As a young Hispanic-American, I am deeply concerned and saddened about the position Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has taken in response to President Obama’s decision to thaw relations between our country and Cuba — mainly that he, if given the opportunity, would continue to implement policies that reflect the political realities of the Cold War.
Similar to Rubio, my parents left their home nation of Peru because of political reasons. Unlike Rubio, I do not let the views of a generation of scarred Peruvians define my contemporary worldview. There is no doubt my parents’ political experiences have left their mark on me, but the world today is vastly different from when they immigrated to the U.S.
It is no longer safe to assume that the entire Cuban-American community supports punitive policies against Cuba. According to a poll conducted in 2014 by Florida International University in Miami, 62 percent of Cuban-Americans ages 18-29 oppose continuing the embargo policy in place. Among registered voters, 51 percent favored continuing the embargo and 49 percent opposed it. The statistic that I found most significant discussed what percentage of respondents supported reestablishing diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba. Sixty-eight percent of respondents favored diplomatic relations with Cuba, with 90 percent of young respondents favoring a shift in our current diplomatic policy. However, support for reconstructing diplomatic relations with Cuba dropped precipitously for age groups older than 70.
From these figures, I can only deduce that Cuban-American politicians such as Rubio are approaching a momentous fork in the road. As he campaigns for the Oval Office, I ask that he consider a few important questions. Is a policy that continues to isolate Cuba beneficial to the U.S. or the people of Cuba? And is his Cuba policy reflective of the broader Hispanic-American community or solely that of an older Cuban diaspora? If he is to be the face of the Hispanic-American community, then it is my hope that his worldview, and specifically his Cuba policy, is not held hostage by the political experiences of our parents’ generations.
By Eddie Bejarano, Washington, D.C., The Hill
June 24, 2015