Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Ronald Cox

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Frank Mora

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Barry Levitt

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Percy Hintzen

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Cuba, Foreign Policy, Special Interests, Latin America, Caribbean, Diaspora, U.S. Politics

Date of Defense



This dissertation examines the influence of Cuban-American exiles in shaping U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba from the 1980s to the present. The role of Cuban-American interest groups is analyzed within a larger context of U.S. national security objectives, national politics and Cuban politics. Instead of privileging domestic politics or national security politics in explaining Cuban-American influence, as other International Relations theories do, this study argues that Cuban exile politics can best be understood as an expression of subnational interest group power that affects, and is affected by, the shifting dynamics of local, national and global politics. Also, ideological divisions and demographic shifts in the Cuban-American community have impacted both Cuban-American public opinion and interest group strategy, thereby affecting U.S. foreign policy over time. The conclusion posits that hardline Cuban Americans’ political power is waning in relation to newer generations of Cuban-Americans who are less conservative, more in favor of engagement, less politically active, and decreasing in proportional size relative to the South Florida electorate.



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