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By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County support an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba, with newer arrivals and the younger generation tending to lead the way in backing diplomatic efforts between the longtime antagonists.

A poll by Florida International University released on Tuesday shows Cubans living in the Miami area generally favor lifting the decades-long embargo against the island, ending travel restrictions and opening full diplomatic relations. The changing demographics of the area, newer arrivals and a younger, second generation are spearheading the change, which seems to mirror national sentiments.

According to the poll, 52 percent of respondents said they oppose continuing the U.S. embargo against Cuba, but the percentage rises to 62 percent among Cuban Americans from 18 to 29 years old. A solid majority, 58 percent of those who arrived to Florida since 1995, said they oppose continuing the embargo, according to the poll.

Of the 1,000 Cuban Americans who were surveyed in the current poll, 48 percent said they favored continuing the embargo. That compares to the 56 percent overall who said they favored it in a 2011 poll and 87 percent in 1991.

Nationally, according to Gallup, 51 percent said in 2009 that they favored ending the embargo and 36 percent said they wanted to keep the embargo.

The new poll of Cuban Americans found that among registered voters, the split is nearly equal, with 51 percent in favor of continuing the embargo and 49 percent saying they oppose its continuation. Support for continuing the embargo is strongest among registered voters who say they are Republican.

The FIU poll has asked the same questions in 11 surveys since 1991. In the current survey, the margin or error is plus or minus about 3 percentage points.

The poll confirms the growing generational gap with younger U.S.-born Cubans and more recent arrivals favoring improved relations. Older Cubans tend to favor tougher sanctions.

For example, nearly 70 percent of those surveyed favored diplomatic relations with Cuba, with younger respondents at 90 percent strongly backing the change. Support for re-establishing diplomatic ties maintains a solid majority among all age groups up to age 70.

Photo: Flippinyank via Flickr

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