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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

U.S. Democrat candidate steps into winding terrain

Por dbloggers

The Democratic candidate for the seat of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida is a contradictory guy. His recent trip to Cuba has made it very clear. In addition to be the only openly gay candidate, the politician has now taken another firm and dangerous step to arrive to the island to "look" closely at the country that obsesses his electorate. The decision could be the candidate’s Damocles’ sword since it is known that half of the Cuban community in Florida has for almost 60 years demanded a policy of repression and isolation. Furthermore, his predecessor, Ros- Lehtinen, during her years of service kept an aggressive discourse against the largest of the Antilles.

However, none of these issues has prevented David Richardson from carrying out the two-day "reconnaissance" tour, which he described as a "mission" to gain the majority of the electorate of the 27th congressional district.

Richardson may be the first Miami candidate to Congress, and perhaps of the country, who makes a campaign visit to Cuba in half a century, especially in the midst of Miami’s polarized views due to the change in U.S. – Cuba diplomatic relations. With this political movement Richardson tries to seduce Hispanic voters. Among its competitors to represent a Hispanic majority district are candidates Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala, none of them Hispanic.

In a statement made before traveling, the candidate said: “Half a century of isolation has worked out for ordinary Cubans, so I fully support a position of approach to Cuban civil society”, an opinion shared by several Democrats and even Republicans who saw positively the Obama’s attempt to approach the island and try to export the "American way of life", the only way to change the status quo in the Caribbean territory.

However, months later, the new president, Donald Trump, determined to erase Obama's legacy, and signed a list of sanctions against the island. Diplomatic relations returned to the same tension atmosphere that existed before the change of policy toward Cuba initiated by the Obama administration in 2014.

In addition, Trump was advised by hardliners such as Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen herself, the Republican congresswoman who will retire and whose seat Richardson aspires to. In fact, Ros-Lehtinen is known in Cuba for the "bad she-wolf", a denomination that became popular by the Cuban government during the years in which Ileana became a staunch opponent of Castros and its proposals in the Congress daily damaged the common Cuban people.

The electorate of Florida, specially that one of Miami is one of the hardest to face by any American politician. Some speculate that the presidential elections are decided in Florida, regarding the position towards Cuba adopted by the future presidents. And although in the past it was like that, the new "offshoots" consider a decadent thought to try to isolate that country.

Perhaps that is why Richardson's advisers have warned him of the recognition visit as an important step to assure the Cuban-American youth electorate of Florida.

"Despite President Trump's attempts to reverse his predecessor's foreign relations progress, I will see first-hand how the lifting of restrictions on travelling and trade has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped the entrepreneurs of the island and strengthened the relationship between the inhabitants of Little Havana and Havana", the Democratic candidate stated.

The candidate believe it was very important to observe if the island has had economic and social progress after the Obama’s visit and the elimination of some commercial and travel restrictions that affected Cubans for more than half a century.

Curiously and ironically Cuba has a Human Development Index bigger that the United States and the economy is largely meager and depressed due to the US economic embargo imposed more than sixty years ago. Although in terms of human rights and political freedom, the Caribbean nation has a lot of work to do. Some political scientists believe that with the coming reforms to the constitution, Cubans will have better rights.

In Richarson’s agenda there were some private businesses and private ventures. The private initiative was one of the issues that Obama wanted to promote to generate change. According to El Nuevo Herald, among the places to visit there were the Café Madrigal, popular among the gay community in Cuba and the restaurant El Atelier. He also held conversations with an executive of a private services company to discuss the differences between serving the Cuban and foreign clients.

According to the newspaper, the politician had not planned to meet with Cuban officials. Yet, he will visit the Lizt Alfonso Academy, a leading dance company run by women.