Friday, December 21, 2007

Prospects for change in Cuba policy

Wayne Smith, former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana who is a longtime observer of U.S.-Cuban relations, co-wrote an article on U.S. policy for the Center for International Policy. It seeks to find some optimism:

Cuba is on the cusp of change. By contrast, there has been little change in Washington. U.S. policy toward Cuba remains as ill-conceived and counterproductive as ever.

There is hope, however, that the changing political equation in Miami, pressure from economic interest groups interested in trade and investment, and support by the majority of Americans for normalization of relations with Cuba will lead long overdue policy change after the 2008 elections.

I find the optimism a bit forced. The logic is that many Cuban Americans are becoming Democrats, which might create support for a change in policy, but then they also note that Democrats have failed to do anything. So far, economic interest groups haven’t acted in concert to pressure the government. The article also does not note that the Democratic candidates have very different views on Cuba so it also depends on who is elected.

One point I found amusing was the so-called “Grandmother Factor,” where young Cuban Americans don’t want to admit to their grandmothers that they either registered Democrat or lean toward toward the Democratic Party.


Anonymous,  1:46 PM  


I have been hearing how generational change in the Cuban-American community will change U.S. embargo policy for what seems like a couple of decades. It seems that those Cuban Americans that are most mobilized and organized continue to promote a hardline policy. Until one can see counter-movements/groups within the Cuban-American community that can match their effectiveness, I don't see much change in this contributing factor to the maintenance of the embargo.


Greg Weeks 2:07 PM  

True. Rumors of policy change over the years are like the rumors about Fidel's impending death. Perhaps more wishful thinking than anything else.

Henry Louis Gomez 4:56 PM  

Wayne Smith is more than an observer, he's an advocate. And the fact is that voter registration trends have been remarkably stable over the past 15 years among Cuban-Americans with 2/3 registering Republican and the remaining third splitting between Democrats and registering independent. 66 Democrats (29% of the Democratic representation in Congress) voted against the Rangel amendment that would have made Cuban purchases of U.S. agricultural products easier. They joined the 91% of Congressional Republicans on that vote.

I believe that this is a case of "tell a lie enough times and it eventually becomes the truth." You are correct to doubt the veracity of claims of earth-moving shifts in the political views of exiles regarding U.S.-Cuba policy.

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