Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

McCain in Miami: 'Cuba is destined to be free'

MIAMI — Senator John McCain appeared before several hundred cheering supporters in Miami at lunchtime today, to make his pitch for South Florida's influential Cuban-American vote.

Billed as a town hall meeting to address U.S. policy in Latin America, McCain offered no new initiatives beyond support for democracy in Cuba and passage of a hotly debated free trade agreement with Colombia currently stalled in Congress.

McCain found himself largely preaching to the converted, apart from one member of the audience, who was roundly booed for asking the candidate a question about what he would do with the prisoners in Guantanamo.

McCain's war record and six years held as a prisoner of North Vietnam's communist regime give him special appeal to Miami Cubans who traditionally vote with the Republican party.

Speaking on Cuba's Independence Day, McCain said he would do his best as president to restore good relations with a democratic government in Cuba. "Make no mistake, Cuba is destined to be free," he said, without going into the details of how this would happen, or how he, as president, would help bring about that day.

"I will not passively await the day" when Cuba is free, McCain added, saying it was "in our national interest" to bring about democratic change in Cuba. McCain did not offer any new ideas for U.S. policy in Cuba, standing behind an economic embargo of nearly five decades, and recent efforts by the Bush administration to tighten it.

McCain promised to increase funding for the Miami-based U.S. government radio and TV broadcasts directed at the island, as well as money for dissidents in Cuba. He also said he would "vigorously prosecute" Cuban officials implicated in the murder of U.S. citizens in the infamous February 1996 shooting down of two civilian planes off the coast of Cuba.

McCain also used the free trade debate to take jabs at Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for their failure to support a treaty with Colombia, which he said would lift $1-billion in tariffs on U.S. exports to that country. "Delaying approval will not create one more U.S. job," he said.

McCain pointed out that Colombia is Florida's fifth-largest trading partner worth $2.1-billion in exports from the state last year.

Sticking to the example of Colombia, McCain summed up his policy for Latin America saying it was important for the United States to support its allies in the region, and treat them as equals, rather than "little brothers." This was the only way, he said, to prevent other countries in the region from falling under the influence of leftist rulers, such as Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

McCain in Miami: 'Cuba is destined to be free' 05/20/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 9:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun


    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  2. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change


    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  3. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  4. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  5. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]