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Friday, July 31, 2009

Observations from Venezuela: July 31, 2009: by LAP Editor Miguel Tinker Salas

Observations from Venezuela: July 31, 2009 
by Miguel Tinker Salas
LAP Editor 

I would submit that events in Honduras are not isolated, but rather part of a right wing counterattack taking shape in Latin America. I have been arguing for sometime that the right is rebuilding in Latin America, and has decided to act with Obama / Clinton in the White House. Bush / Cheney and company did not give them any coverage and had become of little use to them. A “liberal” in the White House, with extensive ties to the conservative forces gives them the kind of coverage they had hoped for. It is no coincidence that Venezuelan right wing commentators applauded the naming of Clinton to the White House indicating “now we have an ally in a position of power.” The old cold-warrior axiom that the best antidote against the left is a liberal government in Washington gains new meaning under Obama with Clinton at the State Department.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Looking Back, Moving Forward: 35 Years of Publication and many more to come

Latin American Perspectives (LAP) recently celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary. It was a particularly special milestone for the journal, as it coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. LAP has in many ways grown with the revolution and documented its ups and downs in the numerous articles and issues dedicated to the goals and struggles of the revolution. Our most recent issues (Jan, Mar, and May 2009) highlight this important anniversary for the Cubans by calling on Cuban scholars, as well as international scholars who have taken part in the defiant dialogue to bridge the widening gap between the United States and Cuban governments.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cuban Exceptionalism by Ken Cole

Cuban Exceptionalism: A Personal View 
by Ken Cole
Ken Cole is a member of the International Institute for the Study of Cuba at London Metropolitan University. 

January 1, 2009, marks the fiftieth anniversary of victory in Cuba’s third war of independence. In his first speech of the Cuban Revolution, given in Santiago de Cuba on January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro declared that for the first time in four centuries Cubans were free. Whereas Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and José Martí had led the previous wars, in 1868 and 1895, against Spanish colonial dominion, Castro’s July 26th Movement (named after the day in 1953 when the attack on the Moncada barracks marked the commencement of the revolution) challenged the economic domination of Cuba by the United States.

The Municipal University Centers: Past, Present, and Future by Jorge González Corona

The Municipal University Centers:  Past, Present, and Future
by Jorge González Corona
Translated by Mariana Ortega Breña
Jorge González Corona is Professor of Political Science at the Manuel Bisbé Municipal University. Mariana Ortega Breña is a freelance translator based in Canberra, Australia. 

The development of education in Cuba since January 1, 1959, has gone through several phases. The 1960's witnessed the National Literacy Campaign of 1961, the implementation of universal access to elementary education, the adult post-literacy programs, the massive training of teachers, and the University Reform of 1962. In the next period, 1970–1980, universal access to secondary education was achieved, as was a nationwide university network. These efforts were accompanied by substantial investment in the creation of the necessary material base for education and the accelerated training and upgrading of teachers and professors.

Reflections on the Cuban Revolution by Gary Prevost

Reflections on the Cuban Revolution
by Gary Prevost
Gary Prevost has been Professor of Political Science at St. John’s University since 1977.

When I visited Cuba in the first few days of 1992, it was not clear that the revolution would survive. Food was in relatively short supply and electricity blackouts were common. Even long-time supporters of the revolution were pessimistic about the future. Everything that had been accomplished in its first 32 years seemed in jeopardy when the Soviet Union went out of existence
at the end of 1991 and canceled most of its trade deals with Cuba. The country’s gross domestic product was in the process of shrinking by 50 percent.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cuban Solidarity and Disaster Response by August Nimtz

Cuban Solidarity and Disaster Response 
by August Nimtz
August Nimtz is Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and the author of Marx, Tocqueville, and Race in America (2003). A more detailed version of the argument presented here can be found in “Natural versus Social Phenomena: Cuba and the Lessons of Katrina” (The Black Scholar, 2006, 36 [4]). 

How is it that an underdeveloped country that is incessantly alleged to be under a dictatorship can do a far better job of saving the lives of its citizens when a hurricane strikes than a rich country with all the trappings of liberal democracy? The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates that this is not just an interesting academic question but a matter of life and death. Even before then, international bodies such as the United Nations and the International Red Cross often cited Cuba for its exemplary practices in dealing with hurricanes. Measured in terms of preparation, loss of lives, and recovery, the differences between Cuba and the United States Gulf Coast persist. Even in the 2008 season, when Cuba was assaulted by the most powerful hurricanes on record, it experienced the loss of only five lives.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cuba! Cuba! Cuba! by William I. Robinson

Cuba! Cuba! Cuba! 
by William I. Robinson 
William Robinson is Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Latin American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His most recent book is Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective, published in 2008. 

