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McCain Plays Castro Card in South Florida

But this time… it’s Raul, younger brother of long-time Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Raul took over as president of the Communist island nation in February, following his brother’s rapid decline in health from an undisclosed illness. The McCain campaign yesterday released its second ad in two weeks targeting Latinos — a 60-second Spanish-language radio spot for south Florida — long a hotbed of fiercely anti-Castro Cuban exiles — that indicated there will be no normalization of relations with the Cuban government under a McCain administration.

The spot, titled "Cuban Prisoners," is narrated by Roberto Martin Perez, who spent 28 years as a Cuban political prisoner and, according to a bio in the ad’s email announcement, was tortured and shot six times while imprisoned. Perez asserts that millions of "Cuban citizens are currently prisoners in their own country," and Raul is "like his brother, a man that does anything to stay in power."

Martin then takes an apparent swipe at presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama, whom Republicans have strongly criticized for saying that, as president, he would meet unconditionally with hostile foreign leaders — including those of Cuba:

While some support a dialogue with Raul Castro, John McCain believes we should support the courageous men and women who continue to stand up for freedom in Cuba.

Martin says McCain will demand a release of all political prisoners before resuming relations with the Cuban government. Washington has pursued a policy of isolation toward Cuba — including an economic embargo and travel ban — since the 1959 Castro-led revolution that overthrew Fulgencio Batista, the U.S.-backed dictator.

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{"type":"text","text":" <font size=\"2\" face=\"Arial\" id=\"nxkh3\">As someone who has survived the harsh conditions of the Vietnamese prisons, John McCain knows that freedom in Cuba won’t be achieved with concessions to dictatorships.<br id=\"apn.\">"}

According to The Washington Post, the ad will air on Radio Mambi, a Spanish-language station popular with Cuban-Americans. It will likely play well with older Cuban immigrants, traditionally strongly supportive of the Republican Party. However, an influx of immigrants from places like Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Columbia — who are more likely to vote Democratic — has diluted the Cuban vote in Florida in recent years. And many second-generation Cubans do not always share the acute antipathy of their parents, or their affinity for the GOP. It appears the Castro issue could lose some of its potency in south Florida.

Here is the ad’s translated script:

ROBERTO MARTIN PEREZ: This is Roberto Martin Perez, Cuban political prisoner for 28 years.

The harsh reality is that millions of my fellow Cuban citizens are prisoners in their own country.

Despite this, our spirit remains resilient; and John McCain knows that Raul Castro is like his brother, a man that does almost anything to stay in power, violating the fundamental rights of Cubans.

Now, he allows them to use cell phones and computers, but at the same time, censors the right to speak.

While some support a dialogue with Raul Castro, John McCain believes we should support the courageous men and women who continue to stand up for freedom in Cuba.

Rather than resume relations with Raul Castro, John McCain wants first and foremost for all political prisoners to be released.

As someone who has survived the harsh conditions of the Vietnamese prisons, John McCain knows that freedom in Cuba won’t be achieved with concessions to dictatorships.

JOHN MCCAIN: I’m John McCain and I approve this message.

ANNCR: Paid for by John McCain 2008.

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