Modern day politics of politics

Long gone are the days when WE the people could elect a candidate based not on his opponent’s flaws, but on the candidate’s virtues. Politics and honor appear to no longer go hand and hand. These days we hear more about everything that is wrong with the other person than what is right with our candidate. To make matters worse money has now become the most important player on the board.
Yesterday’s SCOTUS decision further erodes on the possibilities of better, cleaner elections. Now the winner will not be the best man or woman for the job, but the person with the largest bank account. I am troubled and saddened by the direction in which this country continues traveling. Our leadership appears to have abandoned common sense and forgotten that WE the people placed them where they are so they could serve the nation, not their own interest.
For once I hope that I am being a pessimist and that I am wrong, but I fear that those steering the wheel have long forgotten about the rest of the nation.

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Fri, April 4 2014 » Latinos in the United States » 2 Comments

René Gómez Manzano on ¿Papas por la Libertad?


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 relationship between Pope Francis and the Cuban state. It is reproduced in full (in Spanish) below.


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Tue, April 1 2014 » Cuba, Culture, Identity, Law and Society » Comments Off

Fragile, handle with care!

A great deal has been said of late concerning immigration reform, the pros and the cons, mainly focusing on the political and economic side-effects of it. However, little or no focus has been placed on the human factor, on the psychological consequences of a “do nothing” policy. The decision makers are too busy worrying about their own political aspirations to be troubled by the consequences of their inaction.

Being undocumented has allowed me to experience those consequences first hand. First growing up troubled, confused by the fact that I did not look like the rest of my classmates, and did not speak their language. As a result, I  kept to myself, and looked forward to the school day being over so I could rejoin my family.

The above is not unlike many undocumented youngsters in this country. As one grows older, if one was fortunate enough, you make it past the shy, insecure stage which granted is part of growing up. However, when you are undocumented you’re immediately met with another hurdle. At your tender age of 15 or 16, depending on where you live, you are faced with the desire to get a driver’s permit, but quickly learn you are ineligible to obtain one. This may be your first realization of your true legal dilemma; one that you did not create. As all your young peers excitedly prepare for their driving examinations, you find yourself asking your parents why you can’t do the same. That is if by then you have not realized you’re different than most of your peers in more ways than one. If you are aware of your status or lack thereof you simply complain to a higher power, asking why God, why me?
Eventually you learn to live within your limitations, at least until it is time to find a job. It is at this pivotal moment in a young person’s life when you realize you cannot be employed since you likely do not have a social security number and a work permit. Each step of the way, your soul is being consumed little by little, but you keep on hoping that one day all of that will change. You rely on faith, on family and friends. Some of us resort to gangs for a sense of belonging others such as me, bury ourselves in books. We hope to escape and transport ourselves to a new reality, a reality in which we actually belong. We seek a reality in which our hands are not tied behind our backs as we valiantly push forward enduring life’s beatings.
At some point, as adults, we are invited to the bar to grab a drink simply to have to scramble for an excuse as to why we’re not interested in joining. Time continues to pass and your hope for a better future starts succumbing to your sad reality. At that point you’re faced with two polar opposite options; do you succumb to adversity or rise above it and thrive? At my 37 years of age I have opted for the latter instead of the former. However, I have not arrived to where I am without injury and I am confident I am not alone.

Our youth’s hearts and souls are fragile therefore I ask the decision makers on both sides of the aisle to please handle with care!

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Tue, March 25 2014 » Latinos in the United States » 2 Comments

A View of the Ukrainian Crisis From Cuban Non-State Media



René Gómez Manzano, a Cuban journalist who writes on topics of interst both within and beyond Cuba, has recently published reflections on the Ukrainian crisis: Crisis Ucraniana o Legado de Stalin (Ukrainian Crisis or Legacy of Stain), first published on 11 March 2014 through .

It is reproduced (in the original Spanish) below.


