US-Cuba Relations, Autumn 2021
Few might expect that an island country of 11 million off the coast of Florida could impact a country such as the U.S. in any significant way. Yet a careful consideration of U.S.-Cuba relations reveals that Cuba has not only had an important impact on the U.S. over the past six decades but much of Latin America and the rest of the world as well. This influence extends to the balance of power between east and west, notions of rebellion and sovereignty in the global south, the exercise of “soft” power through medical assistance, and the capacity for state and non-state level cooperation despite the persistence Cold War-style tensions.
This class reviews relations between the U.S. and Cuba from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to present day. On one hand, we find a stand-off that includes an invasion and trade embargo by the U.S., mutual attempts at political disruption, and the exodus of populations from each country to the other. On the other hand, we find surprising levels of cooperation including a longstanding pattern of “back channel” communication between the two governments as well as a degree of cooperation at the societal level. In addition, each country has affected the development of social identity and ideals in the other.
Faculty Lecturer, Cuba Tour
On my last trip to Cuba, I traveled with DU alumni as faculty lecturer. We visited art markets, youth programs, and architural renovation in Havana, the Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, an organic farm in Pinar del Río, and the ocean waves in Varadero. Here I stand in front of the University of Havana. Founded in 1728, it is the oldest university in Cuba and one of the earliest to be established in the Americas.