One day there will be a return of normal relations between the USA and Cuba and it seems prudent to prepare a contingency plan that would allow Key West and the Florida Keys to immediately take advantage of the educational, cultural, and commercial aspects of an open Cuba.
Understanding the strong feelings of the many Cubans in exile living in South Florida; we took great pain to explain that our planned fact-finding trip had no political involvement and in fact it was something we were purposely going to avoid. Not withstanding these many protestations, many saw this trip as an overture to the Cuban government with all kinds of implications that were difficult to dispel. Consequently, the Key West City Fathers, feeling the consequences outweighed the benefits, began to opt out and this was of great concern, since their participation as the operators of the Key West deepwater port was crucial to any understandings of future over-water commerce.
Next, our application to the U.S. Treasury Department was taking longer than expected, it became problematical if we would be able to make our target dates.
The benefits of a fact-gathering trip would have put us in an advantageous position if Cuban relations improved and the island country was readily accessible in the immediate future. But if the status quo persisted beyond a year or two, the information and opportunities we gathered would probably be outdated, but we felt that this undertaking and information should be available knowing that sometimes change can happen without much forewarning.
Therefore, we should have a plan in hand, and if nothing happens in the next two years; we should again update our information and contacts so we can again relive that long heritage we had enjoyed for the last hundred years. We all long for the day when we all, both Cubans in exile and the rest of us, can enjoy the educational, cultural and commercial exchanges that is part of our bond between our Islands in the Sun.
NOTE: Sonny McCoy is Monroe County Mayor.