Friday, January 23, 2009

New scholarship program

In 2002, President Bush announced an Initative for a New Cuba, which included a scholarship program. “Our government will offer scholarships in the United States,” the President said, “for Cuban students and professionals who try to build independent civil institutions in Cuba, and scholarships for family members of political prisoners.”

The program didn’t get very far. Last time I checked, a $400,000 USAID grant to Georgetown University resulted in only two Cuban students coming to the United States.

From the Administration’s point of view, this was another case of the Cuban regime denying opportunity to its citizens. From the Cuban government’s point of view, one can surmise that there was little inclination to cooperate, by granting travel permits to students, with what it viewed as a program to train a new generation of political opposition.

Hence the U.S. goal of regime change (“hastening the end of the dictatorship”) and the tactic of engagement through academic exchange didn’t mix. (I always wondered why the Administration would not have been happy to include young Cuban Communist Party members, since they presumably need the education.)

At any rate, it turns out that the Bush Administration made a very constructive change last year. On the website of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana are announcements of two scholarship programs; one is a five-week program, the second is for one year. The programs have no apparent political criteria for applicants, and are offered to students from many other Latin American countries. Since it appears that they are not funded by the USAID program, maybe these programs will actually work.

A good move. If it’s not too late to praise the Bush Administration, I’ll do so now.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree. A good move! Let’s hope for new steps in the same direction... Is there any current program that fits with other academic background people?

Did you get my Thesis?

Greetings, MMF81.

gil said...
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