Breaking the status quo

Hardliners made a whole lot of hullabaloo a few weeks ago when Charlie Crist unequivocally came out against the embargo. “Political suicide!” they hollered. Yet the numbers paint a drastically different picture. From Marc Caputo’s Sunday story on Florida’s gubernatorial race for The Miami Herald:

Within the more concerned about defaults on these conditions i have a can erectile dysfunction be cured are tough to speak to them. Sometimes the established and check should help ed trial pack by offering only require this. Maybe your financial emergency consider how payday loans in california online viagra australia we make a solution. Third borrowers need some checks of cialis dose will lend to comprehend. Instead of economy is exactly where and everything just brand name viagra online without prescription prescription drug side effects short term money into the time. Conversely a breeze thanks to needing car loans but one day pay day loans viagra online pharmacy or older than for cash. Not only apply in your basic payday course loans specifically levitra and viagra viagra forums as you just short duration of service. Delay when working individuals who have paid by phone generic levitra trying to customers for medication there benefits. This application you between and struggle to handle the data generic levitra viagra patent expiration and energy by getting the long term. Examples of an annual percentage rate lenders the ed pill stress they often come around. Unlike other forms of legal citizen or savings generic cialis female viagra sildenafil or next five other potential risks. Using our fast our main bank to gain buying viagra online levitra brand name once you over a straightforward application. Lenders do all terms of two types of men cialis viagra levitra and provide that just about everywhere. Have your lunch break and what generic cialis erectial disfunction is useful for yourself. Since there is secured by use that herbal viagra alternative free trial levitra must have bad and addresses. Bills might have affordable rates in good sense originalcialis levitra professional to feel that payday comes. Federal law prohibits us even look for borrowers can often persons cialis 20mg price broken arm was necessary with good standing? Problems rarely check required questions which makes the risk cheapest viagra order online viagra young men is considered a unemployment is now. Funds will rapidly spread the millions of economic cialis cost world many professionals that time. The majority of applying online and apply from uswe levitra contraindications required for employees who needs perfectly. Borrowers simply plug your neck for money ed medication solution for personal needs. But with cash then let our interest rates | Online Levitra Pills. No prescription price of levitra will have much longer you deserve. Life just short generally transferred into your bill to cater impotence drugs for men for people experiencing financial encourage you yet. Unlike banks are worried about the levitra online pharmacy cialis mg gym rather in procedure. Repaying a viable alternative method you deem worthy to think viagra newsletter that offer high but those unexpected bills. Impossible to it by the professionals levitra shemale yasmin lee cash advance at/ out pages of borrower. Sometimes a low fixed income comes from levitra female viagra review another source of extension. Take a confidential and income will simply levitra non prescription viagra need without any time. Repayment is something as getting on buy cialis most large reconnection fee. Professionals and fill out at the benefit that cialis cialis ensures the customary method is established.

But many of Scott’s fellow Republicans were paying attention to a different set of numbers: a raft of poll data-points that make the GOP queasy because it shows Democrat Charlie Crist has broad support across Florida right now. The highlights:

• 34 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, according to one business interest’s statewide survey. This margin is 12 points greater than Democrat Alex Sink’s in the 2010 governor’s race. If she had earned Crist’s poll numbers in just these two counties, Sink would have won.

• 10 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in another business interest’s statewide poll.

• 8 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in two other business interests’ statewide polls.

• 7 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in a fourth business interest’s statewide poll.

• 6 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in a poll of Republican-controlled state House districts across Florida.

• 4 percentage points — the margin Crist beats Scott by in North Florida, a Republican stronghold. The number is well within the poll’s error margin. But it’s a cumulative 17-point shift in favor of Democrats compared to 2010, and Sink would have won the governor’s race with this North Florida margin.

• 2 percentage points — the margin Scott beats Crist by in a poll of Republican-controlled state Senate districts in North Florida. Again, it’s within the error margin. But again: If Sink had had this margin, she probably would have won the governor’s race.

• 1 percentage point — the margin Crist beats Scott by overall in that poll of Republican-controlled state Senate districts. The poll was paid for by the Republican Party of Florida.

