U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/23/2020

October 23, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy. 

The Americas Society/Council of the Americas is hosting an online event called Cuban Entrepreneurship in 2020 on October 28 with three Cuban entrepreneurs based in Havana. The event will feature Marta Deus, Co-Founder of Mandao, Lauren Fajardo, Co-Founder of Dador, and Liber Puente, Founder & CEO of TostoneT. More information about the event and registration information is available here

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 420 active COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March is 128. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

CDA is seeking two spring interns! Interns work in three key areas: Policy and Advocacy; Communications and Social Media; and Nonprofit Development. The deadline to apply is November 15. Visit our website to learn more about the internship and to read reflections from past interns. 

This week, we are continuing our interviews with Cuban Americans doing work we admire. We interviewed Aisha Cort, scholar and social entrepreneur, about her connection to Cuba and current projects. 

Before this week’s news, an interview with Aisha Cort, scholar and social entrepreneur.  

CDA: What is your connection to Cuba?  

Aisha: I am a first-generation Cuban and Guyanese American, born and raised in an Afro-Latino community of Cubans, Hondureños, Costa Ricans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Guatemaltecans in Boston, Ma. My mother and uncle came to the US in 1963 via Operation Peter Pan. My grandmother arrived a few years earlier in 1959. 

I began traveling back to Cuba regularly with my grandmother at the age of 13 to spend summers with family in Havana. My mother never returned to the island after she left, but she remained devoted to our family there and extremely proud of her Cuban heritage despite disagreeing with the political system.

Now as an adult, I return about 3-4 times a year to visit family and friends, to relax, and also for research and to bring groups of language learners down for cultural immersion experiences. Away from the island, I stay engaged via various redes sociales [social networks], social and academic projects/initiatives that keep me connected to the island. 

To continue reading the full interview with Aisha Cort, visit the “U.S.-Cuba Relations” section.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/16/2020

October 16, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy. At CDA, we know that, despite challenges, the U.S. and Cuban people are united and our new video #WeAreTogether (#EstamosJuntos) reflects this. During a time of so much rancor and division, we want to highlight the things that bring us together. Join us and share how you are connected to the U.S. or the Cuban people. Submit your video to info@democracyinamericas.org and we may feature it on our social media platforms!

Cuba experienced a decrease in COVID-19 cases this week, with 290 active COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March is 124. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

CDA is seeking two spring interns! Interns work in three key areas: Policy and Advocacy; Communications and Social Media; and Nonprofit Development. The deadline to apply is November 15. Visit our website to learn more about the internship and to read reflections from past interns.

This week, in Cuba news…

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

Flying to Havana? American Airlines to resume ‘Scheduled Service To Cuba’ from Miami

On Tuesday, American Airlines announced that on November 4 they will resume flights from Miami to Havana, CBS Miami reports. American Airlines will offer three daily flights to Cuba’s capital. The announcement comes shortly after Cuba’s government announced it will be reopening its borders and will allow most of its airports to open. On April 2, Cuba closed its airports and prevented travel to limit the spread of COVID-19. In December 2019, the Trump administration banned flights to all destinations other than Havana. In a joint press release at the time with Cuba Study Group, Engage Cuba, the Latin America Working Group, Oxfam America, and the Washington Office on Latin America, CDA Executive Director Emily Mendrala stated the move was a “blow to the interests of the American and Cuban people alike.”

Cuba replaces U.S. Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez [Spanish]

Cuba’s government will soon replace Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez in the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. after 8 years of service, Periódico Cubano reports. In 2012, Amb. Cabañas led Cuba’s Interests Section in Washington, D.C. and, following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba under President Obama, he assumed the title of ambassador. Cuba has named the current Cuban Ambassador to Vietnam, Lianys Torres Rivera, as Cabañas’ successor Amb. Torres will assume the position of Chargé d’Affaires of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., upon approval of her visa and once international flights resume.

