Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and other local officials just returned from a four-day trip to Cuba Thursday night, reinforcing the friendship between Mobile and its sister city Havana.
One of the goals of the trip was to improve trade relations between Mobile and Cuba.
Officials also went over tourism possibilities and educational opportunities moving forward.
Stimpson along with seven other Mobile leaders made the journey. While in Havana they met with Cuban ministries and discussed ways to enhance the quality of life in Mobile and Havana.
“Really it’s about establishing relationships. We’ve been a sister city with Havana since 1993,” said Stimpson.
Stimpson said there’s a desire for more cultural and educational exchange between the two cities.
“During the course of conversation I said maybe we can have an event where for a 2 to 3 day period, you bring vocal, instrumental, visual arts, bring them to Mobile. We’ll have a festival and next year we go to Cuba. And they thought that was a great idea,” said Mayor Stimpson.
Local 15 also asked about the possibility of cruises traveling from Mobile to Cuba in the future.
“I think that’s a question mark that’s out there. It’s something we raised the first time we met with Carnival and we’ll continue to ask that question,” said Stimpson.
Port Authority CEO Jimmy Lyons was on the trip to discuss the possibility of a regular container service between Mobile and Mariel, Cuba, which is about a 50 minute drive from Havana.
Lyons said currently Mobile ships mostly chicken to Cuba, but only by charter ships when the volume is great enough about once a month.
“I’d love to see a weekly fixed day service where every Monday a ship leaves for Cuba, will be there Wednesday and then be back here for work the next Monday. And that’s possible with the distance,” said Lyons.
And more activity at the port means more jobs.
“But it’s going to going to take trade freeing up, more embargo being lifted a little more, and that’s a contentious issue,” said Lyons.
Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and folks with the Chamber of Commerce were also on the trip.
Christian Jennings, Local 51 NBC
May 20th 2016