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Posted July 11, 2003 by publisher in US Embargo

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Tere Figueras | Miami Herald

The majority of Cuban Americans living in Miami-Dade County are more concerned with improving their lives in the United States than with issues in Cuba, according to a recent poll commissioned by a national Hispanic voter-registration group.

Overall, 62 percent of the 600 Cuban Americans polled said that spending time and money improving their quality of life in this country was more important than working to remove the regime of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The group that was most likely to focus on local concerns over international ones comprised those who were children—or not yet born—when Castro took power in 1959. Seventy-two percent of those 45 and younger voiced that opinion.

“The younger generation, I think, is looking forward to things, while the elderly are still looking back,” said Alvaro Fernandez, Florida director of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, a nonpartisan group that commissioned the poll through its research arm, the William C. Velazquez Institute.

“They’ve put down roots, they’re raising families, and they care about things like education,” Fernandez said.

The survey, conducted between June 24 and July 1 by the public opinion research firm Hamilton Beattie & Staff, nonetheless showed that Cuban Americans hold strong opinions about issues such as the U.S. embargo of Cuba and have a deep suspicion of politicians who play the Cuba card to curry votes. Overall, 68 percent of those polled agreed that Cubans on the island should decide when and if their political system should change.

The results echo those of two recent polls commissioned by The Herald and an organization of moderate Cuban-American business people. Those polls showed that a majority of Cuban Americans in South Florida have shifted away from a hard-line stance. Sixty-five percent in the new poll said they wished local politicians would focus more on local issues than international ones.

That is not to say that issues on the island do not play a role in Miami-Dade politics.

Presented with a choice of two hypothetical candidates, only 34 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who would work to change U.S. policy toward Cuba to allow more trade and travel, as opposed to one who did not. One result that did surprise Fernandez: 70 percent believe politicians lie about their stance on Cuban issues to squeeze votes from the exiles.

“And that goes all the way to 77 percent in those under 45. I wasn’t expecting that,” said Fernandez, who said his organization will use the findings to help boost voter registration and other efforts in the state.

The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points.

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