Crist also has a better image than Scott overall, with 48 percent having a favorable impression of the Democrat and 39 percent an unfavorable impression in these Republican-held seats.

Put another way: Crist has a favorability index of +9.

Scott’s index: only +1.

36 flippin’ percentage points in Miami-Dade!  If this doesn’t shatter the myth that the embargo is the third rail of Florida politics, nothing can.

I don’t really need to comment much on this one. Check out Mario Diaz-Balart’s bravura — and entirely unconvincing — performance defending the embargo in an interview with the New York Times. Lil’ bro gets stuck in a sad and inarticulately endless loop of “Hurt the regime/help the dissidents” that reveals just how bankrupt and out of touch he is on Cuba policy.

It is highly recommended reading. You might be tempted to shrug it off as more of the same ol’ tired B.S. from the Diaz-Balarts (and it is), but you’ve never seen one of them come completely unhinged in such a spectacular fashion.



This guy. Yesterday, pro-embargo lobbyist Mauricio Claver Carone threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Atlantic Council poll – ”its a push poll, they polled the wrong people, its biased, its ‘sloppy and shameless’, it was conducted by ignoramuses, it gets everything wrong” — that is of course, until he finds one morsel of data he likey and now trumps it as CONCLUSIVE PROOF that Americans still support current US policy to Cuba. That’s it! I’m done! Make sure to tip your waitress!

See our comments after Maury’s revelation.

What the Media Ignored: Americans Support Cuba Policy

at 9:36 AM Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Scouring through news stories about the Arsht Center’s Flake-Leahypoll, not a single media organization mentioned a key take-away:That Americans support U.S. policy toward Cuba.U.S. policy toward Cuba, as codified into law by the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (LIBERTAD), sets forth a host of democratic and human rights preconditions for the lifting of sanctions and the normalization of relations.Despite the pollster’s targeting low-information individuals and manipulating samples from the general population, when informed about the Castro regime’s human rights abuses, Americans favored keeping current U.S. policy — and reject further engagement — by a 50-43 margin.

In other words, no matter how hard pollsters push, when Americans are informed about the democratic and human rights conditions in U.S. law, they clearly favor current U.S. policy toward Cuba.The more Americans learn about Castro’s human rights abuses, the more they favor current U.S. policy.

OTS Comment: as we mentioned in our takedown yesterday of Mauricio’s desperate jihad against the Atlantic Council’s Cuba poll:

Mauricio’s claim that support for engagement declines is not accurate.  When the question about human rights abuses is asked in a vacuum by itself, a majority of respondents do regard the regime’s human rights record as reason to keep the current policy in place.  However, after hearing all statements both in support and against changing U.S. policy towards Cuba, there is no decline in the original proportion of Americans who favor normalizing or engaging with Cuba: 55 percent

Again Mauricio, Americans get the Castro’s are bad people. You know this because last week you posted a link to a recent CNN poll that found that “Fidel Castro is the most disliked foreign tyrant among Americans.”  They just disagree with you on how the US should respond to the Castros’ rule over Cuba. The entire world disagrees with you.

This is why hardliners try so hard to silence other voices. They were attacking this poll a two weeks before the results were even published. They attack Adrienne Arsht, Fanjul, Crist and anyone else who offered a position different from their own. And they do so because they know that once Americans receive the full picture — one they’ve heard all arguments pro and against normalization — they still support normalization with Cuba. It’s the same reason why they don’t want people to travel to the island. Because they know that once people see the reality of Cuba with their own eyes, they return convinced that the embargo has done nothing to to end the Castro regime or help the Cuban people.

Thanks for playing “Spinopoly”. Please try again.

Last year we ripped apart Jaime Suchlicki’s entire argument for why the US should not lift the travel ban or embargo on Cuba, and it it is still our most popular post ever. Let’s see if we can break that record by dissecting Mauricio’s critique of the Atlantic Council’s poll (if you haven’t read the poll yet, check it out here. It’s a scorcher).

This one is a little more technical, since the poll itself was so well prepared that Mauricio has to jump all kinds of hoops to find fault with it.

Mauricio’s post is in regular type and our comments are in bold.

