MIAMI — FOURTEEN months ago, Cuban-American lawyer Magda Montiel Davis met briefly with Cuba's President Fidel Castro Ruz at a conference in Havana and kissed him on the cheek. The incident, televised in Miami, brought the activist death threats, harassment at her law office, and 1,000 marching protesters near her home.
But when Cuban exile Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo returned on June 25 from a well-publicized visit to Havana, including a 3 1/2 hour chat with Mr. Castro, he received a hero's welcome. Supporters mobbed the leader of the anti-embargo group Cambio Cubano (Cuban Change) at Miami International Airport, and the only negative response thus far has been on talk radio.
Analysts say Mr. Gutierrez Menoyo's return from Havana signals that moderate voices in the Cuban-American community here are moving center stage. Hard-liners, who in the past set off bombs in the offices of people who didn't follow a virulent anti-Castro line, may see their influence wane.
Gutierrez Menoyo, who fought to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 but attempted to overthrow Castro as well in 1964, now says it is better to negotiate with Castro to bring democracy to Cuba. This puts him at odds with the influential Cuban American National Foundation, which seeks tighter sanctions against Cuba.