It was Fall 1980. I had recently returned to New York from a three-year stint in Africa and would shortly be heading to Nicaragua, where I would spend the next 10 years. At the time I did not know much about the Cuban Revolution, but my political awakening had taken place on a continent that was still in the process of overthrowing the shackles of colonialism.

The Cuban Revolution. Half a Century. by Saul Landau

The Cuban Revolution. Half a Century.
by Saul Landau
Saul Landau is a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He has produced 10 books and more than 40 films on social, political, and historical issues and worldwide human rights and is the recipient of Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins award for human rights. 

Five Cuban intelligence agents sit in federal penitentiaries across the United States because they infiltrated anti-revolutionary groups in Miami intent on doing violence in Cuba. These five men represent a long line of those who have acted from an understanding of their roles in the long human historical drama.

Reflections on Medical Internationalism by John Kirk

Reflections on Medical Internationalism 
by John Kirk
John Kirk is Professor of Latin American Studies at Dalhousie University, where he specializes in Cuban political history. He has written/coedited several books on Cuba, including Redefining Cuban Foreign Policy: The Impact of the “Special Period” (2006), and Culture and the Cuban Revolution: Conversations in Havana (2001). Together with Michael Erisman he is writing a monograph on Cuban medical internationalism. 

Patria es humanidad. —José Martí

José Martí’s assertion that the Cuban homeland is all of humanity sums up elegantly the extraordinary generosity of spirit visible in Cuba’s medical internationalism program.

Cuba va: Fifty Years Marching toward Victory. By Roberto Fumagalli

Cuba va:  Fifty Years Marching toward Victory 
By Roberto Fumagalli
Roberto Fumagalli, since graduating in natural sciences from the University of Milan in 1994, has pursued a career in photography in Italy and abroad. In 2006 he published Cuba va, a photographic journey into the heart of the Cuban Revolution. 

My commitment to the Cuban Revolution began in 2002 with my first trip to the island. Today, after 13 trips, I feel it to be stronger than ever. I have had the good fortune to penetrate deep into the texture of Cuban society, getting to know from the inside not only people’s everyday lives but also the ongoing revolutionary process. Because of the ideals I nurture in my heart, the ideals of revolution, I have been able to gain the trust of the Cuban officials and ordinary people that allowed me to enter hospitals, universities, schools, cooperatives, factories, prisons, army compounds, and homes. As a photographer I have been able to capture the essence of this country, its people, and its revolution and create a book that goes beyond the stereotypes (and lies) we are so often told about Cuba by the mainstream media. I was accompanied through this professional and personal journey by my best friend, Roberto Chile, Fidel Castro’s personal cameraman for 25 years.

Thoughts on Cuban Education by Elvira Martín Sabina

Thoughts on Cuban Education by Elvira Martín Sabina
Translated by Mariana Ortega Breña
Elvira Martín Sabina is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Havana, director of the Center for Studies of the Improvement of Higher Education, and coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on University Teaching and Management. Mariana Ortega Breña is a freelance translator based in Canberra, Australia.

Cuba’s educational experience shows that underdeveloped countries can indeed achieve levels of success that nurture human rights and their sustainable development. An appraisal of this experience begins by citing the country’s precarious economic situation, the result of colonial and neocolonial domination, which was inevitably reflected in education in prerevolutionary Cuba. According to the 1953 census and other sources, only 55.6 percent of children between 6 and 14 years were attending primary school and only 16.5 percent of young people between 15 and 19 were enrolled at the secondary level. Out of a population of 5.8 million people, more than 1 million were illiterate. This was a particularly acute problem in the countryside, where illiteracy reached 41.7 percent of the population over age 10 and was higher among women. This does not include functional illiterates, which increased the rate to more than 50 percent. These figures reflect the strikingly insufficient reach of educational services and their quality at the time of the triumph of the revolution in 1959. How has it been possible for Cuban education to be currently among the most advanced in Latin America and the Caribbean?

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