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      Wednesday
      Dec172014

      Exclusive Excerpt: Listen, Yankee! Introduction: "Two Old Guys Talking"

      Tom Hayden and Ricardo Alarcon in Cuba during a set of interviews used for Tom's forthcoming book."Two Old Guys Talking" is the introduction to Tom Hayden's forthcoming book, Listen, Yankee!, Why Cuba Matters, to be published next year by Seven Stories Press. The piece was finalized last month. The "two old guys" are the author, now 75, who first visited Cuba in 1968, and Ricardo Alarcon, now 77, former president of the Cuban National Assembly, foreign minister, and UN representative.

      --

      Two old guys talking. That was the reason given to me, with a smile and shrug, by thirty-something Margarita Alarcón when I asked her why on earth her father Ricardo wanted to interview me. Cuba's former foreign minister, United Nations representative, and then-president of Cuba's national assembly, Ricardo Alarcón, was a busy man. It was 2006, and he wanted to see me in Havana. I knew him only slightly at the time, but I flew down to the island on wings of curiosity.

      Six years later, pushed by my good friend Jean Stein in New York, I went back to begin a round of my own interviews with Ricardo, as I came to know him. He was 76, no longer in power, had lost his wife to a long illness, and wanted to compose some reflections on his fifty years in official positions. He was a man of widely respected intelligence and, by my reckoning, probably had met more revolutionaries, political leaders, diplomats and heads of state than anyone on the planet. He was a rare treasure of worldly information, but off-limits to direct contact with the United States because of our embargo. Ricardo had been denied permission to travel to the US even when invited by academicians or members of Congress. Who was really being isolated, I wondered, Ricardo, who could meet those professors and politicians in Cuba at any time, or the US from vital contact with key representatives of an important neighboring country?

      In Havana we met, day after day, on the sixth floor of the venerable Hotel Nacional, where one feels all the currents of recent Cuban history. Opened in 1930, it sits on a promontory overlooking Havana harbor, atop an ancient cave and surrounded by a few of the remaining Spanish cannons that have defended Havana from Englishmen and pirates. Its "who's who" roster includes hundreds of the world's most famous celebrities and leaders. The Cosa Nostra—when Meyer Lansky was running things—operated from its floors; according to the delicate wording of the hotel's own history, it was here that Lansky "arranged with Batista the business of the casinos." Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Vito Genovese, and a rival mobster, Santo Trafficante, all hung out here. Frank Sinatra was an entertainment luminary. A cell of Fidel's revolutionary 26th of July movement also came to operate here clandestinely. The lurid contradictions of its history are famously dramatized in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part Two in a scene where the mobsters enjoy a sunlit penthouse rooftop while a young Fidelista blows himself up on the streets below rather than be taken alive. Looking down from the same heights where I sat with Ricardo, the fictional Michael Corleone commented to the Lansky character,

      "[But] it occurred to me. The soldiers are paid to fight. The rebels aren't."

      "What does that tell you?" asks Roth.

                  "They can win," Corleone replies. 

                  In Coppola's film, the dates were changed so that the mobster meeting occurred on the eve of the 1959 revolution, but the essential theme was true-to-life.

      The conversations between Ricardo and myself are the backbone of the book you are holding in your hands. While most of the writing and all of the opinions are mine, they arise from tens of hours of interviews. In addition to my writing you will see whole paragraphs in italics representing Ricardo’s running commentaries on the subject that has always been of passionate interest to us both—the decades long, intertwined histories of our two nations, an intense relationship some have described as being “the closest of enemies.”

      Ricardo was a philosophy student at the University of Havana and leader of the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU). The FEU was founded in 1922 by student leaders who were desirous of radical reforms.  It became the breeding ground for many of the most important reformist and revolutionary political figures that would dominate the succeeding decades, including Fidel Castro. Ricardo’s generation made a great refusal of the Mafia axiom that everyone has a price. They fought a revolution and won.

      Now it was 55 years later, and we were "old guys talking." The Nacional had endured. A few sunburned tourists lay outside by the pool. The hotel's special ice cream was being served in bucketful. Busy conferees bustled back and forth to their meetings. A seminar was underway on the expansion of airline services. The Chinese ambassador, speaking perfect Spanish and looking Cuban, politely introduced himself. Beautiful models posed for fashion photographers by the old Spanish cannons. Middle-aged lefties gathered in tour groups bearing their maps and cameras. A tiny modern tourist shop was open, selling sun screen, near the currency exchange counter. At the marble-topped front desk they were selling the writings of Fidel, Che and Camilo Cienfuegos in paperback editions. The hotel had withstood time’s passing, while history without end continued being made here.