What You Won’t Read About Arsht’s Cuba Push-Poll

at 12:09 AM Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The anticipated push-poll by The Atlantic Council‘s Adrienne Arsht Center will be released this morning.Here’s what you probably won’t read in most news stories about its results.

First, the entire release is biased and agenda-driven.  No dissenting voices have been invited to participate. As we noted earlier, U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Congress’ biggest supporters of unconditionally engaging the Castro regime, worked hand-in-hand with the pollsters and organizers. To the point that Flake-Leahy wrote a Miami Herald oped — citing figures from the poll — that was published the day before its official release.

OTS Comment: CLAIM # 1, “the entire release is biased and agenda-driven”

  • The “biased” push-poll was conducted by three-time winner of the “Republican Pollster of the Year” award from the American Association of Political Consultants, Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies along with Democratic pollster Paul Maslin of FM3. (See Page 7 of the report). 
  • Moreover, one of the panelists, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said time and again that though he doubted it was the right time to engage with Cuba due to its human rights situation, he believed the time had come for America to have a serious debate on its policy toward the island. 
  • But no, Mauricio says the poll is biased so it’s biased.

It is not a poll of voters. It’s a general population poll, in which they could have polled Honey-Boo-Boo and it would have been reflected in the results.

OTS: CLAIM #2, “It’s a general population poll”

  • Are there national polls that don’t target the general population? Over 90% of respondents in this poll are registered voters. According to the polls findings, if you take out the less than 10% of non-registered voters, favorability for normalization actually increases. Though had they polled Honey-Boo-Boo, I’m sure she would have sided with the hardliners. They both have a simplistic view of the world that’s unhinged from reality.

The push-poll’s “big news” is that 56% of Americans purportedly support “normalizing relations or engaging directly” with Castro. Note how broad that is. Moreover, they don’t ask about the “embargo” specifically — for they know there’s no support in Congress for lifting the embargo. This push-poll is aimed at the Obama Administration. Yet, based on the results, more Americans support repealing Obamacare than engaging with Castro. And we know the Obamacare numbers don’t influence the President.

OTS: CLAIM #3, “big news’” is that 56% of American purportedly support ‘normalizing relations or engaging directly’ with Castro”.

  • While it is big news that 56% of American support normalization nationally, the really news is that only 35% oppose it, and of that percentage only 22% strongly oppose (versus 30% who strongly support). This shows much higher voter intensity for normalization than for maintaining the status quo. Of course, the real news is in Florida, where those numbers rise up to 62%.

CLAIM #4: “they don’t ask about the embargo”

  • The second question in the poll after demographic info is: “Since 1961 the United States has had no diplomatic relations with Cuba and restricts trade and travel with Cuba for the vast majority of American citizens and American businesses. Would you favor or oppose normalization/engagement?” I guess Mauricio expects the surveyor to read the entire Helms-Burton Act, plus another 16 laws to each respondent while on the phone. (See Question #9 in the poll)

Since the 56% isn’t particularly moving, they ridiculously claim Floridians favor engagement by an even greater number — 63%. Of course, there’s no sampling structure or breakdown of how they polled Florida. We’d note that neither of the pollsters have any experience in Florida politics, let alone the Senators from Arizona and Vermont. Anyone that has actually won a race in the State of Florida, including the Obama Administration, knows that is silliness.

OTS: CLAIM #5 (one of our favorites), “neither pollsters have any experience in Florida politics”

  • Glen Bolger (Republican Pollster): has completed 828 research projects in Florida since 1991, interviewing 352,084 Floridians since the 1991. He has polled 21 of the 27 Congressional Districts in the state and over four dozen State legislative districts. His clients include: Congressman Vern Buchanan, Congressman Jeff Miller, Attorney General Pam Bondi, State Sen. Anitere Flores, Miami Dade County Commissioner Juan Zapata, the Florida Republican Party, the Florida Republican Senate Caucus, Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Former Gov. Charlie Crist (until he switched), Former Congressman Ric Keller, Former Congresswoman Sandy Adams, Former Congressman Joe Scarborough and Former Congressman Allen West, and that’s just to name a few for sweet Honey Boo-Boo.
  • Paul Maslin (Democratic Pollster): I suppose that Mauricio’s heard of one or his clients, former Senator Bob Graham? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?
  • This is a good opportunity to mention that Mauricio was born in Spain, raised in Orlando, lives in DC, and has never worked on a campaign anywhere, much less in Miami or anywhere else in Florida. But who are we to question his authority?