IN CUBA

Cuba urges calm as overhaul of monetary system looms

On Monday, Cuba’s government urged citizens to stay calm as the government prepares to unify its dual currency system and multiple exchange rates, Reuters reports. Last Thursday, Cuba’s government officially announced they will soon implement currency unification. Alejandro Gil, Cuba’s Minister of the Economy stated this unification could help Cuba overcome its current economic crisis, and that it will be implemented alongside wage, pension, and other reforms. The government has assured the Cuban people that they will have ample time to exchange their currency and that they will not lose money. Currency unification is expected to be implemented by the end of the year. Cuba currently has two official currencies, the Cuban Peso (CUP) which is valued at about 25 CUP for one U.S. Dollar (USD), and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which is valued at about 1 CUC for every 1 USD. Once currency unification is implemented, Cuba will end the circulation of the CUC and the CUP’s value will be tied to the dollar. Economists warn that this transition may cause inflation and bankruptcies which would affect domestic economic efficiency and exports.

Because of the two different currencies, Cuba currently has a two-tier economy which causes economic inequalities among Cubans. Those employed by the state sector are paid in CUP, but those wages are often not enough to cover the costs of basic necessities which increasingly are offered for purchase in CUC and U.S. dollars. Some Cubans are able to earn CUC by working in the non-state sector, in the tourism industry, or by receiving remittances from relatives abroad. The CUPs’ value has diminished even more since Cuba began opening dollar stores last year and more in July. These dollar stores only accept payment in dollars or other tradable currencies. Often, dollar stores carry products that CUP and CUC stores do not.

Cuba currently faces a dire economic crisis. Its economy was already under strain due to increased sanctions by the United States, a decline in tourism, fewer oil shipments from Venezuela, and the underperformance of domestic agriculture. A decrease in remittances from relatives abroad, fueled by new U.S. sanctions, has also resulted in a loss of revenue for the island in recent months. In July, Cuba’s president Miguel Díaz-Canel, announced a series of economic reforms, including the impending unified dual currency system.

Cuba’s National Assembly to meet virtually for first time

On Tuesday, Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power announced it will be meeting virtually for the first time ever, OnCuba News reports. The virtual session will begin on October 26 with the presentation of four bills by International Relations and the Permanent Commission on Economic Affairs. On October 27, the Ministry of Public Health will deliver updates on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic on the island. Then, on October 28, the legislative body will present the 2019 Budget and Economic-Social Strategy report in response to COVID-19. The program will also include the ratification of agreements and decree laws approved by the Council of State.

CUBA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS

Wealthy nations defy Trump with debt lifeline to ailing Cuba

Members of the Paris Club of creditors will suspend Cuba’s debt obligations for the year, defying the U.S.’s attempts to block financial relief to Cuba, Bloomberg News reports. Cuba owes a debt payment at the end of October but over a dozen Paris Club members will allow the payment to be delayed. As of December 2019, Cuba owed the Paris Club $5.2 billion and previously requested a two-year moratorium on the debt. The U.S. has lobbied against the suspension but cannot veto the decision because it does not require consensus from the 22 Paris Club members. 14 creditors, including the U.K., Spain, Japan and Canada, want to support Cuba.

Collection of extensions for Cubans living abroad: a citizen question

As of this week, Cuban citizens living abroad must pay a fee for each month their stay is extended beyond two years, OnCuba News reports. Cuban Decree 302 stipulates that a Cuban citizen living abroad must re-enter Cuba at least once every 24 months “to maintain the status of ‘Cuban citizen residing abroad.’” If more than 24 months pass without visiting Cuba, citizens may request an extension for their time abroad and pay a fee which varies depending on the country of residence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba’s government waived the fee on March 19. A Cuban resident in Spain who disapproves of the measure started an online petition asking Cuba’s president Miguel Díaz-Canel and the Ministry of Foreign Relations to waive the monthly payments. The Cuban Embassy in the United States has yet to state if it will be necessary to make monthly payments and what the amount will be.

