Executive Summary

This year marks the sixteenth anniversary of the FIU Cuba Poll.  Eight times since 1991 FIU researchers from the Center for Labor Research and Studies, the Institute for Public Opinion Research and the Cuban Research Institute have developed and conducted a detailed survey designed to measure the political attitudes of the Cuban-American community in South Florida.  This year, thanks to funding by the Cuba Study Group and the Cuban Research Institute and the support of the Brookings Institute, the poll was conducted to take the attitudinal pulse of the Cuban-American community in Miami-Dade as historic changes occur on the island.  

The first Cuba Poll was conducted 13 years ago, in March of 1991.  Subsequent polls were conducted in October of 1991, in June of 1993, March of 1995, July of 1997, September-October of 2000 and March, 2004.  As in the seven previous polls, the researchers this year found a diversity of opinions regarding the policies that the respondents felt would facilitate political changes on the island. The data presents us with the most complete picture to date of the attitudes of Cuban-Americans in South Florida towards Cuba .  This brief summary presents selected findings from the 2007 Cuba Poll.

General Findings

Cuban American residents of Miami-Dade County are generally concerned about the need for change on the island but they are far from monolithic in their support for different policies regarding US/Cuba relations.  There are major differences of opinion on many issues.  

·         In spite of the recent occurrences on the island, the Cuban-American community is guarded in its expectation of major political change occurring in the near future.  Approximately 17.0 percent of respondents feel that changes will occur within one year (5% more than expected immediate change in the 2004 poll).  An additional 46 percent anticipate that major changes are more than one year but less than five years away.  At the same time, pessimism regarding eventual changes in Cuba seems to have declined, with 13.4 percent of respondents stating that change would never come to the island a decrease of 3% from the 2004 poll in which 16.2% stated that they thought change would never likely come to Cuba .

·        Approximately 65 percent of respondents signal that they would support a dialogue with the Cuban government, up from 55.6 percent in the 2004 Cuba poll.  The percentage of survey respondents supporting such a dialogue has risen from approximately 40% in the 1991 poll to the current year's mark which is the highest in the history of the poll.

·         Although only 23.6% feel that the embargo has worked well, 57.5 percent of the Cuban-American population expressed support for its continuation.  The percentage of the respondents supporting the embargo declined from 66 percent in the 2004 poll.  In fact, this is the lowest percentage of the population ever expressing support for the embargo.

·        Respondents have specific requirements triggering the lifting of the U.S. embargo. Approximately 29 percent of respondents would like to put and end to the embargo immediately without any preconditions.  Another 8 percent would end the embargo upon the death of Fidel.  About 11 percent would wait until both Fidel and Raul were gone.  Approximately 6 percent would wait until the economic system changes on the island (without any changes to the political system) occurred on the island while 10 percent would wait until democratic changes occurred (without economic changes).  Finally, about 35% would wait until both the economic system and political system had changed.

·        When asked about the specific restrictions imposed by the embargo, the respondents' opinions appear somewhat more moderate than might be anticipated in light of the numbers voicing overall support for the embargo.  Approximately 71.7 percent support the sale of medicine to the people on the island and 62 percent would favor the sale of food to Cuba and 34 percent support the expansion of existing agricultural relations with the island.  Similarly, 55.2 percent would support allowing unrestricted travel to Cuba .

·        Approximately 64 percent of the respondents would like to return to the 2003 policies governing travel and remittances.

·        26 percent of the respondents feel that the restrictions put in place after 2003 have had a major impact on their lives.  Over 15 percent report having been effected moderately by the new regulations.

·        Approximately 58 percent of the respondents report sending money to relatives on the island.

·        Approximately 57.2 percent would support establishing diplomatic relations with the island.

·        Echoing the results of the previous surveys, the Cuban-American community is willing to lend support to human rights groups working inside Cuba .  Over 97 percent of respondents support lending a hand to such groups.

·         Approximately 15.6 percent would be very likely and 13.1% somewhat likely to return to live on the island if the country's government changed to a democratic form. 

 

·        There were no surprises associated with the political affiliations reported by the respondents, although the number of Republican registrants continues to drop.  About 65 percent of the respondents are U.S. citizens.  Of these, 91.1 percent report being registered to vote.  And of these, 66.1 percent are registered with the Republican Party 18.3 percent are registered Democrats  and 15.2 percent are registered as Independents.

·        Of those respondents not citizens, 89 percent say that they plan to become citizens.