For decades now, the U.S. government has carried out
democracy projects aimed at undermining Cuba’s socialist government. One deal
that has always intrigued me was the $15.5 million, three-year contract awarded
to Creative Associates International in October 2008. The fact that Creative
Associates ran the program from a secret
base in Costa Rica added to the allure.
In 2014, the Associated Press scooped everyone with revelations that Creative
Associates had set up a secret
Cuban Twitter. USAID protested
the story. Still, the AP report triggered a flurry of interest and an
Office of Inspector General investigation
But ZunZuneo was only the tip of the iceberg, making up $1.7 million of the
$5.3 million in projects that Creative Associates funded. A review of 22
Creative Associates reports from 2008 to 2012 provides fresh insight into the
NGO’s sprawling program and illustrates its dogged efforts to recruit young
people and members of Cuba’s counterculture.
“Travelers” and “consultants” from at least 10 different countries in the
Americas and Europe took part in the program. Projects and people were
identified by code. USAID sent in supplies using via diplomatic mail service,
coordinating closely with the embassy staff.
Download the Creative Associates documents here.
Some of the details I found interesting are below:
Edited by Mervyn J. Bain and Chris Walker – Contributions by Mervyn J. Bain; Jeffrey DeLaurentis; H. Michael Erisman; Liliana Fernández Mollinedo; Adrian Hearn; Rafael Hernández; John M. Kirk; Peter Kornbluh; William LeoGrande; Robert L. Muse; Isaac Saney; Paolo Spadoni; Josefina Vidal and Chris Walker
International Relations at 60 brings together the perspectives of leading
experts and the personal accounts of two ambassadors to examine Cuba’s global
engagement and foreign policy since January 1959 by focusing on the island’s
key international relationships and issues. Thisbook’s first section focuseson
Havana’s complex relationship with Washington and its second section
concentrates on Cuba’s other key relationships with consideration also being
given to Cuba’s external trade and investment sectors and the possibility of
the island becoming a future petro-power. Throughout this study due attention
is given to the role of history and Cuban nationalism in the formation of the
island’s unique foreign policy. This book’s examination and reflection on Cuba
as an actor on the international arena for the 60 years of the revolutionary
period highlights the multifaceted and complex reasons for the island’s global
engagement. It concludes that Cuba’s global presence since January 1959 has
been remarkable for a Caribbean island, is unparalleled, and is likely to
continue for the foreseeable future. Scholars of international relations, Latin
American studies, and political science n will find this book particularly
Pages: 306 • Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-7936-3018-6 • Hardback •
May 2021 • $110.00 • (£85.00)
Introduction: Reflections on Cuba’s Global
Mervyn J. Bain and Chris Walker.
Part I: Cuban – U.S. Relations
Chapter 1 The Process of Rapprochement
Between Cuba and the United States: Lessons Learnt. Remarks at the “The Cuban
Revolution at 60” conference. Dalhousie University, Halifax, October 31, 2019. Josefina Vidal
Chapter 2 US-Cuban Relations: Personal
Reflections. Remarks by Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis. Saturday,
November 2, 2019 Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Chapter 3 Coercive Diplomacy or
Constructive Engagement: Sixty Years of US Policy Toward Cuba. William LeoGrande
Chapter 4 The President has the
Constitutional Power to Terminate the Embargo.
Robert L. Muse
Chapter 5 [Re]Searching for the ‘Havana
Syndrome’. Peter Kornbluh
Chapter 6 From Eisenhower to Trump: A
Historical Summary of the US-Cuba Conflict (1959-2020). Liliana Fernández Mollinedo
Part II: Cuba on the Global Stage
Chapter 7 Cuba is Africa, Africa is Cuba. Isaac Saney
Chapter 8 Cuba-Canada Relations: Challenges
and Prospects. John Kirk
Chapter 9 Cuba-China Relations and the
Construction of Socialism. Adrian H.
