United States Cuban relations over the last century have been rocky to say the least. Just 90 miles South of Florida, the U.S. has always liked to think of the island as within its sphere of influence. In the long Cuban war for independence from Spain the United States sheltered leading dissident José Martí, and passively supported Cuban rebels so as to stick a thorn in Spain's side only to take Cuba, and other Spanish colonies like it, for their own in the Spanish-American war. Before the 1959 revolution, which suddenly and violently tore the valuable territory from its grasp, the U.S. interests on the island had been so strong as to make it a virtual colony. We should not be surprised, than, that there has been an enduring hostility between the two countries, maintained and fostered by those who would see Cuba brought under the U.S. wing again, and those in Cuba who would fight just as fiercely to keep that from happening.
[...] If Cubans as a whole do not rise up and overthrow their government soon, than the exiles' claims, that Castro has governed only through fear, and leads a unified country thanks only to the suppression of dissent, will begin to sound hollow indeed (beyond relatively lunatic as they already do). If so many years of stable rule do not accord the regime at least a certain amount of legitimacy in their eyes, than truly nothing will. But, this is probably be the case. [...]
[...] The Cuban immigration “success story” really only applies to that first wave, which was so coddled by U.S. politicians and branches of government. Today many Cubans live below the poverty line, and in 1990 black Cuban income was short of white Cuban income by almost 40% (Sawyer, p. 163). Further complicating the issue, pre-Mariel Cuban exiles have earned the enmity of the African-American community by criticizing black leaders like Nelson Mandela for his support of Castro. Thus Afrocubans find themselves in a world apart, not quite accepted by white Cubans because of their race and class, and not quite accepted by African- Americans because they are Cuban. [...]
[...] The first wave of Cuban émigrés received an unprecedented amount of government support, and, according to Sawyer, “those emigrants with the most conservative and hard-line attitudes towards the Castro regime have been cultivated and financially supported by the U.S. government,” and have thus defined, and dominated Cuban exile politics from the outset (Sawyer, p. 161). The U.S. government and the exiles became willing partners in a crusade against Castro's Cuba that, should it succeed in toppling the regime, would be beneficial for them both: the U.S. [...]
[...] carefully accommodated them, passing legal actions such as the 1962 Migration and Refugee Assistance Act, granting Cuban immigrants “political refugee” status, and the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which automatically granted Cuban immigrants political asylum and simplified the process for their obtaining residential status and U.S. citizenship. No other immigrant group in U.S. history has received this kind of preferential treatment. The motivation for this was twofold: the comfortable accepting of the émigrés would at once further propaganda purposes against the island, theoretically encouraging emigration, and put the exiles in a position where they could easily assist the CIA's counterrevolutionary designs, which they would with great enthusiasm. [...]
[...] A narrow majority support the measures and a significant minority oppose said Alvaro Fernandez, President of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights (“Young Cubans,” para. 6). The younger Cuban exiles were the most critical of the new restrictions. It became clear that a significant plurality was developing among Cuban-Americans. Concerning the 2008 presidential nominees, McCain is the sole candidate who strongly backs the embargo, while Clinton's campaign has publicly “recognized that the embargo has failed,” and Obama has said he would reverse Bush's 2004 restrictions. [...]
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