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HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Republicans see big trouble in Little Havana

Posted September 30, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
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Marian Wilkinson reports from Miami | TheAge.com.au

Little Havana, the Cuban corner of Miami, is the last place in Florida where George Bush would expect to find himself in trouble.

But when the veteran anti-Castro rebel, Pepe Hernandez, sitting in the offices of the Cuban American National Foundation, started to add up the votes of Cuban Americans in Florida, his conclusion was unexpected. “If John Kerry can get just 30 per cent of the Cuban vote, he would most likely win Florida,” he said.

Mr Hernandez who once risked his life on the beach at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs in a CIA-backed coup against Castro, explained his conclusions. “The community has been changing substantially, especially over the last 10 years,” he said. “Los Historicos (the old ones who arrived when Castro defeated the rebellion) they are living in history, out of the passions, experiences and tragedies of twenty and thirty and forty years ago”. Los Historicos are a substantial element of the Cuban-American community and they turn out to vote in large numbers.

“They are older and very much Republican,” Mr Hernandez continued. But the new immigrants and children of the exiles, are changing the voting patterns of the nearly one million strong community.

“Cuba is still an issue but it is less important to them,” Mr Hernandez said. “Their sympathies are more with the Democrats than the Republicans.” Just this month, Mr Hernandez and his foundation lost their executive director, 39-year-old Joe Garcia, when he went to work for the New Democrat Network. This new Hispanic lobby group has launched a tough anti-Bush advertisement on Spanish radio and television in Miami.

In 1984 the Republicans had a stranglehold on the Cuban vote when President Ronald Reagan won the Cuban vote by 94 per cent. But in his 1996 re-election bid, President Bill Clinton, appealing to the newer immigrants and their economic interests, clawed back 39 per cent of the vote.

In 2000 the emotionally charged case of the little Cuban boy, Elian Gonzales, who was caught between his Cuban American relatives in Miami and his father in Cuba, stalled that trend. The controversy sunk Democratic candidate Al Gore’s hopes with the Cubans and George Bush wrapped up 82 per cent of their vote. Mr Gore lost Florida by just 537 votes. If he had increased his Cuban vote by only 1 per cent he would have won.

President Bush and his chief political strategist, Karl Rove, are acutely aware of these numbers. Keeping the Cuban base for the President is crucial. So, according to Mr Hernandez, Mr Rove came up with an idea to energise “Los Historicos”.

Recently, the White House brought down new measures against Cuba. The most controversial one allowed Cuban Americans to visit their families back home only once every three years instead of once a year. The idea was to stop the flow of US dollars from the family travellers.

But the measure has been unpopular with newer Cuban Americans and led to ugly splits among Los Historicos. “In my opinion they made a mistake,” said Mr Hernandez. “Because, largely, the Cuban people continue to place the family in front of everything else. That is going to have some effect on the way Cubans vote in November.”

It seems bizarre that President Bush could lose Florida in a week when Senator Kerry is trailing in the polls. But down in Little Havana, Mr Hernandez sees trouble ahead for the Republicans.

Member Comments

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On September 30, 2004, I-taoist wrote:

There is an old saying: “Like begats like.”  Mr. Bush’ new restrictions have now born the bitter fruit he, himself has sown.  Imagine not being able to visit your mother or father but once every three years, by government’ order.  Imagine not being able to send enough money home to help them eat a wholesome meal once in a while.  Imagine not being able to go and visit them should they become sick.  Imagine not being able to send them medicine. Imagine not being able to help your aunt and uncle, or your cousins when they are barely surviving on meager rations, and a few dollars would make their existence more bearable. 

Such is the reality of Cuban/Americans now, by government decree.  Where is the liberty and freedom in this?  What kind of misguided and inhumane thought is behind such policies?  Where in the world have we gotten to that such policy is considered good for people?  How is this good foreign policy?

Only in the mind of extreme idealogues whose reason and compassion is perverted by a visceral hatred that distorts their perception of what it is to be human. 

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On October 02, 2004, D. Robledo wrote:

Nah, it’ just South Florida politics dude, LOL!

Remember, some people can rationalize everything. See, sending money over there so they can clean their tushies with real toilet paper and eat pork twice a month is evil, because it rewards the Castro regime. Only by piling on the “comemierda” will you get the Cuban people off their lazy asses once and for all, so they can rise up against their socialist oppressors!! Can’t you see the infallible logic of that, what’ wrong with you. . .?  wink

“I see stupid people. They’re everywhere. They walk around like everyone else. . .they don’t even know that they’re dumb.”

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On October 07, 2004, la wrote:

I must say I-taoist wrote a very thoughtful comment. I too am so heartbroken over the inhumane laws. I have written to Bush several times- no, he’ll never see it, but it felt good to put those same questions into writing: You Bush, who promote yourself as such a family man, what if you couldn’t see the twins for 3 years? What if Barbara, who is so close to her “girls” hadn’t been able to see the baby twins except when they were 3, 6, and 9 years old? How much does a child change in 3 years and how cruel to keep grandparents from witnessing the blossoming of their legacy….I read everything I can hoping for a strand of hope to hold on to that, embargo or no embargo, at least the travel/money restrictions will be eliminated. Maybe I"m a dreamer but it’ the only thing that keeps me from being a “criminal” and hopping on a plane with my family

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On October 07, 2004, la wrote:

