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Exile Leaders Quit GOP Over Migrants' Return
NBC 6 Miami ^

Posted on 07/25/2003 6:33:10 PM PDT by Sherri

Rift Growing Between Exile Groups, Elected Officials Joy-Ann Reid, Staff Writer

POSTED: 5:23 p.m. EDT July 25, 2003 UPDATED: 6:58 p.m. EDT July 25, 2003

MIAMI -- Since the 1980s, when then Vice President George H.W. Bush swore in 10,000 Cuban exiles as American citizens at Miami's Orange Bowl, South Florida's Cuban exile community has provided a solid voting bloc for the Republican Party, whose hard-line policies toward the Fidel Castro government are looked on favorably by the approximately 400,000 Cuban expatriates living in the state.

But recent rifts with the George W. Bush administration may put the Cuban-American vote in play in 2004. And increasingly, tension between the traditional leadership of the exile community and three Cuban-American members of congress is growing, as some exiles begin to question what they have gotten for their loyalty to the GOP.

On Friday, leaders of a leading exile group, Brothers to the Rescue fought back, announcing that the group will renounce their political party affiliation from Republican Party to protest a U.S. decision to send 15 suspected hijackers back to Cuba. They said the move does not mean the group will support the Democrats, but rather that Cuban-Americans will vote for whoever supports their cause.

"We are becoming noncommittal," The group's leader, Jose Basulto said.

Basulto, a familiar figure in Cuban exile politics in Miami, made the announcement at the Versailles Restaurant in downtown Miami, a popular gathering spot for members of the generation that fled the island after Castro came to power in 1954 following a coup that overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Members of the group publicly filled out new voter registration cards, changing their affiliation from Republican to "no party affiliation."

Basulto said the group's action comes amid what he called the "un-American" actions of the Bush administration in repatriating the migrants.

"I believe that the United States has committed an un-American act under the George W. Bush administration by sending our compatriots back to Cuba, a country where there is state terrorism and where they do not respect any human rights," Basulto said, adding that those sent back are not criminals. "They are called migrants," said Basulto. "They are refugees."

The decision leaves Cuban-American, Republican elected officials in an awkward position, particularly as other prominent politicians like Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, a Democrat, vie for the national stage. Penelas has announced that he will consider seeking Bob Graham's U.S. Senate seat if Graham chooses not to run for reelection. Graham is running for president.

Exiles Had High Hopes, Now Question What They've Gotten

With U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq, Cuban exiles have been increasingly agitating for a U.S. policy of "regime change" in Cuba as well. They want more money for Radio Marti, which broadcasts anti-Castro radio messages to the island. And they want more overt support for dissident groups seeking democratic reforms on the island. This comes as Castro undertakes the largest crackdown on dissent on the island in decades, jailing more than 70 dissidents in recent months and executing a group of men accused of hijacking a ferry boat in a vain attempt to reach Florida.

In fact, Bush administration rhetoric regarding Cuba has been harsh, with everyone from the president to Secretary of State Collin Powell blasting Havana's treatment of dissidents. But the administration's policies have been driven as much by security concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as by concerns for democracy. Keeping U.S. borders secure means increased Coast Guard patrols, and strict enforcement of laws calling for the interdiction of migrants at sea, and the return of any who fail to reach land under the 40-year-old "wet foot/dry foot" policy.

The growing rift between some exile groups, including the Cuban American National Foundation and others, boiled over this week, amid outrage over the U.S. decision to return 15 Cubans to the island. The 15 were accused of attempting to hijack a boat to Florida.

The 15 migrants were returned to the island on Monday, after the U.S. struck an agreement with the Castro government in which Havana promised Washington that the accused hijackers would not be executed, and that, "taking into consideration the exceptional circumstances of the case" prosecutors here would seek no more than 10 years in prison for the two accused of stealing the boat.

The Cuban government praised the decision to return the migrants, along with a decision by U.S. officials earlier in the year to prosecute a Cuban man charged with hijacking a plane full of passengers to the United States, but Cuban-American groups excoriated it, taking to the airwaves on Spanish-language radio stations to issue rare denunciations of a Republican administration.

