Getting Along With Cuba

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MIAMI: Nearly a year ago, the Coast Guard pulled over a boat filled with Cuban expatriates headed to Venezuela, where Fidel Castro was soon to visit. Their mission: To assassinate El Jefe, according to law enforcement officials. Thirty years ago, the suspects would probably have been on the CIA's payroll -- or could at least have counted on the U.S. to look the other way. But on Tuesday, the seven men -- including a prominent member of the Cuban American National Foundation, a once-powerful anti-Castro lobby -- were indicted. They face life imprisonment. For Castro's enemies, the times certainly are a-changin'.

"Quietly, behind the scenes, the U.S. has been moving closer toward Cuba," says TIME Miami bureau chief Tammerlin Drummond. "Castro's enemies in the U.S. are getting weaker." Drummond notes that the Cuban American National Foundation has funneled thousands of dollars to Senators such as Jesse Helms and has been instrumental in lobbying for an anti-Castro policy. But the death last year of its imposing leader, Jorge Mas Canosa, was a critical blow to the group. Since then, the Pope has visited Havana, President Clinton has declawed the Helms-Burton sanctions and influential U.S. businesses have been lobbying furiously for access to Cuba. Suddenly, El Jefe's enemies are the U.S.' enemies too.