Charlie Crist has been almost everything anyone can be in the US’s political arena: he served as the Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, run as an independent candidate for Senate in 2010, and has now announced candidacy, as a Democrat, for the same governorship he held before as a Republican.
Much as many question his ability to deal with the change he seeks by going to where he thinks the votes are, what’s certain is that the controversy around his wish to be a governor again stems from more than just the winding path he has followed.
Feelings were inflamed when Crist, with his good nose for attracting voters, announced that he’s planning to visit Cuba next summer and his campaign spokesperson said that the US economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba “has been useless for half a century to change the Cuban regime or end the Cuban people’s hardships”. In an interview to Tampa Bay Times, she also remarked that the candidate is “looking forward to learning more about the Caribbean country” and in favor of “normalizing Florida’s relations” with the Island.
A recent poll by the prominent Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council showed that 56% of Americans favor a different Cuba policy, but the numbers reach 63% among Floridian adults. As early as in February, Miamian representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Díaz-Balart tagged Crist’s views on relations with Cuba as “shameful”, although –much to their chagrin– the former governor has a 10% lead over his Republican contender, incumbent governor Rick Scott, who called Crist’s plans “insulting” to the Cuban community in Florida.
The way Charlie Crist has gradually switched sides may be revealing of the way the Florida vote has. As a gubernatorial candidate in 2006, Crist criticized his Democrat contender’s trip to Cuba, and when he was running for the Senate in 2010, he supported Obama’s decision to let Cuban-Americans visit family in the Island. Now, however, he wants to walk the streets of Havana.
We’re also willing to learn from the US. Be welcome, Crist, and may your visit contribute to lifting the blockade. And while you’re here, please explain the political system that some people want us to copy in Cuba, the one that gave rise to the famous phrase “Nothing looks more like a Republican than a Democrat” and to which Crist seems to have added the words “and an independent”. (Published in CubAhora)
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.