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At least we can agree to disagree about Cuba
St. Petersburg Times ^ | June 25, 2003 | ERNEST HOOPER

Posted on 06/25/2003 1:50:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

By all accounts, the Great Cuban Trade debate staged Tuesday morning lived up to its billing.

Cuban-American attorney and Castro opponent Ralph Fernandez and Albert A. Fox Jr., the man who helped arrange Mayor Dick Greco's controversial trip to Cuba, squared off for the first time ever.

Both brought tons of supporting information to the Trenam Kemker Regional Leadership event, but most of all they brought passion.

Unfortunately, I had another obligation, but most of the 300-plus people in attendance were still buzzing about the conflicting opinions long after the morning event.

Passions were expected to run high, and Fernandez and Fox did not disappoint. Trenam Kemker attorney Rob Stern said it was the most informative and emotional discussion he had seen during the six years the firm had sponsored the breakfast gatherings.

So who scored the most points?

When I reached Fernandez on Tuesday afternoon, he was convinced he won over the undecided people in the audience. And Fox said that by contradicting Fernandez, he succeeded in prompting people to do their own research and draw their own conclusions.

After talking to both men, it's clear they don't agree on much of anything. One of the biggest issues is Fernandez's insistence that Castro has supported terrorism. Fox told me that was propaganda. Fernandez, who also noted European countries are planning to boycott Castro because of his recent persecution of dissidents, said there is overwhelming evidence to support his claim.

Fox also spoke of humanitarian efforts being made by those who travel to Cuba, and said more could be done if travel restrictions were lifted.

"You could have a mother in Cuba dying of cancer and not be able to send her $10,000," said Fox, president of the Washington-based Alliance For Reasonable Cuba Policy. "But you can send your favorite Iraqi cousin as much money as you want."

Fernandez said such humanitarian talk is just a cover for carpetbaggers hoping to take economic advantage of a good relationship with Castro.

"Don't be misled by these "I-found-it humanitarians' who take an old wheelchair to Cuba in a million-dollar yacht and then party for 10 days at Marina Hemingway with 15-year-old Cuban girls," Fernandez said.

Clearly, the best result of this healthy debate is awareness of the issue, and I'm glad we could have it in Tampa. They tell me you couldn't have this debate in Miami.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Cuba; Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: communism; fidelcastro

1 posted on 06/25/2003 1:50:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Good morning, CW.

That must have been an extremely interesting debate. I would have loved to have been present. I wonder if there was a question and answer period at the end.

2 posted on 06/25/2003 5:30:54 AM PDT by Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"At least we can agree to disagree..."

No we can't.

And, I am not in denial.

3 posted on 06/25/2003 8:24:22 AM PDT by laotzu
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To: Gatún(CraigIsaMangoTreeLawyer)
Me too Gatún!
4 posted on 06/26/2003 3:36:24 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: laotzu
5 posted on 06/26/2003 3:37:08 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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