Congressional candidates on Castro, Cuba by Mitch E. Perry

08/15/06

According to a writer with the Associated Press, Fidel Castro appears tired yet alert in a video with his younger brother and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the first footage of the bedridden Cuban leader since he stepped aside as president two weeks ago.

The video was shown yesterday to Cuban audiences on the state run television station., and comes after 2 straight days of fresh photographs in Cuba’s state run newspaper, Granma.

Castro released a statement on Sunday, his 80th birthday, saying his recovery would be long and that Cubans should be prepared for “adverse news� – advise perhaps aimed at helping them come to terms with his eventual passing.

There are big questions in this country if and when Fidel Castro moves on….Today several of the candidates looking to replace Tampa area Representative Jim Davis in Congress came to WMNF to speak about Cuba on “Latino 54�, hosted by Franco Silva.

Although all of the candidates who participated – Attorneys Scott Farrell and Michael Steinberg, and independent write-in candidate Jim Greenwald, it is Al Fox who commands the issue…That’s because it’s been a main focus of him for years, to eliminate the trade sanctions against Cuba, as founder of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. (roll tape#1 o.q.�American political system�)

2 years ago, the Bush Administration announced tighter measures against Cuba, which included limiting family visits to only once every 3 years – that also limited ‘close relatives’, banning uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. Family remittances can only be sent to spouses, parents, siblings, children and grandchildren.

Scott Farrell blasted that move (roll tape#2 o.q.�wrong both ways�)

Attorney Michael Steinberg acknowledged he wasn’t as savvy as Al Fox was in discussing Cuba. So he mentioned the former leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a metaphor for Fidel Castro, while emphasizing that he was against the current embargo (roll tape#3 o.q.�emotions involved�)

Al Fox said while he was in Cuba, he met with Ricardo Alarcon, the head of the Cuban National Assembly about having the U.S. drill for oil in Cuban waters. He said China, Spain and Norway have already signed such contracts to do so (roll tape#4 o.q.�Mary Poppins�)

Scott Farrell objected on environmental grounds (roll tape#5 o.q.�that’s just a fallacy�)

In January of 2005, the US Geological Survey reported that The North Cuba Basin held between - 4 in a half to over 9billion barrels of crude and between 10 to 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Independent write in candidate Jim Greenwald (roll tape#5 o.q.�and it should be�)

Sparks flew somewhat , when Scott Farrell took exception to some of Al Fox’s laudatory comments regarding Castro, and mentioned the Cuban Missile Crises from 1962..That led to this exchange, beginning with host Franco Silva, followed by Farrell, Fox and Greenwald (roll tape#6 o.q.� and we need to move on�)

That was Republican write-in candidate Jim Greenwald…Candidates not present at the discussion were Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor and Tampa State Senator Les Miller. They are scheduled to be on this program in 13 days – on Monday, August 28th,. We will have a special 90 minute edition of the WMNF Evening News, and a 1 hour debate amongst the Democratic candidates for the 11th Congressional District will take place beginning at 6:30 PM.

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