April 7th, 2009
06:30 PM ET
6 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. carlo

    Look, our greedy American companies don't want people to visit Cuba because they can't get their filthy paws on the profits. Dubai treats its citizens and its workers like scum, yet US companies ran over there two on a mule to set up shop, because they got to get richer off of Dubai. That's what the opposition to Castro is really about.

    April 7, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. SM

    Finally, finally my dream of scuba diving in Cuba will become a reality!!

    Those of you who don't agree with the freedom to visit Cuba policy –don't go, stay home and continue on and demonstrate your disapproval and pout if that's what makes you happy.

    Meanwhile, for those of us where the very thought that this silliness is finally ending is enough to make us giddy - visiting Cuba will make us very very happy.

    Sounds like a win-win situation.

    See that? That's democracy baby! So suck it up!

    April 7, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. The Broker.

    Paula Newton! The Apple Queen?

    April 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    U.S. enemy list wasn't getting any smaller over the last 8 years and it's time to use diplomacy instead of weapons.

    April 7, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. Angie-OH

    Great! It's about time.

    April 7, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. Steve In California

    It is time to put aside the strong-arm politics of the 50's that we have clung to for so long. The intention of the embargo (to economically squeeze and punish people into believing in the idea that democracy is better than their current form of government) didn't work. Not even a little bit. The Cubans made do. Even when the Soviet Union collapsed and their funds from the Soviets disappeared, they made do. No matter what the west tried, the Cubans survived.

    The best thing we could do right now is open our doors to Cuba and establish partnerships with a people that is obviously strong and resourceful. Let's end this embargo travesty. The best way to bring Cubans into the hemispheric community is to bring them into the club, not to ignore them.

    Get me a plane ticket. I want to go.

    April 7, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Renee

    Woohooo! Cuban cigars for everyone.

    Martinez is ridiculous in thinking that any additional years of trade embargo is going to have an impact that the last 47 years didn't have.

    April 7, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    "arguing that opening the communist-led island for tourist travel would perpetuate the repression of the "Castro regime."

    More likely "how are you gonna keep them down on the farm, after they've seen Paree1"

    The backbone of Democracy is commerce: new ideas, new people and a cash influx will do more than the silly embargo ever did to promote freedom.

    April 7, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. The Broker.

    What happens if you fall in love, with the oppostion???

    April 7, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. barack obama is still just B.O.

    Even an idiot is right sometimes.

    April 7, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. ernaE

    Mr. Mel Martinez should move on into the 21st century. Most countries in the world deal with Cuba now. Are you afraid that communism in contagious?

    April 7, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Last Honest man

    Sad. Leave it to the Black Caucasus. I'd love to seem them paddling back to the US

    April 7, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Shari, NY

    Canadiansand a host of Europeans are basking in Cuba's hospitality, rich culture and tropical climate. How much longer can the US go on with the cold shoulder treatment? There are Americans who are finding ways of sneaking in through the back door to taste this forbidden fruit and the US knows it. Just do it!

    April 7, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Pat F

    @Robert Gonzalez: Aren't you watching Obama? Taking property and rights from Americans is his favorite hobby! He'll be right at home in Cuba! He and Fidel can smoke a fat one and talk about the Great Socialist World Order – maybe invite Hugo Chavez.

    April 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. Realista

    Lets face it, Cubans are cowers and were never able and never will be able to toplpe Fidel, nor his brother . They have been waiting for years for either the US or another country to do it for them. So in my humble opinion, open the doors, before Russia and Venezuela take over Cuba. It is to the interest of the USA to lift the useless sanctions. Lets go and build bridges, Martinez is just another GOPer idiot.

    April 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. Rob

    I think its great that we are taking initial steps toward establishing relationships with Cuba but what is with the folks in the picture. Jeans and a t-shirt as a representitive of our government...give me a break! And the lady is the jump suit..come on! It embarassing that only one out of five had the professionalism to wear a suit. I cant believe no one has brought this up!

    April 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. maryland

    I was born in 1976, I have been to Key West twice, I have always felt it was backward and foolish that I couldn't freely see this tiny country, it's good to see some calm rational opinions on the matter after only about 1/2 a century in the age of information.

    April 7, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. Lucy

    Imagine. Obama said "And together we can change the world". The only other candidate I would have voted for is Fidel Castro himself. Imagine. Free health care, Free education. If you can keep people healthy and educated, you can't control them.

    April 7, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Randy, San Francisco

    Normalization of relations with Cuba has been long overdue. This issue has held sway over politics in Florida long enough.

    April 7, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Kevin

    Funny how we have relations with other commie countries, but none with Cuba. I understand the pain that some of Cuban Generation of old have against Fidel, but let me tell you something: HE DOESN'T HAVE MUCH TIME LEFT!!!! From the embarrassing Bay of Pigs Invasion to the embargo to the Mariel Boat Lift, NOTHING HAS WORKED!!!

    Let's try some low-level stuff out first, like tourist visits, for one.

    April 7, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. bob in LA

    Finally! We are a foolish goverment to have thought all these years we ahd accomplished anything by not allowing Americans to visit Cuba. Every other nation traded and enjoyed the people of Cuba

    April 7, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Nando

    Mohito's foreveryone YA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 7, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  23. alex

    Yes i can see that your audience is very inform in Cuban affairs ,but i can only tell you what i feel as a Cuban American. is not about any embargo is about 50 years of dictatorship.censorship,human rights,and killings without trial .so for all of you living in fantasy land and complaining about Guantanamo consider eleven million Cubans living in terror 50 years enough to risk heir lives in an inertube to get here.

    April 7, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  24. Sue M

    The only ones you will be hearing putting this down will be the republicans......God what does the GOP stand for anymore.......

    April 7, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  25. John H.

    This stupid boycott must end! Quit mollycoddling the elitist Cuban contingency in Miami and open relations with Cuba!
    We lost 58,000 plus Americans in Vietnam (with the help of China) and now we are the best of buddies with both these countries because U.S. business smells money to be had there.
    And WalMart is the biggest U.S. traitor of all by keeping the Chinese government and its factories humming along . (Don't forget, China's doctrine is to destroy all capitalistic countries.) What a great country we live in – full of traitors.

    April 7, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
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