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

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

Views From Cuba on Current Economic Reform and the State of Cuban Governance

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Two essays worth reading on popular responses to current economic reforms in Cuba. The first, “Cuba y la teor’ia de la conspiración was written by Harold Cárdenas Lema, Profesor de Historia de la Filosofía de la Universidad de Matanzas, Cuba, and a blogger of Joven Cuba.

The second, “La Reforma del cambio es Intrínsica” by Nelson Páez del Amo as a response to Professor Cádenas Lema’s blog.


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Sat, August 9 2014 » Cuba, Latin America, latino culture, Law and Society » Comments Off

Juan Nicolás Padrón on ¿Mraxismo Conservador?

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2014)

Juan Nicolás Padrón recently published an essay on CUBARTE, ¿Marxismo Conservador? that is worth considering for its discussion of divisions between liberal and conservative approaches to Cuban Marxism.  The essay follows:


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Thu, August 7 2014 » Cuba, Latin America, Law and Society » Comments Off

On Reform of the Cuban Legislature–Teodoro Yan Gusman Hernández, “El Capitolio, el soberano, la representación y la ley en Cuba


Teodoro Yan Guzman Hernández, a doctor of juridical sciences and a member of the law faculty at the University of Havana has published an interesting essay on the sovereign, law and representation in Cuba, El Capitolio, el soberano, la representación y la ley en Cuba,  in Progreso Semanal. The essay, in Spanish, follows.


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Thu, July 17 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off

World Cup Fever!

These last few weeks social media has been inundated by the World Cup drama. Many days have gone by and we Mexicans still insist “no era penal” as if that truly mattered in the great scheme of things. Then yesterday after the host’s humiliating defeat before Germany mayhem erupted in the streets of Brazil. Meanwhile, OUR children remain locked up in cages, prisoners of politics. They are political pawns used by both sides to advance their own agendas. Our priorities were enough to make me retreat away from social media. Disheartened by the current state of affairs and sad to see our inability to see them for what they are, innocent children caught in a world of violence, hunger and hate, I cried over my own impotence to help in they way I wish I could. Finally, after much reflection I decided I would do what I can to help them and that is by inviting you the reader to reconsider what is truly important. I want to invite you to consider how would you feel if these children locked up were your own? 

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Wed, July 9 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off