      The Nacional's hotel workers were brisk, dignified and efficiently served cup after cup of strong Cuban coffee as I sat on an outdoor couch asking question after question of Ricardo. Occasionally we were interrupted by friends dropping by to shake his hand before going off to Old Havana, the famous Malecón promenade, or the sparkling beach below us. Cuba, now dependent on tourism, was welcoming millions of Canadians and Europeans, and even one hundred thousand Americans this year.

      Up on the sixth floor, we two old guys talked on, as the world below rapidly changed. Hour after hour, day after day, Ricardo answered my questions. Since those weeks, he has answered even more of my queries by email.

      I understand Ricardo as the voice of Cuba rarely heard in the United States even though he has lived here more years than any other high Cuban official. He is basically embargoed. The Cuban ambassador to the US who-might-have been. His range of experience and contacts is vast, from Latin American to Africa, spanning nine US administrations. Yet his life has been officially circumscribed by US executive order: to a 25-mile radius from the United Nations or the metropolitan limits of Washington DC. He was denied a visas to attend meetings with academics and Congressional officials.

      I thought Ricardo might shed light, as a man of several worlds, on the long roads we had traveled in parallel. When he and I were both idealistic revolutionary student leaders, at universities in Havana and Ann Arbor, the Cuban Revolution was an inspiration to the black civil rights movement, the emerging Chicano movement and the American New Left overall. We mutually survived the danger of nuclear incineration in 1962, he on the island and myself at a vigil in Washington DC. We both felt the suffocating burden of the Cold War, myself as a dissenter from thoughtless anti-communism and militarism, he as a socialist with reservations about the Soviet Big Brother. Each of us were deeply influenced by the writings of the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills, who inspired Students for a Democratic Society [SDS] and spent two weeks in Cuba in 1960,[1] including three and one-half 18 hour days interviewing Fidel, researching his best-selling Listen, Yankee! Long after Mills died, in 1962, both Ricardo and I wrote books and essays lamenting his early passing. [2] One of the reasons Ricardo invited me to Cuba in 2006 was to describe the 1962 Port Huron Statement, the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) which I had drafted. Ricardo was president of the National Assembly of People’s Power at the time, charged with stimulating greater mass participation in decision-making. He felt that Cuba, in its own way, was moving towards participatory democracy, the central tenet of the Port Huron Statement.

      Towards the end of the Sixties, some young American radicals from SDS joined armed undergrounds, inspired by Che and the writings of a young protégé of Fidel Castro’s, Regis Debray, whom Ricardo knew well and with whom he disagreed.  Both Ricardo and I became deeply involved in fighting South African apartheid, Ricardo as Cuba’s UN ambassador and myself as a legislator who brought Desmond Tutu to America while I was banned from entry into South Africa. When corporate globalization became triumphant after the Cold War, I joined the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization, while Ricardo was inspired by Latin America's populist surges against neo-liberalism and pondered whether what was emerging was "Marxism without Marx." We both believed that forms of participatory democracy were coming alive in the new revolts in Latin America.

      THE NEW POSSIBILITY OF NORMALIZATION

      In 2008, it appeared that the long stand-off between Cuba and the United States might be healing at last. The continent’s guerrilla wars were over, with former guerrillas having come to power in several countries. The Soviet Union no longer existed as the rationale of America’s opposition to Cuba. The US embargo had damaged but obviously failed to strangle Cuba. Fidel was ill, and Raul promised to step down by 2018. And America's new president was an African-American, Barack Obama, who in 2004 had called for the end of the embargo.

      Why was it so extraordinarily difficult after five decades for the US and Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations and lift the hammer of American sanctions? In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly voted 185-2 to lift the embargo Latin America was united behind Cuba; the European Union was steadily normalizing relations with the island; a majority of Americans polled by Gallup wanted to travel and vacation there. By 2014, polls showed that a majority of Americans favored normalization, including a majority in Florida and even including the descendants of the Miami exile community.[3]

      And yet every president since Dwight Eisenhower ultimately insisted on policies that appeared to amount to regime change, one way or another Even while President Jimmy Carter thawed relations in many respects, he chose to maintain the embargo and decided against recognition. The continuing external pressure on Cuba to democratize and create a market economy was counter-productie, because such regime change policies made it easier for the Cuban government to control its critics and brand them as paid agents of the US (which some of them were). From any perspective US policies seemed outworn and ineffective. So what was preventing a positive change from happening that would finally normalize relations? I thought the time was right to find some answers.   

