Thursday, July 25, 2013

Carmelo & I travel to China (via radio)

An in-studio photo (from left to right):
Zhao Yang (co-host), Jiang Shixue (guest), and Ben Leung (co-host)

Last night I had the honor of accompanying distinguished professors Carmelo Mesa-Lago (who needs no introduction) and Jiang Shixue, Vice President of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies, on the China Radio International English Service show "Today," with co-hosts Zhao Yang and Ben Leung (I love it when someone from China sounds like they are from Britain).  

Above is a photo from the Beijing studios, while Carmelo participated via telephone from Pittsburgh and I from NYC.

With all the hullabaloo about this new-fangled "Inter-Web," we sometimes forget the power of the good ole radio. 

(On second thought, I guess you're going to listen to this radio show on the Internet, so I stand corrected!)  

Cuba & Raúl's Reforms 
    2013-07-25 14:24:47       Web Editor: Wuyou
Panel discussion:When asked about Cuba- what springs to mind? Cuban cigars? Rum? Fidel Castro? Maybe Communism? Well, cigars and rum are very much here to stay whatever the weather; Castro is getting on but is still there.
Communism, on the other hand, the raison d'etre of the state of Cuba as we know it, well, that's looking a bit more tenuous now than say, 10 years ago.

-Jiang Shixue, Vice President of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies
-Ted Henken, President, Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy
-Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburg


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Eliécer y Alarcón - Round II (5 años después)

Eliécer Ávila visiting West New York/Union City, New Jersey
contemplating a bust of José Martí with an inscription that reads:
"The fatherland is an altar, not a pedestal." (Photo: Ted Henken)

It seems incredible to me that it took Ricardo Alarcón 5 years to respond publicly to Eliécer Ávila given that Ávila was thrown under the nearest bus after his impertinent questioning of the then President of Cuba's National Assembly.

Alarcón says that he was prevented from responding earlier by unnamed powers that be.

"Thanx to our self-censorship, they prevented me from making my arguments while they gave arguments to him (...) For me that was very painful because with that I was out of the game, and I will die with this hanging over my head."

Believe me, I've heard Alarcón speak in public and he's not easy to get the best of in an open debate. But in this case, he was caught defending the indefensible and - as he says - will be remembered for the "sky filled with planes" argument.

Friday, July 12, 2013

ASCE, ASCE; everywhere ASCE!

In less than three weeks, the 23rd annual conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, will kick off for a three-day marathon of panels, receptions, debates, and discussions from August 1-3 at the Miami Hilton Downtown.

You can register yourself, and pay via PayPal.

Given recent changes in Cuba's migration laws, the organizers of the conference (including myself) have been working hard for months to bring in a record number of participants from the island itself.

Full preliminary program.

The Cubans Are Coming!
I can confirm that we will have the honor of hosting:
  • Roberto Veiga and Lenier González (the co-editors of the essential socio-culural magazine of the Catholic Church, Espacio Laical);
  • The young professor and doctoral student from the University of Camagüey, José Luis Leyva Cruz;
  • The independent economist Karina Gálvez (Convivencia Magazine);
  • The independent laywer Lartiza Diversent (possibly together with her colleague Veizant Boloy);
  • Estado de Sats co-founder Antonio Rodiles (who will likely attend with the defense lawyer, Amelia Rodríguez Calá);
  • Environmental social entrepreneur Yociel Marrero of the Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez;
  • Veteran dissident attorney, René Gómez Manzano; and
  • The young scholar Armando Chaguaceda, who will be coming in from the University of Veracruz where he works.
It is also likely that we will once again benefit from the informed analysis of Oscar Espinosa Chepe, but via teleconference from Spain where he is receiving medical treatment.

We will also benefit from the presence and participation of a number of recently immigrated Cuban scholars, including Nora Gámez and Abel Sierra Madero, whom I met at the recent FIU CRI conference and at LASA.

Of course, I have left out many other attendees such as ASCE stalwarts - like Carmelo Mesa-Lago and Jorge Pérez-López - as well as this year's keynote speaker Harvard labor economist, Gorge Borjas, but my intention here is to emphasize our efforts to grow the organization and make it ever more inclusive and dynamic.

The organizing committee also invited a number of other economists, scholars, and intellectuals who work in Cuban educational and research institutions.  Unfortunately, none besides Leyva Cruz and Marrero is able to attend this year.  But we have let them know both publicly and privately that our doors remain open as we value their scholarship and would benefit from their participation.

$10 Student Registration and The Jorge Pérez-López Student Prize
In order to encourage greater graduate and undergraduate student participation, we have SLASHED the price of registration for all students (and recent graduates) by 95%.  Student can register here for just $10!

One of the cornerstones of ASCE’s outreach to young scholars is the Jorge Pérez-López Student Prize, which awards the author of the best undergraduate and graduate paper on Cuban economic issues with a cash award, travel and lodging costs to attend and present their work at ASCE’s annual conference, one year of ASCE membership, and publication in Cuba in Transition.

This year we received a record number of submissions from two dozen universities in Cuba, the United States, Canada, and Europe!

And the winners are... (Click the image to enlarge)

Edward Snowden: In his own words...

Edward Snowden, center. At left is WikiLeaks' Sarah Harrison. The woman at right is unidentified at this time.
Photo is courtesy of Human Rights Watch, via NPR.

From Wikileaks via NPR, excerpts from Snowden's press conference Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport today, Friday, July 12, 2013.  Well worth reading:

"Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates. ... 

"I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice. ...

"Countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. ...

"I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela's President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. ...

"I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably."