In 2002, President Bush offered scholarships for “Cuban students and professionals who try to build independent civil institutions in
In the final months of the Bush Administration, the State Department made the smart move of removing the political criteria and offering scholarships just as we would in any other country. (In January, I wrote about this here.)
It hasn’t worked.
Wilfredo Cancio reports in El Nuevo Herald that 28 students were selected, but the Cuban government denied them permission to travel to the
State Department spokeswoman Sara Mangiaracina says the scholarships will continue to be offered to Cubans. Whether Cubans will continue to apply on the hope that their government will change its mind, is another matter.
One can’t help but recall Cuban protests about the Bush Administration’s interference in academic freedom when it denied Cuban scholars visas to attend conferences of the Latin American Studies Association in 2004 and 2006.
It took six years for the Bush Administration to move off its dumb position with regard to this scholarship program. Let’s hope it takes the Cuban government much less time to move off its own.