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Posted August 04, 2003 by publisher in US Embargo

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By ANYA LANDAU | Letter to the Editor | Washington Post

In his July 31 op-ed column, “Costly Cuba Blunder,” Robert D. Novak underestimated the White House’s political arithmetic on South Florida.

The real reason the president’s political advisers aren’t sweating the recent repatriation of 12 Cuban hijackers and their victims may be that the latest polls in South Florida indicate that as many as 78 percent of Cuban Americans “care more about the quality of life in South Florida than about whether Fidel Castro is overthrown.” The poll, published in July by the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, also found that while 73 percent of Cuban Americans supported military intervention in Cuba a decade ago, now fewer than half do.

Another reason the repatriation didn’t cause a ripple in Washington is that this administration has staked its reputation on fighting terrorism. After what the American people lived through on Sept. 11, 2001, the president would lose far more votes coddling a hijacker than he would by taking a political risk in South Florida.

The writer is an associate at the Center for International Policy’s Cuba Project, which works to normalize relations with Cuba.

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