New book on Fidel Castro’s Agricultural Policies by Jose Alvarez

Jose Alvarez has produced a new book on Cuban agricultural policy, “Fidel Catro’s Agricultural Follies: Absurdity, Waste and Parasitism.” It is dedicated to G.B. Jerry Hagelberg (1925-2011) whose worked extensively in this field for many years.   Specifics about the work follows:


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Tue, January 13 2015 » Cuba, education » No Comments

On U.S.–Cuba Normalization

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)
The folks over at Opinio Juris were kind to invite me to guest post recently.  The essay–On Cuban Normalization (Jan. 5, 2015)–can be accessed HERE.
Here is the opening paragraph:
On December 17, 2014, the Presidents of the United States of America and of the Republic of Cuba announced an intention to move toward the normalization of relations between their countries. The two statements reflected the quite distinct conceptual frameworks from which they originated, and the aspirations and tastes of the elites whose approvals were a necessary predicate for such action. These frameworks can coexist unchanged only in the abstract, and are well reflected in the Presidential statements. Yet both views are so distorted by their own ideological self-references that each continues to evidence both the self-destructiveness and the irrelevance that has marked the policy of each against the other since the early 1960s.

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Tue, January 6 2015 » Cuba, Latin America » Comments Off

An Astonishing Surprise: U.S. Cuba-Relations

Throughout the media arrived the astonishing news that the United States  and Cuba are seeking talks to normalize relations between both nations.  Check out the news such as today’s Karen DeYoung’s Washington Post article for updates.

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Wed, December 17 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off

From the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy: Ernesto Hernandez Catá on “Why Has Cuba Grown So Fast?”


The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy BLOG has posted an interesting essay by Ernesto Hernandez Catá on the performance of the Cuban economy, “Why Has Cuba Grown So Fast?” (Nov. 14, 2014) a portion of which is posted below with links to the full essay.



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Sun, November 23 2014 » Cuba, Latin America, Law and Society, World Bank » Comments Off

Yayabo Press

One of the most interesting manifestations of the new openness, limited and serendipitous, in Cuba, is marked by the rise of unofficial news sites that seek to bring reporting of the difficulties of ordinary life in Cuba.  These presses are not necessarily political–they appear to focus on the problems that result when the government fails to live up to its own rules and standards.  To that extent, ironically enough, they serve the state as a source fo necessary discipline.  But often, they also tend to annoy officials who have been less than diligent in the furtherance of their duties.

Among these news outlets is Yayabo Press. They report on the miscellany of Cuban life that in aggregate provides a glimpse of everyday life in Cuba and its travails.  In this respect they resemble Western papers reporting on the delicts of officials.  But it also resembles aspects of Chinese netizen (??) activity–all focused not on counter revolutionary activities, but rather on the important work of ensuring that officials comply with their obligation in states in which such obligation is the basis of Party-State legitimacy.

An example, from Yaybo’s 21 November reporting, follows.




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Fri, November 21 2014 » Cuba, Identity, latino culture, Law and Society » Comments Off

43 Kidnapped Iguala Students Chasing Justice

On September 26, 2014, students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa were kidnapped in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Throughout the Americas students have long engaged in activism and in many instances have generated changes.  This particular group of students were seeking to join the protests against Mexican government discriminatory practices that purportedly favored the employment of urban teachers over rural based teachers.

On that horrific day local police not only stopped the students from reaching their destination but eye witness accounts reveal the students were turned over to a local criminal syndicate.  The families of the students remain distraught and the news is extremely disturbing as to what caused the students from reaching their destination.  While the specifics over the students whereabouts are unclear the bottom line is that weeks later the students remain missing with some evidence suggesting they were murdered.  One recent discovery of charred remains found at a ”dump” and river in Guerrero is for example suspected of being the remains of the students but DNA confirmation is not yet forthcoming.    Their families are standing strong in the belief that their sons are still alive and loudly declare that: “They took them alive, we want them back alive!”

Additional evidence reveal a broad realm of entanglements between governmental actors and crime lords such as the recent arrest of the Iguala mayor and his wife for allegedly orchestrating the kidnappings.   Further arrests have also followed but the families insist that more needs to be done to expose the entanglements between the criminal sector and the Mexican government.  Supporting the families anguish and revealing the broad nature of their assertions are the multiple reports of “recently discovered” mass graves of murdered individuals.   Newspaper accounts report that since the 2006 more than 20,000 individuals have disappeared and that estimate does not include the 100,000 homicides in the country.   Who those victims were and the circumstances of their deaths underscores the relationship between local police and the drug kings of the region.  The disappearance and deaths of the women near Juarez and the lack of concrete arrests also remind us of the failure of the government to keep its residents safe.   The aggregate of such heinous disregard for the value of human life  not only haunts the local community but underscores the reign of terror that is compelling the recent insurgency seen throughout Mexico and the world.

At a recent  press conference Mexico’s attorney general ended his announcement regarding the discovery of the charred remains with the phrase “Ya me canse” suggesting that he is tired and done with the issue of the missing students.   Immediately and worldwide activists began adding  Ya Me Canse De Tener Miedo (I’m tired of being afraid) with yet additional new word phrased endings protesting against the Mexican policies that fail to stop the disappearances and deaths.  Mexico residents are tired of being afraid and dealing with corrupt politicians and irreconcilable policies that favor the wealthy at the expense of the working poor and are not hesitating to demonstrate their anger and frustration.   Since the press conference, the door to the National Palace was set on fire with the growing anguish, indignation and increasing activism seeking change in Mexico.  Protests, music, letters, global actions, vigils, road closing and other actions involving tens of thousands of protestors  are erupting not only in Mexico but across the globe and will not cease until the students return alive to their anxious families.  As one protester reacting to criticism of such protests stated: “we will not give up this fight.”

This post joins those protests.  Student activism is critical and has resulted in changes across the country both in Mexico and the United States.   Their activism show moreover that now more than ever both nations have to facilitate agreements and concretely end the reign of terror and the governmental actions that protect crime/drug lords and gangs at the expense of peaceful people.


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Tue, November 18 2014 » Latinos in the United States, Mexico » Comments Off

René Gómez Manzano: “La Apuesta del New York Times” . . . . on the Cuban 5 and Alan Gross

René Gómez Manzano is a lawyer and an independent journalist in Cuba who writes original and provocative commentary on issues of interest to those who follow events in Cuba. The following was recently published on on the extremely sensitive subject of the imprisonment of the “Cuban 5” by U.S. authorities after conviction on espionage charges and on the imprisonment of Alan Gross by Cuban authorities on espionage and related charges.  It is reproduced in full (in Spanish) below.  Agree or disagree, the essay is worth reading.


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Fri, November 7 2014 » Cuba, Latin America, Latinos in the United States, noteworthy » Comments Off

Undocumented Dreams!

Over 20 years waiting for this day. I never thought I would have to live in limbo for so long. To be quite honest I often questioned if I would be able to endure this bar-less prison, but today is a new day. Today the sun is shining bright, the birds are singing and I’m crying and silently screaming, free at last, free at last, I am finally free, Thank God. No more watching over my shoulders as I drive. No more lying to my friends about why I can’t go with them to the bars.
Now I can finally apply for any job I want, with confidence, knowing I have all the documents they require. No more placing my whole life on hold, it’s time to dream again, to plan for my future. My wings are finally free, I can finally travel across the world as I have always wanted. I finally have the smallest documents that make the biggest difference, a driver’s license and a passport. I no longer have to fear the airport.
Today is undoubtedly the best day of my life, Suddenly, I wake up and with tears in my eyes I realize, it was a dream, it was only a dream.

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Tue, October 14 2014 » Latinos in the United States » 7 Comments

National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day. If you are not registered to vote please do so immediately. The ongoing systemic assault against the Voting Rights Act and the continued voting discrimination Latinos confront underscores the importance of National Voter Registration Day. Por favor please register to vote!

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Tue, September 23 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off

New Book: “The Cuban Economy under a Magnifying Glass”

Happy to announce a new book in honor of Oscar Espinosa Chepe, a well respected Cuban economist.

The Cuban Economy under a Magnifying Glass

Essays in Honor of Oscar Espinosa Chepe


Edited by Ernesto Hernández-Catá

 With essays by Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Ed Canler, Ernesto Hernández-Catá, G.B. Hagelberg, Luis Locay, Luis R. Luis, Lorenzo Pérez, Joaquín Pujol, Rafael Romeu, and Jorge Sanguinetty.


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Fri, August 22 2014 » Cuba, latino culture, Law and Society, Legal Development » Comments Off