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October 30, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Cuba, Praised for Increased Vigilance against Terrorist Finance, Remains on US Terror List

Last Friday, The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) congratulated Cuba – along with Argentina, Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Turkey – for taking such strong actions to police its financial system that it will no longer be subject to the monitoring of its efforts against money-laundering and terrorist finance. Because of “Cuba’s… read more »

October 29, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: CDC Official in Cuba Meeting with ALBA on Ebola — or “man bites dog” big time.

It took the Associated Press just 130 words to write one of the great “man bites dog” stories of 2014. “The United States has sent a health official to a Cuban meeting on coordinating Latin America’s response to Ebola,” according to the AP. The official, Dr. Nelson Arboleda, is the… read more »

October 28, 2014 |

STATEMENT BY SARAH STEPHENS IN RESPONSE TO THE UN VOTE CONDEMNING THE EMBARGO

In reaction to the UN vote today, Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), said: “Today’s UN vote condemning the embargo is a powerful reminder that this policy divides the U.S. from its friends and allies around the world, and the continued pursuit of… read more »

October 28, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: On Cuba Embargo, It’s the U.S. and Israel Against the World — Again.

Ernesto Londoño, New York Times — A little-known former American ambassador on Tuesday addressed the General Assembly to perform a dreaded task: defending the issue that has isolated the United States diplomatically like no other, the Cuban embargo. “This resolution only serves to distract from the real problems facing the… read more »

October 27, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Get Cuba off the list

During the Cold War, Cuba’s decision to send its armed forces to Africa to support newly independent governments and movements fighting apartheid was used by the Reagan administration in 1982 to help justify putting Cuba on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list. This false designation stigmatizes Cuba today and… read more »

October 26, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: The Shifting Politics of Cuba Policy

New York Times Editorial Board — There was a time, not too long ago, when any mainstream politician running for statewide or national office in Florida had to rattle off fiery rhetoric against the Cuban government and declare unquestioning faith that the embargo on the island would one day force… read more »

October 24, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Cuban Doctors in Africa: A Transformative Moment for US Policy

During the Cold War, Cuba’s decision to send its armed forces to Africa to support newly independent governments and movements fighting apartheid was used by the Reagan administration in 1982 to help justify putting Cuba on the U.S. State Sponsors of Terrorism list. This false designation stigmatizes Cuba today and… read more »

October 23, 2014 |

CULLEN MORAN: Here’s to Middle Ground

As a relative newcomer to the world of Cuba policy, I have noticed that most of the folks working to change U.S. policy toward the island represent a rare breed in this age of tweet-able, polarized politics. In a political atmosphere that favors the outrageous, Cuba advocates seem to have… read more »

October 19, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola

New York Times Editorial Board — Cuba is an impoverished island that remains largely cut off from the world and lies about 4,500 miles from the West African nations where Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines… read more »

October 17, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: End It! What the NY Times and UN say about the US Embargo

In its lead editorial on Sunday, “Obama Should End the Embargo on Cuba,” the New York Times reignited the debate on Cuba by calling for the U.S. embargo to be lifted to serve the national interest and provide President Obama with a foreign policy legacy worthy of the name. In… read more »

October 17, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Secretary Kerry’s Praise of Cuba’s Ebola Role Trumps Response by State’s Spokesperson

Is there a spin doctor in the house? Today, Secretary of State John Kerry praised Cuba for its leadership in mobilizing against the Ebola outbreak in Africa. His brief but warm “shout-out” stands in marked contrast to comments by a State Department spokesperson, whose studied reluctance to say anything about Cuba’s role comes through loudly and clearly in the transcript of her press corps briefing just two days before. For over a month, Cuba’s active response to the outbreak has been receiving global praise. Even the Washington Post, not a fan of the “Castro Government,” published a piece – “In the medical response to Ebola, Cuba is punching far above its weight” – contrasting Cuba with an international community “accused of dragging its feet.”

October 11, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: End the U.S. Embargo on Cuba

New York Times Editorial Board — Scanning a map of the world must give President Obama a sinking feeling as he contemplates the dismal state of troubled bilateral relationships his administration has sought to turn around. He would be smart to take a hard look at Cuba, where a major… read more »

October 10, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Miami’s Democratic Opening

Not long ago – in places like Miami – it was dangerous to express views that deviated from the strict hardline that supported the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Human Rights Watch reported in 1994 that Miami-based participants in “The Nation and Emigration” conference in Havana returned home to find themselves… read more »

October 7, 2014 |

El Salvador Update: September 2014 / Informe mensual El Salvador, septiembre 2014

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September 18th was a notable day for El Salvador. The U.S. finally approved disbursement of the $277 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development grant, former president Francisco Flores, who had been charged with embezzlement and went into hiding for 123 days, was ordered from house arrest to jail, and Francisco Altschul presented his credentials to President Obama for the second time as El Salvador’s Ambassador to the U.S.