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Wed, March 12 2014 » Cuba, immigrants, Latinos in the United States, race » Comments Off

Biblioteca Digital Cubana

This From Arch Ritter’s excellent Cuba blog:



The Biblioteca Digital Cubana is a most amazing web site with links to a myriad of complete books on Cuban history and historical archives, geography, economy, archeology, ethnology, literature and natural sciences together with old art, photos and drawings and maps. It also includes a library of Cuban periodicals and journals going back to the earliest colonial times. It constitutes an incredible library resource with an immense and probably quite complete collection of historical documents on Cuba,

It is unclear to me at this time specifically who or what organization assembled this listing. It brings together collections on Cuba from many parts of the world and in particular the Biblioteca Digital de la Biblioteca Nacional José Martí or BNJM at   It was brought to my attention through a Facebook posting by Haroldo Dilla a few days ago.



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Sat, March 1 2014 » Cuba, Culture, education, Latin America, latino culture, Law and Society » Comments Off

New Paper on Property Claims in Cuba: Demandas De Propiedad Entre Cuba Y Los Estados Unidos. Una Revisión De La Literatura

New paper worth reading for those interested in Cuba studies and law/international relations:

Demandas De Propiedad Entre Cuba Y Los Estados Unidos. Una Revisión De La Literatura.
De  Jesus Bu Marcheco, La Habana, Cuba
Spanish Abstract:Este artículo es una revisión de la literatura sobre las reclamaciones de la propiedad pendientes entre Cuba y los Estados Unidos, con el objeto de resumir el estado actual del conocimiento académico. Este artículo examina las reclamaciones entre las partes, los mecanismos legales diseñados para solucionar las demandas y los remedios para cada tipo específico de demandante.English Abstract: This paper contains a literature review designed to summarize the state of academic knowledge surrounding the outstanding property claims between Cuba and the United States. This paper examines the claims between the parties, the legal mechanisms designed to solve the claims and, the remedies tailored for each particular type of claimants.


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Mon, February 24 2014 » Cuba, Identity, immigrants, Law and Society » Comments Off

No Cuba Trade Relief On Horizon Despite Support


By Scott Flaherty

Law360, New York (February 21, 2014, 6:29 PM ET) — Although a recent survey showed

most Americans favor easing the longstanding U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, experts say

continued support among congressional leaders and a lack of progress in Cuba on human

rights issues make lifting the trade restrictions anytime soon a long shot.

The Atlantic Council, a think tank that studies international affairs, released a study Feb. 11

showing that about 56 percent of Americans who participated in a survey were at least

somewhat in favor of the U.S. taking steps to normalize its relationship with Cuba and ease a

more than 50-year-old trade embargo.

But experts say growing support for more direct engagement with Cuba is not enough to

overcome a number of political hurdles that stand in the way of changes to the embargo,

which includes travel restrictions and a general ban on imports and exports passing between

the U.S. and Cuba, at any point in the near future.

Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank focused on

policy in the Americas, said there is still strong support for maintaining the embargo among

influential members of Congress, such as Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who chairs the

Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is considered to be

a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

The embargo has been “held in place by a small number of highly committed people,” Hakim

said, adding that there doesn’t appear to be enough political will among Americans who want

to ease the embargo to outweigh the support that exists for keeping it in place.

“What does Cuba really matter to Barack Obama, or people who are concerned about a pivot

to China, or ordinary Americans?” he said.

Cuba’s track record on human rights is another hurdle, noted Florida International University

law professor Ediberto Roman, who said pressuring Cuba to clean up potential human rights

violations has been one of the key justifications for keeping the embargo in place for so long.

Although there may be economic reasons for the U.S. to move toward more normal trade

relations with Cuba, in part because it would open up the country’s market to U.S. goods,

Cuba’s continually poor human rights track record makes walking away from the embargo at

this point an implausible — if not irresponsible — choice on the part of the U.S., according to


“The human rights record hasn’t improved. If anything, it’s been worse,” Roman said.

As a practical matter, the embargo couldn’t be lifted at least until a new government takes



over in Cuba and the U.S. State Department certifies that it meets a number of requirements

laid out in the Helms-Burton Act, which was put on the books in 1996 and tightened U.S.

sanctions against Cuba, according to Judith A. Lee, chair of Gibson Dunn’s international trade

regulation and compliance practice.

