Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cuba in the 2020 Presidential Election

I listened to a Zoom webinar on the implications of the 2020 presidential election on U.S.-Cuban relations, with Bill LeoGrande, Margaret Crahan, and Phil Brenner. Arturo López-Levy (who I talked to last year on my podcast) moderated.

LeoGrande thinks Biden is missing an opportunity, which I agree with. He characterized Biden as     having a strategy of "caution and avoidance." He could focus on remittances and family reunification, and follow Obama's strategy of reaching out to moderate Cuban-Americans. (Interestingly, he also thought Biden should probably pay a lot more attention to Puerto Ricans in Florida). He also figures there is a very good chance Cuba goes back on the state-sponsor of terror list.

Biden hasn't totally ignored Cuba. I criticized Biden's tweet going after Trump for failing to deny Cuba's place on the UN Human Rights Commission and how it smacked of hypocrisy, so was a bad strategy (unlike other tweets, he even put it out in Spanish). I got pushback on that, but it still makes sense to me--focus more on Trump's punishment of average Cubans and how it serves no purpose. Don't treat Cuban-Americans as primarily hardline. Normalization of relations was a popular move so stick with it.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is a wild card. Crahan notes rumors of a lot of illegal Venezuelan money coming to Republicans during the campaign. I hadn't heard that before. Regardless, the "Democrats are soft on Maduro and want the U.S. to become like Venezuela" will certainly be a major message.

As usual, all eyes on Florida in a U.S. presidential election.


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