Long overdue, I just added On Two Shores to the blogroll, written from
Miami with a perspective from both sides.For one example of why they’re worth reading, see this examination of a recycled Jaime
Suchlicki argument on why the United States should maintain restrictions on
Americans’ travel to Cuba.
Cuba’s line of presidential
succession changed today with the naming of Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, as First
Vice President of the Council of State.
He replaces Jose Ramon Machado
Ventura, 82.In his speech in the
National Assembly today, Raul Castro said that Machado Ventura suggested that
he relinquish his post “in favor of the promotion of the new generation.”
This is the first time that a
next-generation figure has been in the top level of Cuba’s leadership since the
departure of Carlos Lage in 2009, and the first time that a next-generation
figure has occupied the post of first vice president, which is first in line of
Diaz-Canel, trained as an engineer
at the University of Villa Clara, has been increasingly visible in recent
years, most recently attending the CELAC summit in Chile with Raul Castro and
representing Cuba at the Caracas ceremony last month that marked the beginning of
Hugo Chavez’ new term in office.
Raul Castro confirmed that this will
be his last term, and he called for constitutional reform that will set a
two-term limit and a maximum age for the government’s top posts.
The main task of Raul Castro’s
presidency has been to fix an economy that, in his view, would put Cuba’s
socialist project at risk if it were not fixed.
He has been promoting
next-generation figures in a number of posts, and he has admitted that this
process has gone too slowly.With today’s
move he has put in Cubans’ sight the day when the government will be led not by
a figure who fought in the 1959 revolution, but by one who grew up in
Step by step, this old soldier has
been preparing for the day when he will leave his post, and he has now picked
the one who will relieve him.
Members of a U.S. Congressional delegation visited jailed USAID contractor Alan
Gross during a three-day visit that concluded yesterday.The delegation was led by Senate President pro tempore Patrick Leahy and included
three other senators and two House members.The entire group kept a low press profile.There was a three-hour meeting with Raul
media coverage was front-page and just-the-facts.
Globe’s Bryan Bender reports that the State Department is considering
removing Cuba from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”
If true, it’s a sign of fresh
thinking and common sense at the State Department.
Secretary Clinton, like President
Clinton, seemed to treat Cuba issues in large measure according to the
political calculation that won President Clinton the White House.To wit, to erode the Republican advantage on
national security issues by taking positions wherever possible that would leave
no enemies on the right.
That meant, in the case of Cuba, letting
stand the “terrorist” designation that has been specious for years and that has
devalued the U.S. voice on terrorism issues by showing the world that we were
happy to make a nonsensical annual statement about Cuba for domestic electoral
The Calle Ocho line is that removing
Cuba from the list would be a unilateral concession to Havana – an argument
that adds another layer of absurdity.If
you did something stupid like batting one-handed for, say, a few decades, would
you refuse to bat two-handed because to do so would be a concession to the
Also, consider this: If the U.S.
government and Calle Ocho really thought Cuba were a terrorism sponsor, would
we be admitting every Cuban who arrives on a U.S. shore or border crossing,
processing them within days, giving them quick access to public assistance and
a path to a green card in one year? Would we not worry that some might be sent to
Ending the designation would make
the U.S. voice on terrorism more serious, and it might make others take our
Cuba policy more seriously because it would be more based on legitimate
It will also reduce financial
sanctions that are tied to the “state sponsor” designation; those sanctions harm
Cuba’s economy by raising country risk, the cost of doing business, and the
cost of credit.So be it.If there’s a national security case to be
made about Cuba, or a need for additional political criticisms or economic
sanctions, let it be made based on evidence rather than repeating an accusation
that has not been valid for years.
Canadian foreign minister
John Baird visited Cuba last week, showing how a democracy can engage with
Cuba and, in some cases, disagree with its government at the same
and Mail, Juventud
After about five minutes
in Brazil, Yoani Sanchez is calling for an end to the U.S. embargo and the
release and return of the Cuban Five.How long before they call it a provocación in Miami?There, she is slated to receive Miami-Dade
College’s presidential medal in recognition of her human rights advocacy.(See EFE,
Nuevo, and Babalu’s
translation of her remarks.)Update: She tweeted
last night that when she was speaking about the Cuban Five, it was with “tremendous
irony” that was lost on her audience in Brasilia (and, apparently, everywhere
else).She also implied
that the U.S. should get out of the Guantanamo naval base.
Leonardo Padura on Raul Castro’s five years as President.
Latina has a brief item on the upcoming selection by the National
Assembly of the Council of State’s membership and officers, which will
determine the line of succession in Raul Castro’s second term.
Sports on Cuba’s selection for the World Baseball Classic.
The 2012 rice harvest set a production record.
Latina: Chipping away further at heavily subsidized goods and services
provided to the public, the Cuban government announces that water rates
will go up.