To qualify for the certification called for in the Helms-Burton Act, Fidel and Raul Castro —

the current Cuban leader — would have to be out of government, and Cuba would need to

legalize all political activity, release political prisoners, organize free and fair elections, and

meet a slew of other requirements, according to the law.

But beyond the changes within Cuba that would need to take place before the country met

the Helms-Burton requirements, other U.S. political factors could keep the embargo in place

for the foreseeable future, Lee said. One of those is the passionate support for maintaining

the embargo that still exists in parts of the U.S., including in Florida, a key battleground

state with a sizable Cuban-American population.

“It’s not just the case that we [would] have to wait for the leadership in Cuba to recede,”

Lee said.

And there’s also another matter: the longevity of the Cuba trade embargo and the inertia

that has built up as a result.

“It’s the oldest sanctions program that we have, and it’s the strictest,” Lee said. “Even

though there’s support for relaxing the embargo … it’s still premature to think that it’s going

to happen anytime soon.”

But experts note that this month’s survey may indicate a generational shift in how Cuba is

viewed in U.S.

In a report detailing the findings of its survey, which sampled 1,024 people nationwide, the

Atlantic Council said the responses showed that Americans, for the most part, support

altering U.S. policy toward Cuba.

Hakim said Cuban-Americans who grew up in Cuba and fled the Castro regime have often

been vocal supporters of the embargo, but that is an aging group being replaced by younger

people who don’t have as strong of a personal connection to the issue and therefore don’t

have as much passion for keeping the embargo in place.

“It was pretty clear that the power of this issue was losing strength,” Hakim said. “There

was lots of evidence that there

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Fri, February 21 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off

Great New Posts From the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy



The Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy has been publishing some very interesting short essays on Cuba and Cuban economic and politics related issues on its website–ASCE Blog.

We are pleased to invite you to read our latest posts:

Foreign Investment in Cuba: Mariel and Liberalization by Luis R. Luis

Labor Market Developments in Cuba: The Contraction of the State Sector Continues by Ernesto Hernandez-Cata

Religion, Social Norms and the State – The 2014 Letter of Sacerdotes Mayores de Ifa of Cuba by Larry Cata-Backer

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Thu, February 13 2014 » Cuba, Latinos in the United States, Law and Society, race, subculture » Comments Off

Mil gracias Helen Chavez!

It is Helen Chavez’s birthday month. Specifically on January 21st Helen turned eighty-six years old. Helen and Cesar Chavez along with a community of farmworkers created the United Farmworkers of America. From the UFW website we are told:

“Helen didn’t speak much, but she held deep convictions. In September 1965, while leaders of Cesar’s young Latino union debated whether or not to join a grape strike begun that month by members of a largely Filipino-American farmworker union, Helen, in her quiet no-nonsense way, settled the debate by asking “Are we a union or not?”

Please go to to wish Helen a Happy Birthday and of course mil gracias for her dedication to working and supporting the workers that feed America.

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Wed, January 22 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off

Nuestras Voces Latinas Welcomes Law Dreamer Sergio Garcia….

California Supreme Court Grants Law License To Undocumented Immigrant Sergio Garcia

AP  |  Posted: 01/02/2014 1:54 pm EST

immigrant law license


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Supreme Court has granted a law license to a man living in the United States illegally who graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam.

The decision Thursday means Sergio Garcia can begin practicing law despite his immigration status.

Garcia had challenged a 1996 federal law that bars people living in the country illegally from receiving professional licenses from government agencies or with the use of public funds, unless state lawmakers vote otherwise.

Shortly after the court heard arguments in the case, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state law that authorized the granting of the license. The new law went into effect Jan. 1.

Garcia arrived in the U.S. illegally 20 years ago to pick almonds with his father and worked at a grocery store and in the fields while attending school.

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Sun, January 19 2014 » Latinos in the United States » Comments Off