On May 29, 2015, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry removed Cuba from the list of states sponsors of terrorism. This move was the first of many that the President has made in order to restore diplomatic ties with the country, located just 90 miles from Key West, Florida.
As indicated in a press release by the U.S. Department of State,The removal of Cuba allows the two countries to engage, among other things, in banking transactions. And today, both side make good on their deal to bring back the embassies in Havana and Washington D.C.
Obama has received criticism from Republicans, who say that the US should not open up ties to the Caribbean nation because of their “oppressive regime.” Republican presidential hopeful, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush said in a statement that the action by the administration was “evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them”.
As of right now, Congress has yet to lift the embargo on Cuba. The President urged Congress to do so back in December 2014. As a result, the financial relationship between the two countries will remain stagnant. The administration has stated that if Congress does not lift the embargo, relations will deteriorate.
This is happening in 2015, but the situation could be a deciding factor in the 2016 Presidential race. The Republicans and Democrats are polar opposites on the issue. Democrats have expressed their support to lift the embargo, while many Republicans say to keep the embargo in place. Many voters in the United States are of older age, and since during the 20th Century, Cuba was a huge threat, many voters would not like to see the U.S. open trade to Cuba. This could potentially swing momentum in favor of Republicans.
In contrast, the Cuban population in Florida has shifted left in the past decade. During the 2000 Presidential election, nearly two thirds of Cubans identified themselves as Republicans. In the 2012 election, over half of the Cuban voters in Miami voted for President Barack Obama. What’s the reason behind this shift? Most Cuban-Americans have immigrated after Fidel Castro’s height as dictator. Most have come over since the 1990’s, so they have a less staunch opposition to Castro. In the 2016 election, it could be safe to assume the Democratic nominee will have the Cuban-American vote.
In a poll by Gallup, the views of Americans has shifted tremendously since the announcement of opening up Cuban relations. 39% of Americans say they have a “mostly favorable” view of the country of Cuba, while 7% say they have a “very favorable” view of the country. This is more than the 32% of Americans who view Cuba “mostly unfavorably.” As relations begin to develop week after week, American support for the recent overtures to Cuba will likely only grow. This will undoubtedly favor the Democrats in the next election.