Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cubans looking to the future

Today is the 62nd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks, which marked the start of the Cuban revolution.
I didn't see many Cubans celebrating today - it was the most subdued July 26 I've seen in Havana. But many people are talking about the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States and what it means for the future of Cuba.
I shot this photo today of the former Interests Section and now U.S. Embassy, located along the famed Malecón. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to attend the flag-raising ceremony on Aug. 14.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

From regime change to empowerment

From Progressive Weekly:
...the President and most of his most vocal supporters in the Senate avoid the phrase "regime change," but strongly imply that the concept should remain as the key U.S. policy goal.

BBG to Inspector General: Give us a break

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Radio & TV Martí, reported earlier this year that it had resolved most of the recommendations found in a critical 2013 Office of Inspector General report.
In a May 19 follow-up report, the OIG continued to refer to "ineffective leadership" at the BBG. It also criticized leadership at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, where it said "employee morale was a concern. Staff expressed that management did not communicate effectively and that decision-making processes lacked transparency." See audit.
In a letter to the OIG, the BBG said the language of the "sensitive, but unclassified" follow-up report was not fair because the board had "worked diligently over the past three years to address the concerns" and had resolved "all but two of the 164" OIG recommendations.

Office of Cuban Affairs "bustling"

The Obama administration began trying to improve relations with Cuba in 2009.
A January 2010 Inspector General's report cited "new Administration initiatives include efforts to reach out to Cuba."
The IG's report of the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs included an inspection of the Office of Cuban Affairs. It stated:
The Office of Cuban Affairs (WHA/CCA) is a well-managed and bustling place to work. The coordinator and deputy form a respected and expert management team. They are supported by a reemployed annuitant senior advisor, a political officer, a consular officer, three economic policy officers, several interns, and office management staff. Overall, the morale in the office is very good.
The U.S. trade embargo and ongoing travel restrictions for both U.S. and Cuban citizens drive the daily work of the office. The April 2009 announcement made by the President lifting restrictions on remittances sent by Americans to family members in Cuba, easing travel restrictions of Cuban Americans to Cuba, and promoting a more liberal exchange of information and humanitarian assistance items has created new and increased interagency and public interest in Cuban affairs.