Havana

Havana, Cuba—You see them on stage, on passenger flights, and at trade fairs: Americans in Cuba legally, and hoping to travel here more often. The American Ballet Theater has just performed here for the first time in 50 years. It was a wildly popular performance, featuring two Cuban-American dancers—Jose Manuel Carreno and Xiomara Reyes, who was in Cuba for the first time since fleeing the country with her family 18 years ago. “The willingness to share something makes a difference. Why wouldn’t it make a difference?” Reyes told me.

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Jorge Castañeda’s lament ("Adios, Monroe Doctrine," December 28, 2009) about U.S. indifference towards Latin America sounds a familiar theme. His claim that “the United States doesn’t seem to care much what happens in Latin America” has been a constant refrain that has dominated analyses of U.S. regional policy since the mid-1970s. The “new passivity” is not, after all, terribly new.   Though often framed in general terms of advancing national interests and values, almost everyone expressing such a lament has been motivated by some particular agenda. Some want the U.S.

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The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.

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The first friend I make in Cuba is Chaviano, the bus station master in Trinidad. I have just finished a six-hour ride from Havana, and all is well except for the absence of my suitcase. "Unusual," says Chaviano, but not something to worry about. And, indeed, 24 hours later, in rolls the suitcase, missing nothing but an envelope marked cash--which, ingeniously, contained all my money. An investigation is launched, and Chaviano asks me to give an affidavit--this being Sunday and his afternoon off--at his home.

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Mass Martyr

In the long march of the conservative ascendancy, Folk Songs to Bug the Liberals, the 1964 LP by the satirical conservative quartet the Goldwaters, was only a blip. Four Tennessee college students put on "AuH2O" shirts and recorded an album of songs like "Down in Havana," "Barry's Moving In," and "Row Our Own Boat." They dropped out of school to warm up crowds before Goldwater campaign appearances. The record reportedly sold some 200,000 copies. The Goldwaters were never heard from again.

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Close, but ...

It's Thursday evening in Trinidad, Cuba, and Fidel Castro has a captive audience. In house after house on the cobblestoned main street of this river town 200 miles southeast of Havana, the image of El Comandante flickers from Soviet-era TV sets. Of course, it's hard not to score high ratings when your country has only two TV stations, both of them state-run, and the neighborhood Committee for the Defense of the Revolution keeps watch on who's tuning in and who isn't.

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Boycotting Cuba

Whose interest does it serve?

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Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Fidel by Lee Lockwood (Macmillan, $10) Inconsolable Memories by Edmund Desnoes (New American Library; $4.50) If only because we have had no reports from Cuba for a long time, Lee Lockwood’s book and Edmundo Desnoes’ novel are important. I am speaking of us Americans of course; Europeans go to Cuba and write about it; US-influenced Latin Americans less, but the visits of their leading writers to cultural conferences and their enthusiasm for the Cuban revolution make Havana the cultural capital of the Spanish-speaking world.

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For nearly 20 months a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary has been holding hearings, ostensibly on "the Communist threat to the United States through the Caribbean," presided over by James O. Eastland of Mississippi. He is assisted by Senators Dodd, Johnston of South Carolina, McClellan, Ervin, Hruska, Dirksen, Keating and Cotton. How many witnesses have been called has not been disclosed. The testimony of only a few has been released, and that has been edited before publication.

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