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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Is US Cuba policy becoming partisan - and about to change?

 Shutdown handmaidens Marco Rubio (L) and 
Ted Cruz (R) are both sons of Cuban exiles

Time was when US policy towards Cuba crossed the Party divide. There were always a good number of Democrats who supported the embargo policy and there were always a lot of Republicans who opposed it.  It may still be the case that some on each side differ on the issue, but my guess is that the matters is becoming more partisan, with the Demorcratic Party or at least this Democratic President becoming increasingly interested in easing aspects of the embargo and the Republican Party getting itself more and more entrenched in an pro-embargo 'let's crush Castro' position.
Why do I believe this? Well, first of all there was the meeting last Friday in Miami in which President Obama met with the now 'moderate' wing of the emigre community (as manisfested in the Cuban American National Foundation) and made the loudest noises yet that it is time for Cuba policy to evolve and adapt to the times. This blog by Arturo Lopez Levy explains how and why the President's words were significant in this regard. By calling the current US policy anachronistic, Obama is voiciung IN office what erstwhile Presidents and Secretaries of State have hitherto only dared to say AFTER vacating the White House.
This all makes for clear water between the President (and his Cuban-American Democratic supporters in Florida) and the the congressional Republican and Cuban-American right. The gulf has opened up since the showdown over Obamacare and the embarrassing stand-off that shut down the US government for weeks. Why? because it just happens that the two most fervent supporters of the Republican strategy to attack Obama on this issue were yes, you guessed it, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz: two Cuban-American senators who as this blog highlights are deeply "embittered." It could be that these two have shot themselves in the foot.
How ironic it will be if it transpires that by trying to take a political dagger to Obama's heart on his health care plan, these two senators have hardened that heart enough for its owner to wish to exact a revenge...As Lopez Levy argues it is within the President's power as the executive to make huge changes to the embargo without having to have Congressional approval. Could we be about to witness the long overdue change in US Cuba policy that we have been waiting for?

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