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. Pat F

    Hey Sniffit and other bobble-headed Democrats who blame the Cuban embargo on the GOP:

    Did you forget Kennedy (Democrat) who started it?

    Did you forget Carter and Clinton (Democrats) who continued it?

    The Cuban embargo has NEVER been about threats to the US. It has ALWAYS been about electoral politics in Florida.

    Grow up, for a change.

    April 7, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Viet Vet

    Cindy Sue- You mean the way we Showed Iraq how to do it?

    April 7, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Marco

    Good for Cubans but not too good for us Canadians as our peaceful vacations will now be ruined with American tourists. I guess all good things must end!

    April 7, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. James

    Here is my opinion of why dealing with Cuba is bad to some but will dealing with China is OK. Yellow people are more readily accepted than brown people. I think this administration goes past that faulty logic and I commend the group of congressmen and women who want to see an end to this strained relationship with Cuba.

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

    @ Sniffit says,

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

    Gee – the ONLY way for Cuba to succeed is deal with America?? Really??

    Considering America buys 90% of goods from China... and China has an open relationship with Cuba... tell us all AGAIN why Cuba isn't succeeding?

    Nooo... it wouldn't have ANYTHING to do with the failures of communism, universal healthcare bleeding an economy, or any OTHER political ideal being embraced by US Democrats today that proved catrostrophic to the Cuban economy!!

    (eyes rolling)

    April 7, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Karen-phoenix

    Never understood why we can communicate and buy from China, the biggest communist country in the world and we can't from Cuba?!!!
    AND I'm 65, so I've lived through this whole stupid thing!! Mt parents used to talk about going to Cuba when it was like Las Vegas and it was a prosperous and friendly place.

    April 7, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Geoffrey Pahl

    That we still have a trade embargo and travel restrictions in place with Cuba, and NOBODY else in the entire world does, is proof positive of the insanity of our right wing, which keeps these policies in effect. It is long overdue time for a complete reversal of these!!

    April 7, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. RNC + DNC = politics as usual

    @ becky "Thank you, President Obama"

    I didn't see his name on the list of those driving this. I love the way Obama "fans" attribute anything good to him. And blame everything bad on someone else.

    In fact he pretty much got an earful from Havana and ex-patriot anti-Havana groups for his poor handing of a Cuba issue during the campaign.

    April 7, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Soccer Nana

    Can't wait to hear Rush's take on this; Hannity short man might grow another inch over this one; hmm, maybe Glen Beck can host one of his Jim Jones remix parties over there! LOL.

    April 7, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. tammy

    Hello:

    I am a Canadian that very recently travelled to Cuba (Januray 2009). I can say that I agree 100% that the embargo of 1962 has done nothing except hurt the people of Cuba, they have suffered for years because of this. Continuing, what to me amounts to a human rights violation, serves no purpose.

    Cuban people residing the USA need to be able to see there families in Cuba more freely and send them $$ more freely. Other US citizens should be able to travel to Cuba freely.

    Times have changed, and the strategy to try and bring Cuba to a democracy has changed. Punishing the people is not the answer and has never been the answer. By communicating and demonstrating the benefits of democracy, that would be a step in the right direction.

    The people of Cuba are suffering and have suffered for years due to the trade embargo, moving towards change is the answer.

    Tammy
    Canadian that supports Obama!

    April 7, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. robert

    What kind of mess has the Congressional Black Caucus got us into now?

    Do they do any good? Is ACORN going over to Cuba next?

    April 7, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Super MOD

    JFK started the embargo. This was not a Republican thing.

    Linda Bailey – Good luck with the HOA. They will win about 99% of the time. You are bound by the contract which you signed when you purchased the property.

    April 7, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Erv

    Let the embargo continue so we canadians can enjoy cuba in peace

    April 7, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Center of the Middle

    The OLD US policy toward Cuba is a complete failure. It's time to move forward and and mend OLD wounds...

    To my Republican friends I say...STOP living in the past...

    April 7, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. Byrd

    remember the godfather 2???would be cool if americans were allowed to have casinos and hotels there....cuba could charge us for use of property....and other countries allready visit some areas for recreation so we would make a profit too.....hmmmmm

    April 7, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. jim carroll internetfreepress.com

    Since Castro has been schooled in both Capitalism and Socialism,
    he could be converted to The Philsophy of Mixturism: business and government working together to meet the needs and desires of all the
    people.
    If we can let China buy our bonds with printed money, instead of printing our own, it is shamful not to deal with Cuba. We need to ignore that handful of people in Florida who want to put a Captalist
    dicator back in power. Go to the internetfreepress and print you a copy of The Philsophy of Mixturism–no charge.

    April 7, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. I don't think isolation works so well

    Open the door. Cuba will change. It is too small not to change.

    Only a country like China could really withstand change for so long and remain so isolated. Cuba doesn't have the resources nor the geography to do that.

    April 7, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Roland

    Great, now lets get back to making movies again in this country.

    April 7, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  19. Retired Army in San Antonio

    chelle -- April 7th, 2009 1:53 pm ET

    I wish the Cuban-Americans would let go of the idea that blocking Cuba from tourism is going to help..........It makes no sense.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    chelle

    It's only a very small minority of the Cuban/Cuban-American population that wants to maintain the embargo and travel restrictions. The problem is that this small minority is a very rich & influential group centered primarily in Miami.

    The majority of Cuban expatriots and Cuban-Americans would like nothing more than to be able to travel to and from their 'homeland' un-impeded.

    Or at least, that's what a Cuban-American Sergeant Major (US Army) once told me.

    April 7, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  20. Craig- Easton, PA

    So we've been trying this boycott since 1962 and it hasn't worked at all after 46 years. Sen. Martinez, expecting that it will suddenly work meets that definition of insanity. We've been traveling to the USSR and now Russia, China, Vietnam (all once or currently Communist) and to single party states throughout the Middle East and Africa and in many cases have seen human rights records improve. Not enough, but somewhat. The geo-political conditions for isolating Cuba at the time have long since disappeared. It's time we got smart about this and eliminate the sanctions. Given that no one else follows them, they are useless if not silly.

    April 7, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Same Old White House

    Hey Rush, I know making stuff up is part of the democratic agenda but Russia is starting to change back to their old ways and the reason Castro has outlasted almost a dozen presidents is called dictatorship. I am so sorry, reading is beyond most democrats. By the way, the Bay of Pigs was an idea started by a democrat.

    April 7, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  22. Retired Army in San Antonio

    phoenix86 -- April 7th, 2009 2:05 pm ET

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

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Sir, you are woefully out of step with the rest of the country......if not the world :-( .

    April 7, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  23. Paco Taco

    Why would anyone want to go to Cuba? Their natives are fleeing by the boatload and BEGGING to come to the US. AND not just any boatload either; these are boats that barely float which tells you they are taking their own lives into their hands to leave that place. That should tell you something about how much they love Cuba.

    April 7, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. BJ

    Heck yeah...let's open trade with Cuba.

    I am so tired of paying a premium price for Cuban cigars...

    April 7, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. ALAN FROM PA.

    OH YEAH, NOW THERE'S A GROUP WE CAN ALL COUNT ON TO FIX THINGS WITH CUBA . LAUGHS !@#@!##

    April 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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