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Latin America's past weighs on US Hispanic voters

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

During a recent visit to Miami's Eighth Street, or Calle Ocho as locals call it, it wasn't hard to overhear older Cuban Americans talking politics at neighborhood haunts. Cuban-born María Eneida Castellanos was clear about her choice for the next US president.

But while Hispanic voters tend to skew more Democratic than Republican, there are signs that Trump is gaining ground over Biden, his Democratic rival, among Hispanic voters in key states like Florida.

Trump has a lot to gain from the Cuban American vote in Florida, where the group makes up about a third of the state's Hispanic vote, they turn out to vote in higher numbers, and they lean more Republican than Hispanics nationally.

His hard stance on relations with Cuba and Venezuela's embattled socialist leader Nicolás Maduro appeals to voters who still bristle at memories of Fidel Castro's communist regime.

Cuban Americans who fled from Castro and communism tend to care more about Trump's stance on economic and social issues than, for instance, his derogatory comments about immigrants, says Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of international relations at Florida International University.

For Alejandro Delgado, a Cuban-American voter who landed in south Florida after fleeing the Castro regime, the issue driving his vote is not the economy, Covid-19, or even immigration.

"Cubans, Venezuelans, and other Latin Americans, including Colombians, have come to believe that Biden is going to destroy the police" and "create another Cuba or Venezuela," says Gamarra.

"The tragedy in Venezuela is a reminder that socialism and communism bring misery and heartache everywhere they're tried," Trump said at a Hispanic summit in March, adding later that "America stands with the suffering people of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua and their righteous struggle for liberty. "

What Trump's policies have done is stoke anti-American rhetoric from the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes, which may help his efforts to woo Hispanic voters.

The Cuban-American immigrant said he was bothered by Trump's loose relationship to truth.

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