Foreign Policy for Sale? Interest Group Influence on President Clinton's Cuba Policy, August 1994

By Smith, Jonathan C. | Presidential Studies Quarterly, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

Foreign Policy for Sale? Interest Group Influence on President Clinton's Cuba Policy, August 1994


Smith, Jonathan C., Presidential Studies Quarterly


"Anything the Foundation wants, it gets."(1)

Aide to Representative Robert Torricelli

At 1:30 P.M. on a Friday afternoon (August 19, 1994), President Clinton held a White House Press Conference and reversed the U.S. policy of accepting Cuban immigrants into the United States. Cubans had been fashioning rafts and departing for Florida since the first days of August 1994, and over seven thousand refugees had been rescued in the Florida straights in the last week alone. Furthermore, the trend did not appear to be slowing (the final number climbed to over 40,000)--some began to refer to it as a "slow motion Mariel," remembering the 1980 exodus that brought over 120,000 Cubans to the United States. The reversal of the twenty-eight-year-old Cuban Adjustment Act, which had enjoyed strong bipartisan support over its life span, was a major shift in American foreign and immigration policy.(2) The question is, why the change?

The New Republic contended that the president was the victim of interest group politics--in particular, the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) and its leader, Jorge Mas Canosa. The article contended that "Mas (Canosa) had pulled off the coup of his career--dictating America's new Cuba policy." The New Republic concluded, "With the exception of a naval blockade, which the president said he would reserve as a future option, Bill Clinton granted Mas's wish list in its entirety."(3) Mas's list included detaining all Cuban immigrants attempting to reach Florida, eliminating charter flights and cash remittances to Cuba, and increasing the budget of Radio and TV Marti.(4)

This article speculated that the president's motivations for towing the Mas Canosa line revolved around electoral politics and money. As Bardach notes, "[F]or Bill Clinton, the faustian deal was struck in the Spring of 1992 when he realized he was going to lose Florida, the third most populous state, to George Bush."(5) As a result, Clinton met with Cuban-American leaders, and in an April 23, 1994 speech at Victor's Cafe in Miami, he endorsed the Torricelli bill,(6) which was then under consideration in Congress.(7) Calling for tougher measures on Cuba with the purpose of accelerating the downfall of Fidel Castro, President Bush had delayed endorsing the bill. As a result, Mas Canosa, a very prominent conservative-Republican, gave Clinton a surprising endorsement.(8)

Candidate Clinton also received significant financial campaign contributions. According to the New Republic, "When Clinton left Victor's Cafe he had nearly $300,000 worth of Mas-controlled Cuban exile money in his campaign coffers." Indeed, half of the $1 million that the Clinton campaign received from contributors in Florida during the 1992 election came from Cuban exiles.(9)

Could this be? Could the president of the United States allow an interest group to dictate the foreign policy? This would indeed be a blow to the school of political science, which sees the president as able to stand in defiance of narrow interests as he represents the broader interest of the entire nation.(10) However, the presidency has grown significantly in the twentieth century. As Schlozman and Tierney note, "As the presidency increasingly has become the focal point of national policy-making, organized interests have recognized the significance of the White House as a target." They also point to the increased fragmentation and decentralization of the presidency as the responsibilities of that office have grown.(11) There is also some contention that President Clinton's situation is more susceptible to interest group influence because of his open and somewhat chaotic management style.(12)

This article examines two central questions: (1) Does an interest group politics model adequately explain how U.S. policy toward Cuba changed in August 1994? and (2) If not, what other competing models offer a more satisfying explanation? This article also moves beyond examining if and how interest groups affect presidential policy by also studying how the president, in turn, influences these groups.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Foreign Policy for Sale? Interest Group Influence on President Clinton's Cuba Policy, August 1994
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.