Cuba and Romney’s VP

Esteban Morales*

Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — The Republican vice presidential choice, Paul Ryan, will serve to further harden the position of the Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Cuba.

Obama will therefore adopt a stance that — without appearing weak — is closer to the position of promoting better relations with Cuba, which has increased in popularity and also produces votes.

This will be done while not abandoning his position of a double blockade: one against the government, a hard one; and another one that’s softer with respect to Cuban civil society. This is still the variation that Obama considers effective in relation to Cuba’s internal situation.

It is in this environment that I think the issue of Cuba will turn into a potential campaign issue. For Obama, nothing has changed enough in Cuba to make him give up the policy that he has followed since 2008. Above all if he is able to improve the economy at least a little.

Taking into account the other factors at play, Obama could compete very well against the Republicans in the State of Florida, where there are not just Cubans, but also Afro-Americans, hispanics, etc.

Havana sunset. Photo: Caridad

Nor should we forget that President Obama has been the president who has benefited the masses of Cuban-Americans the most with his measures that allow remittances, the sending of packages, trips and fewer restrictions of all types.

What have the Republicans done? They have made the policy toward Cuba harsher, to the point that it is no longer a viable policy for winning Florida – it’s out of style. Most Cuban-Americans want trips, the ability to send remittances and packages, and less restricted travel to Cuba. This is something the Republicans have never given to them before.

Obama will “flip the omelet” of the Republicans in Florida. These days it is not hate, recalcitrant counterrevolution, damage to Cuba, or wearing people down to get them to react against the Fidel Castro regime that will result in massive Florida votes. That stage has already faded into history.

Honestly, there’s no choice but to recognize that Obama has a better chance in Florida than the Republicans. This latter party latter would continue to operate within the framework of the old politics, while Obama — without changing Cuba policy — represents something more novel.
(*) Visit Esteban Morales’s blog (Spanish)

6 thoughts on “Cuba and Romney’s VP

  • It’s interesting to step back and gain a perspective on this article and the comments it attracted. What stands out is the state of so-called democracy in the US. There is absolutely no discussion of values and ethics, only naked Machiavellian power politics on display. Americans and Canadians will no doubt greet what I just wrote with disbelief, not because it doesn’t ring true but because it is what has become standard operating procedure in countries that unctuously embrace ‘democratic pluralism’ as the answer to all our prayers. “I can hear them say, “where did he come from, outer space?”

    No, just Cuba, where in ways other than its automobiles, the clock is turned back to a time where values and ethics still figure in the national dialogue, from the government on down. It’s the reason Cuba is such a heady experience, despite seeing graphically what needs to be changed in the country.

    I’m not much interested in US politics where Americans are not offered much to choose from – the worse, or the worser, are typical choices. Same in Canada. But the cynicism and a couple of other things not written about here are worthy of note.

    The US, ‘the greatest democracy in the world’ according to the hype, has a long history of disenfranchising its citizens during elections. Convicted felons are disenfranchised, most of whom are poor and disproportionately African-American. Jim Crow laws in the American South used to levy a poll tax to disenfranchise poor, disproportionately African-American people from voting until it was outlawed.

    Combing voter registration records to disqualify people who are likely to vote against your candidate is also a favourite on-going ploy. It was used most famously in the 2000 presidential election where George Bush won the state of Florida by 537 votes. Of course that election also say another tactic used to ‘deter democracy’ where the US Supreme Court was stacked with Republican appointees who then ruled out a recount in Florida’s close election.

    Florida’s Republican governor succeeded in getting passed a ‘voter ID law’ that requires a picture ID, normally a driver’s license, or other requirements, in order to vote. Poor people, more likely to vote Democratic, are less likely to own a car or have a driver’s license.

    This is the country that holds it self up as a model of democracy and something Cuba should emulate?

    To understand no-ethics, no-values US politics, one needs to understand how ‘Rovian politics’ works, named after the man who has resurrected himself and is working for the Romney campaign after a brief period of obscurity after his role in the Valerie Plame Affair where the cover of CIA agent Plame was reputedly blown by Rove because of her journalist husband’s articles questioning the Iraq WMD disinformation.

    ‘Rovian politics’, also known as ‘wedge politics’, has become a commonly used model in US and Canadian politics and is essential when following the machinations of the US presidential election. In place of ethics and values, politicians pander to voter groups, assembling them in ‘wedges’, like a pie, to create a majority.

    Voters are curried if the candidate feels they can win over the wedge and ignored as wasted effort if not. This accounts for bizarre, inconsistent viewpoints and flip-flopping stances over time.

    This is what it’s really like in the capitalist world I know. Be aware.

  • I will be surprised if either Romney or Ryan will mention Cuba at any campaign stop between now and Election Day. Cuba — unless the strategy changes — is not a campaign issue.

  • Obama can win Florida as long as he and his surrogates draw a red line to distinguish their position on Cuban American travel and remittances from Romney/Ryan. Romney’s people obviously realize that the commitment he made during the primary to win the hard liners will cost him in the general election among independents, the fastest growing category of Cuban American voters .

    For that reason, they tried to downplay the crucial issue in the hard line plank of the Republican platform, leading to this “correction”:

    “However there is one possible omission: The [Republican] platform doesn’t explicitly call for reversing the executive decision of President Obama that allowed for more travel to Cuba. Romney’s camp, including Cuba-crackdown leader and former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, says no additional language is needed, in great part because Romney’s campaign notes that he explicitly opposes Obama’s executive decision to loosen travel and remittances to Cuba.””

    Obama could do even better nationwide if he takes action to save his half-step of people to people travel.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  • Moses wait and see, I living in Florida, wait and see, we make no move at the moment and do not “Rock the Boat” the MIA hardliner are dropping into the Box, if OBAMA wins that it is “Pay Back Time”. We need massive improvement and work, this is only possible with better relationship with Cuba. If Romney wins we have problems which we by ourself can not solve and the Dollar will go under.

  • While this post is well-written, it ignores the reality that with regards to actual Florida voters, the scale is still heavily weighted towards the traditional conservative policies of the past. It is yet to be seen if Obama can turn out the young and/or minority non-traditional voter as was successfully done in 2008. The heavy disenchantment with his actual accomplishments over the last 3 years does not bode well for democratic turnout. If actual voter turnout reflects a typical pre-2008 Florida election, Obama will not carry Florida. Also, given the in-state popularity of Marco Rubio across party lines, Republican candidates up and down the ticket are clearly advantaged. Finally, if the Obama campaign, in order to win Florida, must make concessions to the anticastristas, be assured that Fidel (and the reconciliation movement along with him) gets thrown under the bus without blinking.

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