By TED JACKOVICS | Tampa Tribune
Tampa Port Authority commissioners on Thursday postponed a seemingly inevitable showdown on aggressively marketing Cuban trade after one of them volunteered to “go to Cuba tomorrow” while calling U.S.-Cuba policy “insane.”
Commissioner Carl Lindell, who rose to local prominence as a car dealer before becoming a developer, suggested the port send an emissary to Cuba to establish local trade interests.
“I’ll pay my own way,” Lindell said before the five other commissioners present chose to slow things down.
His proposal followed a brief presentation by Albert Fox Jr., president of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy, at the board’s monthly meeting. Fox said that if the Port of Tampa took an aggressive stance on marketing Cuban trade, it could encourage change on federal policy that restricts exports to Cuba to food and agricultural products.
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, also a port commissioner, sought more discussion for a proposal she said was not part of the port’s strategic plan. The board asked port staff to report back next month on Cuba trade issues.
Port director Richard Wainio said trade between Tampa and Cuba would require compliance with federal law, having cargo to ship and finding shippers.
“Maybe somebody is afraid of being criticized politically,” Lindell said after the meeting, referring to the authority’s apparent hesitancy.
Reporter Ted Jackovics can be reached at (813) 259-7817.