TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Saturday, Dec 20, 2014
Castor to Obama: Reform “outdated” Cuba embargo, travel ban

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, fresh back from a trip to Cuba, has told President Barack Obama in a letter that the U.S. travel ban and trade embargo against Cuba are outdated, unproductive and harmful and should be reformed.
 
In the four-page letter, Castor never quite says “lift the embargo” or “end the travel ban,” but she comes very close.
 
“America's policy of isolation toward Cuba, i.e. the travel ban and embargo of the last 50 years, has resulted in little change,” she writes. “It is time to refresh America's relationship with Cuba and develop a more humane and smarter approach than the outdated Cold War policies of the past.”
 
Castor also quotes the Human Rights Watch organization saying the embargo “continues to impose indiscriminate hardship on the Cuban people and has done nothing to improve human rights in Cuba.”
 
She asks Obama to “heed the words of many of the Cuban dissidents I have spoken to who urge America to give greater attention to its island neighbor, lift the embargo and promote modernization of civil society in Cuba.”
 
As she has before, Castor argues in the letter that Cuba has made “significant changes” in allowing free enterprise for its citizens; that the travel restrictions violate the rights of Americans; that Cuba is not a “state sponsor of terrorism”; and that a policy of engagement would improve America's diplomatic standing in the region.
 
She also notes Cuba's quick return of the two Hakken children abducted by their father in Tampa recently, and her own constituents' frequent need for help in making visits and contacts with family members in Cuba in instances of family emergencies.