Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chairman Joe speaks

How do generational change and the changes in Cuban American opinion translate into Miami-Dade politics?

One answer is: Slowly. A second answer is found in the person of Joe Garcia, new chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic party.

Interviewed in CubaEncuentro (Spanish), Garcia shows a (partially) new way of handling the Cuba issue, and a new language for treating it.

Garcia claims Democratic credit for legislation such as the Cuban Adjustment Act that make Cubans “privileged immigrants.” He twists himself like a pretzel to blame Republicans for, yes, the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Republicans today, says the chairman, are all talk and no action, and “in the absence of action, rhetoric works.”

What to do about current policy?

He would leave the embargo as is – a position that won’t scare hardliners away. He would allow unlimited family travel and remittances, however, exploiting a cleavage in the community and showing Garcia’s judgment that the Administration and the local GOP congressisonal delegation are on the wrong side of it.

President Bush’s 2004 family sanctions, he says, are “possibly the biggest mistake Washington has committed with respect to Cuba…it imitates the policies of Fidel Castro in the sense that it divides the Cuban family.” He dresses up his position with the claim that Cuban Americans are the only people in the world who do any good when they visit Cuba. Well, politics is politics.

Garcia takes shots at the older generation:

“They shout: ‘I’m intransigent, and so what?’ The problem is that when an American, a Chilean, a Frenchman, or a Mexican hears that, he concludes that he is standing in front of a crazy person. That is not the image that a mature society that wants to make known the suffering of the Cuban people, should transmit. Fidel Castro is the intransigent one.”

Garcia ducks when asked what he thinks of Luis Posada Carriles’ release from jail, saying it is “absurd” to speak for or against him. But he ducks with purpose. He turns directly to a politically delicate issue, i.e. the way Cubans will one day come to terms with the Posada case and all the rest of their past:

“When the Cuban nation finds a serious path forward, we are all going to have to sit around a table and determine what were the errors, what were the realities. If we decide that the most important thing for Cuba is to make justice instead of making a future, we are not going to have a future and we are not going to have justice.”

When a serious political figure goes out of his way to insert the clean-slate concept of Cuban national reconciliation into an interview, you know that Miami politics is changing.

A fine Republican politician I know used to get the attention of African American audiences by saying that while it’s true that blacks were ignored by the GOP, they were taken for granted by the Democrats – and they deserved better from both.

For Cuban Americans, the reverse has been true. It can only be healthy that the Democrats, with verve, are competing now in Miami-Dade.

On this same topic, read Armengol's comment here. And extreme irritation at Babalu.

1 comment:

leftside said...

Garcia is no moderate... or serious. He champions the issue of family visits and remittances but beats up the companies doing the work. He was around when CANF was buying helicopters and RPGs. He was a defender and associate of Bosch,
and now coyly says about Posada Carriles that has "outlived his usefullness." When was he useful exactly I wonder?? He says that Bush has "coddled" Fidel...

Yes, there is a large and growing sentiment in S. Florida against Bush's anti-family restrictions. It has a power of its own. There's a huge batch of votes set there to deliver. That is Garcia's job right now.