Setting aside the issue of the travel and remittance restrictions for a second, most Cuban-American voters are n favor of maintaining what’s left of the commercial embargo on Cuba until Cuba makes some concrete concessions like freedom for political prisoners, restoration of political and economic rights, etc. That’s why no serious candidate for president has come out against the embargo during the campaign. Hillary Clinton? For the embargo. Barack Obama? Now for the embargo, though he was against it before he was a candidate. John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani? All for the embargo. The only candidates that came out against the embargo were Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd. Like I said, no serious candidates came out against the embargo.
Bill Richardson had this to say in a debate last September:
…[W]e’ve got to deal with the Cuba issue. What we need there is possibly start lifting the embargo but only after Fidel Castro releases political prisoners and their democratic freedoms.
Now that he doesn’t need Cuban-American votes anymore, he’s not hedging:
…but if he could counsel the new U.S. President he’d tell him that the embargo has not resulted in anything positive and thus the policy should be changed.
No wonder the Democrats spend all their time talking about candidates pandering to Cuban-Americans. They do it all the time.
Even though Obama has a newfound “understanding” of the embargo, how can we be so sure that a President Obama is going to be as zealous in fending off the attempts to dismantle the embargo coming from his own party as President Bush has been thus far? I wouldn’t count on it.
Maintaining pressure on Cuba is not just an offensive game like when the President speaks about it and raises the profile of political prisoners, its also a defensive game. President Bush has made it clear that any attempts to weaken the embargo on his watch would be met with a veto. That’s why amendments to bills that effectively weaken the embargo never make it to the President’s desk. They usually get killed in the conference committee because nobody wants to risk losing a good bill to a veto due to a poison pill the President has publicly and persistently refused to take.
The embargo will be systematically weakened under a President Obama. He won’t have to lift a finger to do it. But he won’t lift a finger to stop it either.
H/T to Fantomas who sent me the link to the Marti Noticias item.