World

Poll: Americans Support Renewed Ties With Cuba

| by Robert Fowler
President Barack Obama meets Cuban President Raul CastroPresident Barack Obama meets Cuban President Raul Castro

A slight majority of Americans approve of opening up relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The seal of approval arrives just as President Barack Obama tours the island nation.

On Mar. 21, the results of a CBS News/New York Times poll revealed that 52 percent of respondents approve of the Obama administration rekindling a relationship between the U.S. and Castro-controlled Cuba.

Obama has begun his tour of Havana, Cuba set from Mar. 20-22 -- the first sitting president since Calvin Coolidge to stage a diplomatic visit to the neighboring country. Currently, 56 percent of self-identifying Democrats view Cuba positively while only 36 percent of self-identifying Republicans agree.

According to CBS News, Americans have been in favor of establishing diplomacy with Cuba as far back as 1977, when 53 percent of Gallup respondents were favorable to the idea.

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Only 40 percent of respondents believed that opened relations with Cuba would result in more democracy in the communist nation.

Just 3 percent answered that the new relationship would lead to less democracy while roughly half of respondents answered that there would be no government change.

These poll results show that Americans are generally in agreement with the Obama administration, although they seem split on one crucial topic: the Cuba-based U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Of those polled, 52 percent want the prison to remain operational. President Obama had vowed to close down the military prison during his first campaign in 2008.

One American who clearly disapproves of the opening of diplomatic relations and the president’s tour is Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who recently dropped out of the 2016 GOP primary race.

“On Sunday, President Barack Obama will touch down in Cuba for what promises to be one of the most disgraceful trips ever taken by a U.S. president anywhere in the world,” Rubio wrote in the Tampa Bay Times.

“This is an Obama presidential trip whose ultimate results will be giving away legitimacy and money to an anti-American regime that actively undermines our national security interests and acts against our values every single day,” Rubio added.

On Mar. 15, during an interview with CNN en Espanol, President Obama asserted that opening diplomatic relations with Cuba would be more effective in encouraging the island nation to become more democratic than continuing with the policy of isolation.

“This is not a matter of providing concessions,” Obama said, according to Reuters. “This is a matter of us engaging directly with the Cuban people.”

Sources: CBS News, Reuters, Tampa Bay Times / Photo credit: Cuban Ministry of Public Affairs / Latin Dispatch

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