      Barack Obama, who as an Illinois state senator in 2004 called for ending the embargo and normalizing relations. As Ricardo and I began our conversations in 2012, Obama was being elected to his second term. Despite some bumps, he had lifted travel restrictions on hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans who were flying back and forth and eliminated a cap on remittances sent to those still living on the island, which greatly aided in almost doubling the total amount sent from 1.4 billion in 2008 to 2.6 billion in 2012.[4] Cuba was opening its economy to thousands of private entrepreneurs. Cuba and the US were engaged on a range of practical issues: immigration, drug enforcement, mail service, offshore drilling, etc. It was typical of the often-opaque Obama, I speculated: normalization actually was underway, but without drama, without an announcement, under the radar. It could still be derailed, but it was real. 

      Friends on the Left told me Obama was only Bush-light, a more sophisticated imperialist intent on bringing down the Cuban regime with a flood of tourists, dollars, private investment and crucifixes, the tools of soft power. He would never recognize the Communist government of a one-party state, they insisted. They added that his hands were tied by an anti-Castro US Congress. On the Right was a similar confidence that things would never change, secured by the power of the Cuba Lobby to spend campaign contributions on Cuban-American politicians who could monopolize national policy from their enclaves in Miami, Tampa and Jersey City.

      That left-right conventional wisdom was shaken for six minutes on Dec. 10, 2013 when Obama and Raúl Castro shook hands at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa. True, there had been a handshake once before, in 2010, between Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro during a United Nations event, but this one had a different feel. First, this was a solemn event marking the passage of South Africa's great reconciler, Mandela, the former freedom fighter, political prisoner, and president. Obama and Raúl Castro were two of just six foreign leaders chosen to speak at the ceremony attended by more than ninety heads of state. The handshake lasted for six seconds, during which Raúl Castro said to Obama, "Mr. President, I am Castro."

      I doubt that Obama caught the subtle message, but the Helms-Burton Act signed by Bill Clinton forbids any American president to “recognize” the government of Cuba unless authorized by congress, and never while either Fidel or Raúl Castro heads it. The handshake slightly breached that official US policy. Many were pleased by the gesture and few were perturbed except the diehard Cuba Lobby.

      Cynicism about policy change is justified by history, but too much cynicism can solidify inertia against taking bold steps. If cynicism prevails, the status quo will continue into the next administration, which could include a right-wing Cuba hawk like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio becoming president, or a Democrat whose past consists of pandering to the Cuba Lobby. Recently, it should be noted, Hillary Clinton has said she recommended normalization to Obama while being his Secretary of State, putting her in the reform camp. If nothing changes and Fidel dies, Barack Obama may be the only major world leader missing from a global funeral on the scale of Mandela's.

      The argument of this book is that Republicans have been worse on Cuba policy, but that every Democratic president since 1960 has failed to exert the will and skill needed to normalize relations—while the entire world has passed America by. The Republicans have been more bellicose on ideological grounds of anti-communism: no detente, only rollback, will do for them. Democratic presidents have alternated between militarism and probes towards rapprochement. John F. Kennedy, for example, after his early failures at invasions, economic sabotage and even repeated assassination attempts on Fidel Castro’s life, was exploring rapprochement with Cuba on the day of his own assassination, an act that was falsely blamed by many on the Cubans. Lyndon Johnson turned his attention to Vietnam and civil rights, leaving Cuba policy to the exiles. Jimmy Carter was the only president who promised to move towards normalization, but abandoned course for Cold War reasons.[5] The Cubans were in Africa, fighting colonialism and apartheid, which the White House believed served the Soviet interest in the Cold War. The Carter thaw therefore froze. His United Nations ambassador, Andrew Young, the only dissenting voice. Carter's failure was followed by the formation of the Cuba Lobby on the model of the Israel Lobby, under the first George Bush.[6] Bill Clinton campaigned heavily for and won the votes of Miami Cubans, carrying first Miami-Dade in the 1992 presidential election and later the state of Florida in 1996; and signed the extraordinary sanctions policies embodied in the Torricelli and Helms-Burton acts, which aimed explicitly at Castro's overthrow.[7] When the Cuban air force shot down two Cuban exile planes operating out of Miami, killing four people, after repeated warnings from Fidel about exile-piloted planes harassing the island, Clinton signed Helms-Burton, which included the extraordinary gesture of ceding Cuba policy decisions to Congress. Liberal Democratic officials blamed Cuba for shooting down the enemy planes in a deliberate effort to scuttle diplomacy. The interviews in this book cast doubt on any claim that Fidel was deliberately trying to scuttle diplomacy because he wasn’t ready for normalization. This book quotes a leading Clinton official, Morton Halperin, as saying that the Miami Cuban exiles wanted their planes to be shot down in 1996, and that key US officials were informed of that risk. Fidel believed that his warnings to stop the flights were received directly by Bill Clinton and ignored. In fact the messages were bottled up in a bureaucracy poisoned by turf rivalries and competing egos. For twelve years the policy of normalizations was held up by that single incident—until Obama was elected with the promise of direct diplomacy with America's rivals.

