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Cuban Americans Divided, Tormented By Clinton Policy With AM-US-Cuba, Bjt; AM-Cuban

August 25, 1994

Cuban Americans Divided, Tormented By Clinton Policy With AM-US-Cuba, Bjt; AM-Cuban Refugees-Fears, Bjt

MIAMI (AP) _ Cuban-Americans are increasingly torn by the Clinton administration’s new policy toward their refugee relatives - and tormented by Fidel Castro’s continuing taunts.

They agree with the administration’s goal of ousting Castro, but are growing skeptical that the policy of detaining refugees will make it happen.

″It is a terrible frustration,″ said Francisco Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation. He warned of unrest if the United States can’t help unseat Castro.

″You are going to see this community to become extremely frustrated, perhaps violent and then they will resort to acts that are at the present time deemed as illegal,″ he said.

The salt in the wound of their frustration was Castro’s Wednesday night address, urging Cuban-Americans to come pick up relatives and offering to sell them fuel to get back. The United States has said it will prosecute any Americans caught smuggling Cubans.

″The truth is that I feel bad,″ said Eusevia Rodriguez, who came to Miami from Cuba 24 years ago and still has relatives there. ″Anyone who can go pick up their family in Cuba should. My sister went during Mariel to get our aunt. I don’t go because I can’t swim.″

Andres Gomez, president of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, which advocates normalizing relations with Cuba, conceded Castro’s latest remarks could incite frustrated Cuban-Americans.

″The Cubans here might just lose patience with the United States’ position ... and go and pick up their relatives,″ he said. ″If I were in that position, I’d certainly find a boat.″

Some say Castro is just trying to bait them.

″But people ... sometimes let themselves go with the flow,″ said Felix Toledo, 52, a member of the exile group Independent and Democratic Cuba.

During Castro’s news conference, a small crowd gathered in the streets of Little Havana in Miami, shouting anti-Castro slogans and threatening to smash the television.

Still others are hopeful that Cubans will rise up and overthrow Castro.

″The destiny of the Cuban community has to be decided by Cubans. And the final confrontation is coming,″ said Ignacio Castro Matos, secretary of the Independent and Democratic Cuba group. ″The time is ripe for an insurrection in Cuba.″

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