Alameda County Congresswoman and hero to Bay Area liberals Barbara Lee is said to have a "gentlewoman's agreement" with President Obama to become our new ambassador to Cuba, should that actually become an open position before Obama's term ends next year. As the Chron's mustache twins Matier & Ross report, Lee has been a frequent traveler to the island nation, making at least 21 trips to Cuba over the last 20 years despite the federal ban on travel.
Lee has kept relations with Haiti, Cuba, and the Caribbean as one of her main priorities in Congress, and at the beginning of Obama's first term she visited Cuba and met with President Raul Castro for five hours, in 2009. In 2000, she was instrumental in negotiating the return of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to his family in Cuba after he was found floating in an inner tube off the Florida coast. Going back as far as 1978, Lee facilitated a visit to Cuba by prominent African-Americans, as discussed recently by the Chronicle, and so the lifting of the trade embargo against Cuba is something of a long-fought professional victory for the 68-year-old Congresswoman.
The rumors that Lee will be spending the twilight of her political career in Havana has gotten East Bay politicos riled up talking about whom they will tee up to replace her in the House.
Names floated so far: Berkeley Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, whose term recently ended in the CA legislature; and Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland.