April 7th, 2009
06:30 PM ET
9 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. mikey furlong, NY

    This is disgusting! How many Cubans died because of the commies! And now we're going to reward them with naturalized relations? Obama is a mess! He's gonna turn us into a commie nation like Cuba! This is a big mistake! The embargo must continue! We must blockade the island, and make it submit to democracy.

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

    About time!

    I cannot understand the previous administrations' attitudes towards other nations we regarded in not-so-friendly terms: No discussing issues directly, no negotiating, no acknowledgment that they even exist.

    Yet even America would talk directly with the USSR, during the Cold War, knowing they were a direct threat to the existence of the US - With nuclear missiles pointing at us and ours at them. How do these nations trump those times that they could not have been directly engaged all of these years? Imagine where the US, and the entire world, would be, if we were not afraid to us talk to one another...

    April 7, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. Elizabeth

    I have never seen a president who is soo active in his presidency before. President Obama is a gift. I only watch CNN to see him lol.

    April 7, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Scott

    Lift all trade and travel bans with Cuba and watch the Castro's fall from grace. The embargos have only hurt the Cubans despite the rantings of South Florida Ex-pats. Wait till the see how much the spring breakers bring in cold hard american cash every year.

    April 7, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Chris from Va. Beach

    If we can deal with China and it's human rights depressive communists self, we should deal with Cuba. This has gone on TOO LONG. My wife is half Cuban half African American. It would be nince for us to visit where her father is from and have the opportunity ti visit her family members that's left there on the island. President Obama, it's time you lifted these out of date sanctions so we as a nation can help this country prosper as a nation as well.

    April 7, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. EBC, MD

    SMART move by President Obama. We can't keep these OLD and TIRED policies against CUBA forever . Talks with Cuba should resume and we should TALK about the future and how both countries can find some "commonality" rather than making FAILED POLICY based on the past.

    TIME moves on and waits for no one, and TIME changes breaks OLD HABITS and FAILED POLICIES and brings NEW possibilities to the forefront.

    As Americans we can't keep living in FEAR and believing EVERYTHING BAD about CUBA or any other country based on what our Government has been "spoon feeding" us for decades.

    We have more in common with other countries than we think and we need to start working towards a common ground rather than continuing in this senseless feud forever.

    We don't live in a perfect world, but we need to learn how to "live" cohesively with other countries if we expect to live with some level of peace and NOT in constant FEAR.

    April 7, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    @ Sniffit, who wondered:

    "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?"

    I think you'll find that many conservatives, myself included, feel this is long, long overdue. Like 30 years overdue.

    April 7, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. Kelly

    If we have been trying this since 1962 and it hasn't worked yet, then maybe we should try something else? I am open for change and if this doesn't work, we'll try something else at that time.

    April 7, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. chuck duboff

    I am a Canadian who has visited the beautiful country of Cuba ten times. It is beyond comprehension how the United States still treats Cuba like it is a threat...
    All I can say is this...the Cuban people are the most kind, generous people I have had the good fortune to meet; and they love Canadians and how we treat them with respect.
    I am a very strong supporter of President Obama and hope he continues down this path of treating people around the world with respect and not belligerence.

    April 7, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  10. Observant

    Wha's the difference between China and Cuba? We owe the Chinese, and may be able to make soe money with Cuba. Open up the commerce in Cuba.

    April 7, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  11. Greg in MN

    "This is disgusting! How many Cubans died because of the commies! And now we're going to reward them with naturalized relations? Obama is a mess! He's gonna turn us into a commie nation like Cuba! This is a big mistake! The embargo must continue! We must blockade the island, and make it submit to democracy."

    How many people have died at the hands of the Chinese government? We have relations with them.

    "...make it submit to democracy."? So force them to submit to our will and wishes. Sounds more like a "commie" take on things than a democratic one.

    Why do you hate democracy so much? Why?

    April 7, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    @ mikey Furlong, NY, who said "make it submit to democracy."