Discuss U.S.-Cuba relations

It wasn't the first complaint from loyal Cuban-Americans about the GOP. In May, Ros-Lehtinen publicly groused that her letters to the White House were being ignored. And NBC 6 reporter Hank Tester reported in that month about a growing dissatisfaction among many older exiles, who have heard Republican presidents since Richard Nixon "talk the talk," but who have seen Castro continue to rule anyway.

But what is new about the complaints is that they come with more than grousing, and they are exposing internal rifts in the exile community as sharp as the differences with Washington.

The three Cuban-American congressmen from South Florida, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Republicans, issued a joint statement condemning the decision to repatriate the migrants, calling it an "act of infamy in coordination with the Cuban tyranny," and "a condemnable monstrosity," but that proved too little for many in the Cuban-American community, including the CANF's Executive Director Joe Garcia, who called Lincoln Diaz-Balart "impotent" for his alleged lack of influence with the Bush White House, according to The Miami Herald.

As the controversy over the repatriation has boiled over, Garcia and others have been questioning what the community has gotten for its loyalty to the GOP. And Garcia, a Democrat, has been leading a push within his organization to encourage the Cuban exile community to seek influence in both political parties. Former President Bill Clinton won 30 percent of the Cuban-American vote in 1996, though his administration lost much of that support during the Elian Gonzalez controversy in 2000. Still, Garcia and others have begun to talk about modeling their political strategy after that of Jewish Americans, who keep their vote in play between the parties, though a majority continues to vote for Democrats.

The Bush administration has expressed solidarity with those seeking democracy on the island, but American officials have said they will be tough on those who try to hijack planes or boats in order to get to the U.S.

"I will repeat my earlier statement that hijackings of boats and aircraft are extremely serious violations of international law and of United States law," said an English language version of the statement provided by the U.S. mission in Cuba announcing the repatriations.

"The United States will deploy its homeland security forces to interdict any hijacked conveyance bound for the United States," it said. "Any individual of any nationality -- including Cuban -- who hijacks an aircraft or vessel and successfully arrives in the United States will be prosecuted with the full force of the U.S. legal system."


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Florida
KEYWORDS: cuba; cubanamericans; gwb2004; hispanicvote; repatriated
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"They said the move does not mean the group will support the Democrats, but rather that Cuban-Americans will vote for whoever supports their cause." Their cause being Cuba, so to hell with everything else? So much for their loyal conservitive values.Seems they are willing to sell out the good old USA.
1 posted on 07/25/2003 6:33:11 PM PDT by Sherri
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To: Sherri
First I've heard of this. Was there a reason why the administration agreed to send them back?
2 posted on 07/25/2003 6:37:41 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Cicero
Hijacking of boats is a serious violations of international law and of United States law.
3 posted on 07/25/2003 6:51:27 PM PDT by Sherri
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To: Sherri
So much for their loyal conservitive values.Seems they are willing to sell out the good old USA.

Since when is sending Cuban rufgees back to live (or die) under a brutal communist dictatorship a conservative value? Who is selling out who?

4 posted on 07/25/2003 6:51:46 PM PDT by Hugin
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To: Sherri
Florida is a state that G.W. cannot afford to lose in 2004.
I don't know why they don't just let the Cubans have asylum?
They seem to "Americanize" faster and better than the Mexicans.

Besides, it was a shame and a huge waste to sink that '51 Chevy truck...what a shame!

5 posted on 07/25/2003 6:51:48 PM PDT by KriegerGeist ("The weapons of our warefare are not carnal, but mighty though God for pulling down of strongholds")
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To: Sherri
If you don't understand the principle of liberty, then it looks like you have already sold out the good ol' USA.
6 posted on 07/25/2003 6:59:17 PM PDT by BCrago66
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To: Sherri
>"I will repeat my earlier statement that hijackings of boats and aircraft are extremely serious violations of international law and of United States law," said an English language version of the statement provided by the U.S. mission in Cuba announcing the repatriations.