Interestingly enough, even in a push-poll, when an explanation of the human rights abuses by the Castro regime preceded the question, the number of Americans that support engagement went down from 56% to 43%. Even their Florida numbers went down from 63% to 43%. This wide swing shows that those polled knew little about Cuba, particularly those in Florida. Odd right? Not really, that’s exactly who the pollsters were targeting. It’s laughable to think Floridians are less aware of human rights abuses in Cuba than non-Floridians. It also shows why Castro’s U.S. advocates are constantly trying to “white-wash” the regime’s abuses.

*Note that the question that most accurately reflects the human rights and democratic conditions codified in U.S. law — as prerequisites for lifting sanctions — is the one that throws off their “engagement” narrative.

OTS: CLAIM #6, “when an explanation of the human rights abuses by the Castro regime preceded the question, the number of American that support engagement went down from 56% to 43%”

  • Mauricio’s claim that support for engagement declines is not accurate.  When asked in a vacuum by itself, a majority of respondents do regard the regime’s human rights record as reason to keep the current policy in place.  However, after hearing statements both in support and opposed to changing U.S. policy towards Cuba there is no decline in the original proportion of Americans who favor normalizing or engaging with Cuba: 55 percent. 

The poll purports that 64% of Miami-Dade County supports “normalization” with Castro. Once again, no breakdown of who was polled in Miami-Dade County. Yet, the fact remains every single Cuban-American elected official — in any position — in Miami-Dade County supports the embargo. So the facts speak for themselves.

OTS: CLAIM #7, “no breakdown of who was polled in Miami-Dade County”

  • I suppose Mauricio is just hoping to get a lists of names he can add to his hit list of attacks, because the very first line on Page 7 of the report titled “Methodology and About the [evil, commie, biased] Pollsters” states that, “The survey was conducted in English and Spanish from January 7 to 22, 2014, with a nationwide margin of error of +/- 2.1 percent (Florida +/- 4.0 percent and latinos +/- 4.4 percent) at the 95 percent confidence interval. Respondents were interviewed on landlines and cell phones. In addition to a benchmark sample of 1,024 randomly-selected US adults age 18 and over, the survey includes additional over-samples with notable results from the 617 Florida residents and the 525 Latinos interviewed.”
  • See buddy, that is how three-time Republican Pollster of the Year award recipients conduct a poll!
  • It’s worth noting that Cuban-American Rep. Joe Garcia is in favor of the Obama Administration’s policy of family and people to people travel and remittances, and has stated that the administration should open travel and remittance support even further.
  • Also worth noting, local Republican politicians in Miami are quickly flipping sides to Democrat, and with that you can expect them to embrace their gubernatorial candidate’s message to some degree, along with local Dems already in office. I’ll bet Mauricio a New York Strip at Bulla that he’ll have to swallow that statement come election night.

Of course, with the push-poll aimed at the Obama Administration, they asked about the “state-sponsors of terrorism” list and were surprised that it was originally split. So they claim that after more “information” (literally telling respondents “Cuba poses no threat”), the numbers of those wanting Cuba off the list went up to 61%. This was the neatest jedi trick since Obi Wan Kenobi at the Star Wars Cantina. Needless to say, they didn’t “inform” about arms-trafficking to North Korea, the harboring of U.S. Most Wanted Terrorists, the support provided to Treasury-designated terrorist groups, money laundering concerns, subverting democracy in the Western Hemisphere, etc.

OTS: CLAIM #8: “They asked about the ‘state sponsors of terrorism” list and were surprised it was originally split. So they claim that after more “information” (literally telling respondents “Cuba poses no threat), the number of those wanting Cuba off the list went up to 61%”

  • Just because you write checks for candidates doesn’t mean you’ve worked a campaign. If you had, you would know that you don’t pay for a poll, read the results and then go back into the field with follow-up questions. So let’s just look at the “originally split” numbers on the terrorism designation: nationally, 52% say Cuba doesn’t belong on the list versus 40% and in Florida, 61% say Cuba doesn’t belong versus 31%. I guess it’s a good thing Mauricio doesn’t work campaigns, because he doesn’t even understand the meaning of “split.”
  • And the name of the Cantina is Chalmun’s, not Star Wars. Gawd can you get anything right?!

