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OUR CARIBBEAN: Historic Cuban American vote for Obama

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Historic Cuban American vote for Obama

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A most significant and historic outcome for Barack Obama’s convincing second-term election as president of the United States last week, was his admirable success in winning virtually half the votes cast by Cuban Americans in the state of Florida.
Over a period of some four decades, Florida has been viewed as an expanding anti-Cuba political fortress for Cubans whose dislike of, or staunch opposition to the Castro-led revolutionary government, had resulted in a constant stream of migration and risky departures, by any means, from Cuba.
A combination of influences, among them wealthy and politically well connected Cuban exiles in the United States, anti-Castro Congressional leaders, the CIA and leading influential American media enterprises kept hope alive for the downfall of the then Fidel Castro-led administration in Havana.
At successive presidential and congressional elections, from John Kennedy in the 1960s to that of George W. Bush in 2004, this anti-Cuba, anti-Castro syndrome in Florida was the norm.
Similarly, was the fulfilment of recurring predictions of succeeding Washington administrations ignoring the overwhelming votes cast at every new session of a United Nations General Assembly for the United States to lift its unprecedented iron-clad trade, economic and financial embargo against that small Caribbean nation, 90 miles away from the world’s sole “superpower”.
Our small Caribbean Community (CARICOM) which had played a key role back in the 1970s to begin the process of dismantling America’s diplomatic isolation of Cuba, had forever kept company with nations of all continents in voting for ending the United States embargo.
As the years rolled on, it was humiliating to count America’s few remaining “loyalists” at the United Nations who, by last year, had dwindled to fewer than five to vote with Uncle Sam among the 192 member nations.
It was, therefore, not surprising for CARICOM to collectively renew its call at the United Nations earlier this week for termination of the embargo.
Now, half a century after the imposition of the embargo, some 48 per cent of voters in Florida have opted to vote for re-election of Obama, the first black American president. That’s just four per cent less than those who favoured his Republican challenger Mitt Romney (52 per cent).
For the Wall Street Journal there was no surprise in its reporting on this unique political development: Cuban Americans Move Left, read its headline for a news story out of Miami on the presidential poll.
Some of the “yes” votes, it reported, were cast by Cuban Americans who think Obama “is a socialist”. Assuming the accuracy of this doubtful interpretation, it can hardly be flattering for the hitherto influential anti-Cuba lobby of Cuban Americans, politically nurtured over four decades about the worthlessness of the Cuban revolution and its leadership under the Castro brothers – Fidel and now Raul.
The agony of Florida’s 2012 vote for Obama could prolong right into and beyond the 2016 presidential election.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean ­journalist.