Frank Sanchez supports travel from Tampa to Cuba and opposes Arizona law
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08/02/10 Franco Silva, Yadira Caro & Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

Former Tampa Mayoral candidate Frank Sanchez serves in the Obama administration as the Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade.

In an interview that will air Wednesday morning on WMNF, The hosts of Latino 54, Franco Silva and Yadira Caro, speak with Frank Sanchez about a range of subjects including Arizona’s new immigration law and the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

"We already d a fair amount of trade with Cuba. Mostly agricultural and medical goods. In fact, I believe we are Cuba's number one importer. They import more agricultural products from the United States than any other country in the world. So, we already do a fair amount of trade with Cuba. I think that the steps that President Obama has taken, not so much specifically focused on trade, but opening up travel for Cuban-Americans and opening up remittances, so that Cuban-Americans can send as much money as they want to their relatives, is a good first couple of steps in developing a new relationship with Cuba. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of things on the island that leave much to be desired. My hope is that as we continue to reach out, particularly through people-to-people activities and particularly through Cuban-Americans, we can continue to see a more positive change."

FS: "I agree with you totally on the people-to-people connections. There was a time, before the former administration, when it was easier to get travel permission for different licenses to go to Cuba and to, lets say study radio in Cuba and agriculture in Cuba. Those things, are they opening up now, dealing with the music, see a higher influx of Latin bands or Cuban bands getting permission to come and travel the states more? How do you see that about licenses opening up? And also, the governor or the mayor actually, mentions something about trying to make Tampa one of the ports that you can leave to Cuba from. Currently, you can only fly out of Miami or California. What do you think about making Tampa Bay a hub because of the large population of Cuban-Americans that we have here?"

"Well, let me address first the people-to-people. I believe that the more people-to-people contact the Cuban people on the island can have, the better it is. As Cubans on the island can see, they live on a very different set of rules as we do. Whether it means being able to speak your mind without fear of being put in jail. Whether it means being able to open a small business, and not have it be run by the state. I think those kinds of opportunities that interact, are a very positive message that can be accomplished through people-to-people contact. I think cultural exchanges have been healthy in the past, and I think they would be healthy in the future. So, my hope is that we'll see more and more of that going forward. If there are additional airports, that are designated, I believe they would have to be airports that will support Cuban-Americans traveling there. Currently the vast majority of people who can travel to Cuba are Cuban-Americans. I would say that Tampa is very well-positioned, if and when those openings come. It would seem to me that those openings could very well come. If they do, I think Tampa's very well-positioned."

YC: "You have been very involved in Latin American affairs. I wanted to ask you also, because it's been around the news so much lately, what do you think about the Arizona Law?"

"I think it is very unfortunate that the state of Arizona took the steps that they did. There's no question that enforcing our borders is a priority that has to be a top priority of the United States. Whether it be on the Mexican border, the Canadian border, or along our shores. But passing a law that almost ensures discrimination, in my view, is an outrage. I was very pleased that the Federal Court struck down large portions of that law, just last week."

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