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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Obama, Google and failure in Cuba

Google, the Obama Administration and avoiding in Cuba a repeat of the mess in China

Image taken from Gazette Review


The fruits of the Obama Administration's Cuba policy as we approach the two year mark of the December 17, 2014 are proving rotten with a worsening human rights situation on the island and the European Union de-linking human rights considerations from normalizing relations with the Castro dictatorship. As of November 30, 2016 there have been 9,484 political arrests over the course of this year in Cuba, a ten year record and violence escalating against nonviolent dissenters.

Within this context the role of Google is extremely troubling. First Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt went to Cuba in June of 2014 and returned singing the usual cliches in praise of the dictatorship:
The two most successful parts of the Revolution, as they call it, is the universal health care free for all citizens with very good doctors, and the clear majority of women in the executive and managerial ranks in the country.  Almost all the leaders we met with were female, and one joked with us that the Revolution promised equality, the macho men didn’t like it but “they got used to it”, with a broad smile.
The healthcare system in Cuba is a disaster and that has been well documented and debunked repeatedly. The claim that women can exert leadership in a male dominated dictatorship is absurd. The fact that women in Cuba are regularly beaten up by regime agents for exercising their basic rights and those with popular support brutally assaulted and killed should give the Chairman Schmidt pause over his effusive praise for the totalitarian regime.

Unfortunately, taking into consideration his past association with Sun Microsystems, the company that played an important role in erecting the Great Firewall in China that the Google executive now condemns and also Google's own past assistance of Chinese censorship both condemned by Amnesty International this kowtowing to the Castro regime should come as no surprise

Google has played an active role in giving a positive image to President Obama's failed Cuba policy with a temporary demonstration project in Havana that reveals more than it intended. Capitol Hill Cubans on April 7, 2016 reported the following on the presence of Google in Cuba:
Reports from Cuba have noted that the center has been given priority use by Ministry of the Interior ('MININT') officials and trainees. The MININT is home to Castro's intelligence services. Thus, the Google + Kcho Mor center has become a playground for Cuba's spies and future cyber-warriors. Furthermore, after passing various security checks, when regular Cubans finally get to enter the center, they are treated to censored online access. Web pages like CubaencuentroRevolico and 14ymedio remain blocked. Thus, Google has now officially become an extension of Cuba's censors.
This was easily predictable because it has happened elsewhere. American companies such as Microsoft, Nortel, Cisco and Sun-Microsystems collaborated extensively with the Chinese communists to set up an intranet that blocks free access to internet to hundreds of millions of Chinese. American technology companies identified and located Chinese dissidents for the regime who imprisoned and tortured them. For example, according to Amnesty International, Chinese journalist Shi Tao sentenced to 10 years in jail after Internet company Yahoo! gave the authorities his personal email account-holder informationAmerican tech firms, such as Narus, aided the Mubarak regime in Egypt during its brutal crackdown tracking Egyptian activists during the Arab Spring and has also been suspected of helping Libya track dissidents.

Image taken from Al Jazeera
Now in the waning days of the Obama Administration the push is on fast track deals with the Castro regime with the aim of locking in his legacy on Cuba and Google is going along.

"Google is choosing to stand with the oppressor rather than with the oppressed, in clear violation of their "Don't Be Evil" code of conduct, partnering with an octogenarian Socialist Dictatorship instead of in favor of millions of Cuban youth; is not only wrong but a terrible business decision."  denounced Augusto Monge of the Free Cuba Foundation. 

Going beyond how this effects the interests of free Cubans, but American corporations doing business with totalitarian regimes have negatively impacted U.S. national interests as well that are often ignored in favor of narrow, short term economic considerations. Unfortunately, corporate money has had a disproportionate impact on think tanks in Washington DC and these concerns go unaddressed.

Google shut down operations in China, for a while, when it discovered a cyberattack that targeted it and other technology companies. Chinese nationals have stolen source code for the Peoples Republic of China from American companies in what amounts to economic espionage. In January of 2016 the CBS program 60 Minutes aired a program on these practices called The Great Brain Robbery.

