In the Weeds in Miami, Unpublished Letters
Poster from exhibit at Casa de las Americas, Havana
An analysis of Cuban American opinion and voting behavior has been released which seems generally consistent with the annual poll by Florida International University. However. “The Political Incorporation of Cuban Americans: Why Won’t Little Havana Turn Blue?” may underestimate the transitional moment.
The study was published by Benjamin G. Bishin, associate professor of political science at UC Riverside, and Casey A. Klofstad, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami. They observed
Post-Mariel immigrants, who are more progressive on U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba than those who fled immediately following Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959, accounted for slightly more than half of foreign-born Cubans in South Florida in the 2008 election; however, 78.6 percent of the Cuban American electorate consisted of pre-Mariel immigrants. About 90 percent of those who immigrated before Mariel are eligible to vote; less than 46 percent of those who immigrated after 1980 are similarly eligible.
Their data precedes President Obama's policy of unrestricted travel and remittances and the failed legislative push-back by the Cuban American caucus to restore the discredited Bush policy.
Roughly 350,000 to 400,000 Cuban Americans took advantage of Obama's general license to travel in 2011 and the number is likely to increase in 2012. It is reasonable to assume that these are disproportionately folks who have not yet become citizens and/or are not yet registered to vote.
Having tasted normal freedom for family reunions, and embodying a larger and broader base than previous Cuban American travelers, the obvious question is how will they react to the prospect of being harshly restricted again to one trip every three years and a narrow definition of family ties?
When the two leading candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination so loudly promise to go back to the Bush restrictions, how much will that motivate citizenship, registration and new voting patterns?
How does such a dramatic threat affect the authors' conclusion that
Generational differences will help make the community more progressive with time, but not as quickly as many political analysts have predicted...Consequently, while the community is becoming less extreme, and hence more fertile for Democratic politicians, there is little evidence that a shift is imminent.
Presumably the Obama campaign will look closely to see how many votes pro travel anti embargo candidate Ron Paul receives in Cuban American precincts on primary day to discern how much the travel issue can create support for the President's reelection in the Republican base.
Unpublished Letters to the Editor of the New York Times
To the Editor,
The President promised in the State of the Union he will, "go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products."
There is a nation of 11 million people only 90 miles away that will happily oblige.
It is time for President Obama to fulfill his campaign pledge to directly engage countries with which the US is in conflict and open the market of Cuba.
By executive order he can make it easier for Americans to sell agricultural produce and to visit, thus increasing jobs in our travel industry.
He has the power to suspend virtually any part of the embargo, for example by allowing sales to and purchases from the emerging private sector.
Brazil's "Home Depot" is about to open a store in Havana. Where is ours?
Politically President Obama will stand in favorable contrast to the pandering in Florida of every Republican Presidential candidate except Ron Paul.
To the Editor,
Simon Romero writes that Brazil's tourist visa for Yoani Sanchez is "a test of Cuba's restrictive travel policies for its own citizens". True, and I hope she is able to make the trip.
But what about restrictive travel policies on our citizens? Except for Cuban Americans, we are sharply constrained by current White House regulations.
Most Americans are only allowed to go to Cuba in supervised group tours that have overcome the inconsistent bureaucratic hurdles of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). No back packers; no self-directed family trips; no renting cars, picking up omnipresent and totally frank hitchhikers; no personally shaped itinerary; no boarding a public bus or train; no staying in privately owned casas particulares (bed and breakfasts).
OFAC won't license third party providers of educational exchange programs and resists approving travel that offers more substantive interaction with Cuban society.
Hypocrisy, double standards--thy name is Washington.