Hearn and Rafael Hernández
Chapter 10 Cuba-European Union Relations. A
Complex and Multifaceted Relationship. Liliana
Fernández Mollinedo and Mervyn J. Bain
Chapter 11 Havana and Moscow; Now, the
Future and the Shadow of the Past. Mervyn
Chapter 12 Havana and Caracas:
Counter-Hegemonic Cooperation and the Battle for Sovereignty. Chris Walker
Chapter 13 Cuba’s Struggling External
Sector: Internal Challenges and Outside Factors. Paolo Spadoni
Chapter 14 Cuba as a Petropower? Foreign
Relations Implications. H. Michael Erisman
Conclusions: Reflections on Cuba’s Global
Connections. Mervyn J. Bain and Chris
of the migrants hoping to claim asylum in the United States are fleeing Central
America’s violence-torn “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El
Salvador, contrary to popular perception.
71,021 asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico for their
applications to be processed in the U.S. as of late February, 16% were Cuban,
according to federal immigration data.
makes Cubans the third-largest group of migrants, just ahead of Salvadorans,
and after Guatemalans and Hondurans.
Why Cubans flee
Cubans at America’s doorstep are mostly economic refugees. But since Cubans no longer
have preferential status over other immigrants – as
they did until former President Barack Obama stopped automatically admitting
Cubans who made it to the U.S. – claiming asylum is now virtually their only
hope of winning entry. G
who can afford it fly to South America or hire smugglers to take them to Mexico in “fast
boats” before trekking north to the U.S. border. Those who can’t afford to pay
smugglers try to cross the Florida Straits on rafts or small boats called
“balsas” – a dangerous 90-mile ocean passage.
this year, the U.S. Coast Guard has picked up 180 Cuban “balseros” at sea trying to reach the U.S.
The number is modest – but it’s already more than three times the Coast Guard
rescues of Cubans made last year. Cubans intercepted at sea are returned to
Cuba under the terms of a 1995 migration agreement.
current uptick recalls the gradual increase in rafters rescued at sea in the
spring of 1994, numbers that rose exponentially that summer, culminating in the
“balsero” migration crisis.
by the collapse of the Soviet Union – communist Cuba’s main international
partner at the time – the 1994 exodus saw 35,000 Cubans arrive in the U.S.
in two months.
the United States’ third Cuban migration crisis. In 1965, some 5,000 Cubans
embarked from the port of Camarioca in small boats, landing in south Florida.
In 1980, the Mariel boat crisis brought 125,000 Cuban migrants to the U.S. in
the so-called “freedom flotilla.”
migration waves came when the Cuban economy was in crisis and standards of
living were falling. All three occurred when Cubans had few avenues for legal
migration. With legal routes foreclosed, pressure to leave built over time as
the economy deteriorated, finally exploding in a mass exodus of desperate
external shocks hit an economy already weakened by the decline in cheap oil
from crisis-stricken Venezuela due to falling production there, forcing Cuba to
spend more of its scarce foreign exchange currency on fuel. Since Cuba imports
most of its food, the island nation has experienced a food crisis.
result is the worst economic downturn since the 1990s.
Pent-up Cuban demand to emigrate
Cuban migration crisis ended when former President Bill Clinton signed an accord with Cuba providing for safe and legal
migration. The U.S. committed to providing at least 20,000 immigrant visas to
Cubans annually to avoid future crises by creating a release valve.
Trump replaced President Obama’s policy of normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations
with one of “maximum pressure” aimed at collapsing the Cuban
downsized the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2017, allegedly in response to injuries to U.S. personnel serving there. And he
suspended the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which provided upwards
of 20,000 immigrant visas annually to Cubans with close relatives in the U.S.
measures drastically reduced the number of immigrant visas given, closing the
safety valve Clinton negotiated in 1994. In 2020, just over 3,000 Cubans
immigrants were admitted to the U.S.
some 100,000 Cubans who have applied for the
reunification program are still waiting in limbo for the program to resume.
