Recent Posts

July 28, 2015 |

PRESS RELEASE: Emmer-Castor bill to Lift Cuba Trade Ban Offers Opportunity to Cuban People and U.S. Business

WASHINGTON – Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), issued the following statement about the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 in the U.S. House of Representatives: “The Emmer-Castor bipartisan Cuba Trade Act shows how engagement with Cuba can provide greater economic opportunities for the… read more »

July 24, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL NEWSBLAST: Flag Poles to Public Opinion Polls – Is Congress (Finally) Getting the Message?

Today, we ask when the pageantry of diplomacy and the immense, growing public support for the new U.S.-Cuba policy will translate into actions by Congress to realize the promise of engagement. That day may be closer than you think. On Monday, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations, the… read more »

July 23, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: CDA Statement on U.S. Senate Appropriations Cuba Amendments

WASHINGTON – Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), issued the following statement after the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted three amendments on travel and trade with Cuba: “Today’s bipartisan Senate Appropriations Committee vote to legalize travel adds new momentum to further the opening of… read more »

July 20, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: CDA Statement on the Historic Reopening of U.S. and Cuban Embassies

WASHINGTON – The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) released the following statement on today’s historic reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington, DC. “Whether you are in Havana or Washington, DC watching our embassies open, what you are seeing is the final act of the Cold War,” said… read more »

July 17, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: A Banner Year for Change

Last Friday, the Confederate Flag was lowered on the State House grounds in Columbia, South Carolina. Next Monday, the Cuban Flag will be hung in the State Department lobby and wave over the building in Washington that will once again serve as Cuba’s embassy. Later this summer, the flag of the United… read more »

July 10, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Rubio, Cuba, and a tale of two speeches

On July 7th, Senator Marco Rubio delivered a speech said to be about reforming higher education and finding where the jobs of the future will be created. But, it was really about the failed ways of Washington and the character of strong leadership. In one key section he says: We… read more »

June 30, 2015 |

PRESS RELEASE: CDA Applauds Announcement That U.S. and Cuba Will Reopen Embassies

WASHINGTON – The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) released the following statement in reaction to reports that the agreement between Cuba and the U.S. to restore diplomatic relations and open embassies in their respective capitals will be announced tomorrow.  “This is a moment we have been working toward for… read more »

June 26, 2015 |


by Dr. Dan Hellinger Divisions Deepen within Left and Right in Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian government have seen a defection of a faction of its grassroots organizers and intellectual supporters. The radical Marea Socialista (or “Socialist Tide”) has definitively split from the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela… read more »

June 26, 2015 |

Reflecting on Carlos Gutierrez’s Cuba Conversion and Why He Was Rebuked

As U.S. Secretary of Commerce in the administration of President George W. Bush, Carlos Gutierrez supported policies to overthrow Cuba’s government and replace its political and economic systems with a framework forged in Washington. A day after the speeches by President Obama and Castro on their decision to restore bilateral relations, Gutierrez… read more »

June 19, 2015 |

The Cuban Military Not So Transparent Act

Legislation introduced earlier this month by Senator Marco Rubio (FL) – the Cuban Military Transparency Act – isn’t transparent at all. Rather than revealing something about Cuba’s military, the legislation conceals the intent of its authors; namely, to shame, harass, and try to stop every American from visiting Cuba or… read more »

June 12, 2015 |

Is The Supreme Court Passport Decision A Threat to Helms-Burton? We think so.

The Supreme Court’s decision this week in what is called the Jerusalem Passport Case poses a clear danger to the Helms-Burton law, and it will help to accelerate the unraveling of what has held together our nation’s counterproductive policies against Cuba. The hardliners feared and predicted exactly this fallout from… read more »

June 11, 2015 |

THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Cuban woman: A rising power

Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, The New York Times — Expectations and excitement about Cuba are at a high boil, with thousands of people on both sides of the Straits of Florida giddy with anticipation of historic change. Congressional, business and educational delegations are landing daily in Havana, eager to sample the… read more »

June 8, 2015 |

TELESUR: Sarah Stephens on US-Cuba Relations

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Jorge Gestoso, Telesur — In today’s edition of Interviews from Washington DC, US-Cuba relations is the topic, and our host Jorge Gestoso interviews Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas. Stephens has made at least 60 visits to Cuba and has organized any number of visits of… read more »

May 29, 2015 |

CUBA CENTRAL Newsblast: Hard-liners’ Edifice Complex

Last week, we stuck our necks out. We asked Members of Congress who support the opening with Cuba — and the companies which stand to benefit from it — to make their positions clear about the legislative riders cantering through the Appropriations Committee that seek to shut down new flights… read more »

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 |


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


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 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 »