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Posted by on Apr 10, 2009 in At TMV | 0 comments

CNN Poll: 7 In 10 Americans Back Diplomatic Relations With Cuba

Despite strong criticism in some quarters, Obama administration feelers that it is considering easing some of the ban in place on relations with Fidel Castro’s communist Cuba are well received by nearly two-thirds of Americans, according to a new CNN poll:

President Obama is getting ready to visit to the Summit of the Americas next week amid rising reports the administration is planning to announce new rules on family travel and remittances to Cuba. Do Americans back a plan to relax some of the current restrictions on that island nation?

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday suggests the answer is yes. Nearly two thirds think the United States should lift its ban on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba. And seven in ten think it’s time to re-establish diplomatic relations with that country.

” Republicans as well as Democrats favor re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “On the issue of lifting travel restrictions, Republicans are evenly divided, while Independents and Democrats support the change.”

What is most notable here? As we have noted on many posts, Obama continues to show signs that he has pieced together a coalition of support from Democrats and independent voters — with Republicans either iffy or opposed to what he wants to do. This is capturing the middle, since the GOP has lost many of its moderates (called RINOS by talk show hosts) in recent years — and the GOP is a more conservative and smaller party than it was some years ago.

UPI offers this video on the issue (we’ll forgo an AP video due to AP’s crack down website use of more than a link or quick quote) on this issue:

But will this mean major change or not or will there be a tiny first step?

US News & World Report’s Robert Schlesinger doesn’t think it’ll be a major change:

How serious is the Obama administration when it comes to Cuba policy? There have been mixed signals thus far: Obama is expected to announce next week that he is rolling back a ban on Cuban-Americans visiting their families or sending money to relatives still on the island—and that’s a good start. But the hard-line rhetoric a key administration official spouted yesterday at a Council on Foreign Relations panel dampens any hope for further progress.

….He shouldn’t elevate Cuba, which is neither an adversary nor a threat to us. The notion of the United States “struggling with Cuba as a nation” is laughable. Cuba is what it is (a repressive government on a small island off our coast), and the ongoing policy of trying to make it larger than it is only make the United States look deranged: We’re fixated on a pipsqueak nation because its leader, who annoyed us 50 years ago , hasn’t had the courtesy to die yet. Our Cuba policy is a joke, of which we’re the butt.

The notion that we should single Cuba out because of its government is farcical in the face of ongoing trade and other relationships with countries like Vietnam and China. I wrote my column in the current digital edition of the magazine to the inanities of our Cuba policy and how its politics are changing.

He points to the always-must-read Steve Clemons who, among other things, says this:

Barack Obama has given few indications thus far that he is willing to move a five decade failed relationship forward in a meaningful sense — with the single exception that he may ironically codify “relaxation” for a class of ethnic Americans in a way that crudely discriminates against all other Americans.

We did not open Vietnam by relaxing travel and remittances for Vietnamese-Americans.

And Obama’s team — for all of the ballyhoo about democracy promotion — is promoting a policy of the United States government that restricts the American right of free travel anywhere.

I thought that we lived in a real democracy — and that it was supposed to be Communist governments — not democracies — that restricted the travel rights of their citizens.

President Obama is a busy man, but he better take a look at the brief that his team is preparing for him — otherwise he’ll learn too late that he’s driving “an Edsel” to the Summit of the Americas.

Writes CBS’s Daniel Carty:

A complete makeover of relations between the two countries could end in the lifting the trade embargo America placed on Cuba 47 years ago – though the Obama administration’s current position is to keep the embargo in place.

Whatever the degree of change, it does seem that change is coming. The larger question is this: Can 50 years of distrust on both sides be erased by a series of executive orders and Congressional decrees? And is it wise to try to do so?

Consider the logic behind a potential policy shift. Those in favor say that decades of isolating the nation economically – while waiting for Fidel Castro to fade into history – simply has not worked. Despite constant rumors of his impending death, Castro remains a prominent national figure. And Cuba, shunned by the U.S., has fostered growing relationships with Venezuela, China and America’s other former Cold War foe, Russia.

Those pushing America to reconsider its Cuba position also think a more proactive approach is the best way to promote democracy.

The U.S. has spent too much time as a “passive observer rather than active supporter of the process of democratization for one of our closest hemispheric neighbors,” according to the Cuban American National Foundation, which released a report Thursday advocating a “break from the past” that involves “incremental change” – but not a unilateral lifting of the embargo.

Ctitics of a policy change highlight Cuba’s checkered human rights record as the best argument against warmer relations toward the island nation.

Meanwhile, the Washington Times reports of mixed reaction in Miami’s fiercly anti-Castro Cuban commmunity:

Opponents in the politically powerful Cuban-American community say U.S. visitors to Cuba would funnel money to the Castro regime’s military and secret police, which they say control the island’s tourism industry.

“The facts will show that opening up tourist travel to Cuba is hurtful to the people of Cuba and hurtful to American interests,” said Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

He said few, if any, tourist dollars go to improving the lives of impoverished Cubans.

Supporters, however, say ending the travel ban would create the potential for grass-roots change for Cuba’s poor by giving them greater access to U.S. dollars and, by way of tourists, U.S. ideals.

“More [American] travelers to Cuba would mean more money in the hands of ordinary Cubans, while more interactions between the Cuban and American people would promote understanding, respect and shared values,” said Jake Colvin, vice president for global affairs at the National Foreign Trade Council.

“Americans are extraordinary ambassadors to the world. It is time to fix this bizarre imbalance in U.S. policy, which permits Americans to travel to countries like Iran and North Korea but prohibits them from hopping on a plane to Cuba.”