Evidently, we are so threatened by the Cuban population 90+ miles off the coast of Florida that the President has announced new restrictions for travel and forwarding cash and medicine to relatives from the U.S. to the small island. An estimated 75% of Cubans in Florida currently send money back to home.
Some of the estimated 800,000 Cuba Americans in Florida [equal to the state population of Delaware] carry considerable clout with the President since an estimated 80 percent voted for him in 2000.
How a small group of people continue to dictate U.S. policy is a mixture of American marketing, fear and the commies are taking over sentiment. There are no objective anti-Castro residents in America. Individual and collective hate for Castro the person and Castro's government is as fresh a wound as when he came to power.
Several years ago, I was in a meeting with a woman who was from Cuba. Some of us were making small talk before the meeting started and I made the mistake of turning to the woman seated next to me and asking her about Cuba. Don't you want to go back to visit? I asked naively. She filled my ears with hate and rancor. She would not spend one penny in the country as long as Castro drew breath.
However, others now living in Florida may have soften their sentiment, given that thousands in the Cuban community have sent over $97 million last year to relatives, according to a recent Associated Press article. Many are angry about Bush's decision to limit travel that often brought needed medicine, food and clothes. A petition was sent to the President calling the new policy "inhumane."
A recent MSN Slate article noted: "'If this Administration cuts travel or remittances to Cuba,'says Sergio Bendixen, whose company conducted one of the polls, 'they lose the Cuban vote—and the election.
"The unvarnished truth is that there's no space on the right for John Kerry. Hard-line exiles—for whom Cuba is the only issue—are dedicated Republicans. However, there is an opening on the left. A viable position for Kerry would be to declare himself fiercely anti-Castro and then point out that Bush has no Cuba policy other than the embargo—a 45-year failure that has yet to make any progress toward its stated goals: free elections in Cuba and an end to Castro's reign. Kerry should then champion what the majority of exiles want—unlimited remittances and unrestricted travel—and argue that increased contact with Cuba will lay the groundwork for civil society in the post-Castro years.
"Relying on the assumption that Cuban-Americans in Miami are monolithically conservative was part of Gore's mistake. In fact, the Cuban exiles are not, as a rule, conservatives. More often than not, they champion social issues linked to Democrats: support for Social Security, Medicare, prescription drug benefits, and bilingual education. They tend to be pro-choice and concerned about environmental issues. The Cuban connection to the Republican Party has hung mainly on one issue: support for a non-engagement policy with Cuba going back to Eisenhower. But there is also a lingering bitterness at Democrats over President Kennedy's refusal to provide air cover during the Bay of Pigs invasion."
Kerry's Cuban Problem
How the Democratic nominee is blowing Florida.
By Ann Louise Bardach
Posted Monday, April 26, 2004, at 3:32 PM PT