Drop the legalese. You have to use whatever means possible to escape the Cuban prison colony and if it means seizing a boat to make that possible, so be it. We shouldn't be aiding Cuba in imprisoning its people, we should welcome its people to our shores. Bush has work to do on this front. He won in Florida by the skin of his teeth- if he thinks that alienating the GOP bloc of Cuban voters by sending brave Cubans back to be tried in some kangaroo court is the way to go, he'll be the victim of his own bad judgment. It's not just bad politics, it's inhumane.
7 posted on 07/25/2003 7:03:55 PM PDT by jagrmeister
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To: Sherri
I love how people throw around the phrase "international law" with little conception of its basis and how it is governed. International law is largely governed by treaties and America has no treaty with Cuba. It only keeps an office in the "Interests section" of the Swiss embassy. And the UN's dictates are unenforceable and objectionably vague. The term "international law" is used glibly and often in cases where people have no argument but want to borrow authority to their claim.
8 posted on 07/25/2003 7:10:49 PM PDT by jagrmeister
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To: Sherri
That's alright Sherri, evidently the nimnals of the forum don't remember back about twenty-five years when our planes were being hijacked to Cuba. It only stoped because me made an agreement that we would not accept hijackers into the US if Cuba wouldn't accept hijackers in to Cuba.

Folks, there are other ways to get to the US besides putting a gun in someone's stomach.
9 posted on 07/25/2003 7:23:32 PM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: DoughtyOne
Actually, some of these recent "hijackings" put no bystanders in danger, and the very labeling of them in that manner was part of Castro's propaganda.
10 posted on 07/25/2003 8:05:30 PM PDT by BCrago66
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To: Sherri; Badray; BlackElk; Pubbie; JohnnyZ; Theodore R.; Nathaniel Fischer; AuH2ORepublican; ...
This is not the group we ought to be pissing off in Florida. I too was extremely outraged at sending these people back to that evil Marxist dictatorship. Cuban-Americans are about the most loyal and conservative of all Americans and these are precisely the type of people we want more of in this country. I urge all of us to write the White House and remind the President that it was the loyalty of Cuban-American voters in Florida that elected him and to change his policy towards those fleeing tyranny immediately.
11 posted on 07/25/2003 8:08:29 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: jagrmeister
Bingo.
12 posted on 07/25/2003 8:09:08 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: DoughtyOne
Cubans have the best immigration deal bar none. All they have to do is reach dry US land and they are home free. This does not apply to Haitians, Dominicans etc.

I have no problem with Cubans getting such favorable treatment due to communism. But the pick up truck boat did not reach US land so it's back to Cuba.
13 posted on 07/25/2003 8:11:39 PM PDT by dennisw (G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: William Creel
Tell that to the refugees sent back to Casto's prisons.
15 posted on 07/25/2003 8:36:09 PM PDT by BCrago66
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To: William Creel
I suspect this too! I got suspicious when I read who was putting this article out, something with NBC in it! Some of the people doing the complaining were Democrats too. I think someone is trying to make mischief here. It may be true that some people are p.o.-ed at GWB; but not that many!

I think the Dems. are trying to get back what they thought was their turf at one time. GWB hasn't been bad to these people. He's supported them in many ways. One act like this, and most of them are up in arms, and ready to desert him?

We don't even have a lot of the facts. We don't have the info. he has. We should at least wait until we have some more facts before we worry! A lot of these people share Republican values; I don't think they're going to up and desert GWB and the Republ. over this alone!

I wish we could know just who was on that 'boat', whoever they were! They weren't on dry land; they were 40 miles away, weren't they? We don't know if they were what they claimed to be(they could be criminals, for all we know!).
17 posted on 07/25/2003 11:53:52 PM PDT by dsutah
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To: William Creel
So what? What would you do if you lived on an island prison?

