Defeating George W. Bush and his supporters in Congress is the highest priority in promoting solidarity with Cuba.

At the same time, building the broadest possible public pressure to expose the bankruptcy of the administration’s draconian new regulations, and forestalling any provocations against Cuba, can contribute to defeating Bush in November.

There is a reservoir of sentiment for such a campaign which, if mobilized, could help isolate the more reckless elements in the Bush camp, especially the “Miami Mafia,” and encourage Cuban Americans unhappy with Bush’s measures to turn out against him in the elections.

Bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress have consistently voted to end the travel ban and to permit the sale of medicine and food (while voting to censure Cuba for “human rights violations”). Last year, both the Senate and the House voted in favor of lifting the travel ban but the Bush administration prevented it from becoming law.

In a recent statement of principles on U.S.-Cuba policy (with its share of anti-“Castro-regime” rhetoric), Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry describes the Bush administration’s new restrictions on remittances to Cuban families and the virtual elimination of family travel as “a cynical and misguided ploy for a few Florida votes.”

Americans must be made aware that if unleashed, Bush’s plan for deposing Cuba’s socialist government — which has the overwhelming support of its own people — and imposing a “transitional government” could well carry far graver consequences than the current quagmire in Iraq.

At the same time, Americans should come to understand that, all along, the Cuban people and their government have sought normal, friendly relations with the U.S. In fact, Cuba has consistently encouraged people-to-people contact.

Nearly four years ago, the American people were presented with a choice. Should six-year-old Elian Gonzalez be returned to his father, relatives and friends with whom he had grown up in Cuba, or remain in Miami with an uncle he’d never known, after his mother died at sea and he survived?

In an act of humanism for which Cuba is eternally grateful, the American people overwhelmingly favored returning little Elian to his dad. The Clinton administration acceded to American public opinion — which certainly the Bush administration, had it been in power, would not have.

Most Americans, when they clearly understand the implications of the new Bush administration policies toward Cuba, will again respond favorably to doing away with measures that hurt families here at home and their loved ones in Cuba, and that restrict the right of Americans to travel anywhere in the world they please.

And most Americans today understand clearly that they do not want another Iraq — or worse — in Cuba.

What’s the likelihood of a provocation?

The situation before November is very fluid and there are many unknown factors. But we do know the following:

• Bush is in trouble for November.

• Three dozen right-wing Cuban “Miami Mafia” are in the Bush administration, some in high positions.

• With Bush in trouble in the elections, elements of the Miami Mafia may see a pre-election provocation that commits the U.S. to military aggression as their last best chance for a long time to come.

• This administration represents an arm of transnational monopoly capital that has been pushing global concepts of preemption and is known for recklessness and overreaching. They are desperately searching for ways to hold on to the presidency, by any means necessary.

It is precisely because of their extremely dangerous ultra-right policies and doctrine toward Cuba and the world that every effort must be made to defeat Bush in November and retake both houses of Congress from Republican control.

At the same time, solidarity with Cuba can be built in a way that will aid that November goal and forestall any provocation before then.

Juan Lopez is chair of the Northern California District, Communist Party USA. He was a member of the CPUSA delegation that visited Cuba in June. He can be reached at