REPUBLICAN HOPEFULS IN FLORIDA TARGET THE CASTRO BROTHERS

Washington Times on January 29, 2012, in an article commented the view of Cuba by contenders in the Florida primary. Excerpts below:

Mitt Romney says if he’s elected, he expects Fidel Castro will be “taken off this planet.” Newt Gingrich vows he “won’t tolerate another four years of a Cuban dictatorship” and Rick Santorum argues the 50-year-embargo shouldn’t be lifted until the “Castros are dead.”

The tough talk on Castro comes fast and furious here in Florida, where Cuban-Americans — 32 percent of all Hispanic voters in the state and a sizable chunk of the Republican electorate — hope the next American president will do something his predecessors couldn’t or wouldn’t: Topple Castro and return democracy to a nation they argue was stolen when Fulgencio Batista, the U.S.-backed dictator, was overthrown in 1959.

“It is an extremely, extremely important, heartfelt, issue that Cuba becomes free again,” Jack Delaster said after the Romney rally at Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on January 25, where thousands of Cuban exiles were treated and processed when they first came to the United States. The 80-year-old told The Washington Times he hasn’t been back to Cuba since he left in 1960 and, like others hurt by the Castro revolution, “you have to show me what you are going to do for Cuba” to earn his vote.

“If I’m fortunate to become the next president of the United States, it is my expectation that Fidel Castro will finally be taken off this planet,” Mr. Romney told the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC last week. “I doubt he’ll take any time in the sky. He’ll find a nether region to be more to his comfort.”

Mr. Gingrich, meanwhile, said “the policy of the United States should be aggressively to overthrow the regime” and predicted before a debate audience last week in Tampa that when Fidel Castro dies he will not “meet his maker.”

“I think he’s going to go to the other place,” he said, sparking some laughter from the crowd.

At the Cuban Historic Political Prisoner Organization, a meeting opened with a recording of the national anthems of the United States and then Cuba, with roughly 60 members singing along in unison.

Luis Gonzales-Infante, the group’s president held up a framed photo of Mr. Villar, saying he is the 13th person to die of a hunger strike in Cuba’s prisons since 1959.

Mr. Infante told The Times after the meeting that he’s also frustrated with what he views as a softening U.S. stance on Cuba. And he’s dispirited by the levels of deficit spending from both parties in Washington — dispirited enough that he now registers as an independent.

Still, philosophically, he said he and the other Cubans in the group are more in tune with the Republican Party — especially when it comes to the GOP’s approach to Cuba, which, he argued, is a more accurate reflection of their status here. Unlike those who chose to come to the United States, they did not — and, in many cases, they want to return home.

“Really, we are not immigrants, we are refugees,” he explained. “You see, many people coming from Latin America think different from us. We have a different reason to be here. They come because they have a very hard situation in their country, but they don’t care about the Cuban case.

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