Cuba is elected to the UN Human Rights Council despite increased government repression

On Tuesday, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly elected Cuba as a member of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) despite opposition from some states and civil society organizations, the Miami Herald reports. Cuba received 170 out of 192 votes, promising to promote “cultural rights” and highlighted its “participatory and democratic character.” Following Cuba’s election, 85 civil society organizations from Cuba and other countries signed a declaration criticizing the move and arguing that this “undermines the integrity of the Council.” In a press statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that Cuba’s election to the UNHRC validates President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S.’s membership in 2018. Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez tweeted that despite the “smear campaign” against Cuba’s election into the UNHRC, it was elected with 88 percent of the vote.

RECOMMENDED READINGS AND VIEWINGS

“The War on Cuba” Episode 2, Belly of the Beast

Episode two of “The War on Cuba” is now available. “The War on Cuba” is a new documentary series created by Belly of the Beast, a Havana-based project made up of Cubans and foreigners. The documentary, hosted by Cuban journalist Liz Oliva, provides an inside look into the effects of U.S. sanctions and the embargo on the Cuban people. Episode one is available for viewing here.

Photo gallery: Cuban women entrepreneurs make their mark, El Toque, Nuevos Espacios Blog- Cuba Study Group

This photo essay features three Cuban women entrepreneurs who are navigating the challenges of being a private business owner in Cuba, the unique circumstances of COVID-19, and systematic machismo in Cuba. The photo essay features Adriana Heredia, owner of Beyond Roots, Saily González, owner of Amarillo B&B/Amarillo Co-Working, and Katia Sánchez, founder of the blog La Penúltima Casa.

Cuba’s Currency Reform Could Ease Its Covid-19 Blues, Mac Margolis, Bloomberg

In this opinion piece, Mac Margolis argues that Cuba’s currency unification will likely present challenges but will also bring an opportunity for Cuba to fix its currency exchange rate. Mr. Margolis also argues that the reform is an opportunity to dismantle top-heavy economic management which for decades has impeded initiative and new enterprises.

Toro Time: Did ‘Bidenistas’ Take The ‘Socialista’ Bull By The Horns In Florida?, Tim Padgett, WLRN Public Radio Miami/South Florida

In this article, Tim Padgett argues that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s increased support in the polls from Florida Hispanics should be credited to the grassroots Latino “Con Biden” (With Biden) groups in Miami. He discusses the work the groups have been doing on the ground to rally support for Mr. Biden and to go against the Republican party’s rhetoric that he is a socialist.

Biden Would Likely Shift U.S. Policy In Latin America Away From Sole Focus On Immigration, Tracy Wilkinson and Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times

In this article, Tracy Wilkinson and Molly O’Toole predict that Demoratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will likely shift his Latin America policy away from focusing only on immigration and toward policies of building democratic governments, fighting corruption, and respecting human rights. They predict his immigration policy will likely focus on fighting root causes of migration, while his Cuba policy will likely return to the Obama-era policies he helped create.

Latin America’s past weighs on US Hispanic voters, Rafael Romo and Ana María Mejía, CNN

In this article, Rafael Romo and Ana María Mejía discuss how for many Latino voters who immigrated to the U.S. from socialist or authoritarian regimes, the fear of the U.S. resembling those systems is a major motivator as they decide who to vote for in the U.S.’s presidential election this November. They state that many Latino immigrant groups, including Cubans, Venezuelans, Colombians, and Nicaraguans are determining who to vote for based on this.

