June 18, 2014

Of demographics and drift: 'The re-Cubanization of Miami' and waning support for the embargo

@MarcACaputo @jtamayo2010 

More Miami-Dade Cubans than ever support lifting the embargo and travel sanctions on the island nation, according to a new Florida International University poll that attributes much of the change to new Cuban migrants and younger people.

The poll, which drew swift criticism from embargo supporters, also indicated that about a majority of Cubans in the county might favor full U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations. Less than 50 percent said they send remittances to Cuba or have relatives who do so.

In an unexplained contradiction, however, a majority of Cubans polled also favored keeping the nation on the U.S. list of countries that support international terrorism, a list that carries banking sanctions well beyond those in the U.S. embargo.

Ever since 1991, when FIU first began polling Cubans, support for the embargo has steadily declined by 39 percentage points while support for unrestricted travel has increased 25 points.

“The engine driving change is demographics,” said Guillermo Grenier, who helped conduct the 1,000-respondent survey on behalf of the university’s Cuban Research Institute.

“We are moving into a period of re-Cubanization of Miami,” Grenier said.

Grenier said recent arrivals, who continue to flock to Miami-Dade, increasingly favor improved relations with the island. At the same time, the major backers of the embargo and sanctions -- older Cubans – are decreasing in number. Today, about 860,000 Cubans live in Miami-Dade.

More here

(note, we earlier blogged the first web draft of the above rewritten piece)

June 17, 2014

FIU Cuba poll: support for embargo wanes among Miami Cuban-Americans

From Juan Tamayo:

Cubans in Miami-Dade County are continuing to increase their support for warmer relations with the island, including lifting all embargo and travel sanctions and opening full diplomatic ties, according to a new poll by Florida International University.

The poll, released Tuesday morning, also showed that majorities of Cubans in the county favored increased economic contacts with the island and might invest there. About 48 percent said they send cash remittances to Cuba or have relatives who do so.

But 63 percent favored keeping Cuba on the U.S. list of countries that support international terrorism — one of the apparent contradictions in the poll by FIU’s Cuba Research Institute.

In another example, although only 62 percent of all the Miami-Dade Cubans surveyed by FIU said they were U.S. citizens, 90 percent also reported that they were registered to vote.

The FIU poll, which has asked much the same questions in 11 surveys since 1991, essentially confirmed a long-standing trend among younger, U.S.-born Cubans and more recent arrivals to increasingly favor improved relations. Older Cubans tend to favor tougher sanctions

Its results “highlight an important transition taking place in the Miami area, a demographic, generational and ideological shift that can potentially have a great impact,” noted the survey.

On the embargo, 52 percent of the 1,000 Miami-Dade Cubans surveyed opposed it and 48 percent favored it, according to the poll. That compared to 56 percent who favored it in the 2011 poll — and 87 percent in the 1991 survey. Among registered voters, the split in the latest poll was 51-49 in favor of the embargo.

More here

June 08, 2014

Herald poll: Cuba-travel announcement, Cuban voters weigh Charlie Crist down in Miami-Dade


Charlie Crist has a Cuba problem and a Cuban voter problem, a new Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll of Miami-Dade’s electorate shows.

Crist’s headline-grabbing announcement last month that he wants to travel to Cuba has hurt his standing more than it helped in Florida’s most-populous county, with only 5 percent of voters saying they’d be more likely to support him over the issue, while 24 percent say the opposite, according to the survey conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International.

A supermajority, 67 percent, say Crist’s Cuba position makes no difference in their vote between him and Gov. Rick Scott — and that’s despite the poll numbers showing voters by 51-40 percent say they favor Cuba travel for all residents of the United States.

Continue reading "Herald poll: Cuba-travel announcement, Cuban voters weigh Charlie Crist down in Miami-Dade" »

May 22, 2014

The former Rick Scott, FL GOP vendor that went to Cuba '...and can't wait to go back.'


After Democrat Charlie Crist said he wanted to go to Cuba, Gov. Rick Scott condemned the move.

“When spends money there, he’s helping the Castro regime,” Scott said recently in Miami.

But more people, business leaders and politicians are heading to Cuba these days – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a consulting company that, over the past decade, has done $368,000 worth of web services for Scott, top Republican lawmakers and the Republican Party of Florida over the past decade. 

