Clinton Position On Cuba Signals New Political Era
by FRANK JAMES
June 10, 2014 3:54 PM ET
One of the few revelations in Hard Choices, former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton’s new book about her time in the Obama administration,
is that she urged President Obama to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
“Since 1960, the United States had maintained an embargo against the
island in hopes of squeezing Castro from power, but it only succeeded in
giving him a foil to blame for Cuba’s economic woes,” Clinton writes.
“It wasn’t achieving its goals and it was holding back our broader
agenda across Latin America.”
In an interview with NPR, Clinton elaborated: “I would support
normalizing relations, which could very well lead to lifting the
embargo,” she said. “But I would hasten to add that I’ve been down this
road both in the ’90s and with President Obama where we make a move
toward Cuba and, in my opinion, the Castros do not want the embargo
lifted. It’s their best friend.
“They can look as though they are standing up against America. They can
blame every problem in Cuba on the embargo. Because I know what happened
when my husband wanted to normalize. I know what President Obama was
willing to do.”
Hillary Clinton cited the shooting down of a small airplane with two
anti-Castro activists by the Cuban military during the Clinton
administration and Cuba’s imprisonment of U.S. government contractor
Alan Gross during the Obama administration as acts done “all to stymie
the effort to try to force Cuba to be more open by normalizing our
There may be no greater sign of the declining power of the Cuba embargo
as an issue in U.S. politics than Clinton’s openness about advocating
for its end.
This is a noteworthy moment, something close to a sea change in American
politics. It is the first time a politician from one of the two major
parties with a real possibility of becoming the party’s presidential
nominee has stated publicly that the embargo should end.
For Clinton, well-known as cautious, deliberate and cagey, to publicize
this in her book shows just how much the political climate has changed,
especially in the mother of all battleground states — Florida.
Obama, for instance, called for an end to the embargo in January 2004
before he won a U.S. Senate seat. But by August 2007, when he was
running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, he was
telling audiences, especially in Florida, that he supported the embargo.
In that, he joined generations of politicians who knew the quickest way
to antagonize Cuban-American voters, particularly those who fled Fidel
Castro’s Cuba in the 1950s and 1960s, was to call for an end to the embargo.
Clinton’s comments, however, reflect the growing political power of a
younger generation of Cuban-Americans for whom the embargo holds little
to no meaning. A 2011 poll conducted for the Cuban Research Institute
and the Ford Foundation showed this dynamic, as well as the tendency of
those Cubans who arrived in the U.S. in 1994 and later to oppose the
An Atlantic Council poll from earlier this year found that even in
Miami-Dade County, the Florida locality with the highest percentage of
Cuban-Americans, 64 percent of adults supported an end to the embargo
and the normalization of economic and other ties with Cuba. Nationally,
56 percent of respondents favored normalization. Even a majority of
Republicans, 52 percent, favored normal relations with Cuba.
Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas are two politicians
who buck the trend of younger Americans with Cuban roots who favor
ending the embargo. Both are 43 years old and frequently mentioned as
2016 Republican presidential candidates. It will be interesting to see
what political use, if any, they make of this newest revelation by the
former secretary of state.
Source: Clinton Position On Cuba Signals New Political Era : It’s All
Politics : NPR –