Mayor LaToya Cantrell speaks before cutting the ribbon of the Fleur De Lis Drive road improvement project between 30th Street and Old Hammond Highway in the Lakeview neighborhood in New Orleans, La., Friday, April 12, 2019. The project included replacing water, sewerage and drainage lines, repaving the roadway, and installing new ADA-compliant curb ramps at intersections.

In an interview with Essence about her recent trip to Cuba, Mayor LaToya Cantrell was blunt about the way she perceives she's been treated in the press: "I have not received the benefit of the doubt from the media since the beginning of my tenure as Mayor," she told Essence.

Cantrell was in Cuba earlier this month with 35 others, including District B City Councilman Jay Banks, visiting the cities of Havana and Matanzas and discussing early childhood education, health care and the possibility of becoming a trading partner with Cuba if sanctions are lifted.

The trip, which was not officially announced before it began, caught some by surprise and seemed to put Cantrell on the defensive. In a Facebook post, she wrote, "It’s no secret we’ve been in Cuba breaking down silos and building relationships to help create economic, literacy, health and new opportunities for the people of New Orleans. Just follow me on social."

Many Louisiana politicians have visited Cuba to strengthen relations in recent years, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May 2016 and Gov. John Bel Edwards, along with a delegation of state officials, in September 2016. Former Mayor Ray Nagin visited the island nation, as did former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

But this trip coincided with two municipal matters that occupied New Orleanians' attention: an April 5 heavy rain that resulted in some street flooding and four pumps not working, and the ongoing controversy over the city's traffic camera program.

In a phone interview from Cuba with The New Orleans Advocate, Cantrell defended the trip, especially in light of President Donald Trump's reversal of some Cuban trade policies.

“Having this delegation come really solidifies and strengthens relationships with them that can live on beyond this current federal administration.”

Follow Kevin Allman on Twitter: @kevinallman