Trump, Pence promise a ‘Cuba libre’ in Miami, but only Obama outsmarted the Castros, Fabiola Santiago, The Miami Herald

In this opinion piece, Fabiola Santiago notes that, when it comes to U.S. politics around Cuba, “Words don’t cost a thing, except maybe to the isolated and repressed people in Cuba.” She reports on President Trump’s and Vice President Pence’s visits to Miami this week, and Vice President Pence’s well-worn “que viva Cuba libre” remarks before a Miami crowd. She goes further to draw a distinction between U.S. policy toward Cuba under Presidents Obama and Trump, noting that Obama’s approach was one of statesmanship that returned U.S. democratic influence to the island.

The future of Cuba will not depend on Trump or Biden, but on the allied countries, Iván León, CiberCuba [Spanish]

In this opinion piece, Cuban columnist Iván León discusses an interview with John Kavulich, President of the Cuban-American Commercial and Economic Council, published by Infobae. According to Mr. Kavulick, the key to changing the state of U.S.-Cuba relations is not who will be elected the next U.S. president in November, but what countries Cuba has strategic partnerships with. Mr. León also discusses Mr. Kavulich’s views on the challenges of U.S. companies considering doing business in Cuba and the role of Cuba’s trade with the European Union.

The Cuban American Political Right in U.S.-Cuba Policy: Architects, Puppets, or Useful Tools?, Manuel Gómez, Cubarte [Spanish]

In this essay, Cuban American Manuel Gómez argues that the Cuban American political right has not been the principal architect of U.S.-Cuba policy. Mr. Gómez argues against the common belief that U.S.-Cuba policy has been since 1959, and continues to be, a domestic policy issue. Instead, he asserts that U.S.-Cuba policy has always been an issue of foreign policy which is determined by each Administration, not by the Cuban American political right. At best, this demographic has managed to be a useful tool for certain Administrations implementing their U.S.-Cuba policy.

Military economy in Cuba, Alina B. López Hernández, Joven Cuba [Spanish]

In this opinion piece, journalist Alina López Hernández argues that Cuba should transition from a military economy to a civil economy. She states that a civil economy would allow Cuba to achieve three important goals: to gain popular control over large properties, to fight against corruption, and to create a strategy to weaken the U.S. embargo.

Havana and Washington, conservative force camps, Carlos Manuel Álvarez, El Pais [Spanish]

In this opinion piece, Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez discusses his relationship with Cuban journalist Abraham Jiménez who was detained and interrogated by Cuba’s State Security last week and subsequently recounted his experiences on Twitter and in a piece published by Post Opinión. Mr. Álvarez discusses how Cuban and U.S. hardliners alike are comfortable with the current state of hostility, and the Cuban people suffer as a result.

Cubans share their coming out stories, Washington Blade

In this article, Cuban LGBTI+ activists share their experiences coming out in celebration of National Coming Out Day, which is celebrated on October 11. Although National Coming Out Day is not yet widely celebrated in Cuba, some activists celebrated the day by sharing their stories on social media. This article is also available in Spanish.

Race and Heredity in Contemporary Cuban Society, Julio César Guanche, Nuevos Espacios Blog- Cuba Study Group

In this essay, Cuban historian Julio César Guanche traces the history of race and racism in Cuba, incorporating a series of contemporary and historical photographs throughout the text. Mr. Guanche also describes the different ways discussions of racism and race relations in Cuba are shaped, and proposes solutions for combating racial inequalities. This essay is also available in Spanish.

EVENTS

Virtual, Cuba: Environmental Challenges, October 20

The Cuba Program at Columbia University’s Institute of Latin American Studies is hosting a panel about the environmental challenges Cuba currently faces. The panel will feature Giselle García Castro, a Cuban filmmaker, and Dan Whittle, Senior Attorney/Senior Director at Oceans and Energy Programs at the Environmental Defense Fund. To learn more and register for the event, visit the event website.


Support CDA: Click here to support CDA’s work bringing you the U.S.-Cuba News Brief each week and promoting a U.S. policy toward Cuba based on engagement and recognition of Cuba’s sovereignty. Make your 100% tax-deductible gift now!

