Monday, February 25, 2013

Two-day conference on U.S.-Cuban relations takes place next month in Tampa

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

On Sunday, Cuban President Raul Castro announced he will step down from power after his second term ends in 2018. The 81-year-old leader made that comment shortly after the National Assembly elected him to a second five-year tenure.

In what the Reuters News Agency called a surprise move, the new parliament also named Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice president, meaning he's next in line if Castro cannot serve his full term. So by 2018 (or sooner), Castro will no longer lead the Cuban people; whether that will make any difference in the U.S. changing its policies toward the Communist nation remains in question.

Some people think the time to end the five-decades long economic embargo has already come, and one of those advocates is Al Fox with the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation in Tampa. Next month his group, along with The Center for International Policy, hosts a two-day seminar in Tampa that features Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Miami-based Democrat Joe Garcia.

Garcia is the 49-year-old freshman Cuban-American who defeated Republican incumbent David Rivera in Florida's 26th Congressional District last November. He will speak Friday night, March 22, at Mise en Place in Tampa.

On Saturday, March 23, an all-day conference featuring Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, takes place at the Cuban Club. Also scheduled to speak are Peter Kornbluh with the National Security Archive and Dr. Wayne S. Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

Topics include the Obama administration's Cuba policy, the State Department's list of terrorist states, the Cuban-American vote, and doing business in Cuba.

This is an invitation only event. If you would like to attend, please e-mail or

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