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Poll: Most Americans favor ending Cuban embargo
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Friday April 24, 2009


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According to a Gallup poll published Friday, a 60 percent majority of Americans favor reestablishing diplomatic ties with Cuba. Additionally, Gallup found 51 percent of Americans favor lifting the trade embargo on the country.

Interestingly enough, the poll seems to expose a divide among Republicans, with 47 percent opposed to ending the embargo, but 44 percent in favor. Among Democrats, 54 percent favor ending the embargo.

"Overall, Gallup Polls regarding U.S. relations with Cuba find Americans generally accepting of the U.S. taking a friendlier stance toward the island nation, as has been true over the past decade," Gallup found. "However, Americans do distinguish between different specific policies toward Cuba. The fact that a solid majority support re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba -- and have consistently done so for the past decade -- suggests that Obama's first step in this direction was likely well-received by the American public. Moves toward making it easier for all Americans to travel to Cuba will likely find majority support among the American public as well. Ending the trade embargo will be a tougher sell and likely a partisan battle."

Early in April, Preisdent Barack Obama eased economic sanctions against the island nation by lifing the Cuban travel ban and opening up avenues for people to visit their families and send financial aid from the U.S. to Cuba. President Obama also opened the telecommunications market, allowing U.S. firms to pursue business on the island.

Despite an apparent warming of relations, the longstanding U.S. trade embargo is largely intact, with the White House saying it was up to the Cuban government whether Obama's steps, which were in line with his campaign promises, would result in a thawing of chilled relations between the two sides.

"President Obama has directed that a series of steps be taken to reach out to the Cuban people to support their desire to enjoy basic human rights and to freely determine their country's future," presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said at the first bilingual press conference given at the White House.

"The president has directed the secretaries of state, treasury and commerce to carry out the actions necessary to lift all restrictions on the ability of individuals to visit family members in Cuba and to send them remittances."

In terms of improving the strained ties, "in many ways that depends on the actions of the Cuban government," Gibbs said.

"The president would like to see greater freedom for the Cuban people. ... There are actions that he can and has taken today to open up the flow of information to provide some important steps to help that. But he's not the only person in this equation."

"At this point it's worth asking: Why is it seen as so controversial and politically risky to favor ending the embargo, or even making lesser moves towards rolling back sanctions against Cuba, when those views in fact have such consistent popular support?" asked Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo.

With AFP.


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