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/09/2020

October 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy. At CDA, we know that the U.S. and Cuban people are united and our new video #WeAreTogether (#EstamosJuntos) reflects this. Join us and share how you are connected to the Cuban people. Submit your video to info@democracyinamericas.org and we may feature it on our social media platforms. We invite you to keep up with CDA by liking us on Facebook and following us on Instagram and Twitter.

Yesterday, Cuba announced it will open most of the country to foreign tourism starting next week as the country enters a “new normality.” Cuba’s government also announced updates on currency unification. Oniel Díaz Castellanos, co-founder of AUGE, a Cuban business development and communications team, tweeted a summary of the updates. More details about the announcements are available in our “In Cuba” section.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 420 active COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 123 deaths. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/02/2020

October 2, 2020

Dear Friends,

Happy October! We wish everyone a restful weekend.

The Florida International University 2020 Cuba Poll was released today. The Cuba Poll has been tracking the opinions of South Florida’s Cuban American community since 1991. Read our U.S.-Cuba Relations section for highlights.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 624 active COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 118 deaths. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week we are continuing our interviews of next generation Cuban-Americans doing incredible work we admire. We had the pleasure of interviewing María Carla Chicuén, the founding Executive Director of CasaCuba, a new initiative of Florida International University in Miami, FL to build a leading think tank and cultural center for the study of Cuba and the celebration and preservation of the Cuban heritage.

Before this week’s news, an interview with María Carla Chicuen

CDA: Your family immigrated from Cuba to Miami in 2002. What was your and your family’s experience during your first few years in the U.S.?

María Carla: Our first few years in the United States were our family’s “startup” stage. These years were partly defined by constant changes and challenges. In my case, some of the most significant changes included transitioning not just from Havana to Palm Beach, and then Miami-Dade, but also from middle school to high school, through four different schools in a single year. One of my biggest challenges was to gain and prove fluency in English so that I could be granted permission by the school counselors to advance into more rigorous classes, and embrace all the educational opportunities available to me. My parents faced their own particular set of hardships. For many years, they struggled to find professional jobs and made extraordinary efforts to sustain our family while providing my younger sister and me all the resources they could for our personal and academic enrichment. Parallel to their work, and often, multiple part-time jobs, they were also focused on learning English and preparing to certify their respective university degrees, my mother as a medical doctor and my father as an electrical engineer. Like most startups, our finances were tight, and we lacked a strong support system. The burden of our separation from our family in Cuba also weighed heavily on our shoulders. Almost twenty years later, we look back to that period with fondness, because our teamwork gave us some of our most beautiful moments as a family; with gratitude, for the help we received from many relatives and friends, and the community at large; and with purpose, because we are committed to helping other families achieve their own dreams. As Cubans often say—“no es fácil” (it is not easy) but we always thought that even if it was not easy, it would be possible.

CDA: What has been your connection to Cuba since moving to Miami?

María Carla: With the years, my deep appreciation for my heritage, mi orgullo de ser cubana (my pride in being Cuban), has only intensified. I have always felt enormous pride in my culture, and curiosity for my roots. As a child, I became the family historian, learning the names and stories of ancestors and tracing my Spanish and Chinese lineage.

Beyond Miami, where the Cuban spirit has always felt ubiquitous, I found a very strong and special Cuban community at Harvard University where I completed my undergraduate studies and focused my honors thesis in History on Cuba’s diplomatic and commercial relations with Spain and England. Throughout my professional career in international development and higher education, I have maintained my longstanding commitment to Cuba. In my previous position as Special Projects Assistant to Miami Dade College President Eduardo Padrón, for example, I had the opportunity to coordinate an academic program to train Cuban entrepreneurs. I have also enjoyed mentoring Cuban students for many years, disseminating international education and scholarship opportunities that have enabled many Cubans, including those in Cuba, to access even some of the most selective universities in the world, like Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Columbia. These were remarkable foundational experiences for my current work leading CasaCuba at Florida International University (FIU).