A policy problem
migration crisis brewing in Cuba has been largely overlooked while the Biden
administration focuses on managing the rush of Central American asylum-seekers
and caring for unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border.
House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently said that Cuba policy is currently
under review, but that it’s “not a top priority.”
officials could head off the migration crisis brewing in Cuba by making the
changes to U.S.-Cuba relations Biden promised during his 2020 presidential
the U.S. embassy in Havana would make it possible to resume compliance with
Clinton’s 1994 migration agreement to grant at least 20,000 immigrant visas
annually. That would give Cubans a safe and legal way to come to the U.S. and
discourage them from risking their lives on the open seas or with human traffickers.
Trump’s economic sanctions would curtail the need to emigrate by reducing
Cuba’s economic hardship, in part by enabling Cuban Americans to send money
directly to their families there.
reversing Trump’s restrictions on travel to the island would help revitalize
the private Cuban restaurants and bed and breakfasts that rely on U.S.
All these measures would put money directly into the hands of the Cuban people, giving them hope for a better future in Cuba.
Large cranes can be seen at Port Mariel inside the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.
A generic-sounding company headquartered in the tax
haven of Liechtenstein has for the past 37 years served as the center of global
shipping operations for the Cuban government, functioning under the radar while
skirting a six-decade trade embargo, an investigation by the Miami Herald/el
Nuevo Herald and McClatchy shows.
When incorporated in 1984 in the principality of
Liechtenstein, Acemex Management Company Limited was created as a means of
survival. It grew into a business model, has been described as the work of a
genius and has proved enduring.
A new Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald investigation
reveals the network of hidden shell companies and secretive jurisdictions that
allowed Fidel and Raúl Castro and now their military successors to borrow money
and to buy, sell and charter the ships that bring in chemicals, fuel and
construction supplies needed to build the growing tourism sector and export
The new investigation sheds light on little-known Acemex and the key players surrounding it — a pair of powerful Cuban brothers not named Fidel and Raúl, but Guillermo Faustino Rodriguez López-Calleja and hisyounger sibling Luis Alberto. The latter is a brigadier generalblacklisted by the United States in 2020.
(Reuters) – Five years after former U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic
visit to Havana, many Cubans hope Joe Biden will also pursue detente but fret
he will not do so as energetically after recent White House announcements.
visited Havana in March 2016, the first trip by a U.S. president to Cuba in 88
years. It was the culmination of a diplomatic opening towards the Communist-run
country, seeking to put an end to years of Cold War-era hostility.
successor Donald Trump unraveled that detente and tightened the crippling U.S.
trade embargo on Cuba, arguing that he would force democratic change.
who was vice president under Obama, vowed during his campaign to reverse
Trump’s policy shifts that “have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done
nothing to advance democracy and human rights.”
White House said earlier this month a broader Cuba policy shift was not currently
among Biden’s top priorities, even if it was “carefully reviewing policy
decisions made in the prior administration, including the decision to designate
Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”
very concerned that Biden will not continue in the same vein as Obama and will
allow himself to be influenced by the politics of Cubans in Miami,” said
retired Cuban economist Ileana Yarza.
have lost last year’s election but he did win the swing state of Florida, in
part due to a Republican campaign to paint Biden as in hock to the radical
left, a charge that hit home with the state’s large Cuban-American population.
economy is now suffering its worst crisis since the fall of former benefactor
the Soviet Union, partly due to a slew of new U.S. sanctions under Trump which
ended cruises to Havana, limited flights, reduced remittances and dampened
separated by the Florida Straits are more divided than ever after he reduced
the Havana embassy to skeletal staffing, following a series of unexplained
illnesses among diplomats. Consular services for Cubans have been moved to
Batista, who runs a souvenir crafts shop in Old Havana, said private
entrepreneurs like her had especially benefited from the detente and ensuing
tourism boom. “With Trump, please!
