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07 February, 2009

Cuba Embargo Popular, New Poll Indicates

Cuba Embargo Popular, New Poll Indicates By Alfonso Chardy and Luisa Yanez The Miami Herald February 4th, 2009 Calling its findings a clear message to President Barack Obama, a Washington-based group will release a poll Wednesday showing that a majority of Cuban-American registered voters in Florida support the trade embargo on Cuba and restrictions limiting exile travel to the island. Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy, which commissioned the poll, said the results mean the president should be cautious about making radical changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. ''The Cuban-American community remains unified in its views, regardless of party affiliation, in regards to Cuba policy,'' said Claver-Carone, whose group lobbies the U.S. Congress to maintain the embargo. U.S. law says the embargo can be lifted only when Havana complies with at least three basic requirements: unconditional release of all political prisoners, recognition of fundamental human rights and legalization of political parties. The new poll stands in contrast with one released in December by Florida International University's Institute for Public Opinion Research. The university poll, funded by the Brookings Institution and the Cuba Study Group, showed that a majority of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade favor lifting the embargo and want to see diplomatic relations reestablished. Hugh Gladwin, director of the FIU group that conducted the poll, said Tuesday his findings and those of the new poll are not that different. ''Polls are a snapshot of reality from different angles,'' he said. The disparity in the poll conclusions may center on the way questions were formulated and how the polls were conducted. For example, the Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy poll -- conducted by McLaughlin & Associates -- interviewed 500 registered Cuban-American voters who were contacted by telephone. YOUNGER AUDIENCE The FIU poll questioned 800 voters and non-voters -- and in an attempt to reach a younger audience, called 300 of the respondents on their cellphones. The Cuba Democracy poll found: • 72 percent of those surveyed support continuation of the embargo. • 58 percent favor continuation of exile travel restrictions imposed by the Bush administration in 2004. Those restrictions limit exiles to one trip to Cuba every three years instead of once a year as before. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Exile travel to Cuba has become a source of friction in the Cuban-American community in South Florida, where a generational gap is widely perceived as being at the heart of divisions. Younger exiles, or those who arrived in the last 20 years, appear to be more willing to support easing restrictions, while exiles who arrived decades ago often denounce such visits. Results of the Cuba Democracy poll appear to corroborate that conclusion: 42 percent of those surveyed, who were under age 55, support the idea that Cubans who fled Cuba should be allowed to visit, while only 30 percent of those over 55 favored the notion. The question, as asked in the new poll, could be suggestive, Gladwin said. The embargo question posed was: ``Do you support or oppose the current U.S. policy of maintaining the trade and tourism embargo on the Cuban regime until the Castro regime releases all political prisoners, respects basic human rights and schedules free elections?'' Said Gladwin: ``I'm not Cuban, but if asked that question, I would answer no, because to answer yes is to imply you oppose democracy in Cuba.'' TRAVEL QUESTION Here was the question on travel to Cuba: ``Do you believe that Cubans who leave Cuba in order to seek freedom in the U.S. should be allowed to travel to Cuba while the regime they fled from is still in power?'' Claver-Carone said the question was phrased to explain the implications of exile trips. During the campaign, Obama committed to allowing Cuban Americans to travel Cuba as often as they like to see relatives. sent by courtesy of F.Resillez ________________________________ © 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. http://www.miamiherald.com

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