US Agricultural Exports to Cuba – May 6, 2009
Farm state senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND), along with at least 13 other senators, are expected to announce legislation this week that would lift restrictions imposed by the Bush administration requiring all shipments of U.S. agricultural goods to Cuba to be paid for before they were left port. If lifted, the change would increase
Today is World Press Freedom Day – May 4, 2009
…One place that isn’t improving is Cuba. It is a tragic, terrible stain on this hemisphere and the world. After China, it is the second-highest jailer of journalists. At least 21 journalists are behind bars, including 20 who were arrested in March 2003 during the “Black Spring” crackdown on reporters and others believed to be critics of the government, according to the CPJ.
All Quiet on the Latin American Front? Not Quite – April 30, 2009
…First, Cuba. Even before President Obama left for Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba was in the U.S. news due to the administration’s move to undo some restrictions on travel and remittances to the island for Cuban-Americans.
Momentum picked up further when President Obama addressed Cuba head-on in his speech at the Summit, saying how the U.S. seeks a new beginning with Cuba.
The Summit of the Americas took place over the weekend, featuring high-profile handshakes, star treatment of U.S. President Barack Obama, and much discussion of an absent Cuba. The summit concluded without unanimity on the declaration, but ended with “hope,” said Barbados’ Caribbean360. Voice of America reports that the summit gave Washington a “fresh start” with the 33 other countries in attendance. The Miami Herald asks readers to consider “the genuine progress that was achieved in healing the breach between the United States and its neighbors.”
Post Summit: Where Do We Go from Here? – April 20, 2009
…Of course Cuba found its way onto the stage, as only Cuba can, midwifed onto the agenda by those such as Bolivia’s president and others who are looking for a way to embarrass the United States rather than to focus on ways to truly help their own citizens domestically. Cuba is a neuralgic issue for many in the hemisphere, just as it is among policy elites in Washington. President Obama’s recently announced opening to Cuba is an excellent step, consistent with recommendations made by Americas Society and Council of the Americas, and have been described by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others as an important “first” step pending concrete moves by Havana. That’s the right place for U.S. policy to be. Rather than get caught up in the moment, the Administration has put forth a credible, thoughtful, sound policy with prospects for further actions.
Weekly News Roundup from Across the Americas – April 15, 2009
President Barack Obama took steps to ease restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban Americans with families back on the island. As AS/COA’s Christopher Sabatini writes in the Americas Quarterly blog, the move “presented an easy way to set the tone” as Obama heads to the Summit of Americas. He also writes that, even though leaders who gather in Port of Spain may push Obama for bigger shifts on U.S.-Cuba policy, many changes require moves in U.S. Congress, not White House action.
Unsurprisingly, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro responded to the easing of restrictions on Tuesday by saying that they were a positive sign but not far-reaching enough. He also responded to chatter over whether the Organization of American States (OAS) should readmit Havana by saying Cuba is not interested and that the OAS is “repugnant.”
Obama Lifts the Cuban-American Restrictions – April 14, 2009
It should come as no surprise that it happened, nor should the timing. President Barack Obama’s lifting of the restrictions on Cuban-Americans’ travel and remittances to the island was a campaign promise and presented an easy way to set the tone for the Summit of the Americas from April 17 to 19 in Trinidad and Tobago. It won’t go as far as most will want, but it helps to set a new debate within the
Seduced by Cuba’s Honey Pot of Power – March 6, 2009
Cuba’s Raúl Castro shook up his Cabinet big time this week—the largest change in decades—when he ousted, promoted or shifted around more than 20 officials.
Most prominent—and surprising to many here in the United States—was the dismissal of Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque and Vice President Carlos Lage, known as the brains of recent economic reforms.
Baby Steps on US Policy in Cuba; Colombia and the Summit – February 26, 2009
This week, two small steps for U.S. policy on Cuba.
First up: Sen. Richard Lugar’s new report, “Changing Cuba Policy-In the United States National Interest.” In short, it calls the existing policies ineffective, finding major reform in the United States’ best national (and economic) interests.
The recent leadership changes in Washington and Havana have created an opportunity to “reevaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion and open hostility,” Sen. Lugar wrote in his letter to fellow senators.
Does the US Embargo on Cuba Protect Human Rights – February 25, 2009
Frankly, the Cuban embargo has always been a difficult issue for me. Publicly I’ve avoided the issue largely because I’ve always believed it’s been a huge distraction for what is the main issue concerning Cuba: the almost incomprehensible level of repression and control that the Castro regime exercises over its population. So, in my often-failed objective to avoid discussing the embargo, I want now (in the heightened debate over President Barack Obama’s Cuba policy) to try to weigh the pros and cons as I view them in my own humble opinion. Fortunately, as a very thoughtful and balanced recent staff trip report by the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations demonstrates, a number of groups are trying to bridge the divide that has traditionally hamstrung policy toward Cuba.
What to Expect of the Summit – January 22, 2009
After almost two years of parsing first candidate then President elect and now President Barack Obama’s words for his ideas on Latin America, the world will finally get a view in April 17, 18 and 19 in Trinidad and Tobago at the Summit of the Americas. Certainly President Obama’s recent interview with Univision caused some consternation among Venezuelan public officials who saw his statements regarding Venezuela as an affront to national sovereignty and dignity. But beyond the usual sensitivities, President Obama’s meeting in the Caribbean with the 33 other elected heads of state, coming on the heels of his first international meeting with NATO allies, will provide a rare moment for the President to focus on the region—in the midst of a multitude of other demands on his time and attention—and begin to articulate a new vision for the hemisphere.
Stasis Across the Strait – January 8, 2009
On January 1, 2009, the Cuban government celebrated the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara’s triumphant march into Havana that marked the end of the reign of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and the beginning of the Cuban revolution. The occasion was quite frankly sad, not just for what it said about a revolution that has persisted despite its failures, but also for the persistence of U.S. policy that seems almost designed to prop up the Castro brothers.
Skating a lo Cubano – November 26, 2008
The Cubans are behind.
Given the shortage of equipment, skills training from outside the island and lack of public space, it is no wonder that Cuban skaters are not keeping up with their counterparts abroad.
The Havana skate community is estimated to hover around 400 to 500. There is one skate park on the entire island; most skating is done freestyle, or on makeshift installations in public spaces. There are no skate shops in Cuba, although there’s a rumor that some of the island’s surf shops do sell skateboards. Still, at around $40 a pop, skateboards can represent three to four months of wages for the average Cuban.