    The fact that your statement is an oxymoron appears to be lost on you.

    April 7, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. Mike from Vancouver BC

    Americans can visit China or Vietnam but they can't visit Cuba? That doesn't make much sense.

    April 7, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  14. freed_from_w

    Let the Cuban people be free from forced poverty under the US and free the Miami 5.

    Or, are you going to send a Cheney death squad into the Bay of Pigs and blow some ships up again?

    April 7, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Mr. Phil

    Yeah Mike, because Democracy by submission has always worked. And it's not like Cuba was a democracy to begin with. Or did you forget how Batista rose to power? The U.S. has had no problem in the past with cordial relations with dictatorships as long as they are pro-capitalist (see Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador). The embargo has done absolutely NOTHING to change Fidel's or Raul's minds. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So why don't you actually try to LEARN something about a topic before posting.

    April 7, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Davonroe

    "Mikey Furlong", are you serious? "Submit to democracy?" Democracy is embraced and desired. You submit to a dictatorship, not to a democracy.

    April 7, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. alvino

    Things have changed since the Cuban Missle Crisis. It is time to move on and have meaningful talks with Cuba, as we have more in common than just baseball.

    April 7, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Get Well Soon GOP

    End the embago. They have great baseball players and dances. Their only crime is kicking our gangsters out before most of us were even born.

    April 7, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. No Batista

    Mel Martinez and others of similar ilk. It's over, stop it. The embargo for years has hurt the Cuban people. Change is coming in Cuba and let's try to make it peaceful. It's time for all of us to realize this is not 1959, but 2009.

    April 7, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    @ phoenix86, who said "Another congressional delegation duped into supporting an oppresive regime. Idiots all."

    A. Cuba's impoverished status is more a result of our refusal to trade or deal with them than from any "oppressive regime."

    B. Hypocrisy must be ingrained in you GOPers from birth. Bush made friendly with Musharef, a military dictator via coup, while simultaneously trumpeting forcing democracy down Iraq's throat by removing an "evil dictator" and getting in playground-style insult fights with Hugo Chavez. Fact is, if you'd stop toeing the aprty line, you'd realize that there is great economic benefit to both Cuba and the US in stopping this silly tantrum-generated embargo.

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

    Why not, America's new policies under Obama are beginning to look alot like Cuba's. (Democrats don't get the seriousness of this joke)

    April 7, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Stay Active

    I have alot of Cuban friends down here in South Florida. I do not have an opinion and can only repeat what I am told. My generation...over 50 just do not want to see any money going to Cuba. This they say rewards the Castro policies. Their children, born here do not have the same opinion. They want to see their heritage. They want to see their extended families.

    The only problem I do see is the "Wet foot dry foot" policy. You know, the plolicy that states if your foot touches dry land here in Florida, you can stay.

    April 7, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. Libertarian

    About time!! This impoverished tiny nation is no threat to America. It will be another American resort destination within a month of us lifting that silly embargo put in place sooooo many decades ago. If you want communism to thrive there, then keep the embargo and their only hope will be Russia. Lift the embargo and watch capitalism wash over them.

    China is a MUCH bigger communist threat. Yet, we send BILLIONS of dollars to them every year in trade. Oh yeah....I didn't hear the repubs crying when BUSH wanted to sell our trade ports to Arabs. LOL

    April 7, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. Matt T

    Why is is that the argument that "trade opens borders and advances democracy" is alwasy tossed out the window when it comes to Cuba ?

    That there are still Americans that beleive that Cuba is some sort of communist beachead threatening American freedom and democracy is outstanding in its stupidity. Likely the same people that beleive fluoride is a communist plot.

    How is any rational person supposed to beleive, without laughing, that Cuba, with its rampant povery, faltering economic and industrial output, and outdated military is a threat to America is beyond me.

    April 7, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    @ Rush Limpbaulls, who asked "Why are right wingers (and some exiles) so oblivious to the truth that stares them right in the face?"

    because it's inconvenient haha

    April 7, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
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