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

As U.S.-Cuba Relations Thaw, ICCAS Hosts Historic Meeting


As U.S.-Cuba Relations Thaw, ICCAS Hosts Historic Meeting

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Among the 13 dissidents visiting from Cuba, Fernando Palacio speaks at the news conference held at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. Photo Courtesy of el Nuevo Herald /Roberto Koltun

Among the 13 dissidents visiting from Cuba, Fernando Palacio speaks at the news conference held at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. Photo Courtesy of el Nuevo Herald / Roberto Koltun

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 28, 2015) — The University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) hosted a historic meeting last Tuesday of 13 Cuban dissidents—representing more than 30 groups on the island—who came to Miami to call for a dialogue with members of the exile community that they hope will lead to a democratic Cuba.

“We represent a wide range of the views inside of Cuba, and we want to send a clear message that Cubans living on the island and those in exile need to work together toward a democratic future for Cuba,” said Manuel Cuesta Morua, who heads the group Arco Progresista, or the Progressive Arc. “What matters now is our nation.”

Welcoming the dissidents to the UM campus, ICCAS Director Jaime Suchlicki said, “As an academic center, ICCAS will always welcome these Cubans who are fighting for freedom. Their mission is to unite efforts and create a common political platform, and we’re glad to open up our neutral venue so they may discuss their goals.”

Other dissidents at the meeting included Dagoberto Valdés, editor of the magazine Convivencia, (Coexistence), attorney Laritza Diversent, and Eliecer Avila, leader of Somos Mas, or We are More.

The dissidents, whose unprecedented visit was prompted by the U.S. decision to normalize relations with Cuba and the subsequent visit of American diplomats to the island, invited interested parties to another historic meeting that took place at the Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center in Little Havana the following day. About 150 exiles showed up to that meeting, where they called for an end to political repression in Cuba, the release of all political prisoners, respect for all United Nations human rights covenants, and the active participation of ordinary Cuban citizens in developing a new democratic society.

After much deliberation, Morua said, participants at the Little Havana meeting agreed to establish a working roundtable that would include members of the Cuban and Cuban-American community. They also agreed to create a website to keep communication channels open and to draft a proposal for the democratization of Cuba that could be presented at the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panamá in early April. After many years of absence, Cuba is slated to participate in this year’s summit.


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Enrollment Opens for Cuban Studies Certificate Program from February 9-19

Enrollment is now open for the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies’ next Cuban Studies Certificate Program to be held February 9-19 at Casa Bacardi, 1531 Brescia Avenue, on the Coral Gables campus.

Designed for professionals and others interested in Cuba and its future, classes for this two-week, high-level course will be held Monday through Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Taught primarily by Jose Azel, Pedro Roig, and Jaime Suchlicki, the program creates an ideal atmosphere for participants to interact, exchange ideas, and think innovatively about the challenges and opportunities awaiting Cuba.

The deadline for enrolling is Friday, February 6. UM students, staff and alumni receive a 20 percent discount on the cost, which is $395 per person. For more information, contact Jennifer Hernandez at 305-284-5386 or  j.hernandez35@miami.edu.



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Need a Stocking Stuffer? Try the Cuban and Cuban-American Studies DVD on ‘Cuba: From Columbus to Castro’

Cuba.CDCORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 10, 2014)—The University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies’ (ICCAS) English-language documentary,“Cuba: From Columbus to Castro,”  would make a great stocking stuffer. The DVD can be purchased for $20 by calling ICCAS at 305-284-2822 (CUBA) or emailing iccas@miami.edu.

“This is a panorama of Cuban history, not for experts but for younger Cuban-Americans and others who may be interested in the history of the island,” said Jaime Suchlicki, ICCAS director. Suchlicki hopes to distribute the educational 26-minute video to local schools. “It makes a great gift for anyone who wants an introduction to Cuba,” he explained.

Using archival footage and photos, the piece begins with Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the island, chronicles the early life of the native Indians and moves through the early years of the republic. Noted Cubans are highlighted. These include Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a Cuban sugar plantation owner who led the first war against Spain; Dr. Carlos Finlay, a pioneer in the discovery of the origin of yellow fever; and José Martí, the Cuban national hero and distinguished writer.

Narrated by retired professor Frank Rodriguez, the film culminates with Fidel Castro’s revolution, Cuba’s eventual turn to Communism, and the present state of affairs in the island.

Noted Cuban scholars Carlos Alberto Montaner and Marcos Antonio Ramos have praised the documentary.

“A superb summary,” said Montaner. “Explaining Cuban history in 26 minutes is a marvel; doing it well is a miracle. The last few minutes, devoted to the Communist era, are excellent.”

“A journey that includes well selected information and a broad vision of Cuba’s historical development,” Ramos said. “Highlights the beautiful geography and characteristics of a country that achieved many successes but now suffers a difficult moment. A formidable introduction to Cuba.”