Everything has been declining, you know? And now with the pandemic it is even
more so,” she said. “Hopefully, with
this other president (Biden), we can have the same luck and the same
opportunity that we had with Obama.”
sanctions have hurt a state-run economy already smarting from its own
inefficiencies and a decline in aid from ally Venezuela. Proponents of the sanctions say it is these
and the resulting economic squeeze that have forced Cuba to pick up
market-style reforms once again lately. Critics underscore the cost to a
population dealing with shortages of basic goods like food and medicine.
say it is still early days and Biden has many more pressing foreign policy
issues after four years of the turbulent Trump presidency. But for Cubans,
every extra day counts.
already, the policies aren’t the same because there are no new sanctions,” said
Carlos Alzugaray, a former Cuban diplomat.
“But everything that the previous (Trump) administration did that stands
in the way of a return to the path of normalization has not begun to be
Las relaciones entre Cuba y
Estados Unidos han estado determinadas por el embargo a la isla que el gobierno
de Washington estableció tras el triunfo de la revolución en 1959. Esa política
no ha cambiado, aunque ha sufrido endurecimientos y también flexibilizaciones.
Al llegar Barack Obama a la Casa Blanca inició una fase de normalización,
coincidiendo con el avance de las reformas aperturistas en la Gran Antilla,
iniciadas en la década de 1990, pero hasta hace poco discontinuas. Sin embargo,
para ello empleó los recursos de relajación de las medidas que ofrecen las
propias leyes del embargo. Es decir, sin modificarlo, lo que ha permitido a su
sucesor, Donald Trump, restablecerlas en su versión más dura. Este libro
estudia el problema de los vínculos entre los dos países desde comienzos del
siglo XX desde la perspectiva de lo económico, que fue razón esencial de los
mismos, y muestra cómo la falta de un sentido de estado y de conformidad con la
influencia tuvo en la constitución de otro –Estados Unidos ocupó Cuba entre
1898 y 1902, tras su guerra de independencia– implicó dejarlas al juego de
intereses particulares que rige el funcionamiento del sistema político
norteamericano y que tal defecto los ha dotado de un asimetría que ha
prevalecido a los cambios de coyuntura y circunstancias desde entonces, al
triunfo de la revolución, al fin de la Guerra Fría.
Capítulo I. 90 millas. Relaciones
económicas Cuba-Estados Unidos en perspectiva histórica. Antonio Santamaría
García; José Manuel Azcona Pastor
Capítulo II. Avance y retroceso
de los capitales norteamericanos en la industria cubana del azúcar, 1890-1959.
Alejandro García Álvarez
Capítulo III. Proteccionismo y
restricción de la oferta: los orígenes de los controles de producción de azúcar
en Cuba y la relación comercial con Estados Unidos, 1921-193. Alan D. Dye
Capítulo IV. Ajustes al modelo de
dominación: la política de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba tras la revolución de
1933. Oscar Zanetti Lecuona
Capítulo V. “Cuba sería un cementerio de deudores”. El problema de la moratoria en la década de 1930. Julio César Guanche
Capítulo VI. El nacionalismo
moderado cubano, 1920-1960. Políticas económicas y relaciones con Estados
Unidos. Jorge I. Domínguez
Capítulo VII. Relaciones
comerciales azucareras Cuba-Estados Unidos, 1902-1960. Jorge Pérez-López
Capítulo VIII. Las relaciones
Cuba-Estados Unidos desde la revolución hasta el periodo especial.Victor
Capítulo IX. Failed on all
counts. El embargo de Estados Unidos a Cuba. Andrew Zimbalist
Capítulo X. La ventana de oportunidad que se abrió y se cerró: historia
de la normalización de relaciones Estados Unidos-Cuba. Carmelo Mesa-Lago
Capítulo XI. El bloqueo económico en el contexto de las agresiones de
Estados Unidos contra Cuba. Historia no contada y evolución reciente.José Luis
Capítulo XIII. Cuba-Estados Unidos: la gestión de las empresas cubanas.
