Tag Archive | "Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies"


Andy Gomez Named Interim Director of ICCAS

Andy Gomez

Andy Gomez

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 13, 2017)–Former Assistant Provost Andy Gomez, a respected community leader and founding member of UM’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS), has been appointed interim director of ICCAS, effective August 15.

Gomez, an expert on human values and attitudes in post-Castro Cuba who received the President’s Medal when he retired in 2012, continues to be a much sought-after media expert on Cuba and Cuban-American relations.

“I’m humbled to be named interim director of such an important institute and will work tirelessly to continue the University’s focus on Cuban and Cuban-American studies and research,” Gomez said.

Gomez replaces Jaime Suchlicki, ICCAS’s longtime director, who is leaving the university August 15 after 50 years of service to UM. In searching for Suchlicki’s replacement, the University will look for an accomplished scholar in Cuban and Cuban-American studies who can continue the research and partnerships Suchlicki began at Casa Bacardi, ICCAS’s home since 2003.

“The University thanks Jaime Suchlicki for his extraordinary service to the University and the Miami community,” UM President Julio Frenk said. “He has dedicated his career to the study of Cuba and has shared his wealth of expertise with generations of students, scholars and members of our community.”

Casa Bacardi plays a significant role in promoting greater understanding of contemporary Cuban issues and serves as a gathering place for the Cuban-American community, which will provide valuable input on the search.

During his previous tenure at UM, Gomez served as a special assistant for international affairs and as the University’s liaison between the international business and diplomatic communities. He served as assistant provost for planning, institutional research and assessment from 2005 to 2012, and dean of the School of International Studies from 2001 to 2004. He taught courses on Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, and Cuba after Castro, and focused his research on the ideological and psychological reconstruction of human values and attitudes in a post-Castro Cuba.

Named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in South Florida by Latino Leaders, Gomez also served as a nonresident senior fellow in the foreign policy program (Cuba) at the Brookings Institution from 2008 to 2010.

He received a doctorate of education in administration, planning and social policy and a master’s in education from Harvard University; a master’s in public administration from Florida International University; and his B.A. in international studies from UM. In addition, he holds certificates in management and leadership from Harvard’s School of Education and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.



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Cuba Experts Agree Trump May Undo Obama’s Rapprochement

The panel of experts met at Casa Bacardi before a large audience of academics and community members 

By Bárbara Gutiérrez
UM News


Pedro Roig makes a point as, from left, fellow panelists Jaime Suchlicki, Otto Reich, and Jose Azel listen.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 7, 2016) —Speculating on future relations with Cuba, experts who gathered at the University of Miami Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) agreed that President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is likely to reverse the diplomatic détente the Obama administration established in July 2015, after almost 50 years of estrangement.

“I think there is a very good chance that Mr. Trump will fulfill his promise to reverse the deal or deals,” said Otto Reich, president of Otto Reich Associates, who held three diplomatic appointments during the Reagan years, including special advisor to the secretary of state. “There are a number of executive actions that can be reversed very simply by an executive action. This is one of the big flaws in the Obama foreign policy.”

Reich took part in the December 1 panel discussion titled “The Trump Administration and Cuba: What to Expect,” which also included Joe Azel, ICCAS senior research associate; Pedro Roig, senior research associate; and ICCAS Director Jaime Suchlicki, whose opening remarks elicited loud applause.

“By the way, Fidel Castro has died,” Suchlicki told the audience of about 50 academics and community members.

In his remarks, Reich went on to say that “the business community is living in a state of wishful thinking” about Cuba, given Trump’s repeated assertions that he will undo all the concessions the Obama government granted the island. “The entire Obama policy on Cuba is a house of cards,” Reich said.

Another indication that Trump will reverse Obama’s Cuba policies is his appointment of several conservative voices on the issue of Cuba to his transition team, Reich said. They include Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of a pro-embargo nonprofit in Washington, D.C., and Yleen Poblete, former chief of staff for U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

For his part, Roig foresees a “diplomatic confrontation” ahead. The Cuban leadership was surprised by the results of the U.S. presidential election and did not have time to plan how to position themselves. “They are now scrambling to formulate a policy,” said Roig.

He believes Trump already sent a “symbolic message” to the Castro regime that he will change U.S./Cuba policy when he visited the Brigade 2506 headquarters in Little Havana during his campaign. Cuban leaders view brigade members, who took part in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, as enemies.

Roig also thinks Trump may try to renegotiate conditions with Cuba—such as demanding the release of political prisoners and greater individual freedoms for the Cuban people—in exchange for maintaining the U.S. concessions granted Cuba last year.

Changing the subject a bit, Azel also said he believes Fidel Castro’s death gives the Trump administration a new opportunity. Now that Fidel, who was a “mentor and a de facto leader for the Latin America left,” is gone, the U.S. can take Cuba out of the picture in redesigning its policy toward Latin America, he said.


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ICCAS Presents ‘U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Under A New Republican or Democratic Administration’ on September 21

The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies will host a panel discussion on “U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Under a New Republican or Democratic Administration” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21. Moderated by ICCAS Director Jaime Suchlicki, the panelists include Alfredo Duran, a Bay of Pigs veteran and former chair of the Florida Democratic Party, and Otto Reich, who served as a diplomat in numerous Republican administrations.

The forum, at Casa Bacardi, 1531 Brescia Avenue, Coral Gables, is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To attend RSVP at 305-284-CUBA (2822).

Suchlicki, the Emilio Bacardi Moreau Distinguished Professor, is also editor of “Cuban Affairs,” a quarterly electronic journal published by ICCAS, and the author of Cuba: From Columbus to Castro; Mexico: From Montezuma to the Rise of PAN; and Breve Historia de Cuba.