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Noted Cuban Historian and Author Teresa Fernandez Soneira Speaks at ICCAS about Her New Book

UM News


Speaking to an audience at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, Teresa Fernandez Soneira (at podium) said she relied heavily on the resources of UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection to write her latest book.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 17, 2015) — The University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies hosted a packed house on June 25 for the presentation of Mujeres de la Patria, a book by noted historian and researcher Teresa Fernandez Soneira that details the immense contributions thousands of Cuban women, or Mambisas, made to the Cuban War of 1868 against Spain.

Fernandez Soneira thanked the members of the UM Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection, in particular retired reference librarian and bibliographer Lesbia O. de Varona, who provided a great deal of research material and books that aided her in her research. “I don’t think people realize what treasures can be found at the Cuban Heritage Collection,” said Fernandez Soneira, who spent countless hours at the Richter Library’s Goizueta Pavilion.

Other speakers at the event included Esperanza B. de Varona, professor emeritus and former director of the Cuban Heritage Collection; Uva de Aragon, professor, journalist, and author of several books on Cuba; and Juan Manuel Salvat, owner of the publishing house Ediciones Universal. —Barbara Gutierrez

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Cuban Blogger Yoani Sánchez Returns to UM to Lead Class

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Cuban Blogger Yoani Sánchez Returns to UM to Lead Class

Yoani Sanchez 3With ICCAS senior research associate José Azel at her side, Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez reflects on the prospect of a civil society in Cuba.

Battling a bothersome cold, Cuban activist and blogger Yoani Sánchez led a class at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies (ICCAS) last week before an audience of more than 70 students, faculty, and members of the community.

“Here I am treated like I am at home, and that is how I am going to conduct myself,” said Sánchez, who was introduced by José Azel, ICCAS senior research associate.

This was Sanchez’s second trip to UM. Last April, the founder of the Generation Y blog, which gets more than 15 million hits a month and is translated into 20 languages, visited the UM Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection and shared stories with a spirited group from the UM School of Communication.

Sánchez enjoyed the exchange of ideas with the students, prompting UM President Donna E. Shalala to invite her to visit the campus again.

During the October 30 class, which was part of the ICCAS Cuban Studies Certificate Program, Sánchez, who has been arrested in Cuba for her criticism of the Castro regime, gave an overview, in Spanish, of Cuban civic society and the many challenges and small triumphs that its citizens face.

“I come to speak to you about hope, because if not you would not understand why I chose to stay (in Cuba) and work from there,” said Sanchez.

She described Cuban civil society as a “shredded tapestry” torn apart by the regime’s systematic insistence on instilling fear among its citizens, as well as eliminating economic autonomy, and to a degree, encouraging immigration of its youngest, most critical members.

“The Cubans who are most rebellious and the most talented and young have left,” she said. “Those young Cuban people who could have been the spark and the call to rebellion are no longer there.”

Sánchez said another tear in the civic tapestry is the government’s monopoly on free information and a free press, which limits the participation of the citizenship in civic discourse or dissidence.

“How would I let someone know who lives in a small town in Central Cuba like Tawayabon or someone in Palmarito de Cauto that at 3 p.m. there is a protest?” she asked.

She sees the new technology and social media as a medium of change for the Cuban people and a way for the civic tapestry to be repaired or “sewn back.”

Although Internet access is prohibited or heavily censored for most Cuban citizens, information does penetrate by other means, she said, including circulation of flash drives with information, and phone calls from relatives abroad.

Sánchez herself has become an international phenomenon, boasting over 500,000 followers on Twitter.

Later in the year, she plans to enrich the information available to Cuba’s citizens by launching a digital newspaper on the island that would include local news, opinions, technology news, as well as stories about human rights. She wants this to be considered a paper for the “21st century.” The newspaper would be distributed informally through USB drives and CDs on a weekly basis, but its website would be updated daily.

Her audience at UM included members from several School of Communication classes, a class on News Blogging, and students from The Miami Hurricane, and UMTV and its Spanish-language TV program “UniMiami.”

Arianne Alcorta, 20, a Venezuelan communication student who was covering the event for UMTV, asked Sánchez how she perceived young people in Cuba. “Are they trapped in that closed system that the Cuban government has imposed?” Alcorta asked.

“This young generation is apathetic and this is a result of the bombardment of ideology they have been subjected to,” Sanchez responded. “Many have their eyes focused on leaving the country. Yet I think they can be awakened, especially because of social media. Twitter has been the great revelation. We can tell the facts of the daily apartheid going on in 140 characters. Many now have a tool available to their advantage.”

Alcorta also asked what Sánchez would tell Cuban people who live in fear and thus are afraid of initiating any kind of change.

“I would tell people not to let fear paralyze them,” she said. “We will always feel fear, but we cannot let it dominate us.”

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