Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cuban attitudes changing

As is usual with politicians, President Obama is following, not leading, on the issue of changing the U.S. relationship with Cuba. He lifted restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans and on remittances to relatives in Cuba, and gave U.S. telecoms to try to market in Cuba. As this Register editorial suggests, however, the group that has been most insistent on maintaining the economic embargo over the years, the Cuban American National Foundation, has shifted its stance. It is now officialy open to wide-ranging discussions on changing U.S. policy, up to and possibly including lifting the embargo. A recent poll of Cuban-Americans, by a firm that has been conducting them for decades, found 67% in favor of lifting all travel restrictions, and 43% declaring the embargo a "failure."

In other words, the voting bloc in Florida that has kept politicians of both parties from saying much about liberalizing relations with Cuba is within a few percentage points of being ready to dump the embargo. Younger Cuban-Americans favor liberalization solidly and that seems to be where the trend is. It is this fact rather than hope of "enlightened leadership" from Washington that makes me think the policies will be changed soon. Like most politicians, Obama has put his finger to the wind, and when he senses the dominant direction will run to the front of the pack saying "follow me; I'm leading now."

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