Carmen Diana Deere presenting on Cuban women's participation in agriculture cooperatives, with colleagues Jessica Gordon Nembhard and Mieke Meurs.
With the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President in January 2017 and the ascension of Miguel Díaz-Canel to the Cuban presidency in April 2018, uncertainty has characterized U.S.-Cuba relations. In the "post-Castro" era, our work on Cuba has continued in the form of events, blog posts, and new publications aimed at understanding the ongoing changes on the island, especially as they correspond to the U.S.-Cuba relationship.
- In July 2017, the University of Florida's Center for Latin American Studies, the Latin American Agribusiness Development Corporation (LAAD), la Universidad de la Habana, el Instituto de Investigaciones de Sanidad Vegetal, and CLALS hosted a symposium on agribusiness challenges and opportunities for the U.S. and Cuba. The morning session focused on economic and social factors, while the afternoon session delved into phytosanitary issues. Panelists from la Universidad de Habana and the University of Florida engaged with over 40 audience members comprised of policymakers, agribusiness stakeholders, and students.
- In December 2017 and 2018, a delegation of American University faculty members attended the annual seminar hosted by the Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional and the Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales Raúl Roa García in Havana. In 2017, the seminar sought to understand changing dynamics in Latin America given the Trump administration. AU faculty participants included William M. LeoGrande of SPA, Phil Brenner of SIS, Max Paul Friedman of CAS, Eric Hershberg of CLALS, and Fulton Armstrong of CLALS. In 2018, the seminar focused on midterm elections in the U.S. and prospects for further normalization between the U.S. and Cuba, and AU faculty presenters included William M. LeoGrande of SPA, Phil Brenner of SIS, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace of SIS, James Thurber of SPA, James Nathan of SIS, Eric Hershberg of CLALS, and Fulton Armstrong of CLALS.
- CLALS Affiliated Faculty Max Paul Friedman and William M. LeoGrande were published in an edited volume on U.S.-Cuba relations in the Trump years. Donald J. Trump y las relaciones Cuba-Estados Unidos en la encrucijada (Orfila Valentini, 2018) was edited by Soraya M. Castro Mariño and Margaret E. Crahan. Their chapters are available here for download:
As the Cuba Initiative continues in its fifth year, we are grateful for the constant support of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation as we carry out new and ongoing projects:
- On March 22, 2016, CLALS and the School of International Service sponsored the public panel "Cultivating Dialogue: U.S. and Cuban Agricultural Cooperatives." This gathering launched a bilateral, comparative, participatory dialogue about what Cuban and U.S. agricultural cooperatives have to learn from each other. Panelists included Cornelius Blanding of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; Jessica Gordon Nembhard of the City University of New York; Fred Royce of the Program of the Cooperative Agreement between University of Florida and University of Havana; Julie Hogeland of the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business & Cooperative Programs; and Nora Ourabah Haddad and Sara Vicari of the FAO's Office of Partnerships, Advocacy, and Capacity Development. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace of the School of International Service served as moderator.
- A year after the historic presidential announcements made on December 17, 2014, five CLALS representatives participated in the series of talks "Cuba in U.S. Foreign Policy: Learning the Art of Living with our Differences." The talks were sponsored by the Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales Raúl Roa García (ISRI) and the Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional (CIPI). While in Havana, CLALS visited the recently reopened U.S. Embassy and spoke with diplomats and other stakeholders about ways to further advance Cuba-U.S. normalization.
American University Faculty and Research Fellows participating in a December 2015 conference in Havana, Cuba.
- In early December 2015, representatives from CLALS participated in The Economist Events' inaugural Cuba Summit, which offered insight and analysis on pressing issues facing potential investors in Cuba. Included among the panelists was Research Fellow Ricardo Torres (see below), who spoke on the future of monetary reform, as well as about human capital and market regulation on the island. News coverage of the event was provided by Cuba Journal and Voice of America. Audio recordings of the panels are available for streaming via The Economist Events YouTube Channel.
- During Fall 2015, CLALS hosted our second Cuban research fellow, Ricardo Torres, whose work focuses on economies transitioning away from central planning. His visit was co-hosted by the Washington Office on Latin America.
- In May 2015, Prof. Garrett Graddy and the School of International Service: Global Environmental Politics hosted a panel discussion with the U.S. Cuba Cooperative Working Group. Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, Graddy will continue her incipient research on the impact of U.S. and Cuban agricultural policies on agricultural cooperatives that are are striving for diversified, sustainable agricultural.
