Most Americans support renewed ties with Cuba: Poll

MIAMI (AFP) - A majority of Americans support the restoration of US diplomatic relations with Cuba as well as sanctions on Venezuelan officials, according to a poll released Wednesday ahead of a regional summit likely to be dominated by those issues.

The Marist College poll found that 59 per cent of those responding said they agreed with the re-establishment of relations between the United States and the island's communist regime, severed for more than half a century.

Another 26 per cent were opposed and 15 per cent had no opinion, according to the poll, which was commissioned by Telemundo and MSNBC television networks.

Among Latins who participated in the poll, 56 per cent supported renewed relations and 25 per cent were opposed.

Queried about the US sanctions slapped last month on Venezuelan officials linked to human rights abuses, 50 per cent said the punishment was appropriate, while 20 per cent said it was not strong enough and 13 per cent thought it was too extreme.

For Hispanics, the proportion varied slightly: 52 per cent said the sanctions were appropriate, 16 per cent said they were too weak, 19 per cent too strong.

The Summit of the Americas in Panama on Friday and Saturday is expected to bring US President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro face to face for the first time since their landmark Dec 17 decision to normalise relations.

While that development has been widely applauded in the region, Obama's decision to sanction the Venezuelan officials, declaring the South American oil producer a threat to US national security, has been controversial even among Washington's Latin allies.

On another hot button issue, the poll showed broad support in the United States for Obama's executive measures in November to give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, 57 in favour to 41 against.

Support rose to 78 per cent among Latins, with only 21 per cent opposed.

The poll was conducted between March and April in English and Spanish with 1,446 persons. It had a 2.6 per cent margin of error.