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US-Cuba: A New Public Survey Supports Policy Change

Why is now the right moment to commission a poll on the US public’s views toward Cuba and US-Cuba relations? Why is a new, nonpartisan Latin America center reaching out to grab the third rail of Latin American foreign policy in the United States? Both good questions. Sometimes in foreign policy, structural impediments or stark policy differences will stymie progress in a certain area. Relations with China could not proceed until the United States recognized a «one China» policy that forever downgraded US relations with Taiwan. An activist foreign policy with Africa was impossible until the United States denounced apartheid.

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Today, the United States has not one, but two structural problems with Latin America. Unfortunately, the United States will not be able to form strong partnerships in its own neighborhood unless it addresses these long-standing issues.

The first is immigration. The United States needs to find a solution for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants residing within its borders, most of whom arrived here from Latin America. These immigrants’ plight in the United States is a continuing source of concern in their home countries.

The second issue is Cuba. The injustice suffered by Cuba’s refugees as they fled the country— their possessions and loved ones left behind—is impossible to forget, whether they left this month or in 1959. Fifty-five years later, the Castro government continues to repress liberties, abuse human rights, and, despite some openings, deny its citizens access to basic economic freedoms.

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