      Obama has shown Democrats that they can win in Florida without hewing to the hardline anti-Cuban agenda of the older exile community. The question is whether the president will expend his remaining political capital on normalizing relations with Cuba as part of his legacy. He can make the normalization process irreversible through a step-by-step approach during the last years of his second term. First, he can waive the remaining travel restrictions on all US citizens as he has done for Cuban-Americans. Tens of thousands of American tourists will quickly be questioning the embargo's ban on their shopping and vacation opportunities. Spending their dollars in Cuba of course would neutralize the embargo. Second, the State Department can remove Cuba from its outmoded "state terrorism" list, which chills Cuba's ability to do business with banks and corporations. Third, Obama can find a diplomatic way to obtain the release of USAID contractor Alan Gross, now in jail in Cuba, in parallel with the return of the three Cubans still imprisoned in America for the 1996 shoot-down of the Cuban exiles’ planes.[8] There is a precedent here: to revive the normalization process and free a number of CIA agents in Cuban prisons, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and 1979 granted clemency to four Puerto Rican revolutionaries convicted of trying to kill the US president and members of the Congress in the 1950’s . Fourth, Obama can move towards de facto recognition of Havana by officially attending the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama, where Cuba is expected to be seated. Finally, Obama can appeal to Congress to lift the embargo by the end of 2016 and, if they refuse still, travel to Havana himself as soon as he leaves office.

      Much can go wrong with this scenario, of course. A greater shift to the right in American politics could make normalization a heavier lift for Obama.  The new Cold War with Russia, combined with a revived alliance between Havana and Moscow, could complicate a rapprochement. A US-backed coup in Venezuela, supported heavily by the Cuban exile lobby, could arouse a brutal hemispheric conflict affecting Cuba. Hardliners in the US may insist on maintaining the embargo even beyond the deaths of the Castro brothers, dreaming that Cubans then will awaken from their "nightmare" and return to the orbit of North America. But this “nightmare scenario” is not the likely future for Cubans. They may oppose one-man, one-party domination but have no interest in bloodshed and civil war.  Nor will Cuba simply march on towards a socialist future under single party rule; socialism itself will be rethought. But Cuban pride, Cuban nationalism, and the Revolution’s historic social achievements will remain, especially as the crisis of immigration unfolds. Future generations of Americans may wonder what all the tension was about. 

      NEW PERSPECTIVES ON CUBA

      In writing this book, I have gained new information and insights on several chapters of historical interest, information that should help us understand alternative history of Cuba and the US that will stand in stark contrast to the conventional one conveyed in the American media. Most of these insights illustrate plainly the price we have paid for isolating ourselves from Cuba:

      • That Cuba countered the US effort at isolation with foreign policies that have had a global impact completely out of proportion with its being a tiny country of eleven million people. Most recently, Cuban medical personnel have made the “most robust” contribution of any country in the world to the fight against the Ebola epidemic.[9] Similarly in 2011 the Cubans were in the forefront of battling cholera in Haiti.  Cuba has sent many thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers, and other specialists on humanitarian missions to Third World countries.  These programs surpass in scale the American Peace Corps, which was designed by the Kennedy administration as a free-world answer to Cuba.

