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Let Cuba Live
55% in Miami-Dade say Cuba embargo should end
By LIZA GROSS, MIAMI HERALD, Tuesday, 12.02.08
In a unprecedented shift in attitude that could affect Cuba policy for the incoming administration of Barack Obama, more than one out of every two Miami-Dade Cuban Americans think the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba should end, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
According to the poll, conducted by Florida International University's Institute for Public Opinion Research and funded by the Washington-basked Brookings Institution and Cuba Study Group, 55 percent favor discontinuing the trade embargo imposed in 1962 against the island nation. Sixty-five percent of those polled also favor reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The results -- particularly as it relates to the embargo -- represents a continuing shift in attitudes by Miami-Dade Cuban Americans and reflects a generational rift between those who arrived in the United States in the 1960s and those who came in the 1980s or later.
The embargo question has been consistent since FIU began conducting the poll in 1991. Beginning in 1997, results showed a gradual decrease of support for maintaining the embargo. But this year's poll is the first that shows a majority of those surveyed favor lifting it. In 2007, 42 percent of those queried were in favor of ending the trade ban.
''It's a significant jump,'' said Hugh Gladwin, Director of the Institute for Public Opinion Research at FIU.
''I'd give two explanations. The first one is that there's been this continuing demographic change. The other factor is the election of Obama. There's a process of change. People see the handwriting on the wall,'' he added.
The question on reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba is a first in the annual poll, which was conducted shortly after the U.S. presidential election and has a 3.6 percent margin of error. This year's survey measured the responses of 800 Cuban Americans who live in Miami-Dade. Respondents included registered and nonregistered voters.
Despite the majority sentiment for a shift in Cuba policy, opposition remained strong among Cuban American voters: a majority, 56 percent, said they supported continuing the embargo.
The poll also measured attitudes on U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba, which were tightened to reduce the amount of money and goods sent to relatives on the island and limits family visits to once every three years.
''The focus right now is on the issues on 2003 restrictions on travel and sending money,'' Gladwin said. He added that what those polled want "is the government to engage with Cuba and figure this thing out.''