Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Castor, Rubio put Cuba politics on display at the State of the Union,Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

    Castor, Rubio put Cuba politics on display at the State of the Union
    Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief
    Monday, January 19, 2015 12:12pm

    Two Florida lawmakers with polar opposite views of Cuba will use the
    State of The Union to highlight the politics of Obama’s effort to
    nomalize trade relations with the communist country.

    Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said today that she will bring as her guest
    Jose Valiente, past chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and
    an advocate for opening up relations with Cuba.

    The Cuban-born Valiente supported the trade embargo until 2003. “I
    realized that if the intent of the embargo was to bring change to Cuba,
    it has failed, because nothing has changed,” he told the Tampa Bay Times
    in 2011. “If it was up to me, I’d lift the embargo tomorrow for the
    simple reason that the real victims of this whole conflict are the
    people of Cuba. The embargo doesn’t hurt the government.”

    Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Miami, has been a vocal opponent of
    Obama’s moves. Rubio will bring Cuban activist Rosa María Payá. Her
    father was killed in Cuba in 2012 and, according to Rubio’s office, the
    vehicle’s driver alleged that the car was targeted by Cuban government
    officials. “However, the Cuban regime has denied all requests to conduct
    an independent investigation.”

    “For years, Oswaldo Payá courageously traveled throughout Cuba
    collecting tens of thousands of signatures from ordinary Cubans on a
    petition that came to be known as the Varela Project, which sought a
    peaceful democratic transition.”

    Said Rubio, “I’m honored that Rosa María Payá will join us in the
    Capitol on Tuesday evening as the president addresses our nation. Since
    her father’s murder, Rosa María has honored his legacy by continuing to
    advocate for a free and democratic Cuba and also fighting to bring his
    murderers to justice.”

    The White House said Alan Gross, who was impisoned in Cuba for five
    years, will be a guest along with his wife of First Lady Michelle Obama.
    Gross supports the thaw in relations with Cuba.

    [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2015 12:45pm]

    Source: Castor, Rubio put Cuba politics on display at the State of the
    Union | Tampa Bay Times –