The following is an excerpt from a full story about his campaign travels:
He accused the administration of ignoring Latin America and Haiti and said that as president, he would work with U.S. allies that do business in Cuba to bring pressure on Fidel Castro.
‘‘Our ability to remove Castro is going to be by earning the respect of other nations to begin to get tough,’’ Kerry said. “Every other country, the Germans, the French, others, have been buying property in Cuba, playing games. There’s no concentrated focus on [Castro’s] repressive anti-human rights behavior, and there should be. But because the U.S. has isolated itself, in a way, we’ve lost the legitimate pressure that ought to be brought on him.’‘
Moving to shore up his Cuban-American base that wants to see the United States tighten the noose on Castro, Bush several months ago cut back on how much money Cubans could send to family members on the island and how often they could visit.
But Democrats believe there is an emerging division in the once reliably Republican Cuban-American voting bloc, and Kerry on Sunday argued that Bush’s restrictions will punish families while isolating dissidents on the island.
‘‘It’s counterproductive to the kind of exchange of information we need,’’ Kerry said. “To shut it off is to empower Castro, and frankly I think that’s a huge mistake.’‘
Polls suggest that most Cuban Americans back increasingly restrictive policies against Cuba, and Republicans have assailed Kerry for once deriding the trade embargo against the island as a “function of Florida politics.’‘
Kerry looked to cast himself in the hourlong interview as staunchly anti-Castro, calling the Cuban leader a ‘‘brutal dictator’’ and noting that on a trip to Cuba, he declined to meet with Castro at “one of those one o’clock in the morning seances with Castro—for him to sit around and play that game.’‘
Kerry said he would encourage ‘‘principled travel’’ to the island—cultural and educational exchanges, as well as visits by family members, calling it “those kinds of things that really help open the door to new ideas, to alternatives and to transition.’’