My passion for Cuba far surpasses an accident of birth and blood. I am drawn to my little island’s outsized influence in the world through every century and set of coordinates, to the universality of Cuban culture, and to the immense potential of the Cuban people.

To continue reading the full interview with María Carla Chicuen, visit the “U.S.-Cuba Relations” section.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 09/25/2020

September 25, 2020

Dear Friends,

We wish everyone a happy fall! This week, we are so pleased to celebrate CDA’s Director of Programs, María José Espinosa who was recently named one of the 2020 Latino National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders by the New America Foundation. Join us in celebrating this very well-deserved accomplishment!

Our friends at 90 Miles Podcast recently published their fifth episode which features a conversation with CDA Board Member Collin Laverty and Yasser González, a Cuban entrepreneur. Check it out here!

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 572 COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 118 deaths. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 9/18/2020

September 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

We wish everyone a relaxing and safe weekend.

The Care Lab is a new project under development by the team of CDA’s close colleagues, the Platform for Innovation and Dialogue with Cuba. The Care Lab is currently hiring a remote Digital Media/Communications Intern. The application is due October 1. For the full position description and instructions on how to apply, visit the Care Lab’s website.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 642 positive COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 111 deaths. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief 09/11/2020

September 11, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy.

Our friends at 90 Miles Podcast published their fourth episode this week! This week’s episode features Google Cuba’s Susanna Kohly; Lauren Fajardo, Co-Founder of fashion & lifestyle brand Dador; and Adriana Heredia, a Cuban economist and professor at the University of Havana. Check it out here!

The Care Lab is a new project under development by the team of CDA’s close colleagues, the Platform for Innovation and Dialogue with Cuba. The Care Lab is currently hiring a remote Digital Media/Communications Intern. For the full position description and instructions on how to apply, visit the Care Lab’s website.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 664 positive COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 106. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week Cuba’s government published a socioeconomic plan to combat the economic crisis the country is currently facing. The document is available in Spanish here.

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 09/04/2020

September 4, 2020

Dear Friends,

We are happy to be back bringing you the latest Cuba news to your inbox! We wish everyone a safe and healthy September.

Our friends at 90 Miles Podcast published their third episode this week! This week’s episode features Google Cuba’s Susanna Kohly and award-winning Cuban singer Daymé Arocena. Check it out here!

The Care Lab is a new project under development by the team of CDA’s close colleagues, the Platform for Innovation and Dialogue with Cuba. The Care Lab is currently hiring a remote Digital Media/Communications Intern. For the full position description and instructions on how to apply, visit the Care Lab’s website.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 638 positive COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. Cuba’s total number of deaths since March has increased to 100. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

For the past few weeks we have been featuring Cuban and Cuban-American economists and engagement advocates in our news blast. In the coming weeks, we will interview next generation Cuban-Americans doing incredible work we admire. This week we interviewed Cherie Cancio, one of the founders of the CubaOne Foundation and CubaOne’s Chair and Program Leader on the Board of Directors.

Before this week’s news, an interview with Cherie Cancio

CDA: What is the CubaOne Foundation? What’s your role at CubaOne?

Cherie: CubaOne Foundation gives the gift of a 7 day trip to Cuba to Cuban-Americans ages 22-35. We seek to foster, encourage, and promote dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Cuba by offering a new generation of Cuban-Americans the opportunity to interact with the Cuban people and experience Cuba through high-impact, curated trips. We achieve impact through four focus areas: 1) Engagement, 2) Reconciliation, 3) Community and 4) Heritage. I am a Founder of CubaOne and serve on CubaOne’s Board of Directors as Chair and Program Leader.

CDA: What inspired you to help start CubaOne?

