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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Bell tolls for the hardliners

It is still too early to say, but some commentators are suggesting that Obama may have won a majority of Cuban American votes in Florida. If they are correct then the power of the right-wing Cuba-American lobby is in terminal decline. True enough, Republican Castro baiters Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart may have both won with thumping majorities in their districts, but overalll in Miami-Dade and Broward counties where most of the Cuban-Americans are located, Obama won over Romney. It is obvious that he could not have done so without picking up a good proportion of their votes. This might be as much as 62 per cent, as my fellow blogger Phil Peters reported yesterday.

Add to this the fact that Joe Garcia became the first Democrat Cuban-American ever to be elected, and that veteran Castro hater Connie Mack lost his senate seat, it all adds up to a very interesting scenario. Garcia openly supports more engagement with the island. The split in the Cuban-American community in Florida could therefore not be more clear.

When they finally count all the votes we will know for sure, but either way Obama won the White House without the need for Florida at all. He owes the Cuban right-wing nothing. Furthermore, he is in a final term and therefore should have a free hand to open the door to Cuba. I am 99 per cent certain that he will do so.

Make no bones about it, Obama wishes to end socialism in Cuba just as much as Ros-Lehtinen, but he differs on how it should be done. I use the following analogy: Instead of trying to starve Cuba into submission through an embargo, a strategy that has not worked, Obama inclines towards what I call the poisoned apple approach. Just like the wicked stepmother, he would try to kill Cuba with apparent kindness. It's going to be an interesting four years.

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