“It was the trip of a lifetime, and we can’t wait to go back,” Sandi Poreda, senior public relations specialist at Taproot Creative wrote on its blog May 8, the day after Scott criticized his opponent's Cuba-travel plans.

Continue reading "The former Rick Scott, FL GOP vendor that went to Cuba '...and can't wait to go back.'" »

Marco Rubio to U.S. Chamber: Your Cuba trip is 'misguided,' propaganda for Castro regime

Text of letter from Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Dear Mr. Donohue:

I understand that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be leading a business delegation to Cuba next week. As you know, I have a strong interest in the freedom and well-being of the Cuban people. And because I have great respect for much of the U.S. Chamber’s work, I want to share my perspective about why I believe the Chamber’s trip is misguided and fraught with peril of becoming a propaganda coup for the Castro regime – to the detriment of America’s strategic interest in protecting human rights around the world, as well as the Cuban people.

As you attempt “to develop a better understanding of the country’s economic environment and the state of its private sector,” keep in mind that whatever new opportunities the regime claims to have made available to some Cubans, those opportunities are systematically denied to those who criticize and oppose the regime. Also consider the reality that no supposed economic change can be real or lasting since it can be unilaterally taken away at the regime’s discretion – without any independent judicial system to appeal to, and no way to seek meaningful policy changes through the political process, since free and fair elections are nonexistent in Cuba.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio to U.S. Chamber: Your Cuba trip is 'misguided,' propaganda for Castro regime" »

May 20, 2014

Joe Garcia gets in America Rising's crosshairs (again) with 'Communism works' line


Beware, Joe Garcia, America Rising PAC is watching.

When the Democratic Miami Congressman appeared to eat earwax during a committee hearing (he didn't, he says), the political action committee was quick to catch it and post the video.

A week has gone by. The YouTube video has 2.5 million hits. And now America Rising is highlighting what came out of Garcia's mouth tonight during a Google Hangout about immigration.

"We’ve proved that Communism works," Garcia said, chiding Republicans for backing big spending on border security that creates loads of government jobs.

So Garcia said much more than these five words. But we're talking campaign season here. Little snippets like that make for good attack ads and mailers. 

"This is an absurdity, accusing the son of Cuban immigrants of believing in Communism is just ridiculous," said Garcia, a freshman who sits in one of the state's most-competitive seats and therefore faces a horde of Republican challengers.

When asked if he could have phrased the line better, Garcia said there's no point: "They would post the video anyway.... I'll continue to say it."

America Rising sure hopes so. Here's his whole hangout riff:

 “When you attract people, you are the dominant culture that people want to emulate and copy what you’re doing because it works. And in America, we are doing a huge disservice to ourselves by not understanding how powerful of a driver in the economy an immigration system that works can be -- and continues to be -- and by not having an immigration system that works. Let me give you an example, the kind of money we’ve poured in: So the most dangerous—sorry, the safest city in America is El Paso, Texas. It happens to be across the border from the most dangerous city in the Americas, which is Juarez. Right? And two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico. And of course, the reason is we’ve proved that Communism works. If you give everybody a good, government job, there’s no crime. But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border. The kind of money we’ve poured into it, and we’re having diminishing returns. So while we’re doing—we’re spending all of this money here, we have border problems in Puerto Rico. We haven’t been able to set up a system that’s safe there. People are finding alternative routes. The opportunity to get this right and the mistake that Republicans make -- and I say Republicans because it’s Republicans right now -- I’m known to say that Democrats were also possessed by Xenophobia in 2008 and particularly after 9/11 and the economic crisis, but today we’re in a much better place as a party. And the problem that Republicans have is that they’re fighting a battle they cannot win.” 

Note: El Paso is one of the safest big cities in the U.S. (not the safest city of any size) and it looks like San Pedro Sula, Honduras is more dangerous than Juarez.

May 17, 2014

Protesters disrupt Charlie Crist's Little Havana field office opening: "Shame on you!"


Charlie Crist's Plantation field office opening was a smashing success, with amped up crowds of supporters and controlled conditions.

The Little Havana field office opening on Saturday? Not so much. 

Any outside event in Miami is prone to be disrupted by protesters. That's the reason Gov. Rick Scott last week campaigned inside a car dealership. The Democrats outside couldn't be heard.

