ANALYSIS: Obama leaves Florida discussing policy towards Cuba
By Jorge Alvarez Nov 5, 2008, 15:06 GMT
Miami - The victory of Democratic candidate Barack Obama in Tuesday's US presidential election was so solid that he even scored a clear win in Florida - one of the toughest states - as he made his way to the White House.
Obama obtained 3.99 million votes in the state, 50.9 per cent, to rival Republican John McCain's 3.79 million votes, 48.3 per cent of the total cast.
Even in Miami-Dade County, a stronghold of Cuban-Americans who have traditionally supported the Republican Party, the senator for Illinois won by a wide margin, thanks to the high turnout among young people.
In southern Florida, Obama obtained 57.9 per cent of the ballots to McCain's 41.5 per cent, figures that few analysts would have dared predict.
Almost as soon as the results came in, the Cuban-American community started to speak of the future. Some were euphoric about the likely end to restrictions in remittances and trips to communist Cuba, while others regretted their political defeat and what they saw as the likely end of the embargo on the island.
'I am sure I will be able to visit my family in February and to celebrate the new policy towards the island,' said Sergeant Carlos Lazo, an Iraq war veteran and a member of the National Guard in Washington.
Lazo, 43, gained notoriety when he was unable to visit his children in Cuba due to measures implemented by US President George W Bush, which only allowed a trip every three years.
'Obama will eliminate restrictions and establish low-level contact with the island,' Lazo predicted. 'He will change a policy that has had the worst results over 50 years.'
However, not everyone agreed.
'Obama is willing to sit down and talk to (Cuban leader Raul) Castro without preconditions, and that will lead to lifting sanctions and the embargo. That decision will give recognition to the discredited Cuban regime,' complained Ninoska Perez Castellon, a journalist of Cuban origin.
However, Vicki Huddleston, former head of the US Interests Section in Havana, valued Obama`s planned policies in relation to Cuba.
If relations with the Cuban government improve, she noted, new jobs would be generated in the travel industry, while business would grow in Miami as a whole.
'With Obama, Cuba loses the allegedly racist element that they claim exists in the United States. Now Raul Castro will face a critical situation, because blacks will want more opportunities,' said political analyst Enrique Patterson.