A transcript of the whole speech can be found here (it's a pdf file, provided by the Miami Herald).
I've been hearing snippits of his speech on various radio programs all afternoon. This is some talk with some substance, the first I've ever heard coming from a politician on this subject. He also took McCain to task for talking just like every other politician that comes to Miami and talks about Cuba.
[ That is the record - the Bush record in Latin America - that John McCain has chosen to embrace. Senator McCain doesn't talk about these trends in our hemisphere because he knows that it's part of the broader Bush-McCain failure to address priorities beyond Iraq. The situation has changed in the Americas, but we've failed to change with it. Instead of engaging the people of the region, we've acted as if we can still dictate terms unilaterally. Wehave not offered a clear and comprehensive vision, backed up with strongdiplomacy. We are failing to join the battle for hearts and minds. For far too long, Washington has engaged in outdated debates and stuck to tired blueprints on drugs and trade, on democracy and development -- even though they won't meet the tests of the future.
The stakes could not be higher. It is time for us to recognize that the future security and prosperity of the United States is fundamentally tied to the future of the Americas. If we don't turn away from the policies of the past, then we won't be able to shape the future. The Bush Administration has offered no clear vision for this future, and neither has John McCain. ]
[ Now let me be clear. John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it. After eight years of the disastrous policies of George Bush, it is time to pursue direct diplomacy, with friend and foe alike, without preconditions. There will be careful preparation. We will set a clear agenda. And as President, I would be willing to lead that diplomacy at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.
I will never, ever, compromise the cause of liberty. And unlike John McCain, I would never, ever, rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty. We've heard enough empty promises from politicians like George Bush and John McCain. I will turn the page.
It's time for more than tough talk that never yields results. It's time for a new strategy. There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. That's why I will immediately allow unlimited family travel and remittances to the island. It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.
I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps tobegin normalizing relations. That's the way to bring about real change in Cuba - through strong, smart and principled diplomacy. ]
I disagree with that last paragraph that I pulled from the speech. It also apparantly contradicts what he said in the previous paragraph, "It's time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime." First he says that it is time to allow unrestricted travel to Cuba so Cuban Americans can help their families financially -- thus be less dependent on the Cuban state. The he says he's determined to keep the embargo. Lifting the embargo would be the best way for Cubans to be less dependent on the state, it seems to me. I also have a sense that Obama doesn't really know yet how the Cuban state operates in the daily lives of most Cubans. But this is more substance and intelligence than I've seen from a politician in Miami on either Cuba or Latin America in decades.