Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

On the Wrong Side of History over Cuba Initiatives

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

On the Wrong Side of History over Cuba Initiatives

Article excerpt

Sen. Marco Rubio has his views, and he's sticking to them. He fiercely opposes all of President Obama's initiatives to normalize relations with Cuba.

"I don't care if 99 percent of the people in polls disagree with my position," insists the Florida Republican, a child of Cuban immigrants who wants to run for president in 2016. "This is my position and I feel passionately about it."

The new Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has bowed to that passion and outsourced his party's Cuba policy to Rubio. "I'm ... persuaded that Marco's right about this," he says.

They're both wrong.

Cuban-Americans like Rubio despise the Castro regime in Havana. For more than 50 years they've managed to dictate a policy of isolation and intolerance toward their home island. Their defense of freedom deserves respect, even honor.

But their policy hasn't worked. Instead of promoting freedom, they've promoted repression. Instead of destabilizing the Castro regime, they've reinforced it.

Sen. Jeff Flake, a conservative Republican from Arizona, contradicts the view that Obama's initiative was a "concession" to the Castro regime.

"I think that that is a wrong way to look at it. That is simply wrong," he told Politico. "The policy that we've had in place for the past 50 years has done more in my view ... to keep the Castro regimes in power than anything we could've done."

Even many Cuban-Americans understand that isolation is a failed policy that undermines our national interest. A recent poll of Cuban- Americans in the Miami area found that more than two-thirds support key elements of Obama's overtures: re-establishing diplomatic relations and lifting travel restrictions. A smaller majority, 52 percent, also favors ending the trade embargo against Cuba, a shift that would require Congressional approval.

Significantly, the survey by Florida International University found a growing generation gap in the Cuban community. Sixty-two percent of those under 30 oppose the embargo, and 9 out of 10 want better relations with the island of their forebears. …

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