      Decades ago, the Cubans made a dramatic decision to send tens of thousands of troops to fight against colonialism in Angola and the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1970s. Cuba has gained enormous respect, and even a heroic status globally by its efforts while the US was opposing sanctions and divestment against South Africa and offering only "quiet diplomacy" and “constructive engagement.” Ricardo was a signatory to the peace agreement in southern Africa and talks about that experience here. As a result, Cuba became the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement among Third World nations during the late Sixties, and gained the support of Latin America, Asia and Africa within the UN General Assembly;

      • That the draconian US policies of non-recognition often led to follies in practical diplomacy. Ricardo enjoyed handshakes and cocktails with top American officials in southern Africa while remaining officially a non-person in terms of US diplomacy.  US talks with Ricardo Alarcón on serious issues like immigration required him to be hidden in the back seats of official cars or spirited to secret meetings in Toronto hotels—without the knowledge of the very US officials technically in charge of Cuba policy;

      • That such secret contacts were considered necessary by the White House because the Cuba Lobby had infiltrated key offices within the US executive branch;

      • That Ricardo was engaged in top-secret talks with top US officials while at the same time being rejected in his visa requests to visit the US at the invitation of members of Congress;

      • That the federal government kept secret its plans to return six-year old Elian Gonzales to Cuba in June 2000 because the Miami FBI, police and media were considered too closely connected to Cuban exile groups; the de facto conspiracy to return Elián González was coordinated between US officials and Ricardo Alarcón, who welcomed the youngster home at Havana’s international airport;

      • That the federal government and CIA built and granted immunity to a de facto armed settler sanctuary in Miami, a “mafia state” to Ricardo Alarcón, for training, weapons stockpiling, putting lethal power in the hands of the exiles launching attacks on Cuba. All this was in the name of exporting democracy to Cuba while it left a cancer on democracy in the US;

      • That the French intellectual Regis Debray, trained and guided by Fidel to write Revolution in the Revolution?, the handbook which inspired young people to take up armed struggle in guerrilla focos everywhere, is now considered to have been fundamentally wrong by Ricardo and many in Cuba today;

      • Which means that Stokely Carmichael, the Weather Underground and many revolutionary groups were doomed to isolation where they carried the Debray text in their backpacks;

      • That Che himself may have failed in Bolivia because he relied on the isolated foco strategy described by Debray;

      • But that, ironically, Ricardo’s generation, symbolized by Fidel and Che, has been resurrected as heroic icons in the triumphant democratic revolutions across Latin America over the past twenty-five years;

      • That solidarity work and cultural exchanges allowed the Cuban Revolution to build a significant base of support for Cuba in the US, circumventing the walls of the embargo.  The cane-cutting solidarity movement known as the Venceremos Brigades sent at least eight thousand Americans to work and learn in the Cuban countryside over two decades, with thirteen hundred in 1969-1970, more than the 1,100 volunteers who journeyed to Mississippi in 1964 for the far more visible Freedom Summer project.  In both cases the thousands of volunteers were taking risks; the Venceremos volunteers by breaking the travel ban, the Mississippi volunteers suffering three deaths and many arrests.  More so-called “solidarity movements” would grow during the Central American Wars of the 1970s-80s. Many of those brigadistas later became mayors, members of Congress and influential Americans in many fields. They are an invisible backbone of support for normalized relations today.

      In addition, hundreds of thousands of Americans have visited Cuba, legally and illegally, as tourists, most of them bringing back deep sympathy for the island. Those two blocs—solidarity activists and progressive tourists—have given Cuba an important and growing base of sympathetic support within the US, a potential counter to the Cuba Lobby's crusade to demonize the island. Those networks of support will need to mobilize if normalization is to be achieved.  In addition, they should be recognized as an important source of influence on Cuba’s evolution in human rights and democracy, a constructive alternative to the failed and contradictory US policy of covert “democracy programs.”

      In researching why our government has embargoed Cuba for so long and in such an exceptional way, while recognizing and doing business with so many undemocratic regimes, I point to several hopeful trends that suggest a coming change. First, Cuba is being integrated into the new Latin American region as a whole, where it enjoys deep popular support and draws vast economic assistance from countries like Venezuela and Brazil. As China becomes a power in Latin America, it too provides an independent source of financial backing for Havana. The geopolitics are reversing. With the bogeyman of the Soviet Union gone, the US is becoming isolated diplomatically in the region, unable to find its way back to acceptance except through normalizing relations with the government in Havana.

      Meanwhile, the politics of immigration have changed, and the United States is becoming a Latinized nation. Nearly five hundred thousand Cubans from Florida and New Jersey travel to and from the island every year. These are not the bitter exiles of 1960 plotting their revenge. They are not so overwhelmingly white as were the original exiles, but black, brown and struggling economically. They are traveling for family or economic reasons, and the right-wing Cuban-American politicians cannot easily deter them with charges that they are subsidizing a Communist dictatorship with their business, commerce, and family remittances. The Barack Obama Democrats have the vote of these new Cubans in Florida, however they choose to use it. This Cuban diaspora is bridging the divide —Puentes a Cuba (Bridges to Cuba), in the title of a collection edited by Ruth Behar—reshaping Cuba on both sides of the Straits. The future is being discussed around family dinner tables while diplomacy is guarded and slow.

