Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The "Cuba Moment"... is really an American Moment

NYU's CLACS holds a usefully frustrating panel - January 28, 2014

I went to an excellent academic panel on "The Cuban Moment" tonight at NYU's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Like good academicians they (along with the token journalist, Damien Cave of the NYT) were very critical-minded and quite skeptical that any real or positive "change" would come from the Obama-Castro détente.

At the same time, I found myself increasingly frustrated because presumably all of the panelists also thought on December 16 that previous US policy was ineffective, wrongheaded, and even counterproductive - both for the Cuban people and for US interests.

I agree that there's a lot to be cautious and even skeptical about - both in terms of the US's real motives behind the new policy ($, security & stability, or democracy & human rights?) and regarding the extent the GOC will allow any changes to take place that might undermine its internal power and control (ie, in telecom or trade with the private sector).

One take away is that no one should expect positive changes in Cuba or a solution to the Cuban crisis to come from the United States. But is anyone promising that or even saying that it's the goal of the new policy?

Solutions to Cuban problems have to come from Cubans, and especially the interplay between a very powerful state apparatus, weak economy, fractured yet dynamic civil society, and everyday citizens.

Still, I must ask the panelists (and you my readers): What is right/positive about the new policy, what is flawed, negative, or naive, and what would YOU do differently if you were Obama (or even Raul)?

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