Recent Posts

February 27, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: To Cuba and the U.S. — Live Long and Negotiate

When the U.S. and Cuba met in Washington today for their second round of talks on reestablishing diplomatic relations, we were all thinking about Leonard Nimoy. The iconic actor who played Spock in the Star Trek television and movie franchise died today at age 83. In Star Trek VI: The… read more »

February 25, 2015 |

CARACAS CONNECT: February 2015

Conflicts Widen and Deepen as the New Year Unfolds in Venezuela Venezuelans entered 2015 bedeviled with several problems that have now been exacerbated by a new one: the collapse of global oil prices. Lines outside supermarkets and other stores have grown longer; but, more importantly, they have become more common… read more »

February 20, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: It’s time to throw mud and misunderstanding at U.S. travelers to Cuba

As more high-profile delegations from the U.S. Congress and the business community visit Cuba, critics of President Obama’s Cuba opening are ramping up their anti-travel campaign. Those who are doing the work and making the trips know exactly what the hardliner’s intentions are. This weekend in Regla, an Afro-Cuban community… read more »

February 13, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Valentine’s Day Edition: (Almost) Everyone “HEARTS” Reforms

Two big changes have taken place since President Obama decided to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and reduce restrictions on the right of Americans to travel and trade with Cuba. In just the last few weeks, the forces of reform have gotten bolder and bigger, while the opponents are looking… read more »

February 6, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Obama’s Policy Reforms: The Congressional Counteract Begins

Opponents of President Obama’s diplomatic opening with Cuba offered a somewhat exotic argument in congressional hearings they staged this week. They said U.S. diplomats engaged in the secret negotiations should have consulted Cuban dissidents who support U.S. sanctions before the U.S. and Cuba agreed to a process for removing them…. read more »

February 6, 2015 |

ROLL CALL: Our New Relationship With Cuba | Commentary

Carol M. Browner, Roll Call — The United States and Cuba are moving rapidly toward re-establishing diplomatic ties which raises an interesting question: What does warming relations between these two nations mean for a warming climate? I grew up in Miami and have vivid childhood memories of regularly practicing diving… read more »

February 4, 2015 |

ICYMI: Alan Gross made news on Capitol Hill today

Alan Gross made news on Capitol Hill today, only no one seems to have taken notice.   He submitted written remarks to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for its hearing titled “Cuba: Assessing the Administration’s Sudden Shift.” His remarks say, “As Members of the Committee know, I recently concluded five… read more »

January 30, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Cuba Reforms: Hope versus the Subcommittee of Many Syllables

The writers at West Wing would never let this into a script. Next Tuesday, the first hearing on President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba takes place in …wait for it… the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global… read more »

January 29, 2015 |


Responding to news of a bill co-sponsored by Senate Republicans and Democrats to end the Cuba travel ban, Sarah Stephens, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), said: “Travel legislation that gives every American the ability to visit Cuba without asking the government’s permission restores an… read more »

January 23, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Obama’s Cuba Policy & the Taming of the Shrill

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday evening, President Obama devoted 127 words to his new policy on Cuba. “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new…. read more »

January 23, 2015 |


Responding to news of diplomatic negotiations taking place in Havana for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Sarah Stephens, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), said: “The women negotiating on behalf of the U.S. and Cuban governments narrowed the distance from… read more »

January 18, 2015 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Cuba, The US and Obama’s State of the Union

If President Obama talks about his Cuba policy on Tuesday night, his State of the Union Address could be unlike any our nation has experienced. Earlier presidents were colonizers; like William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, who used their State of the Union messages to justify intervening in Cuba, rewriting it’s Constitution, controlling its… read more »

January 16, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Cuba, the U.S., and Obama’s State of the Union

When President Obama speaks before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday night, his State of the Union Address could be unlike any we have ever heard, should he address U.S.-Cuba relations. In his 1898 message to Congress, President McKinley justified U.S. intervention in the Spanish-American War as “the interests… read more »

January 12, 2015 |

El Salvador Update: November-December 2014 / Informe mensual El Salvador, noviembre-diciembre 2014


After publishing this monthly update for five years – and updating our Chronology of Peacemaking for nearly three years – this review of 2014 will be our last edition. The timing of our decision turns out to be just right. It coincides with the surprising and historic news that President Obama will end a long and tragic break with Cuba by restoring diplomatic relations.

January 9, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Time the Conqueror: Rumors, Reforms, and Realities

Little has preoccupied the American mindset toward Cuba like our morbid fascination with Fidel Castro’s mortality. The CIA plotted to kill him, often haplessly, and never with “results”. It outsourced the job to contractors, which tied our government to terrorism in the hemisphere. Congress and President Clinton made his demise… read more »

January 7, 2015 |

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: McCaskill to travel to Cuba to assess markets for Missouri agriculture

Chuck Raasch, St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she will travel to Cuba before the end of February to assess the markets for Missouri agriculture. McCaskill told reporters Wednesday she had planned a trip before President Obama’s announcement last month that he would take steps to normalize… read more »

January 4, 2015 |

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Publicly Endorses End to Cuba Embargo

In September 2012, United States Senator Ben Cardin wrote a tough letter to Cuba’s president Raul Castro demanding the unconditional release of Alan Gross, the imprisoned U.S.A.I.D. subcontractor. He and 43 Senate colleagues said “Mr. Gross’s ongoing detention in your country presents a major obstacle to any further actions to… read more »

January 4, 2015 |

Members of Santeria Faith in Cuba and U.S. Hail Diplomatic Breakthrough

Followers of the Santeria faith tradition on both sides of the Strait are offering optimistic forecasts for 2015 in the wake of the diplomatic breakthrough announced December 17th by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, according to news reports from Cuba and Florida. Reuters says that Santeria priests in Cuba offered New Year’s prophecies… read more »

December 26, 2014 |

Victory on Cuba: As 2014 ends, a new battle begins

Last week’s announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would re-establish diplomatic relations was cause for celebration in both countries. President Obama’s bold changes in Cuba policy mark the culmination of decades of tireless work by pro-engagement activists. Now is the time to end the embargo once and for all. We… read more »

December 23, 2014 |


Responding to last week’s announcement regarding renewing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, John Block, Secretary of Agriculture for Ronald Reagan (’81-86), said: “As President Obama takes bold steps to base our Cuba policy on engagement, he should also recommit our country against using food as a foreign policy weapon. … read more »

December 23, 2014 |

DAN HELLINGER: Ripe fruit, barricades and Obama’s new Cuba policy

St. Louis Dispatch — The most appealing and welcome words that President Obama spoke in restoring relations with Cuba were addressed to the island’s people, “Some of you have looked to us as a source of hope and we will continue to shine a light of freedom. Others have seen… read more »

December 19, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: A Note From Havana

Para leer en español, haga clic aquí. In Havana, December 17th was a day of miracles. The first day of Hanukkah, the Feast of Saint Lazarus, and the Afro-Cuban celebration of San Lazaro converged mystically. Magic was in the air. It was a day for Alan Gross, echoing Judaism’s story… read more »

December 19, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS en español: Un día de milagros

En La Habana, este 17 de diciembre fue un día de milagros. El primer día la fiesta judía de Janucá, los festejos de San Lázaro y la celebración afrocubana para honrar a este santo convergieron mágicamente. Había magia en el aire. Este fue un día para que Alan Gross, evocando… read more »

December 17, 2014 |


This morning, I was in Havana in a room filled with Cubans watching their President, Raul Castro, announce the news that diplomatic relations with the United States would be resumed. When his speech ended, the room was filled with cheers, the Cubans sang their national anthem, and stood at their… read more »

December 17, 2014 |

Watch President Obama’s Cuba Address

CDA’s hard work to reform U.S. policy toward Cuba is paying off. Watch President Obama’s announcement of normalization of relations with Cuba.

December 17, 2014 |


Responding to Cuba’s release of USAID contractor Alan Gross and to reports that the U.S. will release three Cuban spies imprisoned since 2001, Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), said: “This deal is the biggest diplomatic breakthrough between Cuba and the U.S. in… read more »

December 17, 2014 |

AP: Cuba releases US prisoner Alan Gross

Julie Pace and Matthew Lee, Associated Press — American Alan Gross has been released from a Cuban prison after five years, as part of an agreement that also includes the release of three Cubans jailed in the United States, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday. Officials said Gross was on a… read more »

December 15, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: Cuba’s Economy at a Crossroads

Editorial Board, New York Times — In July 2007, while serving as acting president as his brother underwent medical treatment, Raúl Castro delivered a startling indictment of the Cuban economy when he railed about the inefficiencies of the dairy industry. His description of the onerous and expensive mechanism to get… read more »

December 12, 2014 |

USAID’s Hip Hop Hiccup and the “Smart Power Prom”

A new USAID scandal was exposed yesterday by the exceptional investigative team at the Associated Press. USAID, acting through its notorious contracting partner, Creative Associates International, tried to infiltrate Cuba’s hip-hop community to intensify the political messaging of its artists and use their fans to foment a rapper’s revolution. The… read more »

December 11, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: USAID Scandal: Music to my fears

USAID Scandal:  Music to my fears The Associated Press is reporting that USAID deceived innocent Cubans, put celebrity icons like Silvio Rodriguez and Juanes at risk, and potentially contaminated genuine sources of free expression on the island with a scheme to use Cuban rappers to foment “a youth movement against… read more »