April 7th, 2009
06:30 PM ET
5 years ago

Fidel Castro meets with CBC members

(CNN) – Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Fidel Castro Tuesday in Cuba, marking the first time the former Cuban president has met with US leaders since in 2006.

A delegation of congressional Democrats, led by Barbara Lee of California, arrived in Cuba last week to discuss bilateral relations with and review new policies regarding trade and commerce between the US and island nation. The group of seven includes members of the CBS, Reps. Mel Watt of North Carolina, Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Bobby Rush of Illinois, and Laura Richardson on California, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus member Mike Honda of California.

President Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, held talks with the six Congressional Black Caucus members of the delegation Monday in Havana.

The trip follows the introduction of a bill last week by a bipartisan group of senators to lift the travel ban on Cuba, maintaining the end of the travel restriction would advance democracy, promote human rights, and benefit US agriculture and small business groups. If passed, The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act would allow US citizens to travel freely to nation for the first time since 1962.

Cuban-born Republican Sen. Mel Martinez opposes the legislation, arguing that opening the communist-led island for tourist travel would perpetuate the repression of the "Castro regime."

But new changes to US Cuba travel policy could be coming soon. White House Adviser Jeffrey Davidson said Monday he would not be surprised if the Obama administration announced the easing of restrictions to the island before the Summit of the Americas on April 17. The move would fulfill a campaign promise by the then-presidential candidate to ease Cuban-American travel restrictions.

President Castro has said he is open to talks with the Obama administration.

Listen: CNN Radio on the new move in Congress to change U.S. relations with Cuba


Filed under: Cuba • President Obama
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. zaphod2000

    About time. The embargo has been useless and it's only hurting the Cuban people.

    April 7, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    It's about time for discuss bilateral relations with and review new policies regarding trade and commerce between the US and Cuba

    April 7, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. KLS

    It's about time!!

    April 7, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Kelby In Houston, TX

    I am still feeling good about the Obama presidency. I feel that these summits that he is attending ARE going well, in spite of what a lot of conservative posters are stating, and he is being received very well by other nations.
    I used wonder why you naysayers (that's our new name for your group) would always say something negative, no matter what the subject of the article or action that Obama has taken. Now, I just accept you for the haters you are and let you keep on going. Even with this article about finally opening up Cuba, there will be some negative comment, I just know it. Obama is doing everything I want him to in an intelligent and pragmatic way.

    April 7, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. chelle

    I wish the Cuban-Americans would let go of the idea that blocking Cuba from tourism is going to help. Other countries flock to Cuba. The US deals with other socialist countries or communist ones – why should poor little Cuba be dealt such a harsh hand?? It makes no sense.

    April 7, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. The Party of No

    Republicans oppose just about everything that changes the way we operate, as if things are simply fine and dandy.

    April 7, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Rush Limpbaulls

    Opponents like Mel Martinez are afraid that the travel would "perpetuate" the regime???

    That is so absurd given that Castro has outlasted almost a dozen American presidents.

    The way the USSR and China was changed was through trade and travel. Contact is crucial. The more, the better, and the faster that society will evolve.

    Why are right wingers (and some exiles) so oblivious to the truth that stares them right in the face?

    Besides, if I truly live in a free country, I should be able to travel to wherever I'd like. It's absurd that MY freedom can be restricted by some wrong-thinking dunderheads that are still attempting to "punish" Castro like in a 50 year long temper tantrum.

    April 7, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. I'd like to visit Cuba

    I bet there are some nice beaches there

    April 7, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Emm

    It is a good idea. We have to get into Cuba before the Russian or Chianese gets in

    April 7, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. P. Y.

    It really is about time. Enough of this nonsense.
    Another good job by the Obama administration. Maybe if the economy picks up and I can get some money together I can visit before I die. BTW–I have no relatives there and am not Cuban. I just want to visit.

    April 7, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. naqib

    This should have happend a long time ago.

    Finally someone fixing at least one of Kennedy's mistakes.

    April 7, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  12. chris

    HOrray for Common Sense!

    April 7, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  13. Benjamin

    I am very happy about this visit and the meeting with President Castro. Cuba is our neighbor to the south, just 90 miles from the coast of Florida. We ought to let bye gone be bye gone, President Obama need to take up on President Castro's invitation to discuss ending the embargo. It has been 50 years.

    April 7, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. dmb

    it's about time – cuba is not he buggie man.

    April 7, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Laverne

    I smell CHANGE in the air!

    April 7, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    I'd like to see what the GOPers have to say about this...a little "fear fear here, fer fear there" with a smidgen of "boogeyman in your closet" and McCarthyism for good measure perhaps...with some shiny racism on top?

    April 7, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. meggan

    We've been systematically impoverishing the Cuban people for far too long with our trade embargo. I'm so glad the Obama administration is moving this country forward in such meaningful ways. If we can trade with China et al without compromising the core values of the United States, we can certainly deal with Cuba.

    What an ambassador of hope and global reconciliation our President is turning out to be!

    April 7, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Linda Bailey

    Can someone review the practices of Homeowner's association fees
    and the ability for them to foreclose on property due to hardships.Something needs to be done to help this group of persons who live in condominiums and this is just a way for them to easily acquire property. Also the amount of fees from year to year goes
    excessively high.

    April 7, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  19. hadelaide

    If America can trade with China (a known communist country that holds a lot of US debt), why can't there be relations with Cuba? I believe the US also has relations with Vietnam. I suggest that if Mel Martinez has beef with Cuba leadership, let him go there and express his concerns. Holding everybody else hostage is counter-productive.

    April 7, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. phoenix86

    Another congressional delegation duped into supporting an oppresive regime. Idiots all.

    April 7, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. Helene

    Lift the embargo on Cuba. It is useless and detrimental to both the United States and Cuba.

    April 7, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. Haas

    it's about time! I've been wanting to travel to Cuba. If we can deal with communist China, we can deal with Cuba.

    April 7, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Leah, Vancouver, BC

    As a Canadian whose gov't does not restrict travel to other countries, I visited Cuba for two weeks last month. The Cubans are amazing, racially diverse people who have a great pride in their history and have many trade agreements with other countries. Israel for example has a joint venture in their orange groves.

    Yes, there is poverty but my hope for the Cuban people that they enter any agreement with America with their eyes wide open. The American investments before the revolution was mainly through the mob whose wish was to make it the Las Vegas of the south.

    April 7, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  24. Karwolo

    Most of those opposed to lifting embargo on Cuba are already Americans who are still bitter about past political differences with Castro. Even some are former supporters of Fulgencio Batista who was no angel himself. If you want to punish a communist nation, stop trade with China! That would send a strong message.

    April 7, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Marc in MS

    After 47 years, the Cuban embargo has done nothing to promote democracy or force change in Cuba's government. It is a failed policy of the cold war, and should be scrapped.

    If you want to change the government in Cuba, introduce capitalism as a concept into their society. It's been almost fifty years since they have been able to contemplate that, and times are different now.

    Holdouts like Martinez are pandering to the Cuban nationalist base.

    April 7, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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