Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | August 16, 2002

Cuban embargo on its last legs

As support for the Cuban embargo crumbles across the entire political spectrum, die-hard holdout Ileana Ros-Lehtinen blames "money". As in, the lobbyists are buying votes to end the embargo.

So bizarre. The reason the embargo has lasted this long has been, in large, part, to the prolific campaign contributions doled out by the Cuban American National Foundation -- the far-right, anti-Castro outfit that supports terrorist tactics against Cuba as well as stage managed the Elian Gonzales fiasco.

For decades, CANF was almost unchallenged in its support for the embargo. The left argued against the embargo for many years, but they were marginalized because of more pressing (and compelling) Cold War concerns. Thus, CANF dedicated itself to efforts to tighten the embargo, preaching its message of anti-communism and the "horrors" of the Castro regime.

At the conclusion of the Cold War, American sentiment toward Castro seemed to shift as the threat from the island diminished. And, the Elian saga confirmed that to Americans, Castro was no longer an evil figure. Opinion polls nationwide showed dramatic support for returning Elian to his father (even amongst Republicans!), proving two things: 1) politicians nationwide could safely oppose the embargo without being branded 'communists'; and 2) the Cuban-American exile community in Miami was incapable of rationally debating its emnity against Castro.

At this point, sensing blood, agricultural interests began spending money to kill the embargo. Given increased public support for better US-Cuba ties, these ag interests struck at the perfect moment. Farm state support for the embargo vanished overnight. Libertarian Republicans, freed from having to be anti-communist, could rail against unconstitutional travel restrictions on US citizens, and even the Dick Armeys of the world recognized the futility and utter failure of the embargo. Now, Armey, a former supporter of the embargo, has proclaimed this year to be the embargo's last.

While many embargo supporters expect Bush to veto any easing of the embargo, he may not be able to do so -- the provision is buried within the treasury department's appropriations bill. A veto would also affect billions of dollars in unrelated programs.

So Cuban-American congresspersons, like Ros-Lehtinen, rant about 'money'. It's true -- Ag dollars are working hard to change the status quo. But the embargo exists because of Cuban-American money. And given their performance during 40 ineffective years of embargos and the Elian saga, CANF and its ilk inevitably dug their own grave.

Posted August 16, 2002 10:10 AM | Comments (0)


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