- Various CLALS faculty and fellows - including William LeoGrande, Eric Hershberg, Phil Brenner, and Fulton Armstrong - continue their work to advance dialogue toward improving bilateral relations between the U.S. and Cuba. In April 2015, CLALS and the Social Science Research Network launched the Implications of Normalization web forum, a multi-disciplinary collection of 17 essays that delve into the ramifications of changes in U.S.-Cuba relations following the historic announcements by Presidents Castro and Obama on December 17.
- In January 2015, CLALS convened a workshop for experts in the Washington, D.C. area to discuss the opportunities for and obstacles to advancing normalized relations.
During the Cuba Initiative's fourth year, we broke new ground with our new and ongoing initiatives.
- During Fall 2014, CLALS welcomed our first Cuban research fellow, Alejandro Perdomo, sponsored in collaboration with our colleagues at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). During his fellowship, Perdomo received the full institutional support of CLALS and connected to diverse policymakers and activists across WOLA's practitioner networks. Perdomo delivered lectures in Champaign, Baltimore, Boston, and Chicago about the challenges and opportunities of US-Cuba relations. He also spoke at a number of graduate-level classes at AU, with the goal of raising awareness of Cuban scholarship and culture.
- During Fall 2014, CLALS welcomed our first Cuban research fellow, Alejandro Perdomo, sponsored in collaboration with our colleagues at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). During his fellowship, Perdomo received the full institutional sport of CLALS and connected to diverse policymakers and activists across WOLA's practitioner networks. Perdomo accepted invitations to deliver lectures in Champaign, Baltimore, Boston and Chicago about the challenges and opportunities of US-Cuba relations. He also spoke at a number of graduate-level classes at AU, with the goal of raising awareness of Cuban scholarship and culture.
- In September 2014, CLALS Director Eric Hershberg, Prof. William LeoGrande, and Geoff Thale (a Senior Program Officer at Washington Office on Latin America) participated in a panel discussion with Canadian diplomats, scholars and practitioners at the University of Ottawa, concerning the much-debated participation of Cuba in the upcoming OAS Presidential Summit in Panama. The Ottawa event was co-sponsored by the Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales, the University of Ottawa, and the Latin American Study Group of the Canadian International Council.
- With the goal of staying informed about and participating in current conversations about the opportunities and challenges facing women in Latin America, AU Law Prof. Brenda Smith and World Languages and Cultures Prof. Ana Serra attended the fifth annual "Conferencia Internacional Mujer, Género y Derecho" in Havana during June 2014.
- Prof. Garrett Graddy drew on her multi-method research on agricultural relations (including interviews with Cuban experts in agricultural economics, history, cultural geography, sociology, and policy) to present at the Dimensions of Political Ecology conference in March 2014 and to organize a panel entitled "Geographies of/from Cuba: Navigating Change & Resilience" at the American Association of Geographers conference later that spring. Graddy's research explores how agricultural cooperatives have evolved since the onset of the "special period" and how small farmers have adapted and survived in the face of changing environmental, political, social, and economic conditions.
- Prof. Sonya Grier has continued a very productive collaboration with Profs. Luis Alberto Barreiro and Ileana Díaz from the University of Havana, with whom she analyzed the use of social marketing to influence important health behaviors in Cuba's population. The team's methodology included a thorough review of program materials, as well as meetings with key staff from important national centers (e.g. National Center for STI HIV-AIDS, National Center for Sexual Education; CENESEX), academic researchers (e.g. National School for Public Health), and media professionals. This past June, Grier presented the team's findings at the American Marketing Association's 2014 Marketing and Public Policy conference in Boston.
- In Feb. 2014, Prof. Graddy hosted Laneydi Martinez of Havana's Centro de Estudios Hemisféricos y sobre Estados Unidos, who lectured at AU on Cuba's role in regional economic integration policies.
- Profs. William LeoGrande, Phillip Brenner, and Eric Hershberg presented at the Dec. 2013 conference "XII Taller, Cuba en la política exterior de los Estados Unidos de América: Proyecciones, tendencias y perspectivas de las relaciones Cuba-Estados Unidos en los temas de seguridad y del mayor interés mutuo," hosted by Soraya Castro of the Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional (CIPI) in Havana.
- To raise awareness of Latin American transgendered persons, CLALS organized a round-table discussion in October 2013 with the distinguished Cuban historian, Julio González Pagés. This visit by the author of Por andar vestida de hombre allowed speakers and a highly engaged audience to consider the changing significance and status of gender in contemporary Cuba and Latin America.
