Engaging Cuba: CIDOB participates in a conference on Cuba at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington

LATIN AMERICA AND THE ATLANTIC SPACE - Jan 15, 2010

On 16 November 2009, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation jointly organised a conference in Washington (USA) to debate the existing political options for the United States, Europe and the Western Hemisphere with respect to Cuba. The event included presentations by Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin America Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center; Anna Ayuso, Coordinator of CIDOB's Latin America Programme, Karl Buck, from the Council of the European Union; Carlo Dade, from FOCAL Canada; Dan Fisk, from the International Republican Institute; Susanne Gratius, from FRIDE; Jorge Heine, from the Wilfrid Laurier University; the ambassador John Maisto; Stephen Wilkinson, from the London Metropolitan University and Bisa Williams, from the US State Department, all of whom subsequently debated with a selected group of experts.


On 16 November 2009, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation jointly organised a conference in Washington (USA) to debate the existing political options for the United States, Europe and the Western Hemisphere with respect to Cuba. The event included presentations by Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin America Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center; Anna Ayuso, Coordinator of CIDOB's Latin America Programme, Karl Buck, from the Council of the European Union; Carlo Dade, from FOCAL Canada; Dan Fisk, from the International Republican Institute; Susanne Gratius, from FRIDE; Jorge Heine, from the Wilfrid Laurier University; the ambassador John Maisto; Stephen Wilkinson, from the London Metropolitan University and Bisa Williams, from the US State Department, all of whom subsequently debated with a selected group of experts.

The aim of the conference was to put in perspective how best to enter into dialogue with Cuba in the political, social and economic spheres, taking as a framework the new scenario provided by the Obama administration, the possible changes in Europe's position on Cuba and the incipient openness in certain economic and social sectors of Raúl Castro's government. In the first session, Cynthia Arnson began her address by asking whether the international community should contribute to change in Cuba, or if it should keep its distance and await an improvement in the situation of human rights and political freedoms. Kart Buck agreed with John Maisto that the EU and the United States should seek a convergent policy toward the island, and both warned of differing opinions within the EU on the subject of Cuba. Stephen Wilkinson stressed that the divergences in the US and the European approaches have undermined the effectiveness of both. Meanwhile, Anna Ayuso spoke of Spain's dual stance toward the island, influenced by the party-based differences between the two main political parties; she also suggested that the task of monitoring Cuba's human rights situation should be left to multilateral organisations, and preferably regional ones. In the second panel of speakers, Bisa Williams talked of the need to focus relations with Cuba in a way that will help to improve Cubans' living conditions and guarantee the security of the USA. Carlos Dade spoke of Canada's stance of constructive commitment toward Cuba as being a differentiating element from that of the US. Dan Fisk talked of the need to involve not only the Cuban government but also the country's citizens in the process of change, and Jorge Heine spoke of Latin America's stance toward Cuba, mentioning that the continent welcomed Obama's policy of rapprochement in order to build bridges with Cuba. Sussane Gratius pointed out that increased closeness between the US and the EU would reduce the ability of the Castro regime to take advantage of differing opinions, and to adapt to different international scenarios in order to survive.

>> Publication Conference Report: Engaging Cuba: Policy Options for the United States, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere

>> Video of event (Windows Media Player)

>> For more information: Woodrow Wilson Center

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