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May 22, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Veto Redux

Step-by-step, legislation is working its way through Congress to curtail much of the progress President Obama is making in U.S.-Cuba relations by cutting the funds needed by federal agencies to implement his new policies. Today, we ask: Will those who benefit most from the new policies that encourage travel and… read more »

May 20, 2015 |

SARAH STEPHENS: Senate telecoms legislation proposes respectful relations with Cuba in the digital age

WASHINGTON – The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) supports the bipartisan Cuba DATA Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Tom Udall (NM), Jeff Flake (AZ), Dick Durbin (IL), and Mike Enzi (WY). “This legislation sends a powerful signal that Congress is ready to leave the Cold… read more »

May 15, 2015 |

Escape Velocity? The Accelerating Pace of Change in U.S.-Cuba Relations

The Media General National Desk must like using edgy headlines for click bait. How else can they explain “Possible lung cancer vaccine another perk stemming from new U.S.-Cuba relations”? A “perk”? If a tumor-starving therapy that holds promise to greatly improve the lives of cancer patients can now be called… read more »

May 8, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: A Hat Tip to the Patron Saint and the Ferry Godfather of Normalization

The Vatican has offered little explanation for this Sunday’s meeting between President Raul Castro and Pope Francis, apart from Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi‘s comment that it was “strictly private,” and not an official state visit. Indeed, the first reports were about its timing — four months before the Pontiff is to visit Cuba… read more »

May 1, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Progress vs Congress, Lead Them Not Into Temptation

There’s a lot to like about what has happened since Presidents Obama and Castro declared their intentions to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Forget that stuff the hardliners say that President Obama is the worst negotiator since Neville Chamberlain, and start by remembering what Cuba’s government… read more »

April 29, 2015 |

House Transportation Budget Bill Protects South Florida but Seeks Freeze on “New” Flights to Cuba

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Department of Transportation’s annual budget, has introduced legislation that would block any new licenses for commercial air travel from the U.S. to Cuba, while protecting the charter services that fly his South Florida Cuban American constituents to the… read more »

April 27, 2015 |

Sarah Stephens on StandUP! with Pete Dominick — Normalizing relations puts us on the right side of history

Sarah Stephens on StandUP! with Pete Dominick — Normalizing relations puts us on the right side of history Last week, StandUP! with Pete Dominick on Sirius XM Radio hosted “Cuba Week,” which brought together journalists, scholars, activists, and policy experts for a series of discussions on the sweeping changes recently… read more »

April 24, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Hardliners Offer Concessions on Cuba — Concessions to Reality

This week, we want to tell you a story about Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s sudden about-face on President Obama’s decision to drop Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list. It’s a little “in the weeds,” but it dramatizes how much the debate on Cuba has changed since we learned that Presidents… read more »

April 17, 2015 |

Stating the Obvious — Obama says Cuba’s not a Terror State

Here at Cuba Central, the remarkable changes in U.S.-Cuba relations have inflicted collateral damage on two of our most cherished metaphors. Once, we were fond of the phrase, “U.S.-Cuba policy is stuck in the amber of its own ineffectiveness.” But, after the 2009 and 2011 travel and remittance reforms, the… read more »

April 14, 2015 |

STATEMENT BY SARAH STEPHENS: STRIKING CUBA FROM TERROR LIST WILL HELP SECURE U.S. FOREIGN POLICY GOALS

WASHINGTON – The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) applauds President Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. “Getting Cuba off the list removes a big impediment to U.S. foreign policy goals and an affront to Cuban dignity,” said Sarah Stephens, executive director… read more »

April 10, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Surprisingly Substantive Summit

If the past inevitably was prologue, Western Hemisphere leaders attending the 7th Summit of the Americas in Panama could simply mail (or email) in the predictable results. The U.S. President would brush aside criticisms of having ignored the region, yet again. He’d lecture the attendees on reducing deficits and trade… read more »

April 3, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Normalization becomes the new normal

We promise to say this in 450 words or less. It is, after all, a holiday. And for many, the prospect of a nuclear agreement with Iran is closer to the top of mind than Cuba. But can’t we just start this weekend by considering — and celebrating — what’s… read more »

April 2, 2015 |

Terror List: Weekend change in the talking points

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As we listened to this interview of Stefan Selig, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, we began to wonder if the talking points had changed over the weekend.

