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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 09:31 AM
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It's time for legal Cuba travel for all
It's time for legal Cuba travel for all
I think it was great that Obama lifted restrictions on travel to Cuba," said New York book publisher Mario Picayo, a Cuban-American. "I hope these are the last days of the trade embargo."

Not long ago expressing opinions like Picayo's would have meant being vilified - even ostracized - by the politically powerful ultra-conservative elements in the Cuban-American community. The obligatory public discourse was unbending opposition to any dialogue or contact with Cuba, and apparent monolithic support for travel restrictions and the trade embargo. For a long time, few dared depart from the party line.

But, as boxing champion Roberto Durn famously said, "No ms!" A survey conducted by Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen, released last Monday, found that two-thirds of Cubans in the U.S. now support making travel and remittances to Cuba legal.

Points of view like those of the Havana-born Picayo have become the new Cuban-American mainstream.

"I saw my uncle and my cousins in Havana for the last time in 1998," said Picayo, 51, who came to the U.S. when he was 8. "I never went back under Bush because he made it illegal to visit cousins and uncles. But now I am going to see them as soon as possible."
Picayo and most other Cuban-Americans we spoke to are not happy that only they are allowed to visit the island. They say all Americans should have the same rights.

"A very good friend - not a Cuban-American - congratulated me for these new measures, and asked me if it meant that everybody was now permitted to go to Cuba," said Yolanda Prieto, who lives on the West Side of Manhattan. "I had to tell her that unfortunately that was not the case, and that I thought it was very unfair."

It is very unfair. It doesn't make sense for one ethnic group of American citizens to be allowed to travel to Cuba while it is illegal for the rest.

The survey is bad news for Republicans, accustomed to the unwavering support of the majority of Cuban-American voters. Bendixen found that an impressive 67% of respondents gave President Obama a favorable rating, and only 20% rated him unfavorably. What makes this figure even more stunning is that 65% of Cuban-Americans in Florida voted for John McCain in November.

The writing is on the wall: The recalcitrant Cuban-American old guard is rapidly going the way of the dinosaur.

That's why it's hard to understand why Cuban-American Sen. Bob Menndez (D-N.J.), well known for his sharp political instincts, has taken such a hard line against Obama's measures.

A matter of principle? Hardly. In 2004, when George Bush cut visits by Cuban-Americans to relatives in Cuba, Menndez bristled with righteous indignation.

Bush, he angrily denounced, was "playing election-year politics with the lives of the Cuban people." How right he was. One has to wonder what's behind the senator's change of heart.

WHAT IS CLEAR is that the next steps must be scrapping the senseless embargo and taking up Cuban President Ral Castro's offer to discuss any and all issues and concerns.

During last week's Summit of the Americas, President Obama showed that he is capable of a fresh approach to relations with Latin America, and with Cuba in particular. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn't owe anything to the rancid minority of Florida Cuban-Americans who for years exerted such a great influence on the White House.

More importantly, Obama's policies enjoy overwhelming support among the Cuban-American community, as the Bendixen poll reveals.
The moment is ripe for a historic change. After half a century of hostility and intransigence, there is no more time to waste.
What are we waiting for?

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Cheap_Trick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-26-09 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
1. And I want some Cuban cigars!
Always wanted to try one.
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