In Cuba businessmen of other countries doing business there have been subjected to arbitrary imprisonment, and confiscation of their assets. For example, Canadian automobile executive Cy Tokmakjian spent three years unjustly imprisoned in Cuba after being subjected to a show trial on September 28, 2014  when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The Castro regime seized about $100 million worth of company assets including bank accounts, inventory and office supplies, a ruling the company was challenging in international arbitration. (He is not the only Western executive to undergo the experience).  British investor, Stephen Purvis, who was jailed for 15 months and who the Castro regime confiscated 17.3 million dollars of his company's assets in an August 2013 letter to The Economist explained what may be behind the arrests of Western foreign investors:
I spent time with a number of foreign businessmen arrested during 2011 and 2012 from a variety of countries, although representatives from Brazil, Venezuela and China were conspicuous in the absence. Very few of my fellow sufferers have been reported in the press and there are many more in the system than is widely known. As they are all still either waiting for charges, trial or sentencing they will certainly not be talking to the press. Whilst a few of them are being charged with corruption many are not and the accusations range from sabotage, damage to the economy, tax avoidance and illegal economic activity. It is absolutely clear that the war against corruption may be a convenient political banner to hide behind and one that foreign governments and press will support.
An incoming Administration that wants to make America First, look out for U.S. national interests and save taxpayers some money should not only be looking at not going down the same rabbit hole in Cuba as others have done, but to get out of the mess that negatively impacts America in China.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Seven Reasons why Fidel Castro was that bad and the world is a better place now that he is gone

This is not a top seven list, but a compilation of seven actions by Fidel Castro that earn him the title of mass murdering tyrant. It is a rebuttal of those who now claim that the old tyrant who died on November 25, 2016 "wasn't that bad." Unfortunately the harm done by this dictator is not limited to Cuba and has survived him. Links will be provided for sources that back up the claim made.

Fidel Castro twice called for an all out nuclear holocaust

1. Pushed twice for the Soviet Union to launch first a full out nuclear attack on the United States (First Strike). 
The first time was during the October 1962 Missile Crisis in a letter to Nikita Khrushchevand the second time in the early 1980s were Fidel Castro pressed the Soviets hard for a nuclear strike against the United States. This revelation became public knowledge on September 21, 2009 and the newspaper of record The New York Times quotes the source: Andrian A. Danilevich, a Soviet general staff officer from 1964 to ’90 and director of the staff officers who wrote the Soviet Union’s final reference guide on strategic and nuclear planning is quoted in the early 1980s, saying that Mr. Castro “pressed hard for a tougher Soviet line against the U.S. up to and including possible nuclear strikes.” The general staff, General Danilevich continued, “had to actively disabuse him of this view by spelling out the ecological consequences for Cuba of a Soviet strike against the U.S.





2. Fidel Castro participated in genocide collaborating with a convicted war criminal in Ethiopia and defending alleged war criminals from Sri Lanka and Argentina. In Ethiopia the Castro regime backed Mengistu Haile Mariam with advice, troops and high level visits by both Fidel and Raul Castro.  War crimes such as a provoked famine and the targeting of ideologically suspect children for mass killings led to downplaying the role of the Castro regime in the whole affair.  On May 28, 2009 amidst a human rights crisis in Sri Lanka the Cuban government's diplomats took the lead and successfully blocked efforts to address the wholesale slaughter there. In the 1970s the Castro regime also began an unusual relationship with the military dictatorship in Argentina helping to block efforts to condemn it at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for thousands of leftists disappeared by the regime. Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón, brutal military dictator of Argentina between 1982 and 1983 (in the picture above with Fidel Castro). On April 20, 2010, the Argentine despot was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 56 people in a concentration camp. 


