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. abatoy

    Up next . . . opening up trade, tourism and bilateral relations with North Korea? Its the only way to deal with them launching their missle. Once they get a taste of our freedom, they will never go back. Yeah, right.

    As for the comment about Castro outlasting about twelve U.S. Presidents, that is the beauty of a communist dictator, you don't have term limits.

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

    It is about time, the Cuban embargo has not worked. It is useless and it does not hurt anyone but Cubans living in Cuba. Those Cubans who oppose this measure can do so from the comfort of their capitalist sofa in America with no worries....

    April 7, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. V. Clausewitz

    Pandering to thugs and dictators will work if we only give it a chance.

    April 7, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. j

    Well !!!! ------ Isolation, trade and travel restrictions have been in place 40 yrs to no avail. -- Time to change tactics.

    April 7, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. SDN

    First, let me make it clear that I am not a Fidel Castro fan – he lied to the people that supported what was, at that time, the overthrow of a horribly corrupt government – bought off by American gangsters.

    Second, those folks in South Florida that vehemently oppose the Cuban government, and US relations with them, are, for the most part, the deposed aristocracy that was deeply involved in the pandemic corruption of the Batista government.

    Third, I would ask those that still hate Cuba, Cubans and everything about the island – have you ever been to Cuba? Do you know any Cubans? Have you read any objective Cuban history?

    I've been to La Habana Vieja twice, and very much look forward to more visits to that beautiful city – and it's beautiful people.

    April 7, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Boehner has a hard on for Obama

    Look at mikey furlong, NY, sputtering non-sense as usual.

    Someone get a Wah-mbulance over to his house immediately, and possibly a history book showing the other "commie" countires that we have full travel access to.

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    I am happy that this administration is helping to promote positive change around the world. We are entering a new era in human relations. I am sorry for the people who continue to fight change, perhaps one day you will see how it will benefit your children and future generations.

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. RB NJ

    Why not? We borrow MONEY & Import from CHINA with out any scrutiny?
    China imports inferior product that are dangerous to our health and boast a dangerous Human rights policy. The argument about Cuba is hypocritical at best.

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Beth

    This is long overdue. This is an anachronistic and pointless policy that has achieved virtually none of its intended goals. We normalized relationships with China and Vietnam several years ago and if anything, things in those countries have improved a bit because of it. It's time to do the same with Cuba. They're no threat to us anymore, and as far as I know, we're the only people in the free world who are not allowed to travel or trade with Cuba. It's high time to lift the ban, I say!

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Jim

    @ mikey furlong, NY

    I guess you'll just have to move to another democratic country that has a "my way or the high way" attitude to foreign relations and has an economic embargo on Cuba and prevents its citizens from traveling there.

    Oh, wait a minute. There isn't another country like that.

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Becky

    I want to go to Cuba! Thank you, President Obama, for moving this forward.

    April 7, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. nitoNY

    Its about time!! We can make deals with China and other communist countries but we can't even go visit Cuba?? The only people that ever suffered from this idiocy was the cuban people. Fidel Castro withstood Americas embargo and nothing good ever came from cutting off the island. Thank god we finally have a president with brains!! Of course there's gonna be haters out there. Let them hate, their time is over and their just sore losers.

    April 7, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. tex

    Mikey, Mikey---– we deal with China every day. Why not little Cuba ?????

    April 7, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Laura, Boston MA

    This would be one thing I think a large majority of people would agree should happen.

    Cuba is closer to us the Hawaii is to the mainland yet we have been engaged in a "cold war" with them to no avail. It should be duly noted to those opposed that even our friends i.e. Canada, Israel, etc. have a trade and travel relationship with Cuba.

    The U.S. has got to stop fighting the Bay of Pigs and start with a little communicating. Talking is always a good thing to iron out differences you may have between you and perhaps compromise when necessary.

    April 7, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. gae

    Not only is the embargo hurting Cuba, it has been a destructive wedge issue used by politicians in this country for far too long. Batista apologists and McCarthyists say goodbye to your influence once the ban is lifted. No more Florida 2000 nonsense.

    April 7, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. Sniffit

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

    Hence, I said "GOPers" not "conservatives." Although they usually go hand-in-hand, we'd do well to remember they refer to separate things.

    April 7, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Jefe

    "perpetuate the repression"...L-O-L

    Einstein's definition of insanity goes something like this:

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

    April 7, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Cindy Sue

    Yeah, that's the way to lead people to democracy - FORCE THEM!

    My opinion is that the way to get Cuba to accept democracy is to show them the benefits. That includes trade and tourism, moving American know-how of the 21st century into a country that was dominated for 50+ years by a man content to live in the past. Raul Castro appears to be more willing to modernize the country and the way to get that done is through negotiating, not threatening. The reasons extant in 1961 for cutting relations have passed and should be left in the past. We no longer govern in the same way we did then. The world has changed - move on.

    April 7, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. We told you so

    Is anyone surprised?

    April 7, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. WhoCares?

    I'm really happy for all the families that might be able to visit each other again after so long. What a hope that must be for them.

    April 7, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. NY republican

    I've been waiting to visit Cuba for a long time. I can't wait much longer ("Bucket List" item). Can the Democrats "fast track" this bill, too? I really don't think there would be much opposition to this being pushed through the House and Senate. It can't be much more harmful than the "stimulus bill", the "budget", etc.

    April 7, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    @ V. Clausewitz, who said "Pandering to thugs and dictators will work if we only give it a chance."

    We already tried that when we elected Bush and Cheney in 2000 and 2004...pandering to those two thugs got us nowhere and their pandering to other thugs (e.g., Musharef and Israel) got us in trouble.

    April 7, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Bob in Pa

    Yeah, somethings in the air altright!

    April 7, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Dan, TX

    Don't open trade with Cuba, rather stop trading with other countries altogether. We don't need outside trade at all. Why trade with Russia, China, Saudi Arabia. It is time to close our borders and save America for Americans. US citizens should not be allowed to travel to Cuba or ANYWHERE else outside of our country at all.

    If we lift the embargo on Cuba they might invade us and take over the country. We would then be living in communism. We should be very afraid of Cuba because they are so strong and we are so weak. Run for the hills! Run for your lives! Be afraid of your shadow!

    April 7, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. NY republican

    @ Stay Active – speak for yourself, your "generation" is full of people that can't wait to go there, myself included. Even if it's just because we were told "no" for so long. After all, we are the generation that could not take "no" for an answer to a lot of things. I fully intend to take myself and my money to Habana at the first legal opportunity!!

    April 7, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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