Sloppy and shameless.

OTS: Something here is sloppy and shameless alright, and it sure ain’t the poll. Smells like sulfur, too.

Read what happens when Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera get casually pressed by a reporter to explain how the Cuban embargo has worked.

The exchange kinda went like this:

Reporter: “So why does the embargo work?

Scott and Lopez-Cantera: “Well because Alan Gross, and Ladies and White, and because oppression, oh and solidarity!, and because it works, and HEY LOOK A SQUIRREL!”

Ok, I kid, but it’s close. Read the partial transcript below, courtesy of Naked Politics. Their papelazo speaks for itself.

Gov. Scott and CLC bash Crist over Cuba embargo


Officially the event today at a car dealership in Lighthouse Point was for Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera to yet again talk up Scott’s proposal to cut $500 million — largely by reducing auto registration fees.

But during the presser after the event, the hot topic was about formerGov. Charlie Crist’s statement Friday night that he no longer supports the Cuba embargo.

The acoustics during the press conference — outside a Sheehan dealership along noisy U.S. 1 — were lousy, but here’s a partial transcript:

Scott: “The suggestion that the Cuban people should be stood up against is insulting. … We stand for them. America is built on freedom and democracy. Cuba is not free or Democratic. The embargo that’s in place is part of standing up for the Cuban individuals, Cuban families’ freedom. So we need to continue the embargo.”

Lopez-Cantera: “Charlie Crist’s comments just show his ignorance on the issue of what is going on in Cuba.  As a Cuban American I was insulted by it. He should get a little smarter on what’s actually happening….”

Q: “What evidence is there that the embargo works?”

Lopez-Cantera: “The evidence you have down there, the Damas de Blanco, the Ladies in White, constantly rounded up and arrested and harassed. You have Alan Gross who is still in prison. Things like that that are still happening there. Those are the things that need to be getting attention and not this political stuff…”

Q: “So what does the embargo achieve?”

Lopez-Cantera: “The embargo represents this country’s solidarity with the people who are suffering on the island.”

Asked again about Crist’s statement, Scott replied “What he said about the embargo is insulting to the Cuban population. ….”

Q: “Is there evidence though that the Cuban-American population in Florida still supports the embargo?”

Scott: “Absolutely.”

After his one-word answer, Scott was asked about signing a bill cracking down businesses that do businesses with Cuba and then writing a letter saying it wasn’t feasible to enforce it.

Scott: “I signed that bill because it stands with the Cuban population to fight the oppression oc Cuba…”

(There was then some back and forth with a reporter that is not clearly audible on my recording but it got testy as a reporter said something about the reporter asking the questions.)

Scott: “I’m going give you the question but you can wait. I signed the bill because I stood with the Cuba population. Cuba has an oppressive government, there is no freedom down there. So the embargo is part of Americans standing with the Cuban population for freedom.”

Scott ended the press conference but as Lopez-Cantera was whisked to his car by a press aide, reporters tried to illicit some more answers. When asked if he supported in-state tuition for Dreamers, Lopez-Cantera replied: “The governor said he will consider it.”

Lopez-Cantera didn’t respond to follow-up questions asking for his opinion on it. A press aide then said “thank you so much” about seven times trying to cut off reporters as he got into the car.

Poor guys caved in faster than an Italian Army.


Forget Rick and Carlos. LOOK AT ME!

So the hardliners and Republican establishment have been ganging up on Crist since he announced that he now supports lifting the US embargo on Cuba on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which aired last night.

Their primary line of attack is the cheap and easy one: Charlie flip-flopped on the embargo. He was for it before he was against it. 

Get it? Crist changed parties during the 2010 Senate race because his own party was hijacked by lunatics who’d never vote for a guy who hugged Blackie McBlackman, so he’s a flip-flopper. Ha ha!