But Crist's staff decided to hold a media event outside. Republican protestors, many fired up over Crist's anti-embargo stance, made him pay for it, as a video from the conservative Shark Tank Blog shows.

"Shame on you! Shame on you!" they chanted, drowning out one speaker.

Crist had to take the mic and lead his supporters to chant back: "We love you! We love you!"

It's a nice message. But that's not Crist's campaign message.

Later, Crist campaign manager Omar Khan, addressed the crowd.

"We're not really going to be distracted by them," Khan said. "They can keep on screaming."

Well, they did. And when you and your candidate stop your speech, that's the definition of getting distracted.

"There's going to be a lot of noise," Khan said. "And the biggest amount of noise -- I wish this was going to be our biggest problem. It's not. It's going to be $100 million they spend on us."

On hand for the Republicans: former Congressman and Cuban exile leader Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

“Charlie Crist should realize that some things need to be above politics,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. “There is too much human suffering involved for Crist to use Cuba in his search for attention.  His most recent comments about Cuba reveal a shallowness which is truly shocking. His nonchalant attitude on Cuba is callous and embarrassing.” 


May 09, 2014

Charlie Crist: Cuba embargo, travel ban are 'definition of insanity'

@MarcACaputo @AdamSmithTimes

Charlie Crist minces no words describing the government of Cuba: "It's oppressive. It's anti-free-press. It's totalitarian. It's wrong."

But the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee wants to visit Florida's communist neighbor this summer and says it's past time to lift the United States' 53-year-old Cuba trade embargo.

"The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. This policy has not worked," Crist told the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald in an interview Friday, explaining for the first time the thinking behind his plans.

The controversial trip — panned by Republican Gov. Rick Scott as a public relations coup for the Castro regime — would be a first for such a high-profile Florida candidate, and it may not happen at all if the Department of State or Cuban government reject the idea. The former Republican governor said he is optimistic after submitting his request to the Department of State two weeks ago.

Full story here

May 08, 2014

In a political move with risks and rewards, Charlie Crist wants to travel to Cuba

@MarcACaputo and @adamsmithtimes

In a move that would have been unthinkable for any statewide Florida candidate just a few years ago, Charlie Crist is planning to visit Cuba this summer.

Nothing is final, but the Democratic candidate for governor is eager to learn more about Cuba as he calls for normalizing relations with the island 90 miles south of Key West.

“We ought to think big. We ought to lift the embargo on Cuba and work with the president and get things done,” Crist said earlier this week during a visit to the Versailles Restaurant in Miami, where he didn’t disclose that he’s considering a visit to the island.

The Little Havana landmark, a frequent Republican campaign spot and exile gathering place, is the last place where you would expect to hear soft-on-embargo positions.

Crist, too, used to support the embargo and backed it as late as 2010 in his failed U.S. Senate bid as a Republican.

Crist’s new position — the latest in a string of reversals — was instantly panned by Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his newly appointed lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“He’s been a Republican. He has been an independent and a Democrat,” Lopez-Cantera said at a campaign stop Wednesday in Miami. “There’s one party left in Cuba that maybe he’s considering switching to: the Communist Party.”

“It just shows Charlie’s ignorance on the issue of Cuba,” Lopez-Cantera said, adding that that his “family lost everything” and that his grandmother’s brothers were imprisoned by the Castro regime.

Scott said Crist would be a “puppet” of the Castro regime and would help enrich it simply by traveling there.

Full story here

April 04, 2014

'Cuban Twitter' raises question: Is it OK for U.S. to help Cubans?

The Associated Press' report Thursday that the U.S. Agency for International Development financed the creation of a Twitter-style social network in Cuba to stir unrest raised fundamental foreign-policy questions, The Miami Herald's Juan O. Tamayo writes:

Does the U.S. government have the right to circumvent a dictatorship’s controls on information? And if Washington tries to help foster democracy in a country ruled by a dictator, is it pushing for “regime change?”

Replies predictably ranged from a rotund no to a flat yes, largely reflecting the divisions over U.S. policies on Cuba and the more than half-century of animosity between the two nations.
Among those to weigh in were Miami Cuban-Americans in Congress, who generally said USAID's programs are needed, according to reactions compiled by the AP. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, told a Spanish-language reporter in Washington D.C. that the Twitter-like program was "justifiable," as reported by our colleagues at the Buzz.