Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn indecisive on normalization with Cuba

04/09/13 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn isn’t taking a stance on normalizing relations with Cuba.

"It’s not an issue that I am weighing in on. It’s not an issue that, as mayor, I have any control over. I have enough on my plate with the things that I do control.”

But Buckhorn says he does see the embargo ending sooner or later.

“I would hope it would be when the Castro government – either Raul or Fidel are gone – and I think it will be when the Cuban people have an opportunity to exercise their democratic rights and participate in a free democracy.”

Buckhorn says he doesn’t know what effect that would have on Tampa.

“Obviously, if there were business opportunities whether it was Cuba or anywhere else that would be beneficial to the port or to the airport or to our local businesses, that would be opportunities that we don’t have now. But, as we know it it’s the federal law and until the embargo is lifted, there’s really nothing that our business community can do about it.”

Even if opening trade and travel with Cuba happens, Buckhorn still worries about the effects that decision would have.

“I also am very cognizant of the emotion surrounding the issue and I think we as a community need to be respectful and need to be mindful of the sacrifices that many of our citizens paid and the price they paid at the hands of what is a brutal dictator.”

Normalizing relations with Cuba is making headlines after Tampa member of Congress Kathy Castor recently voiced her support for ending the five decade-long trade embargo. She was also the first Florida member of Congress to travel to the island nation.

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