News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Democratic countermove with Cuba?

In what seems an unexpected move, the White House has just announced it will ease some restrictions on travel and aid to Cuba. However, as you will see later in this article, this could be a calculated move by Democrats to counter recent GOP efforts to woo Latino voters. Let’s begin with the significant details:

“The President has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Commerce to carry out the actions necessary to lift all restrictions on the ability of individuals to visit family members in Cuba, and to send them remittances.  He’s further directed that steps be taken to enable the freer flow of information among the Cuban people and between those in Cuba and the rest of the world, as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian items directly to the Cuban people.”

So why is the White House doing this now?

As noted in my previous post, it seems clear the GOP is making a concerted effort to woo Latino voters. This White House announcement could be a subtle yet effective counter stroke. Here’s why:

The Cuban exile community has always been solidly in the GOP camp. The reaction to Obama’s gesture toward Cuba from the Miami exiles is already pouring and it is predictably negative. At the same time, sympathy for Fidel Castro is much more common among other Hispanic groups. In fact, some Latinos idolize Castro and Che. By offering an olive branch to Castro, the Democrats will be seen as sympathetic to Latinos. But the greater significance of this move is what it does to Republicans.

The GOP has now been painted into a corner. If Republicans side with their staunch Cuban supporters on the White House move, the GOP risks damaging their outreach efforts to other Latinos who are likely sympathetic to Castro. So what will the GOP do?  My guess is that most Republicans will stay mum about the White House initiative or give very measured responses.

Let’s wait and see how this develops.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez


Peta_de_Aztlan said...

I voted for POTUS Obama last time, will not vote for him again and quit the Democratic Party. Historically, the Democratic Party takes Latinos-Chicanos for granted as the lesser of two evils.

The Cuban exile community in Florida will remain pro-Republican. POTUS Obama is doing his usual gross manipulation with false promises that have not materialized about comprehensive immigration reform.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Political leanings aside, I find these media tactics may become the prime means of governance in the 21st century. A shame, that.

One other thing, Peter. Although the Dems have made empty promises, the GOP has smeared us. They seem to be having a change of heart -- now that Republicans feel they have enough political capital to burn among their "base" to reach out to Latinos. You can bet there a lot of Republicans unhappy with Jeb Bush for saying they are "incredibly stupid" to ignore the Latino vote.

I agree with you, though. Latinos need to be independent and make both parties earn our votes.

julito77 said...

I think it is a brilliant political move by the White House for several reasons:

1. For the US to ignore the Cuban market (which we have done so for years) based on a Cold War policy that is so outdated goes against out free trade philosophies.

2. The Cuban exile community in the US will have a chance to make more connections to people on the island.

3. It does as you say paints the GOP in a corner.

As a student of Latin American history, this is such a fascinating move.

Ualtar said...

Castro and his brother are tyrants, no more, no less.