U.S.-Cuba News Brief: 10/01/2021

Dear Friends,

This week we continue our interview with Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategy Officer at the Human Rights Foundation and author of the recent article Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution, about his thoughts on recent recognition of and regulations surrounding the use of cryptocurrencies by Cuba’s government and the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies for average Cuban citizens.

To read part two of CDA’s interview with Alex Gladstein, visit the “In Cuba” section. The full interview, including part one, can be viewed on our website.

Yesterday, Cuba reported 5,049 COVID-19 cases. There are currently 27,158 total active cases of COVID-19 on the island. Pinar del Río reported the highest number of new cases for the fifth consecutive week at 985. The total number of cases since March of 2020 is 882,477 and the total number of deaths since March of 2020 is 7,486. Cuba is hoping to vaccinate 90 percent of the population by November and reach full vaccination by the end of the year. Currently, approximately 82 percent of the population is partially or fully vaccinated. For a graph of case numbers since March 2020, see here. For a detailed breakdown of all COVID-19 data, visit this website.

This week, in Cuba news…

U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Says it’s a Mistake for Biden to Keep Trump Sanctions on Havana

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez criticized the Biden-Harris administration’s decision to maintain sanctions introduced by the Trump administration, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, NBC News reports. The Foreign Minister also said he hoped that President Biden would “implement his own policy toward Cuba” instead of maintaining “cruel sanctions” during a pandemic. During the Trump administration, Cuba was again added to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, over 200 additional sanctions were implemented, and staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Havana was significantly decreased. Foreign Minister Rodríguez expressed interest in restaffing embassies both in Havana and in Washington, D.C., which were concurrently decreased to avoid an imbalance in diplomatic representation in response to reports of unexplained health incidents beginning in 2016. Cuba’s Foreign Minister also spoke about the possibility of a “different kind” of relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, citing normalization efforts under the Obama administration, before stating that Cuba’s government was open to reestablishing “responsible dialogue” with the Biden-Harris administration. Finally, when asked about the protests that began on July 11 across Cuba and if the detained protesters would be released, Foreign Minister Rodríguez said that Cuba’s government had to “respect” and “implement [its] laws” in its response.

Senior US Officials in Miami for Meetings with Cuban, Haitian Communities

Two senior officials from the Biden-Harris administration visited Miami to speak with members of the Cuban American community about how the Administration can best support the Cuban people, The Miami Herald reports. Juan Gonzalez, National Security Council director, and Brian Nichols, newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of State overseeing the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, stopped in Miami before traveling to Haiti to discern how U.S. foreign policy could best keep the Cuban American diaspora in mind. According to Juan Gonzalez, President Biden gave “a clear goal: to do everything possible to help Cubans on the island and highlight the regime’s abuses.”

Juan Gonzalez also said not to expect announcements regarding the Administration’s response to Cuba any time soon due to the difficult nature of some of the issues at hand, and that the Administration was proceeding with caution. During the first six months in office, the Biden-Harris administration stated that its Cuba policy was undergoing a review and that Cuba was not a top priority. Following the protests in Cuba that began on July 11, the Administration stated that it would expedite its policy review, met with various members of the Cuban American community, and launched a campaign denouncing government repression of protesters involved in the July 11 protests.

In Miami, Cuban Politics is Invoked in Police Chief’s Performance;Florida Senators Rebuke Mexican President for Receiving Cuban, Venezuelan Leaders

