Just Americas: A Blog by LAWG

Cuba Summer Reading: Cuba 54, Everything About Cuba and More

Did you know...


1. "When Cubans are waiting to enter a public facility and you arrive, you must determine who the last person is before you to arrive was and then you are now the last one – they do not form lines?"

2. "Cuba has good drinking water, and daily fresh baked bread in every corner of the street?"

3. "Pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way in Cuba. Cars, trucks, and buses will bear down on you with the horn blaring?"

Through these and other insights, author Paul LeBon aims to give the readers of his newly published book "Cuba 54" a background on Cuba useful for any visit to the island. While the book would be a valuable addition to any traveler to Cuba's reading list with these tidbits alone, what makes "Cuba 54" great is its desire to dig deeper. In fact, LeBon taps into his real life experiences and interaction with individuals across Cuba to find out "...why the whole Cuba debacle manifested itself, why things are the way they are, and how much better things could be." This mini-encyclopedia on modern Cuba covers three main topics critical to understanding the country today: a general introduction to Cuban culture, the "Miami Cartel" and their operations in the United States, and what lies ahead for Cuba's future.

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The Situation of Migrants Through the Eyes of a Human Rights Defender in Saltillo, Coahuila

The Latin America Working Group, Peace Brigades International, and the Washington Office on Latin America brought a delegation of human rights defenders from Mexico in late April 2013.  At an event held at DC’s Busboys and Poets, the two human rights defenders discussed the risks and challenges they face in their work to address critical human rights issues impacting their communities: torture, forced disappearance, kidnapping and violence against migrants, human trafficking, and the impact of the “war on drugs” on Mexico’s social fabric.

In his presentation, below in English and Spanish, Alberto talks about the migrants he sees and aides for in Saltillo, Coahuila. Alberto works for the Casa del Migrante located in Saltillo, Coahuila, a migrant shelter which sees a minimum of 120 migrants per day.

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Cuba: You Can't Take Someone Else's Word for It

Whenever I tell people I studied abroad in Cuba, I feel like the reactions can be categorized by two familiar emotions: curiosity and confusion. There are usually a lot of questions…How did I travel to a country that has been “off-limits” to U.S. citizens since 1961? What is it REALLY like? Did you see old American cars, smoke a cigar, and/or drink rum? From first glance, I also do not have any obvious connections to the island: I am a blonde haired, blue eyed girl from Wisconsin who did not meet anyone from Cuba until college and whose initial exposure to Latin America was through cheesy videos in middle school Spanish class...

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Mexican Newspapers Voice Concern Over Border Surge

On Thursday, June 27th in a 68-to-32 vote the United States Senate passed historic immigration legislation. The measure now moves into the House of Representatives as they return from recess this week, where it is likely to face more resistance. House Republicans have already said the Senate bill is dead on arrival. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says he will pursue a series of smaller bills to reform the current immigration system. In the Senate version of the bill, a series of border enforcement measures totaling close to $46 billion must be achieved within the next decade. These enforcement measures include hundreds more miles of border fencing, doubling the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed along the U.S./Mexico border to almost 40,000, and the use of new surveillance technologies.

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United States Efforts to Undermine Cuban Medical Aid Programs

When John Kirk and I were researching a book on Cuba's medical aid programs (Cuban Medical Internationalism:  Origins, Evolution. And Goals (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), a U.S. government operation called the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) program was mentioned in several sources. We did not delve into this topic in any detail since it fell outside the scope of our main interest. Later, however, I decided to do so, gathering tidbits of information from widely scattered sources since no one in the academic world or in the mainstream media seemed to have paid much attention to it. I also interviewed congressional and State Department people. The result was a journal article, "Brain Drain Politics: The Cuban Medical Professional Parole Programme."

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