Raul Castro preparing prisoner to be executed by firing squad
3. Fidel Castro came into power with firing squads broadcast over television in order to terrorize the populace. Court proceedings fell far short of international standards. Conservative estimate gives the range, according to Matthew White in his website Necrometrics, at between 5,000-12,000 Cubans killed by the Castro regime compared with Chileans killed by the Pinochet regime which number 3,197. Rudolph Joseph Rummel, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii and an expert in Democide (murder by government) also takes into account the Cuban boat people who have died fleeing the dictatorship and estimates 73,000 dead Cubans between 1959 and 1987. In The Black Book of Communism in chapter 25 "Communism in Latin America" by Pascal Fontaine states that in Cuba between 1959 through the late 1990s "between 15,000 and 17,000 people were shot."


4. Murdering refugees for trying to flee the country. In 1972 Fidel Castro goes to the Berlin Wall and praises border guards who shot and killed fleeing, unarmed civilians who just wanted to live in freedom. During his visit to East Germany Castro compared the Berlin Wall with the defenses his regime had near the Guantanamo Naval Base. Eleven years later a front page story in The Miami Herald on July 7, 1993 described what US soldiers at Guantanamo had witnessed: Cuban marine patrols, determined to stop refugees from reaching the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, have repeatedly tossed grenades and shot at fleeing swimmers and recovered some bodies with gaff hooks, U.S. officials charged Tuesday. At least three Cubans have been killed in the past month as Cuban patrol boats attacked swimmers within sight of U.S. Navy personnel at Guantanamo. These acts of brutality led to a formal diplomatic note to the Cuban government by the Clinton Administration.  One year and six days later the Cuban tugboat "13 de Marzo" was attacked and sunk on July 13, 1994 claiming 37 lives, mainly women and children.


37 victims of the 13 de Marzo Tugboat on 7/13/94

5. Fidel Castro turned Cuba into a state sponsor of terrorism. Castro sponsored and trained terrorists and promoted terrorism internationally. The Castro regime has a long history of sponsoring terrorism beginning in the 1960s with the Tricontinental meetings where terrorism was viewed as a legitimate tactic. The University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies in 2004 published a chronology of Cuban government involvement in terrorism covering between 1959 and 2003. For example, their report lists how in 1970 the Cuban government published the "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" in the official Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban terrorist Carlos Marighella, which gives precise instructions in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. translated into numerous languages which were distributed worldwide by the Cuban dictatorship. There is a chapter on terrorism that defends it as a legitimate tactic. On March 1, 1982 the Cuban dictatorship was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This was less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Castro regime was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.  


Partners in narcotics smuggling: Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro 
6. Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro facilitated cocaine smuggling into the United States. The U.S. State Department on March 1, 1982 declared Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism whose government was was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government. In 2001 at Georgetown University when I questioned General Barry McCaffrey, who at the time was advocating sharing intelligence on drug trafficking with the Castro regime, about this relationship between Cuba and Colombia's drug trafficking guerrillas and he recognized it and expressed his concerns.  During General Manuel Noriega's trial information emerged  in 1992 publicly implicating the Castro regime as the Sun Sentinel reported at the time"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega. According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega." At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors.


Hugo Chavez with freed coup plotter Hugo Chavez who he mentored into power

7. Fidel Castro was the author of the events in Venezuela that led to first Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro's succession to the presidency. 
In 1990 following a request made by Fidel Castro to Lula Da Silva the Sao Paulo Forum was established with the goal to rebuild the Communist movement or as they put it: “To reconquer in Latin America all that we lost in East Europe.” This set the course for the rise of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela that has been a game changer both regionally and internationally. Food riots are now breaking out in what was once the richest government in South America. 
The hunger, the suffering, and deaths of thousands of Venezuelans should be laid at the feet of Fidel Castro who prepared and backed Hugo Chavez with the assistance of the Cuban military and intelligence services that are keeping Nicolas Maduro in power today. However the communists with their agents of influence in the media will blame capitalism, the United States, imperialismglobal warming, and anything else that distracts from pointing the finger at them.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Free Cuba Foundation leader predicts end of Castro regime during Trump's first term if President follows through with campaign promise

Trump vs. Hillary 2016, Cuba policy, predictions and promises to keep.

