President’s visit to Cuba not a popular move with all

President Barack Obama, left, attends a state dinner hosted by Cuban President Raul Castro, right, at the Palace of the Revolution on Monday, March 21. AP Photo

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – President Barack Obama is currently making history in Cuba. Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is also busy in Havana, making a pitch to encourage Cuban officials to locate a consulate in his city.

While Kriseman and other city leaders are in Cuba this week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has a long-standing position and will not go to the island nation.

“Don’t get in the way of other people doing it, but out of respect for the people I represent, thousands of whom helped to build this city, thousands of whom were thrown out of Cuba by a communist dictator, some of whom spent decades in (Fidel) Castro’s jails, out of respect for that experience, I personally am not going to Cuba, but I don’t stand in the way of other people doing it,” Buckhorn said.

In West Tampa, some residents are angry that President Obama is in Havana while the Castros are still in power. “Not a happy thought, but I’m not going to mention what I’m thinking because that’s our president, and I’m trying to be respectful, but my thoughts were not kind,” Lorelei Caridad Echavarria Perez said.

Her friend Grace Landeta has family still in Cuba. “They’re actually prisoners in their own country and don’t know it,” Landeta said.

Landeta believes the president’s visit is an affront to every American. “He is putting a rubber stamp on the atrocities that happened there. I mean, they were arresting people the day before he came,” she said. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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