This week, the Miami police union and city commissioners became involved in a dispute around Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, NBC News reports. Born in Havana and raised in California, Mr. Acevedo was recruited to lead the city’s police force by Mayor Francis Suarez in April after having previously served as police chief of Houston, Texas, where he “had a national profile as a progressive law enforcer,” according to NBC, including supporting gun control and police reform in order to address the disproportionate impact of “bad policing” on communities of color. Mr. Acevedo accused city commissioners of meddling in the police department, while city commissioners accused the police chief of firing high level staff, talking about a “Cuban mafia” running the city, as well as his actions and clothing choices at fundraiser events. The police union reported over the weekend that some officers “were not confident with [Mr. Acevedo’s] leadership and wanted [his] ouster or resignation.” Last Friday Mr. Acevedo sent a memo to Miami’s city manager and mayor stating that city commissioners had made his job difficult by “eliminating positions” and “interfering with internal affairs investigations.” In a meeting on Monday, city commissioners spoke out against Mr. Acevedo, vowed to investigate his accusations, and formed a committee to investigate the police chief.

On Wednesday, Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott criticized Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a letter for hosting Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel for Mexico’s Independence celebrations and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit two weeks ago, The Hill reports. The senators noted Mr. Maduro’s pending indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged conspiracies to traffic cocaine into the U.S. and Mexico’s previous extradition of criminals wanted in the U.S. The senators also criticized Mexico’s president’s legitimization of the “anti-democratic regime,” referring to Cuba, and stated, “We hope your decision to receive narco-dictator Nicolás Maduro and the puppet of the Cuban dictatorship Miguel Díaz-Canel is not indicative of a separation from your country’s principles of respect for democracy and liberty.”

16 Cuban Migrants Arrive in the Florida Keys Wednesday, the Second Landing Along Island Chain in 2 Days

This week, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted two groups of migrants traveling from Cuba near the Lower Florida Keys, The Miami Herald reports. On Wednesday, a group of 16 Cuban migrants were intercepted after 10 were intercepted on Monday. In the past two weeks alone, nearly 100 Cuban migrants have been intercepted. According to Border Patrol spokesman Adam Hoffner, the migrants, who departed from Cuba, spent three days at sea in a makeshift raft and experienced no serious injuries despite a potentially dangerous journey across the Florida Straits. The U.S. Coast Guard will likely repatriate them in the coming days. In fiscal year 2021, which began on October 1, 2020 and ended today, the Coast Guard interdicted well over 800 Cuban migrants, compared to 49 Cuban migrants in fiscal year 2020 and 313 interdictions in fiscal year 2019.

IN CUBA

Artist Hamlet Lavastida Released After Three Months of Imprisonment in Cuba; Hamlet Lavastida Has Been Freed in Exchange for Our Exile (Spanish)

Last weekend, Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida, who has been detained since June, was released on the condition that he and his partner, writer and activist Katherine Bisquet, leave the island, Art News reports. Mr. Lavastida was imprisoned for three months following accusations of “incitement to commit a crime” for involvement in 27N and the San Isidro Movement. Amnesty International called him a “prisoner of conscience.” Mr. Lavastida is a visual artist whose work has spoken critically of Cuba’s government and previously centered on state repression and abuses of power. In a post written by Katherine Bisquet, the writer details the conditions of his release and their exile, sharing that she repeatedly heard “it was not convenient for [Cuba’s government] to have Hamlet imprisoned and that, due to this ‘political rationale’ they decided to release him under the condition that both of us would leave the country.” She also shared that other family and friends of Hamlet were similarly pressured to leave. Prior to the couple’s departure, Ms. Bisquet was held under house arrest and state surveillance. The couple left in late September for Poland, where Mr. Lavastida has a child, without being able to say goodbye to their families. Still, Katherine Bisquet expressed optimism that something has changed amongst Cubans due to the work of activists and the recent protests, stating, “Today the [Cuban] people are alive. And in all that there is hope. There is a strength to grow. A force that has grown within us.”

The Government of Cuba Authorizes the First 32 Private Companies (Spanish)

On Wednesday, Cuba’s government authorized the first 32 privately owned and three state-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) less than two weeks after a long-awaited new law regulating SMEs came into effect, El País reports. Most of the approved SMEs are focused on food production, with others focused on manufacturing, recycling, technology, and local development. The enterprises will be limited to 100 employees and are able to be financed by credit, though they must import and export through a state intermediary. Additionally, certain professionals such as accountants, lawyers, architects, and engineers, are not permitted to form companies, a regulation that has received pushback from economists.

