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HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Barack Obama to talk of free travel to Cuba for Cuban Americans

Posted August 20, 2007 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
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BY BETH REINHARD | Miami Herald

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is calling for ‘‘unrestricted rights’’ for Cuban Americans to visit and send money to family in Cuba, just days before his first pilgrimage to Little Havana as a presidential candidate.

President Bush clamped down on family travel and remittances to Cuba in an effort to squeeze dictator Fidel Castro. The policy has become a flash point in the Cuban-American community, which traditionally leans toward the GOP.

‘‘Cuban-American connections to family in Cuba are not only a basic right in humanitarian terms, but also our best tool for helping to foster the beginnings of grassroots democracy on the island,’’ Obama wrote in an opinion column published in today’s Miami Herald. ``Accordingly, I will grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island.’‘

Obama is expected to repeat his message Saturday at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, a site laden with nostalgia for Cuban exiles. It was there that President Ronald Reagan declared ``Cuba s�, Castro no’’ during a landmark, anti-communist speech in 1983 that emboldened a Cuban-American community then hovering on the political fringes.

About 1,100 tickets have been sold so far to Obama’s speech, with the proceeds going to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. The $30 entry fee is a fraction of the $2,300 donation typical of presidential fundraisers.

‘‘This speech has so much symbolism and value, coming in the heart of the Cuban-American community,’’ said the local party’s chairman, Joe Garcia, who previously worked as executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation. ``Sen. Obama has come to the conclusion that the majority of Cuban Americans have come to, which is that more travel is good for freedom and good for democracy.’‘

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Member Comments

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On August 21, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

Finally someone has the cojones to tell the Cuban-American community in Miami that foreign policy is set by the president of the U.S., not by them.

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On August 21, 2007, publisher wrote:

You think they might even want to go see their families in Cuba. Geesh.

However, giving Cuban Americans special treatment is not fair to the rest of Americans so if I can’t go, they can’t go.

Of course, I think we should all be able to go.

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On August 29, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

I think Obama is still (very subtly) falling into the same rhetoric in order to capture as many of the votes in the Cuban community as he can.  He flat out stated he wouldn’t lift the embargo, and he parroted what every other politician keeps saying so they’re in the “safe zone”  which is along the lines of “...IF Cuba takes steps towards democracy, etc….”

Why not point out that it has already in fact been taking positive steps over the years?  Why not point out that there is religious tolerance and that religious people can also be a member of the party, as opposed to the earlier years of the revolution?  Why not point out the strides it’s made in gay rights, social programs, etc?  It seems to me that it would be more effective to point out the positive, in order to encourage continued movement towards a more open society, rather than continue the same old line about “IF, if if if, if.”

If Obama can see the injustice in restricted travel rights, then he ought to see the injustice in the embargo as well.  He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth, as do most politicians.  Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who is clear about the genocidal effects of an embargo, and who looks at where we can go from the “here and now” rather than continue the same ridiculous policies of the past.