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USVI’s Stacey E. Plaskett speaks out after snubbing trip to Cuba with Obama

In a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday March 29, 2016, Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett explained to The Consortium the reasons why she could not attend President Barack H. Obama’s historic trip to Cuba. Photo: VIC/Twitter
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national baseball team in Havana on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Photo: TIME
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Cuban President Raul Castro wave to fans as they arrive for a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national baseball team in Havana on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Photo: TIME
VI CONSORTIUM

FREDERIKSTED, St Croix, USVI — In a wide-ranging interview on Tuesday March 29, 2016, Delegate to Congress Stacey E. Plaskett explained to The Consortium the reasons why she could not attend President Barack H. Obama’s historic trip to Cuba.

The US Virgin Islands' Delegate to Congress also spoke about the outcomes of the panel discussion with her Congress colleagues and technology executives that prevented her from making the trip; made known some of the actions her office has taken to better the lives of Virgin Islanders; and explained why she does not view 2017’s Centennial event as a celebration, but rather a commemoration.

Ms Plaskett said she fully supports the president’s efforts in Cuba, but she quite frankly could not make the trip. And the notion that her less-than-informative press release stating why she could not go, was a sign of her displeasure with the president’s efforts, is a simply not the case, she said.

“What I said was we were unable to go. And for us, what was really important in the press release was this group coming,” Ms Plaskett said.

“We had representatives of Google, who were having conversations with V.I.N.G.N. (Virgin Islands Next Generation Network), Broadband V.I. and the Research and Technology Park about partnering with them. We had American Express, representatives of General Dynamics where we talked about expanding our airports. Having these kinds of discussions along with the members who sit on committees like the Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Small Business, Intelligence Committee — I thought that that was the more substantive takeaway and that’s what we focused a lot in the press release.”

In total, six members of Congress were in the USVI with the delegate, two of whom had told the president that they could not make it to Cuba because of Ms Plaskett’s engagement. Ten executives from various organisations who Ms Plaskett diligently courted to see first-hand the territory’s needs, in hopes of, among other things, relaying their findings to their colleagues in Congress, also attended the panel discussions.

“But that’s not to say I wasn’t honored, or I wasn’t trying to get to Cuba as well,” Delegate Plaskett went on.

Efforts were made to still travel to Cuba

“When we got the information, this event had been planned for two months,” she said, speaking of the panel discussions. “And I’m a freshman; I’m not on top of the list of who gets invited to Cuba, so I get invited a week before and so we’re scrambling, calling to find out can the panel discussion be canceled. No, it can’t because people have tickets that are nonrefundable, and people have adjusted their schedules and they’ve made plans. And so I said, ‘Okay, can I meet you on the tarmac, Mr President? Can Stacey get a different route and be there at attention, waiting?’ They’re like no, you have to come. And then I’m looking at can I charter a flight, looking at the House rules about finances and money, but it was just too prohibitive to get their Sunday morning.

“So then the conversation was about who could we use as a substitute, and the White House said there is no substitute, you’re the member, you’re invited, you need to go. We then thought about what would be the cost of me cancelling and going, and what would be the benefit of going. But cancelling can mean that among these members of Congress, my reputation now is that I can flake out on them at the last minute when something more interesting comes up. And I don’t know when I can get back on the schedule, because even though we’ve been planning for two months, this took much longer for me to harass and cajole and get them to agree to come to a freshman’s place.

“And then the thing was what would I have gained if I went anyway. Knowing that there were 37 members of Congress, plus governors, cabinet members, past administration people, and knowing that because of my seniority I was not going to be sitting on the plane anywhere near the president, and knowing that the president’s schedule was not always with the delegation — I just felt that I’m only going to attend places that are relevant to the Virgin Islands. And I told them Cuba, Panama and other places in the Caribbean — these are important things for us as the Virgin Islands to be a part of and to associate ourselves with.

“So when we learned about the event in Cuba, we knew we wanted to be there, but knowing that I’ve had conversations one-on-one with the president, behind closed doors with the Black Caucus, in Democratic retreat meetings, interfacing with him about what the issues are in the Virgin Islands and how he can be supportive, that I didn’t see the benefit to it, and the White House agreed with us.”

Plaskett comes in for heavy criticism

The delegate’s detailed explanation comes as residents and diasporas have criticised her for not being present in Cuba, and as many have questioned her stance on the reopening of the island nation based on comments she’s made in the past criticising the president.

“Renewed diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba present real challenges to the territory, specifically, in competition for U.S. tourism dollars and as a potential diversion of port and manufacturing opportunities in the Caribbean,” Ms Plaskett said in February.

“In my discussions with the Obama Administration and fellow lawmakers I have emphasised the need for the United States to prioritise the interests of its own island territories above the interest of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“I view it unwise and irresponsible to fully embrace a changing dynamic with Cuba in the absence of a careful and deliberate recognition of the economic impacts on our community and on the future of the people of the territory.

“Investments in Virgin Islands capital improvements for basic infrastructure needs, such as roads, ports, schools and hospitals, must be a priority addressed by Congress in accordance with its Constitutional obligation above any potential aid to the Cuban government,” Ms Plaskett concluded.

9 Responses to “USVI’s Stacey E. Plaskett speaks out after snubbing trip to Cuba with Obama”

  • the cuban (30/03/2016, 16:05) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Why she don't go and take a hike?
  • all i see is (30/03/2016, 17:52) Like (6) Dislike (2) Reply
    she just want to be in thing
  • Dis Grace (30/03/2016, 21:27) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    Miss,your lil epistle,if I cared to read it, is a bunch of nothing. I concluded ,when you made your negative statement about Obama,s visit to Cuba,even before he embarrassed you with an invite,that you are a waste of good votes ,lacking in common sense and no good for the affort to advance the USVI and an embarrassment to melanated females.


  • SMH (30/03/2016, 23:22) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Commendable and ambitious intent, buStacey has miles to go beforeshe is taken as a force in congress
  • Hide her evil face. please (31/03/2016, 04:09) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    She is naturally one of those intelligent fools. Obviously limited in wisdom and knowledge. Hope they don't re- elect her ...
  • NHI (31/03/2016, 11:35) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Obama don't even study that woman you done made it and she got a long way to go if she makes it with her stupid comments. Obama she feels you and jealous of your accomplishments. Pure jealousy is brewing out of her foolish mouth.
  • Wendy (31/03/2016, 13:28) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    The USA does business with China. So why President Obama can not go to Cuba and try to restore some kind of friendship with the Cuban Government. Stacy you keep your eyes on Governor Mapp.
  • POORSTACY (01/04/2016, 11:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Poor Stacey. She shame; she trying to save face now after she already made her rude comments about the president. How rude! She didn't see scores of other people were in attendance, that other people were also invited? She think it was herself alone? She needs to understand politics and not personal emotional rants. How can she seek any further audience with the president? She screwed up big times. Put a delegation in place in St. Thomas to deal with those matters and get your tail in Cuba. She may have just shot the Virgin Islands in the foot with her own darts. Let her plan to make-it-up to him now..
  • WTF (01/04/2016, 12:11) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Stacy don't back peddle now. You said you did not agree with President Obama going to Cuba, and you declined the invitation. What nonsense you talking now? You sound stupid. I always knew you had no class and did not qualify go be Delegate to Congress.


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