The Cuban-American SplitSeptember 17, 2009 | Print |
The issue of the embargo/blockade has returned to the fore. In August a survey by the firm Bendixen & Associates revealed that Cuban-Americans were divided about its use as a political instrument directed against Havana. Of those interviewed, 41 percent said they now oppose it, while 40 percent continued to support it.
An executive of the Bendixen said this fact reflected an “evolution of thought” among émigrés, and added that those findings would have been “heresy” only six or seven years ago. “After 50 years, some Cubans have come to the painful revelation that the embargo might not have been the most effective tool against the Castro regime.”
But these discoveries can be spun even finer if certain variables are considered, such as Cuban-American sub-groups and the time period when individuals immigrated.
Bendixen found that 62 percent of Cubans who arrived in the United States in the 1960s (or before) favored maintaining the embargo; however, most of those who arrived since the 1980s were in favor of its lifting, which is consistent with previous assessments such as the one conducted last year by the Institute for Public Opinion Research of Florida International University (FIU).
Looking through this filter, the embargo was opposed by 65 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 44, as well as 53 percent of those between 45 at 64. That contrasted to those over 65, among whom only 32 percent felt the same way – which, in other words, means that a significant 68 percent of the older “historical” exiles still favored the hard line.
Moreover, considered from the angle of the time of their entry into the US, the figures are equally illustrative. Among those who arrived prior to 1980 – remembering that this was pre-Mariel emigration – only 35 percent were opposed to the embargo, while among those who came between 1980 and 1998, 57 percent majority were against it. On top of that, among those who entered in the United States after 1990 – that is to say, among the “new immigrants,” the survey reported an even higher figure: a striking 71 percent.
Evidently there is movement in the same direction in the greater US society – beyond a small enclave and group identity – in which positions on the embargo held by Americans as a whole have been historically different, though they still hold negative opinions of the island’s political system and its prevailing leadership.
In April, a survey by ABC News/Washington Post showed tendencies that once again confirm the idea of changing attitudes. Fifty-seven percent of US citizens believed that that the embargo should be eliminated, while 36 percent opposed such a step; a majority (55 percent) felt Americans should be allowed to travel freely to Cuba in exercise of their constitutional rights – a clear message to the Congress that will soon grapple with the issue.
Sixty percent favored the reestablishment of normal diplomat relations between the two countries, while only 30 percent were opposed. Even a survey by the Fox media organization, whose audience is far from being made up of left radicals, generated similar or slightly higher figures (59 percent said they were in favor of normal relations, versus 30 percent who opposed this).
The surveys are disclosing new sociopolitical tendencies, despite their small margins of error. To attempt to deconstruct them through ideological discourse is like battling windmills, or perhaps this is also the recognition – if we read between the lines – that the Miami hardliners consignment to the grave lies just at hand.