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What will happen next April (and what will not)

What will happen next April (and what will not)

Cuban President Raúl Castro has called the sixth-ever Communist Party congress—the first in thirteen years—to be held this coming April 2011 (when it will coincide with the anniversary of the battle of the Bay of Pigs, a complementary source of Cuban patriotism). So what can we expect from this congress? …

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Things that should make everyone happy

Things that should make everyone happy

The greatest challenge to affecting change in current U.S. policies toward Cuba, of course, is the fractious political environment and correspondingly disparate views (both in the public and within government) on what should be done. Nearly everyone seems to agree on a key point about Cuba policy: the embargo and …

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Midterms and a changing face of Congress

Midterms and a changing face of Congress

The November 2 midterm elections resulted in a new balance of power in Congress, most notably in the House of Representatives—now a Republican majority house. Domestic implications aside, the shift in power will have a significant effect on …

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Back to work – me and you

Back to work – me and you

After a considerable hiatus, I’m pleased to re-welcome you to the Cuba blog. We have lots of catching up to do, so let’s hop right to it.
If you’re wondering what’s happened between Washington and Havana in the meantime, catch up with Anya Landau French on the Havana Note:

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Hopey changey stuff

Hopey changey stuff

There’s a lot going on lately, and a fair number of calls to the Obama administration to take note and react to all of it. Nothing from Washington yet.
First, the Cuban Labor Federation came right out and announced that

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Return, regret, reinvent

Return, regret, reinvent

In recent days and weeks Fidel Castro has reappeared everywhere in Cuba—on television, on the radio, in the news—but he has made it, too, into international exchanges again. Ever the clever statesman, he is proving once more that he knows what to say and when to say it to participate …

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On Socialism: A Personal Note

On Socialism: A Personal Note

A few weeks ago, on an any-day sort of day, my grandmother came home to her Los Angeles bungalow and sorted her mail, tossing junk and sorting bills, when she came upon a statement from her bank. The notice she pulled from the envelope indicated that the balance of her …

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Rumor of the day

Rumor of the day

Whispers abound, as do headlines: Obama may ease US travel to Cuba even if Congress won’t act.
The separate powers of the Executive and Congress prevent President Obama from acting solo on a …

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When Fidel does not applaud

When Fidel does not applaud

So Fidel did, in the end, appear and speak before the Cuban National Assembly—just in a separate meeting from that of his brother Raúl (though …

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Castro and Castro: who's in charge?

Castro and Castro: who's in charge?

The Washington Post yesterday and a few other sources pointed out that, interestingly, Fidel Castro has not appeared publicly alongside his brother Raúl since he stepped down from the presidency four years ago.
And so …

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The state pretends to pay us…

The state pretends to pay us…

… and we pretend to work.
The long-standing Cuban axiom has come to bear more truth than its users may have hoped or imagined. President Castro announced yesterday in his address before the National …

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Gentle pressure from the gentlest neighbor

Gentle pressure from the gentlest neighbor

In spite of the decades of pressure coming from the United States, Canada has maintained consistently cordial relations with Cuba—in fact, Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere to maintain uninterrupted diplomatic relations with Cuba following the revolution in 1959. [Interesting Wikipedia fact of the week:

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The surprising is getting mundane

The surprising is getting mundane

Cuba watchers and analysts pick apart every move, every statement in Washington or Havana that might be a political / economic / diplomatic bellwether and yet on a daily basis, particularly lately, we find ourselves stymied in the art of predicting the “what next.”

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A busy week in Cuba

A busy week in Cuba

Spending a week in Tuscany has its benefits, certainly, but without dependable Internet access and Western Hemisphere-centered news items, it seems I’ve missed a number of notable (and indeed, unusual/surprising/jaw-dropping) events in Cuba…
Here are a few of the ones I’m picking up in the airport now. What else have I …

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Fidel "stealing spotlight"?

Fidel "stealing spotlight"?

Already there has been lots of speculation on why Fidel Castro chose this moment specifically to give himself a bigger presence in Cuban life than he has had for the last several years, during which he had taken on the role of a nearly invisible but omnipresent source of critical …

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About the Author

Melissa Lockhart Fortner
Melissa Lockhart Fortner

Melissa Lockhart Fortner is Senior External Affairs Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, having served previously as Senior Programs Officer for the Council. From 2007-2009, she held a research position at the University of Southern California (USC) School of International Relations, where she closely followed economic and political developments in Mexico and in Cuba, and analyzed broader Latin American trends. Her research considered the rise and relative successes of Latin American multinationals (multilatinas); economic, social and political changes in Central America since the civil wars in the region; and Wal-Mart’s role in Latin America, among other topics. Melissa is a graduate of Pomona College, and currently resides in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Jeff Fortner.

Follow her on Twitter @LockhartFortner.

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