August 16, 2003
Will Cubans abandon Bush?

Well, this is interesting:

MIAMI - For the first time since he became a U.S. citizen decades ago, 62-year-old Santiago Portal won't vote for a Republican for president.

The Cuban American says he's fed up with President Bush's policy on Cuba and is urging other exiles to choose someone else in next year's election.

"He can't ask Cubans for votes if he hasn't helped Cubans get freedom," said Portal, holding a sign saying "President Bush push freedom for Cuba now! Why only Irak?"

This kind of change of heart among Cuban-Americans who overwhelmingly supported Bush in 2000 and helped ensure he won Florida's 25 electoral votes has GOP officials in Florida concerned heading into an election year.

Some Florida Republicans are now telling Bush they don't think his administration is doing enough to help the Cuban people and opponents of Fidel Castro's communist government. The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, publicly questioned the administration's decision in July to return 12 alleged Cuban hijackers to face trial at home.

An increasing number of Florida's elected Republicans have urged the president to review or change his Cuba policy.

"If our concerns are ignored, there's a real possibility that the Cuban community could" stay away from the polls, said state Rep. David Rivera of Miami, one of 13 Hispanic GOP state lawmakers who warned the president that he could lose support in Florida if he fails to revamp his Cuba policy.

Music to my ears. I think our policies on Cuba are screwy, and I generally think the Cuban exile community has power that's way out of proportion to its population, but it really doesn't much matter what I or any Democrat thinks about this. It's the Republicans' problem. The possibility that these guys might not give Bush their enthusiastic support in 2004 if more than enough to make me happy.

UPDATE: Here's an earlier story with some more info:

"The Cubans are finally rebelling. But it's not the Cubans in Havana who are up in arms," said political analyst Paul Crespo.

"Simmering doubts in the Cuban-American community about President Bush's unexpectedly anemic Cuba policy have erupted into open discontent," the conservative analyst said in the Miami Herald Wednesday.

His comments coincided with the publication of an open letter to the president from Cuban-American leaders who claimed Bush failed to make good on promises to adopt tough measures to force change in the Caribbean island.


Florida's 700,000-strong Cuban-Americans have traditionally supported the Republican party. They played a key role in getting Bush elected in 2000 by helping him win a narrow but decisive majority in the southeastern state.

Bush's appointment of Cuban-Americans to prominent posts, among them Roger Noriega who recently became the top US diplomat for the Americas, had boosted hopes the administration would aggressively promote democratic change in Cuba.

But, says Crespo, "a lack of follow-up has squandered that initial goodwill."

Now where have I heard that before?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 16, 2003 to The making of the President | TrackBack

They played a key role in getting Bush elected in 2000 by helping him win a narrow but decisive majority in the southeastern state.

Say what? A very dubious 537 vote majority is "narrow but decisive"?

Talk about your historical revisionism.

Posted by: Basharov on August 16, 2003 7:11 PM

I blame it more on being lax on word choice by the author of the article... they want a word which means that the majority made the shrub the prez...

Posted by: Left of RATM on August 16, 2003 11:22 PM

The only majority I know of that made Bush President was on the Supreme Court.

Posted by: Basharov on August 18, 2003 10:40 AM