WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
30 Jul 2015

Clinton Speech Shows Florida Primed for Cuba Policy Shift

Press Release
July 30, 2015

Washington, D.C. —In Miami tomorrow, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make history not by coming out in favor of ending the failed trade embargo on Cuba, but by doing so in Florida, a state where the embargo was once considered a “third rail” political issue. This comes as polls show a majority of Americans of all political persuasions now support lifting the embargo, and Republicans in the House and Senate are increasingly pushing for greater engagement with Cuba.

“The fact that a presidential frontrunner is calling for the end of the embargo in Florida, of all places, is the latest indication that ending fifty years of failed policy is no longer a partisan issue,” said Marc Hanson, Senior Associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a research and advocacy organization which has followed U.S.-Cuba policy for over 40 years.  “There have been many signs that momentum is building around updating U.S.-Cuba policy. Republicans in both the House and Senate have been pushing for a new approach in recent months.”

Clinton’s speech will also come as public opinion polls show nearly three-quarters of Americans say they support ending the embargo, and Florida is no exception to this trend.  In February 2014, an Atlantic Council poll found that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Floridians favored a change in U.S. policy towards Cuba. A Florida International Universitysurvey published in June 2014 found that a majority of the Cuban-American community in Miami (52 percent) now supports ending the embargo.

As WOLA has noted, the growing momentum behind the issue has been evident in the recent wave of Republican-led initiatives to increase engagement with Cuba. These include the Cuba Trade Act of 2015, introduced this month by Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN); the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ); the Cuba Data Act, introduced by Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND); and recent amendments passed by the GOP-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee that would lift the travel ban and other restrictions.

 “The majority of Americans, including Cuban-Americans, now support updating U.S. –Cuba policy for the 21st century. Unsurprisingly, Republicans and Democrats alike are lining up to do what the American people want them to do,” said Hanson. 


Kristel Muciño
Communications Director, WOLA
+1 (202) 797-2171