“The cigar-chomping, no-nonsense general who lifted New Orleans from
the depths of Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 thinks Cuba has some
important lessons to teach the United States in storm-fighting, and he
wants warmer relations with the nation's neighbor to the south for that
See the full article from the shreveporttimes.com here.
“U.S. law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend
or foe -- with one exception: Cuba. It's time for us to scrap this
anachronistic ban.” -Congressman Berman and Senator Lugar
Yesterday, in an op-ed published in the Miami Herald, Chairman Berman
of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senator Richard Lugar,
ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, endorsed
the freedom to travel to Cuba just in time for the long-awaited
committee hearing on Cuba travel. Here we go. The leadership in
Congress is firmly in favor of change and not afraid to say so.
Campaign , a non-profit campaign finance research group, just released the most extensive study
of Cuban-American political donations to date. The conclusion: big
money from political action committees is the reason for our stagnant
Thursday, November 19th, the full House Foreign Affairs Committee will
hold a public hearing on the freedom to travel to Cuba. Official
announcement here. Chairman Howard Berman titled the hearing, “Is it Time to Lift the Ban
on Travel to Cuba?”
Following the UN votelast week over One Thousand of you sent letters to President Obama, in less than 24 hours, expressing a need to change U.S. policy toward Cuba. If you haven't taken this action, take it here.
UPDATE: The United Nations has voted 187 in favor, 3 against (US, Israel, Palau), and 2 abstentions (Micronesia, Marshall Islands) to condemn the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
The United Nations General Assembly will vote on a resolution whichcondemns the U.S embargo against Cuba on Wednesday, October 28th, forthe 18th year in a row. According to a CBS news report written afterthe 2008 U.N vote, “The U.S. embargo has cost Cuba $230 million a yearin foreign investment and caused the country more than $93 billion ineconomic damage since its inception, according to Cuban officials.”
An invitation from Wayne Smith, Former Chief of the U.S. Interests
Section in Havana and Senior Fellow and Director of the Cuba Program at
the Center for International Policy
This conference in New Orleans on disaster preparedness seems to open a new and critical door for bilateral exchange.
Cuba and the U.S. Gulf Coast are both in the path of hurricanes, which
are striking with increasing frequency and ferocity. It is therefore
of marked importance that they cooperate with one another against these
onslaughts, exchanging information and providing assistance to one
another as needed. The Cubans have indicated their full willingness to
do so. It is fitting that Cubans and Americans gather in New Orleans,
the American city that was most damaged by and had the highest losses
in lives from Hurricane Katrina, to discuss how this cooperation can
best be achieved.
The Washington Ballet debuted a fantastic production of Don Quixote at
the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this week. The highlight
was an awe inspiring performance by Viengsay Valdés, the Primera
Bailarina of the Ballet Nacionál de Cuba. Ms. Valdés, a product of
Cuba’s world renowned ballet schools, played the lead role of Kitri in
a spectacular rendition of Cervantes’ classic Spanish novel. Many in
the crowd didn’t even know about the special guest, who tip-toed into
DC almost unnoticed. But the audience adored the Cuban ballerina and
interrupted the show frequently with extended applause. And out came
Cuban flags with the endless standing ovation for such a rare and
It seems that a day cannot go by without an article in the MSM
declaring that “Cuba is opening up to the world.” There’s a lot of
tricky logic going in such statements, and this past Sunday’s Concert
for Peace without Borders organized by Colombian pop star Juanes can
help us to reflect on this a bit, and also to act to change United
States restrictions on travel by Americans to Cuba.
Being the music lover that I am, before anything else I have to
comment: What a spectacular display it was! Well over a million people
– half of Havana’s population according to Cuban press sources – filled
the Plaza of the Revolution to see performances by Cuban artists living
on the island and abroad whose work most epitomizes their homeland,
such as Los Van Van, Orishas, Silvio Rodríguez, Yerba Buena, Carlos
Varela and Amaury Pérez. Hats off to saxophonist and music director
extraordinaire Juan Manuel Ceruto and an amazing ensemble that
accompanied many of the Cubans, as well as their foreign guests such as
Luis Aute, Miguel Bosé, Olga Tañón and Danny Rivera, among others. It
was great to see Cuban musicianship on display again here in the United
States, if only via an online video stream provided by Univisión,
something unheard of not so long ago.