Florida's Crist Cancels Plans for Cuba Trip

Image: Florida's Crist Cancels Plans for Cuba Trip

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 02:39 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, campaigning to return to the job, said Monday he is canceling a planned trip to Cuba this summer.

"Despite his stark disagreements with the government in Cuba, the governor continues to believe the embargo hasn’t worked for the Cuban people and is bad for Florida’s economy," said Brendan Gilfillan, Crist campaign spokesman, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "If at some point after the election there is an opportunity to travel there to learn from the people of Cuba and help find opportunities for Florida businesses, the governor will go."

Crist, who served as governor as a Republican but is now running as a Democrat, announced in May that he was going to visit Cuba because he wants to push for open relations with the island that is less than 100 miles off the Florida coastline.

Another Crist spokesman, Kevin Cate, told the Miami Herald that Crist was only "exploring the opportunity" of traveling to Cuba, even though the trip was reported to be in July.

"He has decided it would be best after the election," he told the Herald. "He needs to focus on defeating Rick Scott."

A report in Politico questioned why the candidate would want to visit Cuba when there are nearly 1 million Cuban-Americans in Florida, many of whom fled the oppressive Castro regime.

It suggested Crist might have been following President Barack Obama's lead in increasing communication with the island.

"Last year alone, there were 400,000 trips between the United States and the once forbidden island. Among those were approximately 100,000 citizens traveling under people-to-people licenses, which allow educational and cultural travel to Cuba, a policy Obama re-established and expanded in 2011," Politico reported.

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