30+ precincts in MDC with highest CA voters concentration show Trump won by 58% and Rubio won by 69%

The Free Cuba Foundation made bold predictions during the 2016 election that were proved true and now a founding leader of the group has made a bold and new prediction. "If Trump keeps his pledge to roll back the Obama Administration's Cuba policy replacing it with one that prioritizes U.S. interests, greater freedom and human rights for Cubans then Cuba will be free without the Castros during President Trump's first four year term," said Augusto Monge of the Free Cuba Foundation. This founding leader of the Free Cuba Foundation went on to say that the New York businessman's initial lukewarm support for the Obama Cuba policy had Cuban American support bottom out at 33% earlier this year. However Mr. Trump's support grew to at least 58% on election day after he had promised to roll back the Obama Administration's Cuba policy and reached out to Cuban American leaders.

If as some claim 570,878 Cuban Americans voted in the 2016 election and Mr. Trump saw a 25 point shift in support that correlates with his announced change in Cuba policy translating to 142,719 additional votes. A total of  331,109 Cuban Americans voted for Mr. Donald Trump on November 8, 2016. 

Considering that President Elect Trump's margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Florida was just 119,970 votes and the argument is not just that Cuban Americans were critical to the New York businessman's victory but that the dramatic increase in support was linked to U.S. Cuba policy and its rejection by a large number of Cuban American voters according to exit polls. The shift in that vote alone, possibly by Cuba policy single issue voters, provided the margin for taking Florida and exceeded it by 22,749 votes.

Throughout 2016 Free Cuba Foundation members challenged the conventional wisdom on Cuba, the Cuban American vote and the 2016 Presidential election in the United States.

There was an attempt by some in the media to explain the low level of support for Donald Trump among Cuban Americans mentioning almost everything else but Cuba policy.  There were also attempts to push the idea that if Mr. Trump rejected the Obama Cuba policy his numbers among Cuban Americans would go even lower. It was a Free Cuba Foundation member that reminded readers of The Miami Herald in May of 2016 that the Republican nominee's troubles with the Cuban American vote had little to do with immigration but a lot to do with his support for the Obama Cuba policy.

However on September 16, 2016 the argument citing the FIU Poll that Cuban Americas supported new Cuba policy was shown to be false when the New York businessman announced that he would roll back the Obama Administration's Cuba policy replacing it with one prioritizing human rights and freedom in Cuba for Cubans. Donald Trump's polling numbers among Cuban Americans began to rise dramatically, despite some Cuban Americans remaining skeptical that this was a late election conversion.

On September 17, 2016 the Free Cuba Foundation reported what the situation had been before the September 16th announcement:
"For the first time ever in a presidential election both major party candidates were backing normalizing relations with the Castro regime. This position would have hurt Republicans more than Democrats because part of their base of Cuban American voters, in Hialeah for example, are working class and vote Republican out of their anti-communism, not economic interests. Until yesterday Cuba policy was going to be a wash in the 2016 presidential election with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporting Obama's failed Cuba policy."  
If GOP strategists had bought into the FIU Cuba Poll's claim that the Obama Administration's Cuba policy was supported by a majority of Cuban Americans and adopted a new position then the Cuban American vote would have gone the way of the Chinese American vote from reliably majority Republican to reliably majority Democrat. 

However with Donald Trumps rejection and pledge to roll back the new Cuba policy it was clear that this was a game changer in the Cuban American vote because now there was a clear contrast on this issue. 
“The last time there was a clear choice, a referendum, on U.S. Cuba policy took place between two presidential candidates in 1980, where Jimmy Carter decided to open the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, lifted the travel embargo on Cuba and began direct negotiations with the Castro regime only to be defeated by Ronald Reagan who promised to reverse the policy,” explained Augusto Monge, co founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation. Augusto, also observed that “As in 1980, like today in 2016, the fruits of the normalization policy with the Castro regime are decidedly rotten. The human rights situation in the island has worsened; the regime's subversive influence in Latin America expanded threatening democratic governments friendly to the United States.” 
The Free Cuba Foundation also predicted that this difference between the two candidates on Cuba policy would place the FIU Cuba poll under greater scrutiny:
"This new contrast over Cuba will test the FIU poll of Miami Cubans that claims strong support for Obama's Cuba policy among Cuban Americans.  In stark contrast, Marco Rubio who repudiated the Obama Cuba policy won the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade County handily even though he lost the rest of Florida in the Republican primary. Trump's about face on Cuba policy is good news for the GOP in South Florida where Cuban Americans upset over the the administration's December 17, 2014 announcement now potentially have a candidate that they can support." 
The results on November 8, 2016 found candidates that rejected Obama's Cuba policy winning their elections in Miami-Dade County. Furthermore statewide Senator Marco Rubio, a tough critic of Obama's Cuba policy, decried by the anti-Embargo lobby as out of touch with his electorate won the state by a larger margin than Mr. Trump and got 69% of the Cuban American vote.