The founding fathers we all "criminals" too in the eyes of the British.
19 posted on 07/26/2003 7:50:03 PM PDT by Impy (Sharpton/Byrd 2004!! The Slave/Massa Ticket!!)
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To: Sherri
Disabled Vets, Now Cubans, What group next will be alienated.

I guess Rove isn't as smart as he thinks.

28 posted on 07/27/2003 2:35:20 PM PDT by Militiaman7 (Congress steals my pension because I'm a Retired Disabled Vet. http://www.SupporttheVets.com)
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To: libertybell250
The agreement was properly titled the 1994 U.S./Cuba Pact which Pres.Clinton set with Cuba

Here's the real problem, Klintoon strikes again. Slick has no qualms about communism so why the heck should the Cubans.

Bush should unilaterally pull out of the agreement.

29 posted on 07/27/2003 2:39:14 PM PDT by Militiaman7 (Congress steals my pension because I'm a Retired Disabled Vet. http://www.SupporttheVets.com)
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To: libertybell250; BlackElk
I think I speak for a lot of people on here when I say I do NOT consider it a crime to "hijack" the means to get one to freedom. Perhaps if you lived under those conditions, you might understand why these unfortunate people will do ANYTHING in order to get here, including sacrificing their lives.
30 posted on 07/27/2003 2:43:36 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: All
libertybell250 Since Jul 15, 2003

I hate to say it but, been on FR for a total of 12 days.

Whatever happen to the Reagan Doctrine of fighting the evil empire (Cuba was part of it, remember) tooth and nail at every opportunity?

IMHO, Libertybell250 needs to drop the liberty out of the screen name.

31 posted on 07/27/2003 2:43:46 PM PDT by Militiaman7 (Congress steals my pension because I'm a Retired Disabled Vet. http://www.SupporttheVets.com)
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To: Militiaman7
"Bush should unilaterally pull out of the agreement."

Right on. Cubans are not Haitians nor Mexicans. I'd apply this to any nation living under a Communist regime, they deserve special protection not afforded to those that live in Republican Democracies. If North Korean refugees did the same thing as the Cubans, I say they get the same protection.

32 posted on 07/27/2003 2:46:50 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: Militiaman7; Cincinatus' Wife; BlackElk
"libertybell250 Since Jul 15, 2003"

"I hate to say it but, been on FR for a total of 12 days."

Hmm, very interesting. And I see he is one of those that thinks we should normalize relations with Cuba as if Unky Fidel is just a warm and loveable fuzzball. When freedom comes to Cuba and the death of tyranny rings aloud like a bell of liberty, then we can lift the embargo, not before.

33 posted on 07/27/2003 2:50:27 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: fieldmarshaldj
I agree.
34 posted on 07/27/2003 2:50:35 PM PDT by Militiaman7 (Congress steals my pension because I'm a Retired Disabled Vet. http://www.SupporttheVets.com)
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To: libertybell250
Got forbid a boat was stolen. I'm willing to prioritize the freedom ahead of the boat. Anything short of murder to escape tyranny is entirely justified.
35 posted on 07/27/2003 3:37:24 PM PDT by jagrmeister
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To: libertybell250
Haitian refugees are not deported. We have a portion of our immigration quotas every year dedicated for asylum seekers.

>The 12 Cuban refugees should have
been deported just like Haitian or other illegal aliens who try to enter illegally.

LOL- the only way for Cubans to enter America for good is illegally.
36 posted on 07/27/2003 3:38:59 PM PDT by jagrmeister
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To: Militiaman7
She may want to replace the name with something like D.U.Belle250.
37 posted on 07/27/2003 3:41:12 PM PDT by jagrmeister
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To: Sherri
"...prosecutors [in Cuba (i think)] would seek no more than 10 years in prison for the two accused of stealing the boat."

Very nice, I don't blame the Cuban-Americans for their anger. People ESCAPING Cuba are real refugees, who crave FREEDOM! But we'll let any visa overstayer from other countries hang around forever, until the next amnesty rolls around. And, LOL, then they'll vote DEMOCRATIC! Our wet foot/dry foot policy is as bad as if we threw people back over the Berlin Wall.