I must say I-taoist wrote a very thoughtful comment. I too am so heartbroken over the inhumane laws. I have written to Bush several times- no, he’ll never see it, but it felt good to put those same questions into writing: You Bush, who promote yourself as such a family man, what if you couldn’t see the twins for 3 years? What if Barbara, who is so close to her “girls” hadn’t been able to see the baby twins except when they were 3, 6, and 9 years old? How much does a child change in 3 years and how cruel to keep grandparents from witnessing the blossoming of their legacy….I read everything I can hoping for a strand of hope to hold on to that, embargo or no embargo, at least the travel/money restrictions will be eliminated. Maybe I"m a dreamer but it’ the only thing that keeps me from being a “criminal” and hopping on a plane with my family

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On October 07, 2004, la wrote:

I must say I-taoist wrote a very thoughtful comment. I too am so heartbroken over the inhumane laws. I have written to Bush several times- no, he’ll never see it, but it felt good to put those same questions into writing: You Bush, who promote yourself as such a family man, what if you couldn’t see the twins for 3 years? What if Barbara, who is so close to her “girls” hadn’t been able to see the baby twins except when they were 3, 6, and 9 years old? How much does a child change in 3 years and how cruel to keep grandparents from witnessing the blossoming of their legacy….I read everything I can hoping for a strand of hope to hold on to that, embargo or no embargo, at least the travel/money restrictions will be eliminated. Maybe I"m a dreamer but it’ the only thing that keeps me from being a “criminal” and hopping on a plane with my family

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On October 08, 2004, YUCA wrote:

Months ago an underground movement was formed.

YUCA a.k.a Young Urban Cuban American’ is a peaceful group consisting of over 17,000 nationwide Americans born to Cuban parents.

We as Cuban blooded Americans are a force to be delt with in the up coming elections.

As Cuban Americans we have seen the suffering our parents have gone through for many years and are sick and tired of being told what to do by our so called FREE country!

Our constitutional rights are being violated daily at an alarming pace by our government,especially while president Bush has been in power.

Do not tell me I can go to China the worlds largest communist country with nuclear power and then tell me I cannot visit my family in Cuba!!!!

President Bush started a movement against him that he isnt even aware of,so much for your intelligence budget…lol

Come Nov the ballot box will speak for itself as over 17,000 YUCA’ are voting against Bush,and over 50 new members are joining on a daily basis!

Nah nah nah nah,hey hey hey,good bye! Mr.Bush!

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On October 08, 2004, YUCA wrote:

YUCA fight poem!

Born and raised in the United States…
Parents came from Cuba way back in the day…
They left their country for a better way…
Years of tears have wrinkled their face…
As they pray to God for a free Cuba one day…
Cuban blood runs through my veins…
I’ve seen the sorrows my parents have faced…
Nurtured on black beans and rice…
Schooled about my island Cuba, also known as paradise…
Born in America, the land of the free..
I have another land I can call home, calling me, Cuba, cries out to me…
Sandy beaches,my roots,my culture and palm trees…
Home of Bacardi and of Ernest Hemingway…
My island Cuba is only 90 miles away…
My island Cuba…
Pearl of the Carribbean…
Brought down by lies and greed…
One day, My island Cuba…
Will rise and will be free…
The Cuban spirit can never be broken…
The day is coming where we shall dance in its streets…
From Havana,Matanza to Pinar del Rio…
Soon an end will come to a 46 year ordeal..
We’ll move ahead towards better days,better ways,reunite and rebuild…
The spirit of my people can never be taken down…
We’ve been through to much, to let another turn our smiles upside down…
My island Cuba only 90 miles from me…
My heart bleeds waiting for freedom to ring…
Free,like my America,my home,my country…
My island Cuba only 90 miles from me…
Beny,Prado and Celia’ songs will live on forever…
Guantaramera remixed with an urban beat…
One day I shall dance in its streets…
In my island Cuba…
That’ Only 90 miles from me…

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On October 08, 2004, YUCA wrote:

My America, the land of the free..
Free to bare arms…
Freedom of speech…
At 18
I can go to war…
Watch others die by my hands while laying on the floor…
I’ll be called a hero, without criticism…
But if I try to visit Cuba…
I can be imprisoned?...
This makes no sense to me…
I thought this was the land of the free?
My constitution states I am free to travel…
Ask our government about it…
And all I get is mindless babble…
I didn’t chose Cuba…
Cuba chose me…
My family came in search of liberty…
What did they find?
Just the same old story…
Do as you’re told or they’ll throw away the key…
What kind of freedom is this?
For treatment like this, my people could of stayed in their country…
We are the new breed…
Young,Urban,Cuban,Americans…
The New Cuban Order…
Fighting for our liberties…
Time to rise up from public scrutiny…
Let our voices be heard…
Fight for our freedoms…
Fight against the hypocrisy…
Lean back with pride…
And don’t believe the hype…
Fight the powers that be…
Say it loud…
I’m Cuban and proud…
It’ like a jungle somtimes…
But we can rock the box…
Come election time…
Play at your own risk…
Boyz & Girlz in da hood…
Fast and furious are we…
Urban legends…
We’re not…
In living color we are…
It’ time…
To rock the planet…
Hey yay…
Stand up…
Friends…
Roxanne & Billy Jean…
U.N.I.T.Y…
Is key…
Jump around…
Jump up,Jump up…
But never let them…
Get you down…
Bring it on…
2 fast 2 furious…
You’ll get served…
By YUCA’...
President to be…
8 miles?...
More like 90…
Oye como va…
Young,Urban,Cuban,Americans are we..
F the police?
Nah,this is about freedom, our rights and peace!