Those who advocate continuing Obama's failed Cuba policy are doing all they can to minimize the role Cuban Americans played in Florida in the November 8, 2016 elections but the emerging facts make it more difficult each day that goes by.  However it is important to recall that these same people in 2014 downplayed how Cuba policy negatively impacted Charlie Crist in the Florida governor's race after he too initially bought into the anti-embargo lobby's siren song and contributed to Rick Scott's second term as the Governor of Florida. 

There is an attempt to look at the vote in Florida and claim that it was the white non-hispanic vote with its increased turn out that won the state for Trump, but that does not negate that if President elect Trump had not courted the Cuban American vote and vowed to roll back the Obama Administration's failed Cuba policy it would have impacted the result. Like it or not facts are facts and the Republican nominees victory margin in Florida was 119,970 votes and the shift in the Cuban American vote for Mr. Trump from 33% support to at least 58% supports translated into at least 142,719 additional votes that made history on November 8, 2016.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cuban American repudiation of Obama Cuba policy cost Hillary Clinton Florida

Trying to get the facts out on the 2016 Cuban American vote in Florida


Miriam de la Peña talks with Donald Trump about Brothers to the Rescue Shootdown 
On September 17, 2016 the Free Cuba Foundation published a blog that stated "Obama's Cuba policy to be judged by Cuban Americans at the ballot box." This was because a day earlier Donald Trump who had been lukewarmly supporting President Obama's Cuba policy vowed to roll it backThis change was reflected in a dramatic improvement in his polling numbers. On October 25, 2016 the Republican presidential nominee hosted a breakfast with a small group of Cuban American leaders and listened to their concerns. Later that same day he received a formal and public endorsement of the Brigade 2506 Bay of Pigs Association in Little Havana. Trump’s support among Cuban-American voters in Florida was at 52 percent, up from 33 percent in September, prior to the change on Cuba policy, according to Andres Oppenheimer days before the election. On the eve of the Presidential election the New York businessman tweeted the following pledge:




On election day the Pew Research Center placed the percentage of Cuban Americans voting for Donald Trump at 54% and that is asserted by some to be a conservative estimate.



Let us do the math if as some claim 570,878 Cuban Americans voted in the 2016 election and Mr. Trump saw a 21 point shift in support that correlates with his announced change in Cuba policy this translated to 119,884 additional votes. A total of  308,274 Cuban Americans voted for Mr. Donald Trump. Now Mauricio Claver-Carone makes the case that the actual percentage maybe above 60%.

Not only does that overall number increase to 342,527 but also the number of Cuban Americans that switched their vote in favor of the New York businessman after he rejected Obama's Cuba policy is also higher at 154,137 votes.

Considering that President Elect Trump's margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Florida was just 119,970 votes and the argument is not just that Cuban Americans were critical to the New York businessman's victory but that the dramatic increase in support was linked to U.S. Cuba policy and its rejection by a large number of Cuban American voters according to exit polls. At the low range the shift in that vote alone, possibly Cuba policy single issue voters, was at a minimum 86 votes short of providing the margin for taking Florida or at the higher end exceeded it by 34,167 votes.

