Learning to Salsa

Learning to Salsa: New Steps in U.S.-Cuba Relations

Vicki Huddleston
Carlos Pascual
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Learning to Salsa
    Book Description:

    Today the United States has little leverage to promote change in Cuba. Indeed, Cuba enjoys normal relations with virtually every country in the world, and American attempts to isolate the Cuban government have served only to elevate its symbolic predicament as an "underdog" in the international arena. A new policy of engagement toward Cuba is long overdue. -From the Introduction

    As longtime U.S. diplomats Vicki Huddleston and Carlos Pascual make painfully clear in their introduction, the United States is long overdue in rethinking its policy toward Cuba. This is a propitious time for such an undertaking -the combination of change within Cuba and in the Cuban American community creates the most significant opening for a reassessment of U.S. policy since Fidel Castro took control in 1959. To that end, Huddleston and Pascual convened opinion leaders in the Cuban American community, leading scholars, and international diplomats from diverse backgrounds and political orientations to seek common ground on U.S. policy toward Cuba. This pithy yet authoritative analysis is the result.

    In the quest for ideas that would support the emergence of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Cuba -one in which the Cuban people shape their political and economic future -the authors conducted a series of simulations to identify the critical factors that the U.S. government should consider as it reformulates its Cuba policies. The advisers' wide-ranging expertise was applied to a series of hypothetical scenarios in which participants tested how different U.S. policy responses would affect a political transition in Cuba.

    By modeling and analyzing the decisionmaking processes of the various strategic actors and stakeholders, the simulations identified factors that might influence the success or failure of specific policy options. They then projected how key actors such as the Cuban hierarchy, civil society, and the international and Cuban American communities might act and react to internal and external events that would logically be expected to occur in the near future.

    The lessons drawn from these simulations led to the unanimous conclusion that the United States should adopt a proactive policy of critical and constructive engagement toward Cuba.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0432-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xii)

    Two thousand nine is the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. On New Year’s Day 2009, his brother and successor, Raúl Castro, vowed that the socialist slogan “Socialismo o muerte,” “Socialism or death,” would guide Cuba for another half century.

    Yet change was in the air even as he spoke, for Raúl had announced a series of reforms since assuming the presidency in February 2008. Cuban citizens could enter tourist facilities where most of them had previously been barred; they could purchase cell phones, computers, and other electronic equipment that gave them more contact...

  4. Members of the Core Group of Advisers
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    If one compares outcomes to stated objectives, U.S. policy toward Cuba may be the most significant failure in the history of American foreign policy. An almost five-decade embargo and numerous attempts to isolate and undermine the Castro government have not produced democratic change. In February 2008, Fidel Castro successfully orchestrated a succession, handing power to his younger brother, Raúl. Today the United States has little leverage to promote change in Cuba. Indeed, Cuba enjoys normal relations with virtually every country in the world, and American attempts to isolate the Cuban government have served only to elevate its symbolic predicament as...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Cuba: A New Policy of Critical and Constructive Engagement
    (pp. 14-33)

    U.S. policy toward Cuba should advance the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and strengthen U.S. credibility throughout the hemisphere. Our nearly 50-year-old policy toward Cuba has failed on both counts: it has resulted in a downward spiral of U.S. influence on the island and has left the United States isolated in the hemisphere and beyond. Our Cuba policy has become a bellwether, indicating the extent to which the United States will act in partnership with the region or unilaterally—and ineffectually. Inevitably, strategic contact and dialogue with the Cuban government will be necessary if the United States seeks to...

  7. CHAPTER THREE U.S. Policy: Constraints of a Historical Legacy
    (pp. 34-57)

    On February 7, 2008, the project hosted the first of six simulation exercises to assess the scope, limitations, and potential of the United States to promote an enabling environment for peaceful democratic transition in Cuba. The focus of the simulation was the question, Can U.S. policy, bound as it is by historical constraints—the embargo and restrictions on travel, remittances, and limited diplomatic engagement—promote political change in Cuba? Since U.S. policy has been relatively constant since 1961, there is little reason to expect that continuing it would produce different results from those we see today. Instead, the interesting question...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR U.S. Policy: A New Strategy toward Cuba
    (pp. 58-83)

    In the afternoon of February 7, 2008, following the project’s first simulation exercise, which examined the scope for U.S. policy to advance the Bush administration’s objectives within its historic constraints, the national security adviser convened participants to craft a new strategy toward Cuba without the constraints of ideological parameters. The group reviewed options for U.S. policy during the initial months of a new U.S. presidential administration. The purpose of the exercise was to explore policy options that would help advance prospects for the Cuban people to play a meaningful role in defining their future. Even though the group was given...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Understanding the Cuban Leadership
    (pp. 84-114)

    The third simulation exercise, held on March 4, 2008, focused on the internal dynamics, motivations, and decisionmaking processes of the Cuban hierarchy. Following on the heels of Fidel Castro’s decision to step down and temporarily hand over power to his brother, Brookings project advisers and special guests assessed the objectives and incentives of members of Cuba’s political and military leadership. By seeking to understand the possible political and economic strategies that the Raúl Castro government might adopt in the immediate future, the exercise helped the project advisers develop a better sense of the interplay between U.S. policy and Cuba’s political...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Transforming Disparate Voices into a Dynamic Civil Society Coalition
    (pp. 115-146)

    On April 16, 2008, the Brookings Institution, in conjunction with the University of Miami, held its fourth simulation exercise on the dynamics, motivations, and decisionmaking processes of Cuban civil society groups. As Cuba moves toward an uncertain future, participants sought to examine and better understand the interests, capabilities, and weaknesses of four key but overlapping sectors of Cuban civil society:

    Religious groups, especially the Catholic Church


    The Afro-Cuban community

    Organized opposition and pro-democracy groups

    Recognizing that the viability and sustainability of a successful transition in Cuba will depend on internal actors who seek change, in order to develop more...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Coordinating U.S. Policy with the International Community
    (pp. 147-180)

    On October 9, 2008, in advance of the U.S. presidential election, Brookings Institution advisers and guests met to explore the opportunities and constraints facing policymakers as they seek to coordinate U.S. policy with international partners and allies. Democratic governance and the robust rule of law in Cuba are goals the United States shares with the European Union and most of the countries of the Western Hemisphere. What has divided the United States from its allies is the means to arrive at those goals: U.S. policy has been rooted in isolating Cuba to pressure its government to change, with occasional modifications...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Creating Consensus in the Cuban American Community
    (pp. 181-220)

    The sixth simulation exercise, held shortly after the U.S. presidential election, on December 2, 2008, focused on the dynamics and motivations of the Cuban American community and divisive issues that relate to U.S. policy toward Cuba. Changing demographics inside the community have produced new perspectives on contacts with the island. More Cuban Americans want to see and support their families. Cuban American youths who are growing up in the United States increasingly want to understand their heritage. Some in the older generation want to see change in Cuba in their lifetimes and have grown frustrated with the embargo. Recognizing this...

  13. APPENDIX A Understanding the Legal Parameters of the U.S. Embargo on Cuba
    (pp. 221-228)
  14. APPENDIX B 2008 Florida International University Poll of Cuban American Opinion
    (pp. 229-238)
  15. Index
    (pp. 239-246)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-248)