A majority of Americans oppose President Barack Obama’s normalization of relations with Cuba when they are informed of reports of continued weapons smuggling and human rights abuses by Raul Castro’s regime, according to a new poll.
In a survey released on Monday by Inter-American Security Watch, a majority of Americans—51 percent to 38 percent—said they initially favored Obama’s efforts to restore ties with Cuba and lift travel and financial restrictions. However, those numbers reversed when the respondents were informed of the latest actions by the Castro regime.
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Columbian authorities halted a Chinese ship en route to Cuba earlier this month after discovering illegal explosives and other arms in its cargo, which was supposed to only contain grain. That followed an attempt by a North Korean ship in 2013 to smuggle 240 tons of Cuban weapons concealed under bags of sugar. After being told about the illicit arms shipments, 63 percent of American voters said they opposed removing U.S. sanctions on Cuba.
Cuba also continues to harbor dozens of U.S. fugitives accused of committing murder and acts of terrorism. When informed of Cuba’s practice of offering asylum to Americans wanted for murder and terrorism, 63 percent said they were against removing sanctions, and 68 percent supported keeping the Castro regime on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Overall, 64 percent of Americans said sanctions should remain in place until the Cuban government frees all political prisoners and stages multi-party elections. The Castro regime subjected dissidents to nearly 9,000 short-term detentions last year, a sharp increase compared with recent years.
OnMessage Inc. conducted the poll among 700 likely voters with an oversample of 300 likely Cuban American voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.7 percent.