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Most Americans Want to Relax Cuba Restrictions: Poll

<p>Most Americans, and even more so Latinos and Floridians, believe in more direct engagement.</p>
A self-employed fruit and vegetable vendor waits for customers on the street in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. A new survey finds a majority of Americans favor changing policies to allow more engagement with Cuba. AP

More than six in 10 Americans and an even higher number of Latinos and Florida residents support allowing more American companies to do business in Cuba, lifting all travel and financial restrictions and removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, according to a newly released survey conducted for the Atlantic Council by bipartisan pollsters.

The survey crossed party lines; over half of Republicans supported the proposed changes. Moreover, 64 percent of Miami residents favored more direct engagement with Cuba.

A majority still supported keeping the embargo against Cuba when they were told it was tough on the Castro regime while allowing Cuban-Americans to help their families after an easing of travel and financial restrictions.

At the same time, over 6-in-10 agreed with the statement that the embargo has kept many Cubans in poverty and that changing policy could help Cubans while still be tough on Castro.

Latinos were 7 points ahead of the nation in considering the economic impact as a reason to open up relations with Cuba.

Recently, differences in U.S.-Cuba policy have made headlines. Cuban-American Alfonso Fanjul, whose family built a fortune on sugar, said he was open to doing business with the island nation. His comments were swiftly condemned by Cuban-American legislators including Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart.

In an op-ed in today's Miami Herald, Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy cited today's survey findings as a reason to normalize relations with Cuba.

"Trade with Latin America is the fastest growing part of our international commerce. In 2014, economic growth in Latin America is expected to continue to outpace U.S. growth. Rather than isolate Cuba with outdated policies, we have isolated ourselves."