On Wednesday, Selig, who spoke at the Cuba Opportunity Summit, was interviewed by Rhonda Schaffler for The Street.com. About 50 seconds into the video, the following exchange occurs:

MS. SCHAFFLER: There are challenges, too, just in the normalization of relations. Cuba is still on the terror watch list (sic) from the State Department…

UNDER SECRETARY SELIG: It is, but the State Department is working to lift that and hopefully, we’re making real progress, and hopefully that will happen in the future.

April 1, 2015 |

New Survey Heralds Rising Support in Diaspora for Cuba Reforms

A new, national survey of 400 Cuban Americans living in the U.S. shows majority support for President Obama’s decision to normalize relations and increasing numbers for ending the embargo itself. Fifty-one percent of respondents favored President Obama’s decision to normalize relations, a rise of 7% since December, and a plurality… read more »

March 30, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Walls and Doors — A Good Week for Diplomacy

Last December, when President Obama announced he had reached an agreement with President Raúl Castro to restore diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, you’d have thought it was a dark day for diplomacy given the reaction of some Senators on Capitol Hill. “I think it stinks,” New Jersey… read more »

March 20, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Cuba: On Drugs

On Wednesday, Cuba got the results of its annual drug test. It passed. If we had to guess, no one on the island was sweating out the wait for the 2015 edition of the U.S. State Department narcotics control strategy report. But several pro-sanctions hardliners had to be disappointed by… read more »

March 18, 2015 |

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Havana-Bound: Cuba Rapidly Becomes a Favorite Member Destination

The first wave of American tourists hasn’t yet hit the beaches of Havana, but members of Congress are—in record numbers. Even before President Obama’s December announcement of normalization of relations with the country, congressional travel to Cuba had spiked following a 50-plus year standoff between the two countries. A LegiStorm… read more »

March 16, 2015 |

RIVERS FELLOW: Lessons Learned from the Cuba Thaw

As the winter ice thaws here in DC, more than fifty years of animosity between the U.S. and Cuba has also started to melt away. Since President Obama and President Castro decided last December to begin normalizing diplomatic relations, the two countries have been holding historic negotiations that will expand… read more »

March 13, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: If Eight Polls Run Against You, You Run Against Conan

Since December 17, 2014, eight public opinion polls have been released that all show strong public support for President Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and his call to end the embargo. That’s got to bother the hardliners who have devoted their careers to punishing Cuba with U.S…. read more »

March 12, 2015 |

SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: What I Learned in Cuba

Since the U.S. and Cuban governments announced they would begin normalizing relations, there’s been a lot of talk about what that could mean—for the politics of both countries, and for agricultural and job opportunities in Missouri. A lot of that talk has been about the actions of politicians. Presidents Obama… read more »

March 6, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Breaking News: Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Facing Federal Corruption Charges

Senator Bob Menendez, shown here on Twitter celebrating National Pancake Day earlier this week, has something a little more serious on his plate this afternoon. CNN is reporting that Menendez, New Jersey’s senior Senator, and the former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will face federal criminal corruption charges… read more »

March 4, 2015 |

EL SALVADOR UPDATE: Election Glitches, Surprises and Prospects for 2015

For the past decade, international observers have praised Salvadoran election officials for conducting clean, efficient, professional, and transparent elections. But, the successful run was broken in balloting that took place on Sunday. Although there were no immediate accusations of fraud in the legislative, municipal, or Central American Parliament elections, officials… read more »

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 »