Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, former director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Latin American Studies and author of over 90 books on economic and social policy in Latin America, approached his new book on Cuba’s non-state economic sector differently than he has done for past books.
“Neither mockery nor tears but understanding” Benedict de Spinoza
Introduction: Lost and Found in Translation
If you walk down the Calle 1 in Havana, Cuba, you will come across a wrought-iron gate fixed with the Star of David in the center. Beyond the gates is a geometric 1950s-era building whose front doors are marked with gold menorahs. Since 1953, the Synagogue Bet Shalom (also known as El Patronato) has been a reminder of the Jewish population throughout Cuba.
The small Cuban city of Viñales is a colorful town situated at the foot of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, a sharply pitched, palm-and-vine-draped mountain range with awe-inspiring internal caves and strikingly stark facades. The rolling fields that surround Viñales are saturated with color: the rich red-brown soil is almost as vivid as the bright green tobacco leaves growing out of it. The tobacco fincas, or plantations, extend around Viñales and into the mountains where coffee is grown as well.
When most North Americans hear the word “Cuba” they most likely think of communism, Fidel Castro, and baseball. These three things have truly become intertwined subjects that define Cuban baseball today.
The partnership between revolutionary Cuba and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) offered a route for migration that had not been possible before. While academic exchange was aimed to construct a socialist society in Cuba and serving the economic and political interests of both states, the creation of a transnational academic elite and of intellectual collectives across borders occurred as a by-product of the exchange.
On August 15, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry, was the first US secretary of state to visit Cuba in 70 years. His visit marks the historic end of sour relations between the US and Cuba and the re-opening of the US embassy in Havana. As he addressed the crowd, in both English and Spanish, he talked about the possibility of lifting the 54-year-old trade embargo, as well as the restoration of a true democratic system on the island.
The year is 1959. Imagine you are an American tourist. During your stay, you withdraw money from an American-owned bank, use American-owned electricity, smoke American-grown tobacco, use American-owned phone lines, buy beachwear at an American-owned store, and sleep at an American-owned hotel. Where would you guess you are vacationing?
If your guess is somewhere in the United States––Florida, perhaps––you’re within 200 miles of being correct.
Monday, September 21, 2015, marked the one year anniversary of the death of Paola Acosta, a woman who suffered her fate at the hands of her ex-partner1, Gonzalo Lizarralde. She was raped, killed and dumped in a sewer together with her one-year-old daughter, Martina, who she had in common with her attacker. Remarkably, Martina survived. Wednesday, September 23, Gonzalo Lizarralde, marked the first day of the prosecution for the murder of Paola2.
On October 2, 2015 Carlow University and the city of Pittsburgh were given the pleasure of hosting Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s 2012 inauguration, the poet chosen for the ceremonial reopening of the United States Embassy in Cuba, and an author of various works. Of Blanco’s works many are published by The University of Pittsburgh Press. Blanco started off the evening, which was his first time in Pittsburgh, saying he felt that he had come home.