Jeff Greene discusses his yacht’s stop in Cubaby George Bennett | August 3rd, 2010
The Cuba visit first became a topic of discussion when a Sunday St. Petersburg Times profile of Greene included a quote from a former deckhand who said: “Mr. Greene’s yacht is known to be a party yacht. When it went to Cuba, everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on.”Many readers undoubtedly focused on the alleged vomit-caked debauchery. Others, including Greene’s Democratic primary rival Kendrick Meek, raised eyebrows because most visits to Cuba are illegal under the U.S. embargo against the communist nation.
When Meek pressed Greene on the Cuba visit during a debate taped Sunday, Greene said he had gone “years ago on a Jewish mission to Cuba.” A Greene spokesman today said Greene “misspoke” in describing the trip as a planned mission.
Greene discussed the matter with reporters during a late-afternoon campaign stop. Read the transcript after the jump….
Jeff Greene on his visit to Cuba:
Well, I think it’s been made very clear. You know, we were traveling on the boat and we were on our way from Honduras to the Bahamas and there was, actually, it was a little mechanical problem. And I had some friends who were there on a mission. It’s a Jewish community mission. And as a Jewish person I’ve always been very sensitive to the plight of Jews all over the world.
And so it was an opportunity for a couple of days to go out and observe for myself what it was like in the Jewish community. And I can tell you, what I saw was not very good. I mean, there were people who were in their 80s, who had been there since pre-Castro, who had good lives and good jobs and they’re living on $50 and $100 a month now.
And it was very sad to see and it makes me stand up that much more where I’m in favor of the embargo. I’m in favor of Cuban Americans being able to go see their families because my grandparents were immigrants from Lithuania and I would have wanted to be able to go see them. And I’m in favor of the president’s plan to allow remittances to families, but I’m in favor of the embargo because this regime has destroyed what was once, you know, a great country. They’ve destroyed it.
(A reporter said: “This was not a scheduled stop?”)No it wasn’t scheduled, no. It was last-minute. We were going from Honduras to the Bahamas, we were going by there and we actually had a mechanical problem. The captain asked if, he said, can we stop there at the Hemingway Marina and I said, well, if it’s legal. He said, well, you can stop there. We were able to stop there and then I was able to get out into the Jewish community and visit with a number of members of the community at two synagogues there.
(Greene was then asked if he had originally described it as a planned visit to help the Jewish community)
No, we went there. We weren’t planning to go there originally. We were on the boat. I want to make it very clear, we were on the boat already. We were heading by there. We had a mechanical problem with hydraulics. We stopped there. And then, as long as we were going by there, we needed to fix this hydraulics problem, I thought, it’s a good chance for me to get out and see the Jewish community. I had some friends who had been there on some missions.