Cuban academic and economist Dr. Omar Everleny praised the legalization, calling it pragmatic, a “step in the right direction,” and noting its symbolic nature, coming 54 years after the nationalization of private companies following Cuba’s 1959 revolution. At the same time, “there are still numerous limitations and restrictions that can slow down and hinder the work of new economic players, weighing down the positive effect of the measure,” according to Dr. Everleny. He continued, “…the country does not have time to ensure that current and future generations see the benefits, but it acts as if time were infinite. The State must have greater flexibility, not continue working as in the past.” Oniel Díaz Castellanos, Co-Founder of AUGE, a private Cuban business development and communications team, also sees the measures as positive, and notes that there has been high interest in registering SMEs. Mr. Díaz also notes, however, that the requirement that SMEs import and export through a state intermediary is an obstacle, as well as the limitations on foreign investment, limits on how many companies Cubans can be part of, and restrictions on the types of permitted activities for SMEs. Abel Bajuelos, one of the first Cubans authorized on Wednesday to create an SME, runs a 3D printing digital manufacturing microenterprise called Addimensional. Mr. Bajuelos shares “I think this is a very important change and that there is no going back,” and states “For me, SMEs in the current context are like a spark plug that explodes in the midst of a creative fuel that is Cuban society and that moves a much larger piston.”

Cuba’s Council of Ministers published the regulations that will govern the creation and operation of the recently legalized micro, small, and medium enterprises (SMEs or PYMES in Spanish) in the Gaceta Oficial (Official Gazette) on August 19. Decreto Ley 46 (Decree Law 46) contained nearly 20 norms and resolutions that serve as a legal structure for SMEs to exist in the Cuban economy. The long-awaited move to legalize SMEs is expected to expand the island’s private sector and alleviate the economic crisis Cuba currently faces. In June, Cuba’s Council of Ministers approved the perfeccionamiento de actores de la economía cubana or “improvement of Cuba’s economic actors,” which included guidance related to state enterprises, self-employment, non-agricultural cooperatives, and small and medium size enterprises.

Market-oriented reforms have been underway in Cuba for years, but the pace of implementation has been sluggish. In February, Cuba made notable headway when it shifted from using a list of prior approved possible activities in which private business owners or cuentapropistas could work, to a list of prohibited activities, and expanded the number of professions in which private businesses could participate from 127 to over 2,000. The move was a significant shift in the way Cuba’s government approached private sector regulation. In May 2016, Cuba announced plans to legalize SMEs in a 32-page document titled “Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development.”

Cuban Financial Institutions May Grant Credits in Foreign Currency to the ANCs and MSMEs (Spanish)

On Wednesday, Resolution 249, published in Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial (official gazette) approved the ability of Cuba’s financial institutions to grant credits in non-foreign/freely convertible currency (MLC) to non-agricultural cooperatives and small and medium size enterprises, Agencia Cubana Noticias reports. The credits must be approved by Cuba’s Central Bank. Previously these credits could only be done in Cuban pesos. The resolution will take effect in three days. In response to the announcement, Associate Professor of History at Miami University Michael Bustamante tweeted that given the size of Cuba’s economy, he doubts the loans will be large and that “credit networks via diaspora remain key, and informal, until [Cuba’s] govt makes it easier for diaspora to invest/loan money above board.” Executive Director of Cuba Study Group, Ricardo Herrero, tweeted that a downside to the change is that Cuba will maintain a dual currency system, with the two currencies being the Cuban Peso (CUP) and freely convertible currency (MLC), and the upside is that this system is “more liquid than CUP [Cuban Peso]/CUC [Cuban convertible Peso] regime. And private entrepreneurs can now invoice & seek financing in MLC, no longer just for military-owned stores.”

