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Cuban-American Money
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Roots of the Cuban-American Political Movement
Patterns in the Money
Cuban-American National Foundation/Free Cuba PAC
The Major Players
Cuba-Related Legislation
The Rise of Anti-Embargo Interests
Top Recipients of Cuban-American Money
Ethnic Comparisons
Geographic Patterns
Top Recipients of Cuban-American Contributions, 1979-2000

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Roots of the Cuban-American Political Movement

For more than 40 years the Cuban-American community has played an active role in the American political scene. From the moment Fidel Castro's revolutionary forces seized control of Havana in January, 1959, there has been a steady flow of legal and illegal `exiles' crossing the 90 miles of sea between Cuba and south Florida. The continually increasing numbers of Cubans populating the Miami metropolitan area (and later other regions) have almost always spoken with one voice and fought for one cause: maintaining or strengthening the U.S. embargo imposed on Castro's government in 1960.

Immediately after Castro took power he began the process of nationalizing foreign-owned property and businesses, a move that led President Eisenhower to initiate an economic embargo that continues to the present day. In 1962, after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, President Kennedy ordered increased restrictions within the embargo, including an absolute ban on all Cuban imports and a ban on re-exportation of U.S. products to Cuba. This last policy adjustment would largely stand unchanged for the next 30 years, enjoying general support from the American people and enthusiastic support from the growing Cuban-American community.

Feeling little but animosity toward Fidel Castro, the man who in their eyes caused them to be exiles from their own country, the majority of Cuban-Americans have been loyal supporters of policies that could potentially harm or weaken his government. Many of the first families to flee Cuba were wealthy and successful capitalists who began building new business empires in south Florida. Over the past 40 years, these families have provided much of the financial support to press their case, and that of other Cubans who arrived in the wake of Castro's revolution. Their money and enterprise, along with the traditional anti-communist policies of successive American administrations, have given the community considerable political clout in Washington. When the reality of their largely unilateral voting bloc in south Florida is also taken into account, there can be no doubt that this community exerts significant influence on the outcome of any and all Cuba-related legislation in Congress.

Next: The Patterns in Cuban-American Contributions