Duran, a Miami lawyer, former prisoner of war in Cuba for 18 months, and former president of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, has a longstanding record of participation in Democratic Party politics, including chairing the Florida Democratic Party from 1976-1980 and serving as a member on various DNC party committees and commissions. He has also served as a member of the Dade County School Board and as chairman of the Community Relations Board. He served on the Board of Directors of the Mercy Hospital Foundation, Inc., and was active in the NAFTA and Beyond Commission as well as other civic and community organizations. He is presently on the Board of Directors of the Cuban Committee for Democracy (CCD) and a member of the board of directors of the Center for International Policy.

Reich, president of Otto Reich Associates, LLC, of Washington, D.C., served as U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela from 1986 to 1989. In the 1980s, Reich received three appointments from President Ronald Reagan. As Special Advisor to the Secretary of State from 1983 to 1986, he directed the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean, receiving the office’s Meritorious Honor Award.

From 1981 to 1983, he was assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in charge of U.S. economic assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean. He was the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2001 to 2002. He then became President George Bush’s Special Envoy for Western Hemisphere Initiatives, reporting to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the National Security Council. He left government service in June 2004.


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Cuban Dissident Blasts Obama During UM Visit


Cuban Dissident Blasts Obama During UM Visit

In his first trip outside of Cuba, Oscar Elias Biscet received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President George W. Bush and the keys to Coral Gables from Mayor James Cason, formerly the chief U.S. diplomat in Cuba.

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Noted Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet holds a copy of Cuba's 1940 constitution,  which the Castro regime abolished.

Noted Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet holds a copy of Cuba’s 1940 constitution, which the Castro regime abolished.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 30, 2016)—Holding a black and white photo of President Barack Obama shaking hands with Cuban President Raul Castro, noted Cuban dissident Oscar Elias Biscet condemned the U.S.’s rapprochement with the Cuban government, saying countries that “defend democracy should serve as examples.”

“How can you shake hands with an assassin?” Biscet asked at a June 29 press conference held at the University of Miami, referring to Raul Castro’s bloodied history, which includes ordering hundreds of firing-squad executions at the onset of the Cuban revolution led by his brother.

“When you see the faces of Fidel and Raul Castro you are not only looking at their faces, but at the faces of Stalin and Hitler, and they symbolize terror and death,” said Biscet, a physician who spent years in Cuban prisons for his advocacy.

During the hour-long press conference at UM’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, the founder of the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights reiterated his longstanding belief that the Cuban regime was a dictatorship built on “illegitimacy.” As he noted, the Castro government abolished the 1940 Cuban Constitution, which, inspired by the U.S. Bill of Rights, granted basic human rights and freedoms to its citizens.

“The Cuban people want a complete change,” he said. “They do not want an evolution with this dictatorship. They want to be free.”

Biscet was introduced by Coral Gables Mayor James C. Cason, who, in presenting Biscet with the keys to the city of Coral Gables, called him “the true hero, one of the most principled, determined members of the opposition in Cuba.”

As head of the Cuban Interest Section in Havana during the early 2000s, Cason met Biscet and his wife, Elsa Morejon, and often tried to intercede on his behalf with the Cuban government.

Now 54, Biscet made his first trip abroad to speak out against the repression in Cuba, and to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President George W. Bush for his dedication to advancing human rights and democracy in Cuba. Bush awarded Biscet the medal in absentia in 2007, while he was in prison. Biscet accepted the nation’s highest civilian honor at a ceremony at the George W. Bush Center in Dallas on June 23.

Although repression in Cuba persists, Biscet said he felt the dictatorship is nearing its end because internal opposition is well defined and most Cubans are beginning to lose their fear of the government.

As a sign of the changing times, he noted that his Project Emilia, a petition initiative calling for the end of communism on the island, was gaining momentum. In what is a risky act in Cuba, about 3,000 Cuban citizens have signed the petition, giving their names, addresses, and identity card data.


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‘Jazz Latino’ Explores the Cuban Connection

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‘Jazz Latino’ Explores the Cuban Connection

UM News

Jazz.LatinoCORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 1, 2016) – The Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) has produced and released  “Jazz Latino,” a video that tells the story of the music genre’s connection to Cuba through interviews and performances with prominent jazz performers, producers, and musicians, including such notables as Paquito D’Rivera, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Nat Chediak, and John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie.

“We felt that it was important to tell the story of Latin jazz from its infancy to its present state and to highlight the exceptional role that Cuba and Cuban musicians had in its development,” said Jaime Suchlicki, director of ICCAS. “It is a testament to Cuban creativity and talent.”

The 31-minute Spanish-language video is narrated by Jorge Sotolongo, a Cuban-American filmmaker and journalist who created the video and conducted several of the interviews. Using archival footage, historical pictures, and original interviews, the film chronicles the history of jazz, beginning with the blending of African roots and European and American influences and how it morphed into what today is known as Latin jazz.

In a candid interview, Frost School of Music Professor Raul Murciano details how  jazz Latino originated from different African rhythms slaves brought to Cuba, and how it was later married to European classical music and other American genres, such as spirituals and blues. The film provides a comprehensive overview of the jazz era and its influencers, including short performances by Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone, Ed Calle, and de Rivera.

The video features a seminal interview with Gillespie, in which the legendary jazz trumpeter reminisces about meeting Luciano Pozo González, better known as “Chano Pozo,” the famous Afro-Cuban percussionist and composer with whom Gillespie created Latin jazz.

The video is available for sale for $20 by contacting ICCAS at 305-284-2822 or iccas@miami.edu .





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