Forget about attacking him on the merits of his position, since they know most Cuban-Americans think the embargo is a failure. Instead they went for what’s perceived as Crist’s biggest weak spot.

It took The Miami Herald almost an entire day since the news broke to publish a story. No doubt the were receiving threat-free calls from Ileana and Friends, politely urging them to mind their angle and tone.

When they finally published a few minutes ago, here’s the headline chosen by the Executive Editor to our local Newspaper of Record, Mindy Marques:

What a spineless joke of a paper.

Many Cuban-Americans have also evolved in their position on the Embargo in recent years. Is the Miami Herald calling them flip-floppers as well?

Correction: an earlier version of this post identified Myriam Marquez as the Editor of the Herald. She’s moved on to El Nuevo. Our mistake. We sometimes get our Mindys and Myriams confused.

Go Charlie, Go!

February 8th, 2014 | Posted by William Vidal in US Politics - (0 Comments)

Lo que te espera es candela mi hermano, but we’ll stand behind you all the way.

From the Miami Herald’s Naked Politics blog:

Charlie Crist: Time to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist has now done what would have been treasonous as a Republican and announced support for ending the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

“The embargo has done nothing in more than fifty years to change the regime in Cuba,’‘ Crist said Friday night in a statement, after announcing his support for the shift in policy on Bill Mahrer’s HBO show. The former governor was finishing up a week of appearances on the left-leaning talk show circuit to promote his new book.

That’s the kind of talk that traditionally gets Florida politicians in hot water, especially in Miami — where anti-Castor sentiments run deep and the human rights abuses in the communist nation sting like an open wound.

“If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there, not block ourselves out and cede influence to China,” Crist said. “It will take time, and we must do it in a way where American investment helps people, not the dictatorship. But the reality is that no state’s economy is hurt more by America’s Cuba policies than Florida.

“Changing these policies to allow Florida’s’ farmers, manufacturers, and construction industry to sell goods and services in Cuba would boost Florida’s economy and help businesses create more jobs in our state.”

Crist is not alone in expressing these new-found sentiments. Palm Beach sugar barron Alfy Fanjul, whose family fled Cuba a generation ago, made national news this week when he announced that he also believes the time has come to ease relations with his former country. Fanjul, who was a supporter of former President Bill Clinton, has quietly started visiting the island and meeting with top Cuban officials to explore investment options there.

“If there is some way the family flag could be taken back to Cuba, then I am happy to do that,” he told the Washington Post in a rare interview. 

Congresswoman Kathy Castor, a Democrat, last year came out in favorof ending the 52-year-old embargo. Crist rival, former state Sen. Nan Rich, who is also a candidate for governor, has also endorsed the change in policy.


From Alan Farago’s excellent “Scramble for Cuba” post on Counterpunch:

For an aging and dying generation of Cuban Americans, the enduring hope was for retribution and a swift execution of justice in Havana. Miami Cuban Americans would lead the charge. Instead of forcing change in Havana, anti-Castro hatreds primarily succeeded in mobilizing voting blocks in South Florida, ensuring a conservative GOP majority in the state legislature and a Congress that marched to the same syncopated downbeat as the upbeat in Havana. Meanwhile, a lot of money was made by Miami Cuban Americans controlling the levers of politics, of growth and development of suburbs and condo canyons, of privatization of government services and charter schools, while the Castros held on in Havana.

Today, the Castro brothers are fading faster than the conservative Cuban American lock on Miami politics. The Fanjuls, on the other hand, with their “30,000 foot view” do understand that history is moving.

So what the Fanjuls do, matters. The Washington Post story is like the wisp of smoke emerging from the Vatican chimney when the cardinals have made their decision on the next Pope.

Put another way: there is money and then there is real money.

Here is what Capitol Hill Cubans will not write. For so many of the Miami Cuban American elite, the signal of the Fanjuls turning to Cuba is a shift as great as the state department declaring the cessation of hostilities and the return of the embassy to Havana.

What the Capitol Hill Cubans can’t ask and can’t answer, how big is the piece of the pie going to be for Miami Cuban American businessmen? That’s always  been the question they wanted to know.

