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Republicans losing grip on Miami Cuban vote?
Tom Brown

MIAMI (Reuters) - An anti-communist militant who fired a bazooka at a Polish freighter walked free with impunity in this sultry subtropical U.S. city, and Cuban Americans favoring closer ties with their homeland could once expect to be firebombed here.

But Miami has changed and the sometimes violent scenes of Cuban exile passion appear to be in the past. That could spell trouble for President George W. Bush's Republican Party in November's general election, opponents and analysts say.

As Miami's hardline anti-communist tendencies start to fade, so may the party's once-unassailable grip on congressional seats in south Florida.

"There's a generational shift going on," said Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chairman Joe Garcia, who sees a clear trend toward moderation as younger voters and more recent arrivals from Cuba dilute the Cuban American community.

Miami's 650,000-strong Cuban exile community accounts for just over a quarter of the total population of the greater Miami area.

Hardcore foes of ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro have long voted for Republicans because many believe President John. F. Kennedy -- a Democrat -- betrayed them during the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, failing to provide the exile force with promised air cover.

The hardliners once dominated local politics, ensuring that U.S. policy toward Havana remained a central concern and earning Miami the title of the only U.S. city with its own foreign policy......Article conts (-)

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