A reader put me in touch with John Tredway of USA Youth Debates, an organization that takes American high school and college students abroad to debate foreign counterparts. The organization sponsored debates in
The license “kind of came out of the blue,” Tredway told me, but he is now eagerly starting to organize a trip where students from the New College of Florida will debate Cuban students.
In the 2000 programs, students debated in the congress format, where a proposition is put before the house, debaters make three-minute speeches, and then vote. The Cubans weren’t thrilled with the three-minute rule, Tredway says, but the format worked. They debated whether the United States should end the embargo (the Cuban students were surprised that the Americans were divided on that question), whether both countries should adhere to UN human rights standards, whether multinational companies should make Internet access available to students in Cuba and the United States, whether the United States should return the Guantanamo naval base, and more.
Tredway tried but failed to get licenses to conduct more debates during the Bush Administration. In 2005, he said, a State Department official told him that the activity was “within the scope of the regulations, but as a policy matter we are not going to support it.”
Congratulations to Mr. Tredway for his persistence, good luck to the students on both sides, and one cheer to the Obama Administration for granting the license. I would offer three cheers, but in