Gustav and Gorki in Cuba, Two Platforms – and two directions – on Cuba

August 29, 2008

Dear Friend:

This week, we’re casting a wary eye toward the Caribbean as Tropical Storm Gustav begins to strengthen to hurricane status as we mark the third anniversary of Katrina. The safety of the people in the region concerns us all.

We’re also watching Cuba’s economy with reports this week that the import-dependent nation is running short of cash in this period of high energy and food prices. Our summary this week also covers the arrest of Gorki Aguila, detained for “social dangerousness,” but the news stories contain no explanation from the government as to the basis for his detention.

In the United States, we’re between the two parties’ political conventions, and so we’ve reprinted the paragraphs from the parties’ platforms on Cuba in our section titled “Florida’s Foreign Policy.”

You will see clear distinctions between the Republican and Democratic platforms on Cuban-American family travel and the prospects for normalization. Neither party comes to grips with the failure of U.S. policy, but they do offer a clear choice on the issue of U.S. relations with Cuba.

And now – without preconditions – here’s this week in Cuba news.

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Subsidies may come and go, but Cuban baseball (and boxing) is forever!

August 22, 2008

Dear Friend:

We return to the subject of reform this week in our news blast about Cuba.

Amidst a debate described as “fierce,” Cuba’s government is contemplating changes in subsidies, the iconic ration book, and overall incentives for work, changes that go to the core of its definition of what a socialist economy can be. Here, we feature important reporting from The Financial Times.

The reform debate has swept beyond the economy and into Cuba’s classrooms. Changes in staffing and teacher pay aim at making improvements in Cuba’s primary and middle schools that were demanded by Cubans in a debate triggered by Raúl Castro last year.

In Beijing, as the Olympics draw to a close, performances by Cuba’s baseball and boxing teams are drawing the world’s attention. Cuba is currently in 12th place in overall medals, leading all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. See our report.

Accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is ordered to stand trial for immigration violations by a U.S. Appeals Court while a convicted terrorist may benefit from a pardon campaign directed at President Bush. Is Senator Joe Lieberman really offering to help set the killer of a diplomat free?

These issues and more, this week in Cuba news…

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We’re Back — as Fidel turns 82, we have some catching up to do!

August 14, 2008

Dear Friend:

Did you miss us? We missed communicating with you.

Our apologies for not showing up in your inbox recently. We’ve been away.

On successive Fridays in August, our team was on a research trip to Venezuela and Ecuador – making site visits in rural areas to see how oil revenues are being used to improve living and economic conditions in Venezuela, to meet with a cross section of Venezuelan leaders, and to visit Quito in advance of a delegation sponsored by the Center for Democracy in the America’s planned for 2009.

During our trip, we kept a watchful eye on developments in Cuba, but we delayed publishing a news summary until our return from the region.

From accounts about Fidel Castro’s birthday to reports on human rights and new signs of growth in Cuba’s sugar industry, we are pleased to present (without further delay!) this week in Cuba news.

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