of research, training, educational and policy analysis and support activities at the local, state, regional and national levels.