[Marxism] "Cuban Waffles: Kerry's changing positions on Castro"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 18 23:27:24 MST 2004

(Remember, this is the ultra-ultra right.
They strongly support Bush and are trying
to red-bait Kerry over his previously-
expressed positions on Cuba. 

(Candidate John Kerry owes such people 
nothing, and has no reason to offer them
any concessions. They would only demand
more if he did. We'll see how he does as
the campaign drags on. His call to the
new Spanish Prime Minister NOT to pull
out of Iraq has already been rebuffed.

(What is the world coming to when these
foreign leaders refuse to answer with
"How high?" when asked by politicians
from the United States simply to jump.)

March 18, 2004, 8:24 a.m.
Cuban Waffles
Kerry's changing positions on Castro.
By Peter Kirsanow

On September 1, 2003, the Miami Herald reported that,
"Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry...appeared to shift his
stance on the trade embargo with Cuba on Sunday, telling a
national television audience that he now supports keeping
sanctions in place. Kerry's remarks, delivered on NBC's
Meet the Press, seemed to contradict statements he made
during a 2000 interview with the Boston Globe that a
reevaluation of the embargo was 'way overdue.'"

This was a startling departure for a senator who has a
nearly 20-year history of sponsoring or voting for numerous
bills to ease economic and travel restrictions on Cuba.
What had caused Kerry's change of heart? Had Castro
committed some astonishing new atrocity that finally caused
Kerry to cry "Enough!"? No, it had been pretty much
business as usual for the island despot in the weeks
leading up to Kerry's apparent U-turn. Castro hadn't
executed, tortured, or imprisoned innocents on any grander
scale than has been his normal practice. True, six months
earlier, Castro had imprisoned more than 70 journalists and
human-rights supporters, a move that had elicited furious
protests from across the globe and censure even from those
who have a more "enlightened" view of the Castro regime.
But there's no evidence that Kerry was among the

Regardless, no other outrages committed by the Castro
regime had ever before provoked Kerry to toughen his
stance. In fact, in March 1996, just one week after
Castro's air force had shot down two civilian airplanes
piloted by Cuban Americans, the U.S. Senate responded by
overwhelmingly passing the Cuban Liberty and Economic
Solidarity Act to strengthen economic sanctions against
Cuba. Kerry was one of only a handful of senators to vote
against the bill. And over the years, while Castro was
summarily executing or imprisoning dissidents like Oscar
Biscet and Juan Carlos Leiva and drowning women and
children in the infamous sinking of the "13th of March"
tugboat in which 41 people died, Kerry was introducing or
supporting numerous bills to ease sanctions on Cuba.

No, it wasn't a reaction to Castro's depravity that
stiffened Kerry's position. The reason for Kerry's shift
was much more prosaic.

As revealed in the February 22, 2004, edition of the Ft.
Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Kerry made the statement about
keeping sanctions in place, "after meeting with (Cuban)
exile leaders in South Florida."

Florida will again be a pivotal battleground state in the
presidential election and the Cuban-American vote is one of
the keys to winning the state. There are approximately
500,000 Cuban-American voters in Florida and they strongly
trend Republican. But as the Miami Herald reported after
last week's Florida primary, Kerry plans to go after the
Cuban-American vote. That means he must consider the
perspectives of a vital group of voters, some of whom have
experienced Castro's brutality firsthand.

Whether Kerry can make inroads on the Cuban-American vote
is uncertain. Equally uncertain is how long he will
maintain his new stance, given his long legacy of a more
liberalized policy toward Castro. Indeed, more recently,
Kerry appeared to revert back to his old stance on Cuba,
telling the Associated Press that he is, "not prepared to
lay down conditions at this time for lifting the embargo
because I believe we need a major review of U.S. policy
toward Cuba." (Emphasis added.) This harkens back to the
statement Kerry made to the Boston Globe in July 2000 in
which he stated that re-evaluation of U.S. policy toward
Cuba was "way overdue" and the only reason the U.S. hadn't
reevaluated its policy is "the politics of Florida." In
fact, that same year Kerry supported an amendment to
reevaluate U.S. policy toward Cuba. And as recently as four
months ago, Kerry cosponsored legislation that would have,
with limited exceptions, prohibited the president from
regulating or prohibiting travel to Cuba.

The Miami Herald's Peter Wallsten notes that Kerry's
temporizing on the Cuba issue continues until today. Kerry
ultimately acknowledges that, "I haven't resolved what to
do (about Cuba). I'm going to have to talk to a lot more
people in Florida."

Cuban Americans aren't the only group watching Kerry's
flip-flops regarding Castro's Cuba. There are approximately
1,000,000 Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, Columbian, and Peruvian
immigrants in south Florida. Some are less than thrilled
with politicians who have "sophisticated" positions
concerning communist regimes. A sizeable number of
Nicaraguans fled the Sandanista regime of Daniel Ortega
(and they may remember Kerry as the Senate's leading
cheerleader for that regime). Many Venezuelans are not
particularly fond of Castro's pal, Hugo Chavez. And more
than a few Columbians and Peruvians remember the terror
inflicted by the vicious Marxist guerillas of FARC and
Shining Path.

The politics of Florida are much more complex than one
issue. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how many
more positions Senator Kerry will take on Cuba between now
and the election.

- Peter Kirsanow is a member of the U.S. Commission on
Civil Rights.

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