October 3, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: On Ending Pipsqueak Diplomacy

We offer three loud, enthusiastic cheers to our friends Bill LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.  Their new book, Back Channel to Cuba, immediately made news and refocused discussion on the decrepit state of U.S.-Cuba diplomacy. “Clobber the pipsqueak” was Henry Kissinger’s call to war against Cuba. Using documents obtained from President… read more »

October 1, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Washington Etiquette? Senator Menendez Scolds Panama for Inviting Cuba over to its “house”

Maybe it’s a Washington thing. When you invite friends over for a party, there’s always one guest who replies “who else is coming?” Yet, Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seems to be stretching this peculiar etiquette to the breaking point. Today, he sent a letter… read more »

October 1, 2014 |

LINDA GARRETT: Obama Administration Opens Door to Some Central American Children

When the New York Times reported yesterday that President Obama had “approved a plan to allow several thousand young children from Central American countries to apply for refugee status in the United States,” we decided to take a quick look. The program will allow some children — perhaps 4000 —… read more »

September 29, 2014 |

Caracas Connect, September 2014 Report

It has been a long, hot summer in Venezuela; fortunately, there has not been a great deal of political violence. For the time being, President Nicolás Maduro is unlikely to face the kind of political unrest that plagued Venezuela earlier this year, but his political star continues to fall. A Datanálysis poll claimed that 62.3 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of his performance in government. Perhaps more telling is the poll’s finding that 59 percent of Venezuelans think that “Maduro has ideals different from those of Hugo Chávez.”

September 26, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Ending the Embargo: Can “Brand America” Bail Obama Out?

Not a great week for President Obama or his resilient support for the U.S. embargo against Cuba. With heads of state and government gathering at the United Nations for the 69th Session of the General Assembly, Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and Salvador Sánchez Cerén, President of El Salvador,… read more »

September 24, 2014 |

ACN: Colombian President says Washington Should Lift its Failed Blockade of Cuba

ACN, Havana, CUBA — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that he hopes that the United States and Cuba may get to working relations that lead to the lifting of the US blockade of the island, which in his opinion has failed. Santos made his statements during a speech at… read more »

September 24, 2014 |

El Nuevo Herald: Santos espera que EEUU y Cuba establezcan relación para levantar el embargo

EFE, BOGOTA — El presidente colombiano, Juan Manuel Santos, dijo el martes que espera que Estados Unidos y Cuba consigan establecer una relación que permita levantar el embargo económico de Washington a la isla, vigente desde hace más de medio siglo, porque considera que esa medida “ha fallado”. “Yo tengo… read more »

September 19, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: The anti-isolationist, pro-free trade, Cuba embargo supporters

This week, two staunch defenders of the U.S. embargo against Cuba came out against isolationism and in favor of expanding global trade. Huh? Not that he didn’t mean it – although the AP headline, “Sen. Rubio adopts role of foreign policy hawk,” suggests otherwise – Senator Rubio gave a speech… read more »

September 17, 2014 |

LINDA GARRETT: In McAllen, Texas, faith groups responded, while Washington dithered

In the face of an imploding immigration system, an exploding political debate and a deadlock on reform in Washington, it was religious leaders who rallied to form a humanitarian response to the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border to the United States this summer. The number of migrants crossing… read more »

September 14, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Diplomacy with Cuba: Something to shout about

When President Obama described our role in assembling the coalition the United States will lead into war, he called it “America at its best.” But, when a State Department spokesperson took a question about U.S. cooperation with Cuba on an issue of “security and safety,” she reacted like a character in Harry Potter reluctant… read more »

September 12, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: The Roar of the Lion, and the Sound of a Whisper

When President Obama described our role in assembling the coalition the United States will lead into war, he called it “America at its best.” But, when a State Department spokesperson took a question about U.S. cooperation with Cuba on an issue of “security and safety,” she reacted like a character… read more »

September 9, 2014 |

Report from the Border

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McAllen, Texas was the center of a media and political storm that hit the U.S. in June. By then, the gradual but consistent rise in the numbers of families and unaccompanied minors fleeing the Northern Triangle countries of Central America had reached dramatic proportions.

September 5, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Rubio’s Secret: His China Policy Would Work Great in Cuba

Senator Marco Rubio is on to something. He’s already put together a smart replacement for his ineffective Cuba policy. He just doesn’t know it yet. It’s his China policy. Late last week, we circulated the stunning news unearthed by the Tampa Bay Times captured by this appropriately stunning headline: “Chinese… read more »

September 5, 2014 |

El Salvador Update: August 2014 / Informe mensual El Salvador, augusto 2014

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The early summer months of 2014 will be remembered as a frightening time for the Central American children that found their way to the southern border of the United States. There, thousands of unaccompanied Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran minors and mothers with children crossed the Rio Grande River onto U.S. soil and waited to be detained by the Border Patrol. The humanitarian crisis in South Texas evolved into a political crisis as the story made headlines for weeks. It left the U.S. Congress roiling, but still unable to act. The paralysis on the Hill, in turn, forced the Obama Administration to begin a politically fraught plan for executive action on immigration reform.

August 29, 2014 |

STATEMENT BY SARAH STEPHENS RESPONDING TO TAMPA BAY TIMES NEWS STORY

Washington, D.C. – The Tampa Bay Times reports this evening that two, top staff members for Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) took junkets to China which were financed by China’s government. The paper identified them as Sally Canfield, deputy chief of staff to Rubio, and Arthur Estopinan, chief of staff to Ros-Lehtinen.

August 29, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Labor Day Weekend “No Apologies” Edition

Thank you for welcoming us back. While we were on holiday last week, the Associated Press reported, “The U.S. Treasury Department’s inspector general has determined Jay-Z and Beyonce’s fifth-anniversary trip to Cuba last year was legal under rules allowing educational travel to the island.” Did the AP get this story… read more »