Recent Posts

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 »

December 9, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: The Worst Cuba Embargo Story of 2014

Since the Kennedy administration, the United States has tried to overthrow Cuba’s government: by force, at the Bay of Pigs; by assassination, through exploding cigars and poison-leaching scuba suits; by isolation, stopping Cuba from joining institutions like the World Bank and the Organization of American States; but, mostly by squeezing… read more »

December 5, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Freeing Alan Gross — Does it hinge on what the definition of “equivalence” is?

A sad and troubling milestone was passed on Wednesday, which marked the fifth anniversary of Alan Gross’s arrest in Cuba. This week, the State Department said, “[his] continued incarceration represents a significant impediment to a more constructive bilateral relationship.”

December 4, 2014 |

Video and Petition to Senator Rubio and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen Raise Questions about Double-Standards in U.S. Human Rights and Travel Policies

The Center for Democracy in the Americas has posted a petition and video on focused on the visit to China that Senator Marco Rubio and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen allowed top staffers in their offices to take with expenses picked up by China’s government. The Tampa Bay Times broke the… read more »

November 26, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Thanksgiving Edition: Shout-outs and holiday helpings of news

As we prepare for the holiday and gird for stormy weather in the U.S., we offer you light reading and simple gratitude in today’s Thanksgiving Edition. In the final days of 2014, we have reached a moment to savor: the table has been set for President Obama to make decisive… read more »

November 24, 2014 |

LINDA GARRETT: A Presidential Action that Benefits Millions but Excludes Many

While some critics question the legality of the immigration actions President Barack Obama unveiled in his address on November 20th, no one can doubt that the President cemented his legacy with Latinos and other immigrant communities. In a historic, often emotional address, the President presented measures within his executive authority that could benefit as many as five million undocumented immigrants.

November 21, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Will Immigration Blowback Affect the Chances for Cuba Reforms?

We couldn’t watch the President’s immigration reform speech last night without wondering what we could learn from his action – and the overreaction to it. What will happen if Mr. Obama also uses his executive power to make decisive changes in Cuba policy? Here’s our take. Get ready for a… read more »

November 16, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: A Cuban Brain Drain, Courtesy of the U.S.

New York Times Editorial Board — Secretary of State John Kerry and the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, have praised the work of Cuban doctors dispatched to treat Ebola patients in West Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently sent an official to a regional… read more »

November 14, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: China Climate Deal a Model for Big Reforms on Cuba

The deal President Obama struck with China’s President Xi Jinping committing both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enraged climate change deniers, elements of the coal industry, and its core supporters in Congress. If you look at what made the breakthrough possible, how it happened, how it will be implemented,… read more »

November 10, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Ending USAID Misadventures in Cuba


For years, Cuba Central has raised alarms about the USAID regime change programs in Cuba and joined other principled individuals and organizations in calling for them to be shut down. These programs, funded via Section 109 of the Helms-Burton law, paid for the trips that landed Alan Gross in prison,… read more »

November 9, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: In Cuba, Misadventures in Regime Change

New York Times Editorial Board — In 1996, spurred by an appetite for revenge, American lawmakers passed a bill spelling out a strategy to overthrow the government in Havana and “assist the Cuban people in regaining their freedom.” The Helms-Burton Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton shortly after… read more »

November 7, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: After the Deluge: Is There Hope President Obama Will Act On Cuba?

Last summer, where was the “smart money” when a deluge of unaccompanied kids fled violence and despair in Central America to seek safe haven in South Texas, upending the drive for immigration reform in the Congress, and raising the possibility that President Obama would use his executive authority to reform… read more »

November 7, 2014 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Cuban Dissident/Kitten Lover Reveals Hardline Strategy on Alan Gross

“If you ever meet (Carlos Luis Pardo), you will probably see him lovingly carrying a newborn kitten in his hands, or taking care of one of his persecuted friends.” -Cubalog.EU “Let him rot.” -Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo It took Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo just three words to dismiss the New… read more »

November 3, 2014 |

El Salvador Update: Octubre 2014 / Informe mensual El Salvador, octubre 2014

Living in a time of Ebola reminds us that diseases and other hazards are never confined by borders. While no cases of Ebola have been reported in Latin America, Archbishop Romero Airport in El Salvador is ready to take temperatures of incoming passengers, has prepared a quarantine area, and has 50 biohazard suits on hand. Of more immediate concern for the region, however, are chikungunya and dengue, both mosquito-borne viruses that are rarely deadly but which can be very painful.

November 3, 2014 |

NEW YORK TIMES: A Prisoner Swap With Cuba

New York Times Editorial Board — Nearly five years ago, authorities in Cuba arrested an American government subcontractor, Alan Gross, who was working on a secretive program to expand Internet access on the island. At a time when a growing number of officials in Washington and Havana are eager to… read more »

October 31, 2014 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: ICYMI: FATF Takes Cuba Off Its AML/CFT List! Wait, What?

Unless you cyber-troll the FATF website, you probably missed this item. Last Friday, FATF congratulated Cuba for taking such strong actions to police its financial system that Cuba will no longer be monitored for its compliance with anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorist finance rules. Be patient. Don’t flip to the “Recommended Reading”… read more »

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 |


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 »