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. Brad

    There are those who equate easing the trade embargo with somehow supporting or rewarding the Castro regime. I don't....and I support easing the trade embargo along the lines that President Obama has proposed. I think that it will be better for families...both here and in Cuba and I believe that, with certain restrictions on trading in items that have a "dual use" (both civilian and military...the same policy that we have toward trade with China), we can have a fairly positive relationship with Cuba that will benefit both countries.

    Given the large number of communist countries that we trade with, I have never believed that the fact that Cuba was a communist dictatorship was the real reason...or even the main reason...for the embargo. I believe that the real reasons were: (1) the fact that hundreds of U.S. corporations lost a lot of money when their property was nationalized without compensation; and (2) as Florida was a key state in U.S. national elections, there was a lot of pandering to the Cuban-American community (which was mostly composed of anti-Castro exiles who wanted to overthrow Fidel Castro) in Florida by U.S. politicians. In any event, the embargo never worked and it's time for a change.

    April 7, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. go cheryl go

    I hope and pray that the ban is lifted, I much I would love to visit Cuba this world is ours to see... What a dream that would come true, how nice!!!!

    April 7, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. SDN

    To "Sniffit" and others:


    "We must blockade the island, and make it submit to democracy." Thank you Mikey for those words of wisdom.

    "Sniffit" and others – you'll no doubt find amusing a comment I read yesterday concerning the North Korean (attempted) missile launch. Another revealing example of what some of us think in the best approach to international relations – kick somebody's, anybody's, ass.

    And I quote:

    “Why not just shoot the thing down and let the world know that we will not tolerate such belligerence.(?)”

    Is that a classic, or what? Stupid is incurable.

    April 7, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. NY republican

    Just a friendly history reminder to the republican/GOP/conservative bashers still out there, this embargo was put in place by the embodyment and the idol of the Democrat Party – John Fitzgerald Kennedy, so recently exhumed by our newest President in spirit,referances and quotations 🙂

    April 7, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Hendrik


    Thanks for making the distinction between the GOP and conservatives. They are indeed very different. Much the same with liberals and democrats.

    Nothing wrong with conservatives and liberals even though they may see things differently.

    The two parties stand for nothing.

    April 7, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  6. OBL

    I like everything Pres. Obama is doing.

    April 7, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Ryan

    The great thing about a Cuba vacation is that it is off limits to the loud obnoxious stereotypical American traveller. There are rarely these types of people on the beaches. My apologies to the vast majority of Americans who travel with respect, but the bad apples out there really spoil the bunch.

    April 7, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Cynthia - Arkansas

    It's a new day. The world is changing for the better! I hope they can work out an agreement, but talking is a good first step.

    April 7, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. Robert Gonzalez

    American Ignorance and the Left's Idiocy on display!

    My family was chased from Cuba more than 40 years ago all because we believed in Democracy. Our lands and businesses were stolen all in the name of equality and in order to fund a vision of communist utopia. Now more than 40 years later Cuba is still no utopia. The left likes to point the Cuban healthcare system and how great it is being free to all citizens. They fail to mention that most cubans who need an operation must purchase and bring their own sterile dressings, sutures and the like because the hospitals do not have them. The left wing media shows images of the glamarous beaches and night clubs and fail to mention that cubans are not allowed in those areas unless they are working. Before the Castro regime Cuba was one of the most modern countries in the world in which there were more telivision per home than even the US. Today its a third world country full of waste and despair. The people live in fear and poverty. Som so desperate that they jump onto make shift rafts meant to ferry them to freedom more than 90 miles across the most treacherous waters in the world. Thousands experience a terriblke death as they drown on their trek to freedom.

    Ignorance, Pure ignorance on display by you leftist idiots who are in search of some new vacation spot.

    April 7, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. ray ray

    @ Rush says

    "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."


    Hey numbnuts – Castro is a DICTATOR which is why he outlasted US Presidents (who have a maximum of 8 years).

    Great idea, Obama, embrace Castro. You'll look just like Jimmy Carter embracing Hamas. Maybe while visiting Cuba – you can make another Anti-American speech?

    April 7, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. FRAN

    Is that a necessary expenditure? I can't believe what I am seeing. Have we lost all of our good sense?

    April 7, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. KEM

    It is about time! This has never made sense and has been just a bullying tactic because of the Bay of Pigs debacle. What is most gratifying is the number of people that are supporting this change on this board. The majority of people that don't want change are Politicians. Democracy is contagious, but you have to be exposed to it to catch it.

    April 7, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Desmond

    Cuba is no more a dictatorship than China is and the Russia was/is.
    Yet past US governments found it expedient to BULLY Cuba and devastate its citizens by the embargo while pandering to China and Russia because of sheer greed.

    April 7, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. MAC, Hollywood, California

    yea!! i want to go to cuba! i would love to have a private chat with fidel castro, i find him fascinating. maybe we can enjoy a cuban cigar finnally, it's rediiculous how we get all those contaminated imports from china, heck even dry wall, but we can't buy cuban cigars.

    April 7, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Dave From Philly

    If Cuba had oil or cheap labor we would have had a strong relationship with them. They don't so every american president ignored Cuba for the last fifty years.

    I understand JFK and his administration policies and even LBJ. However Nixon went to China, Bush I went to China and Bush II went to Russia, so why hold Cuba's communist ways against them?

    The Cubans in south Florida hate Castro because it was their land he took. He took it because they were aligned with the reign that controlled everything and gave nothing.

    April 7, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. MAC, Hollywood, California


    April 7, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. thefletch

    I like it. Give you democRats a long enough rope and you do the repugs job for them. thanks

    April 7, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Lourdes

    Reading the comments about the lifting of the travel ban to Cuba, I can appreciate how little many Americans know about Cubans, like me, who live in Miami (and in many other cities and countries around the world).
    We were not all batistianos or corrupt, or the aristocracy. Those were the minority, not the majority. Most refugees were middle class people betrayed by Fidel Castro. The only achievement of the Fidel's revolution is the destruction of Cuba. I have family in Cuba, who still supports the regime, and they survive only because we send them money (dollars, of course, because that's the new national currency in Cuba). Please, if you visit Cuba, go beyond Old Havana. Visit other parts of the city and you will be very surprised of how different it is from the fantasy that many tourists see.

    April 7, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. V. Clausewitz

    Well people are finally beginning to see the light. A little negotiatian, a little compromise, and a little pragmatism will produce wonders. I mean it worked fot Hitler in 1938; why not now?

    April 7, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Mike Davidson

    As a Canadian who has visited Cuba – what a paradise! Great beaches and great people!!!!

    April 7, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. anon

    Obviously the embargo has done nothing to improve the Cuban situation. Castro – and his supports – have been able to use it as an excuse for suffering in Cuba. Take away the excuse for failure and take away the perpetuated belief that there is a rebellion against the evil U.S. worth suffering for.

    We will never succeed in convincing the current Cuban leaders to release prisoners and apply principles of democracy by bullying. Hasn't worked yet, to the contrary, it has, if anything, perpetuated the "revolution." The Cuban government has more to lose if we lift the embargo and the U.S. actually has a lot to gain.

    April 7, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. wwf

    Lets see. Almost every country in the world is responisble for killing millions of people for what ever reason. We have traded with them for years with very little complaint. We laughed at Castro when we had a chance to deal with him before Russia became involved. Guess we won that one didn't we. It is about time we get off of our high horse. Oh, Greg. Read your history. I mean READ your history before making the comment you made.

    April 7, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. JO

    Woohoo! Cuban cigars and rum.... oh wait, they'll be taxed so highly we won't be able to afford them and Cuba won't be able to export them to us. Rats!

    April 7, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Island girl

    Well, with dual citizenship some of us can go to Cuba without hindrance. It would be even better if those who have only a US passport, but a genuine interest in visiting a beautiful and unique Caribbean nation, could do so too. Of course, the Cuban government should have a say in the matter taking into consideration any effect – good or bad – it may have on their island.

    April 7, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  25. Shawn

    The fact that conservative and Republicans are petrified of comedy duo "The Castro Brothers" is just so stupid. What a bunch of cowards!

    Time to lift this ridiculous, anachronistic embargo against a small country that in no way threatens the USA. It's absurd.

    April 7, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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