We should have crushed Castro years ago. I for one am tired of waiting for him to die.
38 posted on 07/27/2003 3:53:06 PM PDT by jocon307 (And, here's the sad part, I'm not even that interested in Cuba.)
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To: libertybell250
"You must not live in Miami or you would never make a statement like that."

You are corect-o-mundo. I don't not live in Miami and have no desire to ever do so. However, I do have several Cuban friends and perhaps it is because the are "old school" in that their parents learned English and became citizens and made their children to make education their prime diretive they all married non Cubans and "melted" into the melting pot.

I suppoose that the world has changed and I'm behind the times. You are right. Cubans are as bad a Mexicans for this country.

39 posted on 07/27/2003 3:53:21 PM PDT by KriegerGeist ("The weapons of our warefare are not carnal, but mighty though God for pulling down of strongholds")
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To: Sherri

I can't blame them.. Hey, if someone doesn't earn your vote.. Why turn out for them?

If the Conservative base did this collectively we would get allot more attention.

Instead, our blind support could easily be likened to walking onto a car lot, pointing out a car to the salesman and telling him: "that one, and whatever you want for it.. it's not enough.."

40 posted on 07/27/2003 4:01:43 PM PDT by Jhoffa_
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To: Sherri
Isn't it interesting the mainstream media can find it in their "hearts" to report this? And in such detail. Gosh.
41 posted on 07/27/2003 11:43:31 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: libertybell250; fieldmarshaldj
"That is why the Miami Herasld stated in 1998 that 566,000 Hispanics can not read English and prefer to read their Spanish paper called El Nuevo Herald."


Let's see, an unattributed statistic that refers to all Hispanics in Miami (most recent immigrants in Miami are South or Central American, not Cubans) in a misspelled post by an FR newcomer whose posts indicate may well be a DU troll? Somehow, I don't believe this "fact" should carry more weight than the fact that approximately 80% of Cuban-Americans in Florida voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000. Had only 75% of Cuban-Americans voted for Bush, Al Gore would be president today without need for a recount in 2000. (DJ, please correct my numbers if I over- or understated the Cuban vote for Bush in 2000.)

By returning those Cubans to Fidel Castro's hands, we are pretty much signing their death sentence (remember how just a few months ago Castro executed, after a 1-day "trial," 3 men who took over a boat to escape Cuba). This reminds me of the ship full of Jews escaping from Nazi Germany that FDR would not allow to dock in the U.S. What the hell is President Bush doing? I have rarely had reason to criticize our President, who for the most part has done a truly remarkable job, but this decision is insane. I hope Bush apologizes to freedom-lovers and anti-Communists in general and Cuban-Americans in particular and changes this obscene policy post haste.
42 posted on 07/28/2003 7:51:56 AM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
"the fact that approximately 80% of Cuban-Americans in Florida voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000. Had only 75% of Cuban-Americans voted for Bush, Al Gore would be president today without need for a recount in 2000. (DJ, please correct my numbers if I over- or understated the Cuban vote for Bush in 2000.)"

I don't have the hard % myself. I heard some claim that it was closer to 90%, but that might be overstating it (though in Miami-Dade, it just might not be at all). But this policy absolutely HAS to change now. Cubans will not be slaves to any party, they are far too smart and savvy. If the GOP neglects their issues, you better believe they'll bolt. Why shouldn't they if they do (or any group for that matter) ?

43 posted on 07/28/2003 4:36:06 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (~Remember, it's not sporting to fire at RINO until charging~)
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To: libertybell250
So it's ok to extinguish the light of liberty to Fidel's Cuban hostages?

Trying to excape communism is still ok in my book. If they can make it to US waters then bring them on.

BTW I grew up in the deep dark hills of Appalachia and I know poverty first hand, maybe not urban poverty like in Miami or NYC or DC but poverty nevertheless.

50 posted on 07/28/2003 9:16:18 PM PDT by Militiaman7 (Congress steals my pension because I'm a Retired Disabled Vet. http://www.SupporttheVets.com)
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