Cuba and the US: Re-establishing diplomatic relations

July 2, 2015


President Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro announced this week that Cuba and the United States will open their embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C., July 20 after 50 years of mutual isolation.

University of Michigan experts are ready to discuss the history and political, cultural and economic impact of the changes.

Silvia Pedraza, professor of sociology and American culture, can discuss the impact of the embargo on Cuban society. She is the author of “False Hope: Political Disaffection in Cuba’s Revolution in Exodus.” A native of Cuba, Pedraza has traveled extensively to Cuba over the years.

“I am delighted with the news of the reopening of the two embassies will be so soon. I had imagined it would take much longer,” Pedraza said. “Cuba will benefit economically, the U.S., politically. Cuba will no longer be a thorn in the side of the U.S. or an enemy who leads the charge from other Latin American countries.”

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Ruth Behar, professor of anthropology and women’s studies, can discuss how renewed ties could affect Cuba. She is the author of several books, including “Bridges to Cuba.” Behar is also a native of Cuba who immigrated to the U.S. as a 5-year-old child after the revolution. Behar, with the inaugural poet Richard Blanco, recently launched the bilingual blog Bridges To/From Cuba: Lifting the Emotional Embargo. She has also visited Cuba many times and has written extensively about crossing cultural borders.

“This is a historic day,” she said. “The opening of the Embassy of Cuba in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Embassy in Havana is not only a symbolic act but an important first step in paving the road to a new era of relations between the two countries. As President Obama said, there are many differences, but it is time to negotiate a policy that looks to the future rather than the past and create opportunities for Cubans to thrive and Americans relate to an island that has a cultural heritage so rich “

Contact: 734-936-0365, [email protected]