- In mid-June 2013, Prof. Sonya Grier traveled to Havana to deliver a series of presentations at a workshop convened by the National School of Public Health, which has expressed interest in working with her to develop agendas for long-term collaborative research assessing the use of social marketing around health-related issues in Cuba.
- To improve the health outcomes and increase consciousness of the LGBTI community, Prof. Macarena Saez and several colleagues, including Prof. Brenda Smith and University of Trinidad and Tobago Prof. Rishi Prem Anand Dass, participated in a June 2013 conference on LGBTI and Human Rights in the Caribbean. Saez moderated a panel discussion on gender, sexuality and violence.
The Christopher Reynolds Foundation renewed their financial support of the CLALS Cuba Initiative. During 2012, the initiative continued to draw on unique areas of faculty expertise at American University and relationships that have been developed with Cuban researchers and institutions. Thus far four main projects have been supported:
- In January, eight AU faculty traveled to Cuba where they participated in the 6th Taller Academico Cuba-Estados Unidos (TACE), an ongoing project which examines possibilities of reducing tension and building confidence between the U.S. and Cuba. This four-year project concluded in 2013 and has resulted in a series of recommendations, available in English and Spanish.
- AU Business School Professor Sonya Grier traveled to Havana in May 2012 for exploratory discussions regarding opportunities for developing social marketing initiatives around health promotion objectives. Follow-up discussions were held in January 2013 with a wide range of scholars and practitioners from the University of Havana and beyond. The research conducted will result in an article co-authored by contacts made in Cuba and ongoing cooperation with local organizations on the implementation of social marketing initiatives.
- Professor Macarena Sáez of AU's Washington College of Law was accompanied by colleagues from AU and several other law schools in a series of meetings on topics related to gender and sexuality in the law. A conference held at the University of Havana Law School, co-sponsored by CENESEX and the ALAS Network was the highlight of the visit, which it is hoped will result in continuing exchanges among specialists from AU and the University of Habana.
- In collaboration with the AU School of Communications and AU Abroad, 14 Cubans, under the tutelage of AU Professor Bill Gentile, took part in a training program on "backpack journalism" in Havana. Two of the aspiring Cuban filmmakers who participated in the course visited AU and surrounding universities in September 2012, where they screened their documentary, Solar del 11, and met with film students from several U.S. campuses. The students maintained a class blog throughout their trip, and also produced a documentary.
- Three American University professors traveled to Cuba to meet with leading researchers and policy makers and take part in a December 17-18 conference, "Proyecciones, tendencias y perspectivas de las relaciones Cuba - Estados Unidos en el mandato presidencial 2013-2017." Philip Brenner, William LeoGrande and Fulton Armstrong presented papers on prospects for U.S.-Cuban relations and interviewed an array of stakeholders regarding Cuba's processes of economic reform. Fulton Armstrong presented "Factors determining the options and political space the Obama/Romney Administration will have regarding bilateral relations with Cuba; the interplay among those factors; and how the Cuban Government might influence the outcome: The drivers of policy," which was co-authored by Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Significant, and perhaps dramatic, changes are underway in the organization of Cuba's economy and the configuration of state-society relations in that undeniably unique Latin American country. To assess both the current situation and prospects for the coming years, CLALS commissioned studies on basic needs provision from three of Cuba's leading social scientists: Omar Everleny Pérez, Universidad de la Habana; Luisa Iñiguez, Universidad de la Habana; and Mayra Espina, Centro de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Sociológicas. Addressing housing, health and poverty alleviation, this research was presented at a workshop at AU on February 21.
- Contributions from Cuban intellectuals were highlighted in a forum devoted to treatments of housing, gender, youth, immigration, the arts, and the state of the Revolution in contemporary Cuba with documentary filmmakers Alina Rodríguez and Aram Vidal. Film critic Caridad Cumaná (Fundación del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano) opened the talk, examining the historical role of documentary filmmaking within Cuba.
- In collaboration with the Washington College of Law and the Network of Latin American Scholars on Gender, Sexuality and Legal Education (ALAS), CLALS has supported dialogue between law school faculty in Cuba and their AU counterparts. WCL Professor Brenda Smith attended the VI Conferencia Internacional de Derecho de Familia and has been invited to participate as a speaker in the IV Conferencia Internacional "Mujer, Género y Derecho" in 2012.