TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A bill filed Monday in the Florida Senate aims to condemn several Hillsborough County officials who entertained the Cuban ambassador and other Cuban officials at a dinner meeting in Tampa.
According to the bill, titled SR 1728: Tyrannical Cuban Government, Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco, Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez, and Hillsborough County Clerk of Court and Comptroller Cindy Stuart, had a dinner meeting on March 3 at an upscale restaurant in Tampa with a group of Cuban officials led by Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera.
As it stands, the Cuban government has an agreement with the Florida Aquarium to work on a project aimed at improving the health of coral reefs. However, when the ambassador and local elected officials had dinner at a restaurant in Tampa, a protest ensued.
The bill states, “as word spread of the unprecedented meeting, a protest erupted at the restaurant, with outraged protestors confronting the ambassador and her delegation, shouting at them and demanding to know why tens of thousands of Cubans are being held as political prisoners by their own government in a brazen violation of human rights laws.”
Cuba was officially listed as a state sponsor of terrorism in January 2021, alongside Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
“It is unconscionable that local government officials anywhere in this state or the United States would sit down to an upscale dinner with Cuban government officials who have betrayed their own people and who flout common decency and hold democratic principles in contempt,” the bill states. “It is inexcusable that these officials would break bread with members of an oppressive and tyrannical government that routinely violates its citizens’ human rights.”
“That the actions of Guido Maniscalco, Karen Perez, and Cindy Stuart and all others involved in the March 3, 2023, dinner meeting with Cuban Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera and her delegation, who represent an oppressive and tyrannical government, are condemned.”
WFLA.com has requested comment from the Tampa City Council, Hillsborough County School Board, and the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court.