Cherie: CubaOne was born out of and inspired by the reestablishment of diplomatic and business ties between the U.S. and Cuba. Fueled by the possibilities of rapprochement with the United States and the emotional distance wrought by time, children and grandchildren of exiles were traveling across the Florida Straits in increasing numbers. There was so much healing and positive discussion that was happening. We sought to build a nonprofit seeking to bridge our community here in exile with that of the Cuban people on the island. 

By offering young Cuban-Americans free trips to Cuba we were embarking on a life changing journey focused on exploring issues of identity and personal heritage, and building connections with our Cuban peers. We modeled our program TuCuba after Birthright Israel, the organization that has sent hundreds of thousands of young Jews to visit Israel since 1999.

To continue reading the full interview with Cherie Cancio, visit the “U.S.- Cuba Relations” section. 

This week, in Cuba news…

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U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 08/21/2020

August 21, 2020

Dear Friends,

In lieu of our news round-up, this week we’ve compiled a list of music, podcasts, and recommended readings for you to enjoy. We will resume delivering the latest Cuba news and analysis to your inbox on September 4.

Cuba experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, with 581 positive COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. For a graph of case numbers since March, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website. Cuba’s government announced they will begin clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine, “Soberana 01” (Sovereign 01), next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S.-Cuba News Brief 08/07/2020

August 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are safe and healthy. We are delighted to highlight the work of some friends of CDA. 90Miles, a new podcast, will air bimonthly episodes featuring stories from Cuban tech, culture and the arts. The first episode, released Thursday, features Founder and CEO of Cuban tech company TostoneT, Liber Puente, and an analysis by Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

Before this week’s news, an interview with a committed advocate for U.S.-Cuba engagement and a longtime friend of CDA, Carlos Lazo, who just concluded his cross-country bicycle trip, cycling to bring attention to the cause of ending the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

CDA: Tell us a little about yourself and your experience advocating for engagement between the U.S. and Cuba. What kinds of advocacy have you found most effective?

Carlos: My name is Carlos Lazo, I’m a Cuban American, and I have been advocating for improving the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. for the last two decades. I’m a U.S. veteran, I participated in the Iraq war as a combat medic, and when I came back from Iraq in 2005, I found that I couldn’t visit my children in Cuba because the Bush administration put in place restrictions that prevented Cuban Americans from going there. The decision [made by the Administration] was that Cuban Americans could only visit Cuba once every three years. [It was then that] I started fighting for change in that restriction and those policies. I found visits to the representatives, to elected officials in congress, to be very effective because they can hear first hand the experiences of Americans and Cuban Americans.

CDA: Why bicycling? How is this different from other forms of advocacy you have done?

Carlos: Why bicycling? Some friends would say that it’s difficult. The first thing that came to my mind [was a letter and petition]. A few months ago we started a petition in Change.org for the Trump administration to lift restrictions and sanctions because of coronavirus. We got more than 20,000 signatures and we sent the petition to the White House but they didn’t answer. My first idea in May when I sent several letters to the White House and they didn’t answer was to go there and ask to meet with elected officials, but I wanted to do it in a way that would call the attention of the American people. The first thing that I thought about was running from Seattle, but my children said that would take a long time, so we decided to go bicycling. [By bicycling] we could also go to different communities, talk to Americans from all backgrounds and from all political spectrums about the sanctions against Cuba, and how in this time of coronavirus it is very inhumane to keep this embargo and these restrictions against the Cuban people. This is different from what I have done before. Before, I visited congressional offices. This time I wasn’t just visiting congressional offices because I was talking to elected officials along the way, but I was also talking to the American people about the need to lift the embargo, and that was very effective. Many Americans are not aware of what the embargo is. It was different and I think it was very effective.

To continue reading the full interview with Carlos Lazo, go to the “U.S.-Cuba Relations” section of our news brief.

Cuba saw an increase in COVID-19 cases this week, particularly in Havana. The island reports  310 positive COVID-19 cases at the time of publication. For a visualization of cases, see here.

This week, in Cuba news…

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