      Ricardo's daughter Margarita, now in her forties, is a symbolic forerunner in this process, unique only because of her elite lineage. She spent 14 years growing up in New York in the home of a Cuban revolutionary diplomat:

       In the end, I wasn't Cuban or American, I wasn't Latina or black or white, in the end I was a true New Yorker, a person of no predetermined race or religion who adapted and accepted. 

      I think it is precisely because of the times that I lived in NYC, and the life I led, that I can empathize with Martí when he said "I have lived inside the monster and I know its entrails," but not because I was seeing it as all bad, it was because of the moment in history and because it was in NYC. Remember, it wasn't until after 9/11 in 2001 that the City was once again accepted back into the Union of the United States, before that, New York was a separate place, almost the Basque nation of the US. 

      Margarita’s story illustrates that the diplomatic term “normalization” is insufficient to convey the many contradictions dividing two countries with more than two issues of identity. There are at least two levels of coexistence which need to evolve: first, coexistence between the Cuban nation-state and the Cuban-Americans who consider themselves still related to the Cuban nation, as a diaspora; and second, coexistence between the United States, which long has considered itself the dominant power, and the Cuba that emerged with the 1959 revolution. In both cases, there is an important role for American progressives if they engage politically to make space for conflict resolution.  Finally, behind this drama of seeking peaceful coexistence with Cuba lies the larger challenge of transitioning to a new and more equal relationship between the United States and Latin America, not only in the region to our South but with millions of Latinos at the center of the immigration debate here inside the United States.  Ricardo Alarcón has been in the forefront of rethinking what these profound changes mean for the future of the Left. 

      Hopefully, the reflections of "two old guys talking" in these pages will offer lessons as this too-long conflict reaches a final stage of resolution, lending substance to the vision of Cuba’s “National Hero” José Martí, the exile who took sanctuary in America before dying in battle in Cuba in 1895. Martí believed in "our America," an integration of the people of all the Americas equal to and independent from the United States, an their enemy-brother with a common destiny. On the US side, only halting steps have been taken away from the hegemonic doctrine of Manifest Destiny, most clearly in Franklin Roosevelt's tentative embrace of a Good Neighbor policy many decades ago. But as the United States becomes more Latino and varied in its national make-up, a new opportunity arises for policies of mutual respect and inter-dependence between our two countries in a new version of the New World.


       

      [1] C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings, University of California Press, 2000. p. 311.

      [2] Ricardo Alarcón: “Waiting for C. Wright Mills”, The Nation Magazine, April 9th, 2007.

      [3] Rick Gladstone: “Majority of Americans Favor Ties with Cuba, Poll Finds”, The New York Times, February 10, 2014.

      [4] William M. LeoGrande: “New Poll of Cuban Americans Confirms Growing Support for Engagement with Cuba”, Huffington Post, August 17, 2014.

      [5] William M. LeoGrande, Peter Kornbluh: Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, UNC Press Books, 2014. P. 145-148.

      [6]  The Cuban American National Foundation was founded in 1981 at the suggestion of Richard V. Allen, Ronald Reagan’s first national security advisor, who suggested that they pay close attention to the success of the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC.  The Foundation’s leaders received advice from Bernard Barnett, an attorney for AIPAC who quickly became the attorney for the Foundation as well as one of its founding members.  In addition, staff members were reportedly trained by individuals from AIPAC.  Much like its parent model, the Foundation went on to notable success. Julia E. Sweig: Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford University Press, 2009. P. 101.  Patrick Jude Haney: The Cuban Embargo: The Domestic Politics of an American Foreign Policy, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. P. 37. Jane Franklin: The Cuba Obsession, The Progressive Magazine, July, 1993.

      [7] The Cuban Democracy Act, also known as the Torricelli Act by some, passed congress in 1992 and stated foreign subsidiaries of American companies could no longer trade with Cuba, American citizens could no longer visit the island and Cuban Americans could no longer send much needed remittances to family there. The Helms-Burton Act, which passed in 1996, further strengthened existing restrictions and applied them to foreign companies that traded with Cuba, going so far as to penalize them significant sums if caught.

      [8] This refers to the three remaining members of the so called “Cuban Five”, a group of five Cuban intelligence operatives who followed extremist and terrorist elements in the Florida exile community.

      [9] Editorial Board: “Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola”, The New York Times, October 19, 2014.

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