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Alfredo Prieto: I was born in Havana, a fact that’s not so common around here these days. Most of my family emigrated a long time ago to the United States, something that motivated me to study that country a little to try and understand it. I learned some English, and later I improved a bit more through direct contact with US citizens in their homes and above all in their universities. Later I found out that this was called “sleeping with the enemy”, but I confess that I never saw one in front of me. I’ve had many invitations, but as of six years ago I can’t go back because they changed the rules of the game. I’ve been the editor of the magazines, Cuadernos de Nuestra América, Temas and Caminos. I now work at the publishing house of the Cuban Writers and Artists Association (UNEAC) and I’m writing another book. Like my aunt, I am a declared fan of strawberry cheesecakes… and of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac’s ex. If any of you know her, please give her a flower for me.

The Cuban-American Split

September 17, 2009 | Print Print |

Alfredo Prieto

Hotel Inglaterra in Old Havana – Photo: Caridad

Hotel Inglaterra in Old Havana – Photo: Caridad

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.


What's your opinion?

  • Alberto N Jones

    It is an open secret, that the US-CUBA fifty year old feud, have outlived its previous antagonism. Cuban-Americans for the most part are no longer gusanos in Cuba and in Miami, the belly of the beast, 60% of those polled, voted in favor or normalizing relations. Why then, the Cuban government insist in the American government changing its teratologic views, rather than Cuba, giving it a last push, forcing it to remove its wicked attempt to stifle our people? If Cuba would request 3 companies per nation, to submit bids by 7/31/10, for the creation of Joint Ventures with: Railroad, garment stores, aeronautics, ports, airports, food distribution,bus, trucking, heavy industry, petrochemicals, sugar, mining etc., would Wall Street sit idle or would it not give the US President a midnight call, demanding they be allowed to participate, before everything is gone? By 12/10 the embargo is history, no one will be allowed to steal from their workplace & everyone would be happy ever after.