Our Opinions

January 2015
On a sunny day this past summer, two entrepreneurs met in South Beach to talk about artisanal soaps. They exchanged stories about how they became interested in the soap-making business and discussed their favorite places to buy supplies and how to develop their favorite scents. What makes this seemingly routine meeting between entrepreneurs different is that Ricardo is a Cuban-American with an established soap-making business in Miami and Sandra is one of Cuba’s half a million nascent entrepreneurs and sells her soap out of a storefront in Old Havana.

Changing From Within

January 12, 2015

On the morning of December 17, I was in my office responding to e-mails when my assistant of almost 25 years sauntered in saying something sotto voce about Alan Gross having been freed. I don't always interrupt what I am doing when she comes in, but this time I mumbled something in acknowledgement.

The End of Policy

January 9, 2015

On December 17, President Obama took bold actions to start unraveling one of the longest foreign-policy morasses in recent history. For nearly 55 years, we have kept in place a failed policy. In the early years of the Cuban revolution, we tried nearly everything to bring down the Cuban regime, including the imposition of sanctions, which over time became the most severe set of sanctions imposed on any foe.
When President Obama announced that he would reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba and take steps to increase the free flow of people, resources and information to the island, he delivered an important blow to the myth of resource denial as a viable policy. For more than half a century, defenders of the status quo in U.S. policy toward Cuba have argued that denying the Cuban government hard currency would advance U.S. Interests. After nine U.S. Presidents followed these unilateral sanctions to no avail, President Obama has set us on a new course -- but will Congress follow suit or will it cave to the same old pressures?
Witnessing the historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba on December 17, 2014 inspired Cuban artist Tania Bruguera to make her own bold statement. Aware that the world's eyes were now focused on the island, she decided that on December 30 she would set up a podium in Havana's Revolution Plaza and invite fellow artists and civil society leaders to each express their ideal visions for Cuba's future in one minute or less. The event was titled #YoTambienExijo (#ITooDemand).
December 2014
The most damaging legacy of the Helms-Burton Act is not that it codified the bulk of U.S. sanctions into law, but that it codified the way we are supposed to think about solving the Cuban puzzle. It zapped our creativity and told us we must consider only one zero-sum, all-or-nothing course of action to foster change in Cuba — a course that never had a serious chance of succeeding.
This week President Obama made history by redefining U.S. relations with Cuba, which have been plagued for over half a century by isolation and confrontation. The announcement revealed that for 18 months the White House was involved in secret negotiations with the Castro government, hosted by Canada and with a prominent role by the Holy See. While no single entity can take credit for making this week’s historic announcement a reality, Cuban Americans in South Florida have played a key role that ought not be overlooked.
April 2014
The U.S. Agency for International Development's 'cockamamie' (to borrow Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy's descriptor) scheme to foment unrest through semi-covert bootleg Twitter site ZunZuneo is only the latest embarrassment stemming from Congress' $15–30 million annual allocation for democracy promotion in Cuba.
November 2013
When Cuban President Raúl Castro first announced in 2008 that his government would begin to "update" the country's economic model, most observers were understandably skeptical of both his intentions and his ability to implement much-needed reforms. Yet, five years later the trend is clear: Cuba is shifting away from a centrally planned command economy toward a 21st century mixed market economic system.
Reconciliation is a word still met with skepticism by Cubans in both the island and diaspora. Our political divisions follow deep grooves long carved into our national narrative, making it difficult for one side to recognize the merits or grievances of the other.
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