Ileana Díaz Fernández
Capítulo XIV. Viajes, remesas y trabajo por cuenta propia. Relaciones
económicas entre los cubanos emigrados y su país de origen.Jorge Duany
Capítulo XV. El papel de los visitantes de Estados Unidos en la economía cubana. Historia y realidad. Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva; José Luis Perelló Cabrera
Democrats are reportedly pressing
President Joe Biden to reverse U.S. policy on Cuba once again, returning to the
detente that prevailed before Donald Trump took office. Biden should indeed
take the first steps toward renewed openness — and put the onus on Cuba’s Communist
leaders to respond.
so many of his predecessor’s policies, Trump was quick to declare the Obama
administration’s rapprochement with Cuba a “bad deal” and began dismantling it
wholesale, imposing or re-imposing more than 200 restrictions on travel, trade, and financial and
diplomatic ties. The clampdown won Trump votes in southern Florida,
but by almost any other measure it failed. Cuba’s Communist regime remains
firmly entrenched. If anything, it’s grown even more dependent on U.S. rivals
Venezuela, Russia and China. Hardliners in Havana have continued to crack down on dissent.
Cuban entrepreneurs flourished when Americans were allowed to visit the island,
but the combined impact of revived U.S. restrictions and the pandemic have left
this serves U.S. interests. Under Obama, the U.S. and Cuba struck more than 20
agreements that addressed U.S. security concerns, on issues ranging from
counter-narcotics to the environment. Biden should open the door to renewing
require lifting Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which the
Trump administration imposed in its closing days with no real justification.
Biden will also need to restore frayed diplomatic ties — appointing an
ambassador, staffing up the U.S. embassy (taking additional security
precautions while the cause of a mysterious illness that
struck U.S. diplomats in recent years remains under investigation), and resuming
consular services so Cubans can travel to the U.S. again. The two sides should
cooperate on public health to combat the pandemic and restart talks on security
opening should focus for now on improving the lives of Cubans on and off the
island. The administration should lift restrictions on remittances. And it should allow
travel to the island, because American visitors are good for local enterprise.
That means permitting flights to cities other than Havana and people-to-people
exchanges, while drawing up a shorter “restricted list” of
entities with which Americans are forbidden to do business.
shouldn’t expect the U.S. to lift more targeted sanctions, however, let alone
the decades-old embargo — whose provisions are now codified into U.S.
law — unless it begins to move, too. Among other things, that means
addressing certified claims for property seized after the 1959 revolution, now
estimated at nearly $9 billion with
interest. Cuba’s leaders should play a constructive role in resolving the
Venezuelan crisis and improve their record on human rights at home. The
government has recently taken some steps to rationalize the country’s currency system and promote
the private sector, but should
do more to open the economy to outside investment. The Communist Party
transition next month, when 89-year-old Raul Castro is scheduled to step down, offers a moment
for the regime to affirm its intention to reform.
and suspicious as they may be, Cuba’s leaders should remember two things.
First, all these measures are in their nation’s own best interests. Second, any
thaw in relations will be temporary unless Biden can point to results. The
Cuban regime made a big mistake in failing to build on Obama’s initiative,
leading many in the U.S. to conclude that engagement
was pointless. The next detente will fail unless it benefits Americans and
On March 9, 2021, the Inter-American Dialogue hosted the online event “What Will It Take to Salvage Cuba’s Economy?”. The event featured opening remarks from Michael Shifter, president of the Dialogue, who also served as the moderator. The panel of experts included Pavel Vidal Alejandro, professor of Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Cali, Colombia; Ted Henken, associate professor for the department of Sociology at Baruch College, CUNY; and Vicki Huddleston, retired US Ambassador & former chief of the US Interests Section in Havana. The panel explored what effect the Cuban’s government 2021 economic reforms will have on the economy, the private sector, and Cuban foreign relations.
Alejandro started by highlighting the Cuban government’s historical resilience
in terms of getting through the hardest of economic and political times. He
compared the current moment to the Cuban government’s economic decline after
the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. Although the contemporary
and historical struggles are different, he was confident that the Cuban
government will eventually figure out how to navigate their economic reforms
and all that comes with it, as they once did three decades back.
