Casino Gambling

Connections between Cuba and Coast keep growing

Bobby Carter, right, an executive with Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi, meets Miriam Ofelia Ortega Suárez, the first female ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Cuba and a member of the Cuban National Assembly, on his recent trip to Cuba. Carter has been making connections between South Mississippi and Cuba with every trip.
Bobby Carter, right, an executive with Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi, meets Miriam Ofelia Ortega Suárez, the first female ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Cuba and a member of the Cuban National Assembly, on his recent trip to Cuba. Carter has been making connections between South Mississippi and Cuba with every trip. Courtesy of Bobby Carter

The death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump could change the relationship between Cuba and the United States, but nobody knows how, said Bobby Carter, director of community development at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what type of reception I’m going to get,” Carter said last week as he prepared for his 14th trip to Cuba in just over five years.

“It was like nothing had really changed,” he said Monday after returning to Biloxi. The flag was lowered to half-staff when he and his wife arrived, shortly after Castro died. When the 9 days of mourning were over, the flag was back up.

“No one really talked about it,” he said.

His trips have concentrated on making connections between South Mississippi and Cuba. Earlier this year he brought legendary New York Yankee pitcher Goose Gossage to Cuba, where baseball is huge. Local physicians accompanied Carter on the next trip and took medical supplies. Carter said some of the supplies he took this trip were going to help victims of Hurricane Matthew.

This trip he met Miriam Ofelia Ortega Suarez, the first Presbyterian woman to be ordained in Cuba. She was elected to the Cuban National Assembly and was one of the people instrumental in convincing the government to allow people to open small businesses, Carter said.

He also spoke to Commodore José Miguel Díaz Escrich of Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway de Cuba, who is coming to the U.S. in February. Carter invited him to Biloxi to meet with local yacht clubs about the possibility of doing a regatta with Havana.

Carter is optimistic the U.S. embargo of Cuba will be lifted, and he thinks Trump will want to open businesses there.

It will take time, Carter said. “Fifty years is a long time for something to change overnight,” but he’s already seen changes. “You can see the traffic picking up. You can see the influx of Americans there,” Carter said.

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