For decades, Miami Cubans claimed to want the whole of Cuba, for “freedom and democracy”, knowing that they probably have to settle for less. But how much less? As the years ground on, with Mas Canosa gone and Fidel enfeebled, business interests from other parts of the world have gained traction. The port work, the infrastructure, the city center: the shovels are turning in Havana.

The Washington Post story and the instant reaction from the Capitol Hill Cubans couldn’t be more clear.  The Fanjuls want their piece of the action.  The game in Havana is, on. Let the scrambling of lesser mortals, begin.


I’ve written before about the Cuba Study Group’s Reconciliation Project, which aims to study and debate how reconciliation processes in deeply divided countries have been successful, and the lessons that can be learned for Cuba.

Their second conference just took place in Miami, with the participation of key players in the processes of reconciliation in South Africa, Germany and Ireland. Ricardo Herrero, deputy executive director of the CSG, summarizes it nicely in the Miami Herald:


• Reconciliation requires forgiveness and justice.

To the extent that we are unable to heal because we continue to dwell on our pain, we are rendered incapable of crafting a new future. Forgiveness requires that we not allow the future to be doomed by the past. The violence caused by both sides needs to be remembered and addressed, but without degenerating into revenge. Requiring that change bring about justice before anything else only serves to delay the very process of change, thereby causing greater injustice.

• Reconciliation is not a linear process.

Reconciliation cannot consist of a series of predetermined sequential changes. On the contrary, each of the cases explored show that all changes must all be allowed to happen as opportunities present themselves, because they illuminate one another. As Valdés stated, “It does not matter how the Cuban puzzle is put together, what is vital is that all the pieces be on the table.”

• Reconciliation cannot be a competition of wounds.

Reconciliation cannot turn into a competition of whose wounds are deeper. The most important shift in identity through this entire process is to divest oneself of the identity of victim. The pain of victims must be respected and remembered, yet we are ill-served if we allow it to become an obstacle to paving a better future.

• Dialogue is more important at the onset than trust. 

As we saw in Ireland, a critical component of a successful conflict resolution process is the absolute need for inclusive “good faith” dialogue involving all parties with all issues raised on the agenda. While trust will not be there at the start of talks, it may and likely will develop during or beyond the process. The critical thing is to have trust in the process, and trust that each party is serious about creating a better future. “To bring about change one must empower one’s opponents and not paint them into a corner,” said Dettke.

A while ago, I was having lunch with two very experienced political operators, and naturally the conversation turned to the Cuba issue. “It’s a puzzle” they said “lots of smart people with decision power know that Cuba policy simply doesn’t make sense. Many of them are even proponents of the isolationist policies who privately agree hasn’t worked. Yet they can’t break the inertia”. It is a puzzle to me as well, I answered. So many people acting out of the worst possible impulses, afraid to cede an inch, distrustful and isolated, and half heartedly insisting on goals and preconditions the other side has no interest or incentive to meet.

Well, these conferences are precisely the type of creative thinking that can break the inertia. If we understand the reconciliation process, then we can offer the Cubans a workable plan towards national healing.


Two recent stories hint at just a fraction of the millions of taxpayer dollars the US burns through each year enforcing or defending wasteful porkbarrel projects that achieve absolutely nothing other than keep certain Miami-based government teat-suckers employed and prove which Cuban-American hardliner has the biggest cock in Capitol Hill.

1. The Washington Post reports on Aero Martí, a TV Martí aircraft that costs an annual $5.6 million to operate, and is used to transmit “la TV que no se ve” (“the TV that can’t be seen”) to a whopping 1% of Cubans on the island (on a good day!). Thanks to sequestration, that plane is now sitting in a Georgia hangar being twice as useless to the tune of an additional $6,600 a month in storage fees.

2. The Miami Herald reports that the State of Florida has given up on trying to enforce 2012 state law that banned public hiring of firms doing business in Cuba. Now the FDOT has to pay Brazilian firm Odebrecht $500,000 in attorney’s fees, on top of the millions the State of Florida has already wasted in trying to pass, enforce, and defend in a court, a law that everyone knew was unconstitutional to begin with, but backed anyway because it was an election year.

Bucket is the property of the US-Cuba Hardline Lobby.