Vidal Alejandro and Henken recommend expanding the private sector and allowing
businesses more freedom as a strategy to revive the Cuban economy. Henken
stated that “Cuba went from a situation where the government told you what you
could do to now the Cuban government telling you what you can’t do.” He further
affirmed that while it is positive that the Cuban government is listening and
changing things based on feedback, the slower the reforms come to place, the
more the people that will leave the country. All the panelists agreed that only
time will tell if the Cuban government carries through with its promises and
enforces its new policies.
suggested that the Biden administration should allow for higher levels of
remittances, Covid-19 cooperation, and humanitarian
assistance. She also emphasized on the importance of reviewing Cuba policy in
order to remove sanctions, which have hurt the Cuban people. According to
Huddleston, there are multiple avenues for the United States to capitalize on
Cuba’s economic reform and forge a renewed relationship with the Cuban people.
Overall, panelists were optimistic about the future of the Cuban economy and the prospects for foreign investment. The new single national currency and official exchange rates will make it easier to calculate return on investments and to understand financial risks around projects in the island. In closing, it was mentioned that what remains to be seen is whether or not the government will continue to let go of some of its control: banning less and less activities and taking constructive criticism from the entrepreneurial sector, a previously unheard-of act. The speed at which the Cuban government makes these reforms is critical due to the growing impatience of Cuban professionals who are deliberating whether or not to leave the country.
CUBA EMPRESARIAL. EMPRENDEDORES ANTE UNA CAMBIANTE POLÍTICA PÚBLICA, by Ted Henken and Archibald Ritter, 2020, Editorial Hypermedia Del Libro of Spain. This is an up-dated Spanish-language version of the book ENTREPRENEURIAL CUBA: THE CHANGING POLICY LANDSCAPE, by Archibald Ritter and Ted Henken.
The publication details of the volume are as follows:
Carmelo Mesa-Lago. Hasta ahora, este libro es el más
completo y profundo sobre la iniciativa privada en Cuba.
Cardiff Garcia. Este libro aporta una lúcida explicación a la particular
interacción entre el incipiente sector privado en Cuba y los sectores
Sergio Díaz-Briquets. Cuba empresarial es una lectura obligada para los interesados en la situación actual del país. Su publicación es oportuna no sólo por lo que revela sobre la situación económica, social y política, sino también por sus percepciones sobre la evolución futura de Cuba.
Richard Feinberg.Los autores reconocen la importancia de
las reformas de Raúl Castro, aunque las consideran insuficientes para
sacar a la economía cubana de su estancamiento.
Fidel Castro must be laughing in his grave for the
damage that the two Cuban-American Senators, Rubio and Cruz, have helped to
inflict on the United States.
In the words of Senator McConnell
“The people who stormed
this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instruction of their
president. And their having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the
growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless
hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone
on planet Earth. The issue is not only the president’s intemperate language on
January 6 … It was also the entire manufactured atmosphere of looming
catastrophe, the increasingly wild myths about a reverse landslide election
that was somehow being stolen by some secret coup by our now-president.” (M. McConnell, 13, Feb. 2021
This was in effect the Majority case for the
impeachment of Donald Trump. (But just before this, McConnell had voted to acquit
former President Trump. His argument was
basically that Trump was no longer president – though as we all know he had
made it impossible for the Senate to take Trump to trial while he was still President. Unbelievable duplicity and hypocrisy.)
After being nastily abused by Trump and after criticizing
Trump sharply during the 2016 election, both Marco Rubio Ted Cruz sucked up to
Trump. They supported him and his behaviour at virtually all times on almost
all issues. They were and are cowardly sycophants of the ex. president. They were
his enablers and co-conspirators before and after the 2020 election. Their
failure to fulfill their oaths of office and defend democracy in the United States
The names of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, along with 41
other Republican senators, will live in infamy. Fidel Castro in his grave would be pleased as
would his current inheritors.