If the Florida International University Cuba Poll were accurate and a majority of voting Cuban Americans supported Obama's Cuba policy then President Elect Trump would not have seen a 19 point surge in support when he promised to rollback President Obama's Cuba policy. Furthermore in South Florida one would not have seen all the well financed anti-embargo candidates running for Federal office defeated by crushing margins, even in majority Democrat districts.

There are those now who claim that the Cuban American vote was not a decisive factor in Trump's victory in Florida. They are wrong. This is not a matter of opinion but of the course of events over the past seven months and the math explained above. 

The Latino Decisions poll used by those making this claim is problematic for a number of reasons such as: it being sponsored by the National Council of La Raza that has a vested interest in pushing a particular narrative, it is a push poll with questions that provide information that would negatively impact the Latino vote for Republicans and finally no questions were asked about Obama's Cuba policy and how it would impact the vote. They could have also asked some of the following questions:
Would you be more or less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton after learning that she pressed President Obama to normalize relations with the Castro dictatorship and remove economic sanctions with no regards to the human rights situation in Cuba? 
Would you be more or less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton after learning that not only did President Bill Clinton shake hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and open up cash and carry trade with Cuba a few months later but also met with and warmly received Raul Castro in 2015 in New York City? 
Would you be more or less likely to vote for Hillary Clinton after learning that the Cuba policy she lobbied for in the Obama Administration approved deals that led to discrimination against Cuban Americans because of their national origin denying them equal treatment because American companies Carnival and American Airlines wanted to bend over backwards to Cuban government demands?
If Latino Decisions had asked these question and as it did with their push poll questions informing on Republican hostility to President Obama's executive orders on immigration then the depth of Cuban American outrage could have been reflected in the polling and so many would not have been surprised on election day.




Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump opens chasm between himself and Hillary Clinton on Cuba policy

Obama's Cuba policy to be judged by Cuban Americans at the ballot box

Democrat Hillary Clinton versus Republican Donald Trump

Cuban American voters now have a choice not an echo on Cuba policy in the 2016 Presidential election

Cuban American voters now potentially have a reason to turn out in record numbers in the 2016 presidential election. Republican GOP nominee Donald Trump yesterday in Miami announced that he would reverse Obama’s Cuba policy if the Castro regime did not meet his demands that “include religious and political freedom for the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”

For the first time ever in a presidential election both major party candidates were backing normalizing relations with the Castro regime. This position would have hurt Republicans more than Democrats because part of their base of Cuban American voters, in Hialeah for example, are working class and vote Republican out of their anti-communism, not economic interests. Until yesterday Cuba policy was going to be a wash in the 2016 presidential election with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump supporting Obama's failed Cuba policy.

 “The last time there was a clear choice, a referendum, on U.S. Cuba policy took place between two presidential candidates in 1980, where Jimmy Carter decided to open the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, lifted the travel embargo on Cuba and began direct negotiations with the Castro regime only to be defeated by Ronald Reagan who promised to reverse the policy,” explained Augusto Monge, co founding member of the Free Cuba Foundation. Augusto, also observed that “As in 1980, like today in 2016, the fruits of the normalization policy with the Castro regime are decidedly rotten. The human rights situation in the island has worsened; the regime's subversive influence in Latin America expanded threatening democratic governments friendly to the United States.”

"Cuban American voters who care about a free Cuba now have a clear and contrasting choice not an echo on Cuba policy in this election,” said FCF member John Suarez who added “let us not forget that President Obama along with his GOP adversaries in 2008 and again in 2012 backed maintaining economic sanctions until political prisoners were freed and the fundamental human rights of the Cuban people respected.  This position was also held by previous winning Democratic nominee Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 who did well among Cuban American voters. Once they entered office and no longer had to worry about getting elected then they took on policies unpopular with their Cuban American constituents. This places Hillary Clinton in a disadvantageous position among Cuban-America voters in South Florida. She might want to join Donald Trump and reconsider her position on U.S. – Cuba policy.”

