Fiery debate held in Tampa over U.S.-Cuba relations

Tampa, FL (WFLA) – Fireworks flew at a debate over Cuba. It’s been a hot-button issue since President Barack Obama moved to normalize relations between the two countries. Monday night, two men on opposite sides of the issue sparred in Tampa.


Attorney Ralph Fernandez and former senior congressional aide Albert Fox Jr. stated their cases for and against lifting the trade embargo and travel restrictions in Cuba. Fernandez is opposed to any changes that involve a Castro regime.

I think of the faces and the stories of the people who were executed and their families for crimes they did not commit, simply because they opposed a regime,” Fernandez said.

Here’s the president’s plan as outlined on the White House Website:

  •  “Re-establish diplomatic relations
  • More effectively empower the Cuban people by adjusting regulations
  • Facilitate an expansion of travel to Cuba
  • Authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from the U.S. to Cuba
  • Authorize American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba
  • Initiate new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate freely”

Fox Jr. supports the changes the president’s proposing.

After December 17th, when the president came out and laid out the policy, for me it’s over. I think the genie is out of the bottle, they can’t put it back,” Fox said.

The event was sponsored by the Tiger Bay Club. It was their first ever night meeting. Usually they club holds luncheons, but they wanted to give people a chance to hear more information on both sides of the issue.

”This is where you can get a clear and concise where both sides lie on the issue,” said Victor DiMaio with the Tiger Bay Club.

News Channel 8’s Jeff Patterson moderated the debate.

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