Today, Cuba begins an important transition: Raúl Castro steps down as Head of State. While he will continue as First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party through 2021, Castro’s retirement from an executive position portends the ultimate passing of the Revolution’s “founding generation” from power.

Cuban officials have spoken of the need for “continuity,” but this transition can and should also catalyze a new era of change. Over the next five years, Cuba’s leaders must re-energize stalled economic reforms. Officials can no longer delay addressing complex issues such as currency reform while the future of the island’s private sector—on hold since new licenses were frozen in August—awaits resolution. Cuba must deal with these concerns in an unfavorable external environment. By any stretch, the challenges are immense.

Rather than engaging at this critical juncture in Cuba’s future, however, the United States remains on the sidelines. Due to the withdrawal of most diplomatic personnel, the U.S. embassy in Havana currently operates with a skeleton crew. Not since before the establishment of the U.S. Interests Section in 1977 has our presence and influence on the island been so diminished. While working-level discussions between both governments continue on issues of mutual concern, changes in travel regulations for U.S. citizens, combined with the difficulty Cubans now face in acquiring visas to visit the United States, have exacerbated an already difficult situation for Cuba’s economy and private sector. Furthermore, an aggressive tone and toughened sanctions strengthened the hand of those on the island who are most opposed to internal economic and political change.

At this historic pivot point, Cuba’s leaders have an opportunity to re-galvanize moves toward greater economic and political openness. The United States, meanwhile, should once again position itself as a partner, not antagonist, of this process. An endless bilateral standoff is a very familiar script that Cubans know does not benefit them. As a new government takes office in Havana, we call on both Cuban and U.S. officials to take rational steps to improve the lives of the Cuban people, and not retreat to familiar policies and rhetorical trenches.

Recent Articles

Date Title
4/30/18 The Man Who Saved Havana
Tony Perrottet, Smithsonian Magazine
4/29/18 Cuba diversifies key government posts with somewhat younger but loyal leadership
Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald
4/25/18 Sharp decline in U.S. travel to Cuba spurs overall drop in tourism for the island
Carmen Sesin, NBC News
4/24/18 How one Republican held up the U.S. Senate over Cuba travel policy
Alex Daugherty, Miami Herald
4/24/18 Cuba sees 2018 nickel plus cobalt output topping 50,000 tonnes
Marc Frank, Reuters
4/23/18 Yes, Americans Can Still Travel To Cuba
Alexandra Talty, Forbes
4/22/18 President Trump should engage Cuba’s new president, not leave policy to Marco Rubio
Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald
4/22/18 Where are the Castro kids? The next generation of the Cuban dynasty lies low.
Adam Taylor, Washington Post
4/22/18 Cubans Doubt a Change at the Top Will Bring Change at the Bottom
Azam Ahmed, New York Times
4/19/18 Notas sobre un traspaso
Alejandro Armengol, Cubaencuentro
4/19/18 Cuba's new president is the first non-Castro in 42 years. How much power will he have?
Mimi Whitefield and Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/19/18 Cuba heads toward a post-Castro future, with or without Trump
Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post
4/19/18 Cuba after the Castros
Michael Bustamante, Washington Post
4/17/18 Trump's Cuba rollback leaves U.S. out in the cold for island's future
Alan Gomez, USA Today
4/17/18 FBI making 'a lot of progress' in finding answers on health attacks in Cuba
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/17/18 Current Record
4/16/18 Who is Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba's likely new president? A look from those who know him
Carmen Sesin and Orlando Matos, NBC News
4/16/18 Cuba to Start Historic Transition a Day Earlier
AP, U.S. News and World Report
4/16/18 The Dangers of U.S. Withdrawal from a Post-Castro Cuba
Gabrielle Jorgensen, Engage Cuba
4/16/18 CSG Published White Paper on the Challenges Cuba Will Face Following its 2018 Leadership Transition Files
4/15/18 OAS secretary general: 'We cannot allow the Cuban people to continue to be oppressed'
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/15/18 Washington and Cuba butt heads over Venezuela at heated Americas summit
Jim Wyss, Miami Herald
4/12/18 New series documents the challenges of private startup enterprises in Cuba
Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald
4/12/18 Cuba and Venezuela delegations disrupt civil society summit in Peru
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/12/18 Latin America leaders urge summit participants to reject Cuba's next handpicked ruler
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/12/18 Think you can do business in post-Castro Cuba? Sorry, but it'll still be tricky
Rick Jervis, USA Today
4/12/18 The US has fallen silent over its sonic attack theory in Cuba
Anhana Ahuja, Financial Times
4/12/18 Pompeo says embassy in Cuba should represent 'finest of American diplomacy'
Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald
4/10/18 U.S. condemns Cuba for keeping dissidents away from Peru summit
Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald
4/9/18 Raúl Castro’s Unfinished Legacy in Cuba
William M. LeoGrande, Americas Quarterly
4/8/18 Cuba, once bustling with heavy-spending Americans, sees steep decline in U.S. travelers
Rick Jervis, USA Today
4/8/18 U.S. Embassy in Cuba: Diplomatic population 10
Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald
4/8/18 Cuba desperately needs to reform currency system, but timing couldn’t be worse
Mimi Whitefield, Miami Herald