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

Inaugural Cesar L. Alvarez Series Features Former Commerce Secretary


Inaugural Cesar L. Alvarez Series Features Former Commerce Secretary

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

Jaime Suchlicki, left, interviews former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez at the inaugural Carlos A. Alvarez lecture series.

Jaime Suchlicki, left, interviews former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez at the inaugural Carlos A. Alvarez lecture.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 20, 2015)—The University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) launched the Cesar L. Alvarez Distinguished Series “Cubans in America” this month with former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez. Made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous donor, the series honors the Cuban-American chairman of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, who was the first Hispanic to lead a top-ten law firm in the United States.

The grant that funded the lecture series is part of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, and will be used to bring prominent Cuban-Americans to campus to discuss their contributions to the U.S. Scheduled for Tuesday, June 2, the second Cesar L. Alvarez lecture will feature Cuban journalist and intellectual Carlos Alberto Montaner.

“It is an honor for our institute to hold this lecture series and celebrate the many accomplishments of Cuban-Americans,” Jaime Suchlicki, ICCAS director, said at the inaugural lecture on May 4. “Today we have one of those prominent Cuban-Americans here with us.”

At the discussion, Suchlicki interviewed Gutiérrez, who was born in Cuba and migrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1960. He grew up in New York and Mexico, where he married, started his family, and began working for Kellogg as a sales intern, selling products out of a Volkswagen.

“I wanted stability in my life and thought that the best way to do that was to work for a big American company,” Gutiérrez said. He never envisioned that 25 years later he would be CEO of Kellogg, stationed in Battle Creek, Michigan.

He said he owed his success to “following his gut” instead of following the advice of the many consultants the company had hired.

“I felt like all those years I was in a pressure cooker,“ Gutiérrez said. “I did not have a college degree so I felt that I had to work many more hours than those who had the degree.”

His transition to politics came after he met President George W. Bush in 1998 and turned down a position in his cabinet. Four years later, President Bush came calling again and offered the secretary of commerce position.

“Something in my gut told me I should take it,” Gutiérrez said, even though some in his family questioned the wisdom of accepting a 95-percent pay cut. Gutiérrez said it was the best job he ever had, in large part because he admired President Bush and respected his leadership skills.

“When things got bad, like in the Iraq war, for instance, he was more visible,” he said. “He would encourage people and tell them to keep their spirits up.”

Since leaving government, Gutiérrez worked at Citi, where he served as vice chairman of the Institutional Clients Group and as a member of the Senior Strategic Advisory Group. He is now chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a premier strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm. He also chairs Republicans for Immigration Reform, the political action group he co-founded in 2012, and serves as a national trustee at the University of Miami and as a non-resident scholar at ICCAS.



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ICCAS Researcher Testifies in Congress About New Cuba Policy

Azel.Jose4Jose Azel, a senior research associate at the University of Miami Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, testified against President Obama’s new Cuba policy at a recent subcommittee hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Azel told the committee that the administration’s “gratuitous” normalization of diplomatic relations with an oppressive military dictatorship sends the wrong message across the region. “Every Latin American would-be dictator now realizes that suppressing civil liberties in their countries is not an impediment to having a good diplomatic and commercial relationship with the United States,” he said.
View his full testimony.

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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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