Havana Reopens its Beaches — But Masks are Required

On Wednesday, according to Havana’s governor Reynaldo Garcia Zapata, after a nine-month long closure, pools and beaches in Havana reopened at half capacity, France24 reports. The city’s seafront promenade, the Malecón, also reopened. Visitors must still observe all pandemic-related protocols, including wearing masks except when swimming. Exercising in public areas is also once again allowed. The reopening follows last week’s reopening of restaurants and other public spaces in 15 provinces.

In September, Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) announced that the country would begin to reopen its borders to tourists on November 15. By this date, Cuba’s government expects to have 90 percent of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Due to the immense surge in COVID-19 cases, many are concerned that the projected date to reopen borders is too soon and could worsen the already devastating situation. On the other hand, some have argued that while there is reason for concern, the current economic and humanitarian crisis would greatly benefit from added revenue generated by tourism. Lack of tourism, among other factors, has devastated the Cuban economy, which shrank 11 percent last year. Cuba will also begin gradually reopening its schools in October and November.

Interview with Alex Gladstein on Cryptocurrency Regulations and Use in Cuba – Part Two See full interview on our website.

CDA: Some Cubans have cited concern over the stability of their local currency as reason to pursue the adoption and use of cryptocurrencies. Still, the exchange rates of cryptocurrencies are often highly volatile. How could the adoption of cryptocurrencies provide stability for everyday Cubans and Cuban entrepreneurs? What risks, if any, may be associated with utilizing cryptocurrencies for everyday Cubans and Cuban entrepreneurs?

Alex Gladstein: Right now, as I said before, people are using cryptocurrency as one of two tools. One is as a medium-to-long term savings instrument. In this case, it’s been much safer and more stable than the peso, or even the dollar. Its value has appreciated [grown] dramatically over the last few years, much to the benefit of any Cubans who started using Bitcoin a couple of years ago.

Separately, it has a function of a cross-border payment tool. That process is instant with the lightning network and agnostic of jurisdiction, which is incredibly powerful. You don’t necessarily need to be saving to benefit from that second aspect. For example, family members in Miami could send a Cuban in Havana $100 in Bitcoin to their wallet and the transfer would be immediate. They could then transact it and sell it off for MLC, pesos, or whatever is needed to be used to support their everyday needs or to invest in their business. These options are just going to continue to grow and grow and grow.

Also, in terms of stability, if the Cuban government in a year or two decides that they’re going to do what they did in 2004 [referring to changes in regulations with U.S. dollars], it’s not going to have the same disruptive impact for Cubans if Cubans understand the system. As opposed to MLC, which offered no real way for people to keep their dollars in 2004 other than keeping it in their mattresses, Bitcoin was born to oppose such an attack; preventing any sort of seizure is rooted in its core identity. With an understanding of the system, which is why education and being your own bank is so important, Cubans can enjoy all the benefits of Bitcoin’s functionality.

In terms of risks, long-term I wouldn’t be surprised if, as a result of its recent announcements, Cuba’s government attempts to provide state-run exchange points in Cuba to try and accumulate Bitcoin. That’s when we would have a different conversation from a human rights perspective to discern how we could ensure Cuban citizens can keep their Bitcoin. This is what you’re seeing in El Salvador right now. We want people using the open-source apps instead of using the government app, which limits the government’s power. If everybody’s using the government apps, then it could give the government more power. Once we get to a future point where there’s more adoption of cryptocurrencies inside Cuba, and the government tries to take more control, then we’ll have a different conversation, but we’re just not there yet.

CDA: Cryptocurrencies have the potential to empower everyday Cubans, particularly in the digital space. Internet connectivity and telecommunications infrastructure are generally less developed outside Cuba’s capital, Havana. Not everyone has the same access to, nor knowledge of the digital world. How, if at all, can the adoption of digital currencies empower Cubans working outside of the digital space in the Cuban economy? What differential effect would the adoption of digital currencies have across Cuba’s private sector? How could this reform facilitate the economic growth of Cubans outside of Havana?

Alex Gladstein: If you can use MLC in Cuba, you can use Bitcoin in Cuba. It’s not too technologically complex to be successful and utilized anywhere in Cuba currently.

Globally speaking, Bitcoin is only used by about two percent of the world population. The best way to think about it is in comparison to the internet in 1997. That’s where we are with access to cryptocurrencies now. Only a handful of people used the internet in 1997 but guess what happened from 1997 to 2007? We went from dial-up to where we are now.

As of 2019, six million Cubans had a mobile cellular subscription. That’s the floor of the number of people who could utilize and benefit from digital currencies. Without more recent data, if we look at the growth rate of the previous two years, we’re looking at a minimum of seven million Cubans who own a cell phone or have an internet connection at home. That’s over seven million people who can benefit from this incredible technology. I think that that’s a massive upgrade. Currently, there’s only a couple hundred thousand people using it. We need to go from a couple hundred thousand to five million before we worry about securing the entire population.

So, we need to continue to observe, educate, and push forward. There are millions of Cubans who have the limited technological capabilities required to utilize Bitcoin. I think worrying about the fact that some people won’t be able to use it immediately is extremely unhelpful.

CDA: Cryptocurrencies have been touted as a means to lessen global income inequality and give average citizens access to increased amounts of capital by granting access to global unregulated markets. However, cryptocurrencies have also faced criticism for leading to a consolidation of wealth partially due to disparities in access to technology and information. In Cuba, do you see the integration of cryptocurrencies leading to a democratization of finance or a consolidation of wealth? Is a ‘democratization of finance’ feasible in or compatible with Cuba’s current political and economic system? Could such an integration inadvertently and disproportionately benefit Cuba’s government or create more obstacles for the Cuban people due to the increased strength of the state economy?

Alex Gladstein: Short answer: yes. Cryptocurrency democratizes the question of what to do in the future. The use of Bitcoin by citizens in Cuba is inherently democratizing because it’s giving them power over the government and allowing them to be their own bank and to connect to the world, regardless of what the government wants to do. The use of cryptocurrencies is very anti-authoritarian as it is allowing them to escape repression that is incontrovertible.

The question of what may happen if the government decides to start accumulating Bitcoin is highly speculative at the moment. They may never decide to do that. Today, they’re not. However, later on, we may have to have a conversation about what happens if the government in Cuba starts to try to accumulate Bitcoin. We wouldn’t want them to do that.

Regardless, we want people to be connected to the outside world to be able to learn and transact and earn and receive on the open web. And Bitcoin is the open web for money. We want to make sure the Cuban citizens are educated and have open-source knowledge of how to use these tools and support them in becoming their own bank. I think that’s really key.

CDA: Mining certain cryptocurrencies consumes immense amounts of electricity and requires substantial technological investment. Cuba is currently facing immense shortages in electricity, lacks substantial telecommunications infrastructure, and has traditionally struggled with energy production since the fall of the Soviet Union. How much investment is required from the nation’s government? Are there limits to the use of digital currencies in Cuba due to diminished or limited telecommunications infrastructure? Is it realistic for the country to jump headfirst into expanding this sector?

Alex Gladstein: The use of cryptocurrencies by average Cubans requires no cooperation from the Cuban government. Zero. This is a people-powered, voluntary movement. It requires no cooperation from Cuban authorities for the Cuban people to have a Bitcoin revolution. The concern of resources, energy, and investment is not relevant as it pertains to the Cuban people and their interaction with cryptocurrencies.

If the Cuban government was smart and employed long-term thinking, it would be using its resources to mine Bitcoin right now. It would be using renewable energy resources that are otherwise going wasted to mine Bitcoin. However, as it pertains to the Cuban people, further investment from Cuba’s government has no impact on their ability to use it now.

CDA: The integration of cryptocurrencies has also been advertised as a conduit for democratization. Specifically, eyes are on countries such as El Salvador, Iran, and Venezuela, who have all begun embracing cryptocurrencies, to see how cryptocurrencies may lead to democratization. How realistic is the tie between democratization and the adoption or integration of cryptocurrencies? Are there lessons for Cuba in the experiences of other countries?

Alex Gladstein: It’s too early to tell, so as of now, we don’t know. We barely have one country (El Salvador) adopting Bitcoin. We’re at the beginning of this. But, again, quite fundamentally, Bitcoin tilts power to the individual and away from the state. It’s essentially anti-authoritarian technology, which is why I view it as very pro-democratic, because it’s a check on government power.

For all institutions of democracy, whether that be rule of law, free speech, or independent media, Bitcoin is allowing people to be their own banks and to have control over their time and energy, which is a very healthy thing that’s incredibly compatible with democracy. I think that relationship and transformation is going to be very helpful and help Bitcoin and democracy coexist moving forward.

CDA: Is there anything else that you think people should know about the recent adoption of cryptocurrencies in Cuba?

Alex Gladstein: If the current money system worked, nobody would need to use Bitcoin; it would have no value. So, thinking about it like that, we see that money is broken in both the U.S. and especially in Cuba. The peso system is collapsing, and the MLC system is exploitative. U.S. sanctions on FinTech companies are immoral and Cubans are trapped. But thankfully, there’s this open-source money that can be used to save, connect, transact, do business in, and be part of the world. I’m very grateful for that – it’s very inspiring and moving.

And, again, I hope that people conducting U.S. foreign policy are being guided by how to help people and not by how to punish. If your goal is to alleviate the suffering of Cuban people, aside from traditional talking points that organizations like CDA suggest, how can we do that through FinTech? To start you could stop sanctioning these FinTech apps and you could explore Bitcoin. I think it’s in the best interest of the United States to have a Cuba that has a high Bitcoin adoption. That would mean a Cuba where the individuals have a good amount of power for themselves, and where the government’s power to redistribute and confiscate is very limited. And ultimately it would mean a Cuba that’s more open to the world, more connected to the open monetary network. That is the potential of Bitcoin.

CUBA’S FOREIGN RELATIONS

Cuba Launches Commercial Exports of COVID-19 Vaccines;Venezuela: ‘Deep Concern’ Over Use of Cuba’s Covid Vaccine

Over the past week, Cuba sent out its first commercial COVID-19 vaccine exports, AP News reports. Last Sunday, a shipment of 1,050,000 doses of Cuba’s Abdala vaccine, 105,000 of which were donated free of charge, arrived in Vietnam. Vietnam’s president announced an agreement last week to buy 5 million doses from Cuba. According to Cuba’s Center of Genetic Immunology and Biotechnology, doses of the vaccine were also shipped to Venezuela over the weekend. Venezuela’s Vice President agreed to purchase $12 million dollars worth of the Abdala vaccine in June.

On Monday, Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine expressed concern over administering Cuba’s domestically produced Abdala vaccine to its citizens due to lack of scientific research and international approval, NBC News reports. In addition to the doses which arrived in the country on Sunday, Cuba previously sent 30,000 doses of the Abdala vaccine to Venezuela in June. While both of Cuba’s domestically produced vaccines have gained approval by local regulatory authorities, neither have yet been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), nor have they undergone peer-review, which has caused concern for Venezuelan doctors. Venezuela’s National Academy of Medicine expressed “its deep concern that a product for which there is no scientific information on safety and efficacy … is being administered to Venezuelans.” Two weeks ago, representatives from Cuba’s healthcare sector met with the WHO to review Cuba’s domestically produced vaccines and begin the process for potential authorization, however the vaccines have not yet been approved by the WHO or any international regulatory authority. Thus far, Venezuela has used the Russian Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines to vaccinate its citizens. The government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has said that approximately 40 percent of the Venezuelan population has been vaccinated and expects that number to increase to 70 percent by October. Venezuelan doctors have also questioned the accuracy of the vaccination rate.

RECOMMENDED READINGS & VIEWINGS

What We Know About the November 20 Demonstration (Spanish), El Toque

This article from independent Cuban news source El Toque discusses what is known about the marches planned for November 20 in various cities in Cuba. Groups in Havana, Holguín, and Santa Clara have requested authorization from local government entities to demonstrate in public five days after the island opens to international travel. The article discusses the groups organizing the protests, the significance of the protests, and the response of Cuba’s government to the requests so far.

Cimafunk Joins Forces with Lupe Fiasco for “Rómpelo” Video, Pan African Music

Afro Cuban funk artist Cimafunk released a music video for the group’s new song “Rómpelo” featuring Lupe Fiasco. The song is from their upcoming album El Alimento, which will be released on October 8. To pre-save the album, click here, and to watch the music video, click here.

Reflection: Cuba’s July 11th Protest, Maykel González Vivero and Ricardo Acostarana, Cuba Study Group, Nuevos Espacios and El Toque

In this video, Nuevos Espacios and El Toque interview the director of Tremenda Nota, Maykel González Vivero, and author Ricardo Acostarana on their experiences covering the July 11 protests in Cuba. The interview features footage from the protests in Havana, discusses events that took place on and after July 11, and the impact of the protests on the island.

Reflections on Law and Politics in Cuba (Spanish), Raudiel Peña Barrios, El Toque

This article written by Cuban lawyer Raudiel Peña Barrios comments on the connection between law and politics within Cuba and how they have been discussed in the University of Havana‘s student magazine Alma Mater. The article also comments on how to best analyze the legal and political response of Cuba’s government to calls for change on the island. This commentary is part of a more extensive dossier published by El Toque called “Challenging Consensus.”

EVENTS

Virtual, Debate of the Preliminary Draft of Cuba’s Family Code, October 1

On Friday, October 1, Dr. Mariela Castro, Director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX), will discuss Cuba’s recently published draft of its new family code with Manuel Vázquez Seijido, Assistant Director of CENESEX. The discussion will take place on the app, Telegram, at 8:30pm EST.

Virtual, Uruguay and the ‘Cuban Question’ – An Immense Explosive Power, October 5

The Vivian Trías Foundation is offering a course by Dr. Roberto García on the relationship between Uruguay and Cuba, as well as various other topics pertaining to Cuba’s foreign and domestic affairs. The course will take place via Zoom on Tuesdays beginning October 5 from 7pm to 10pm EST and last eight weeks.

Virtual, Update: Cuba – Cuba and Beyond, October 12

Columbia University will host a discussion between Dr. Gabriel Vignoli of The New School University and Dr. Hope Bastian of Wheaton College as they explore the current situation in Cuba and updates on the island since the July 11 protests. The event is part of Columbia University’s Cuba and Beyond series and will take place from 6:00pm to 8:00pm EST. Register for the virtual event here.

Virtual, New York and the International Sound of Latin Music, October 14

Benjamin Lapidus will discuss how New York City became a nexus of music exchange and collaboration for musicians from the Caribbean in the 20th century, as well as the impact that those musicians had on New York and beyond. The virtual event will take place from 6:30pm to 8:00pm EST. Register for the event here.

Virtual, Cuban Plagiarisms: How Shopkeeper Bernardo May Sold Nineteenth Century Havana, November 8

Visiting Cuban scholar at Florida International University, Justo Planas, will discuss the origin and impact of Frenchman Frédéric Mialhe’s rendering of Havana that defined European views of the nineteenth century Havana. The virtual lecture hosted by Florida International University begins at 1pm EST. To register for the event, click here.


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