This new contrast over Cuba will test the FIU poll of Miami Cubans that claims strong support for Obama's Cuba policy among Cuban Americans.  In stark contrast, Marco Rubio who repudiated the Obama Cuba policy won the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade County handily even though he lost the rest of Florida in the Republican primary. Trump's about face on Cuba policy is good news for the GOP in South Florida where Cuban Americans upset over the the administration's December 17, 2014 announcement now potentially have a candidate that they can support. 


Donald J. Trump addresses Bay of Pigs veterans in 1999

Back in 1999 Donald Trump wrote an OpEd in The Miami Herald on Cuba advocating maintaining the embargo:

Published Friday, June 25, 1999, in the Miami Herald

DONALD J. TRUMP

A choice for human rights

Donald J. Trump is a real-estate investor and head of The Trump Organization in New York City.

Several large European investment groups have asked me to take the ``Trump Magic'' to Cuba. They have ``begged'' me to form partnerships to build casino-hotels in Havana. With the influx of foreign tourists, we would make a fortune, they promise, and they are no doubt right. They are also right to say that this type of arrangement would allow me to skirt the U. S.-imposed embargo. 
But rushing to join those who would do business in Cuba would do more than that. It would place me directly at odds with the longstanding U. S. policy of isolating Fidel Castro. I had a choice to make: huge profits or human rights. For me, it was a no-brainer.
I fully understand the familiar arguments for lifting the embargo. The Cold War is over. Castro is on the ropes. Pumping money into his economy would benefit the long-suffering masses. This is the way to ``open up'' Cuba, export democracy, and promote entrepreneurship and independence from the state. We need to put the past behind us.
Each of those arguments is bogus.
The Cold War is indeed over, but it would be instructive to remember the role that Castro played in the struggle between -- yes -- good and evil. He turned his island over to his Soviet patrons. He was quite willing to have nuclear missiles, launched from Cuban soil, destroy American cities. He exported revolution to Central and South America. He abetted Libyan terrorism. He gave asylum to murderers. He posted troops in Africa.
More important, he turned his nation into a maximum-security prison. His regime controls every aspect of human life -- access to food, medical assistance, schools and employment. Castro has not mellowed with age. Terror continues to reign. The secret police are unrestrained. The disappearance and beatings of citizens are still tools of civilian control, as is the suppression of free speech. Castro's ruthless domination of the Cuban people has not lessened even as his regime crumbles.
The real cause of misery of the Cuban people is Castro's Marxist-Leninist economic system -- not the U.S. embargo. Castro's Cuba is a brutal police state; Castro rules through terror, intimidation and brutality.
Castro urgently wants the United States to lift the embargo because he is desperate for hard currency to keep his faltering communist economy afloat. Now, without the generous subsidies from the Soviet Union -- between $5-7 billion dollars a year -- Cuba's economy is reeling.
Of course, he would love Donald Trump to come to Havana and build casino hotels. Why? Not to raise the standard of living for the people of Cuba. Quite the contrary. Almost every dollar would go to prop up his police-state. Why? Because foreign investors cannot legally do business with private Cuban citizens. They can go into business only with the Castro government. It is highly illegal in Cuba for anyone except for the regime to employ a Cuban citizen.
Foreign investors are not allowed to hire or pay Cuban workers. They must pay the government directly for the workers. Castro then pays the workers in worthless Cuban money and keeps the rest. Under these circumstances, my investment cannot help average Cubans -- it can only replace the Soviet subsidy Castro no longer receives.
If I opened a casino/hotel in Havana, I would be required to pay Castro about $10,000 per year for each Cuban worker. But the workers would not benefit. Castro would pay them the equivalent of $10 a month. The rest he uses to pay for the brutal and violent system that keeps him in power -- and deprives the Cuban people of basic human rights. In other words, my investment in Cuba would directly subsidize the oppression of the Cuban people.
Yes, the embargo is costly. If I formed a joint venture with European partners, I would make millions of dollars. But I'd rather lose those millions than lose my self-respect. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world's most-brutal dictators, a man who was once willing to aid in the destruction of my country. To me the embargo question is no question at all. Of course, we should keep the embargo in place. We should keep it until Castro is gone.
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald