Cuba Project

November 3, 2017

“U.S. Cuba Policy from Obama to Trump — It’s Not What It Looks Like at All”

Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA 2017)
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
International Transboundary Coordination and Conflict Track
Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45

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October 21, 2017

Special Greetings and Regrets

This is a slightly edited version of a communication to the co-chairs of the National Network on Cuba (www.nnoc.info) and some other folks, on the occasion of the annual national conference, held this year in Seattle, at the Washington State Labor Council HQ on 16th Avenue S., October 20-22.

  • Subject:  Special greetings and regrets re NNOC conference
  • Date: Oct 19, 2017 11:55 AM

Greg, Nalda, Cheryl, Banbose, Alicia — Having done projects with all of you, and with Miguel, Lee, and Ike whom I am cc’ing this along to, as well as others whom I’ve met at the last two NNOC conferences, I want to say how truly sorry I am not to be joining with you this weekend and send you all my best wishes for an energizing and successful gathering and hopes to see you before next year’s meeting. As anticipated, I am somewhat exhausted from the conclusion of five months of organizing the Boston-area Leonardo Padura festival that has just ended.

I believe the festival site — at july26.org/october-2017-leonardo-padura-festival/ — exemplifies why Padura is so important to US-Cuba relations and the Solidarity movement.  That this festival was sponsored by the July 26th Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition has given us a special visibility both for ourselves and to others.  I hope it is an opportunity we can build upon and look forward to doing so, along with our other important cultural-political work.

Once again, I wish you the best in solidarity, abrazos,

— peter
peterbmiller.wordpress.com
july26.org

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June 19, 2017

“Cuba Solidarity in Brookline” – For the Brookline PAX 2017 Newsletter

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May 31, 2017

Cuba Project Update: July26.org, “Complicity” presentation at BU Conference

Over the first part of the year, development of an updated Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition july26.org web presence took place and became official early this month; much of the Cuba Technology Project now takes place there.

Thursday, June 22, “COMPLICITY: How US Community and NonProfit Technology Has Been Complicit in Some Very Ugly Cuba ‘Regime Change’ Policies and Practices — And What To Do About It,” one of two papers written for the National Cuba Conference workshops in March (see below), will be delivered at “#ScreenTimeBU 2017: Fake News, Real Emotion, and The Mediated Self,” the Graduate Student Conference of the Division of Emerging Media Studies, at Boston University.

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February 14, 2017

Workshops for the NationalCubaConference.org in NYC, March 24-26

More information available here.

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December 8, 2016

Dr. Digipol on Cuba, Technology, and US-Cuba Relations

Subject:  
Cuba, Technology & US-Cuba Relations - Ths, 12/15 @ 4:00 EST

Note: This program is archived on Dr. Digipol’s Facebook page and YouTube.
The Dr. Digipol Show with Alan Rosenblatt:
     Cuba, Technology & Normalizing US-Cuba Relations
Featuring Nalda Vigezzi, Greg Klave, & Cheryl LaBash
from the National Network on Cuba
Thursday, December 15, 4:00-5:00pm (EST)

Nearing the two year anniversary of the historic December 17, 2014 joint normalization announcements by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, we talk with three of the five co-chairs in the National Network on Cuba about the implications of the death of Fidel Castro and the new regime of president-elect Donald Trump for US-Cuba relations.  Nalda, Greg, and Cheryl will also discuss the use of media and technology they co-ordinate for the network of solidarity groups – the www.nnoc.info web site and listserv, its Facebook page and webinars, organizing and advising local film and video festivals. More here.

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July 18, 2016

New Guantanamo Film — July 26 Cuba holiday premiere at the Coolidge Corner Library

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May 12, 2016

“Community Technology in Cuba: Report on the April 2016 Delegation Trip” 

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Note January 2016 update at bottom.

* * *

In conjunction with the June 2015 seminar on “Socialist Renewal and the Crisis of Capitalism” at the University of Havana,* there is a 2-page community technology proposal noted in the conclusion to my presentation there.

July 9, 2015

Community Technology in Cuba Project Report

alt-rootsofhope.org: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

There are a couple of key markers, stopping off points on the Community Technology road between the US and Cuba, and an especially useful one is rootsofhope.org. It’s got prime resources and lessons to teach, about what to do, and what not to do.

What’s not to like? — www.rootsofhope.org is a bilingual “international network of students and young professionals working to inspire young people across the globe to think about Cuba and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means.” As “a nonprofit, nonpartisan movement,” it’s supported with big name endorsers, a funding program, travel support, and a “Tech4Cuba” component, gathering and distributing new and used equipment.

The show-stopper for this self-proclaimed “nonprofit, non-partisan” effort is near the bottom of the page:

Right now, 11 million people in Cuba are systematically denied the ability to exercise their most fundamental rights and actualize their full potential. Living under the Western Hemisphere’s last dictatorship, Cuba’s people are denied their most basic rights of free speech, free association and information freedom.

* * * * *

One might possibly have gotten away with this pre-December 17, 2014, before Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced their historic joint effort to normalize relations. But now, even as a recruitment tool for technically-trained and experienced professionals/workers who know little about politics but want to “do good,” it’s not likely to be taken as nonpartisan, and as nonprofit, it is suspect.

To be sure, the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports on Cuba underline important areas of concern and troubling practices and policies, yet, especially in this country, readers of the 2+ pages on the Republic of Cuba in the State of the World’s Human Rights Amnesty International Report 2014/15 should consider them, especially its concluding section of the US blockade, alongside the 5+ pages on the United States of America, and www.hrw.org/americas/cuba bears contrast with www.hrw.org/united-states in so many ways.

In the US, many of the darker moments of our colonialism and involvement in Latin America seem to be little known or relegated to a suspect province of circumscribed left wing radicalism. That is clearly not the situation with our relations and activity in Cuba where our history of perniciousness is as public and American as The Godfather (II) and its vivid portrayal of the events of New Years Eve 1959 in Havana and as well known as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

So, in conjunction with the June 2015 seminar on “Socialist Renewal and the Crisis of Capitalism” at the University of Havana,* I developed a 2-page community technology proposal that was the conclusion to my presentation there, an effort to develop an alternative rootsofhope-type technology assistance demo or project in collaboration with, even under the guidance of, officially recognized Cuban institutions and nongovernmental organizations. It seemed pretty obvious to me that, no matter what one’s politics, that’s the collegial way to begin in the spirit of rapproachment that we share.

The “hard place” here is the extremely sensitive arena of Cuban technology development, one that combined with an offer of “help” and “support” of gringos from the U.S. can only be viewed with unease and suspicion. The sensitivity in that combination is underlined by recent revelations about the fiasco that was the US government covert Twitter project to undermine the Cuban government and the still-emerging details about Alan Gross, the US citizen imprisoned in Cuba in 2009 for bringing in unauthorized computer equipment, whose release was part of the “prisoner exchange” involving the Cuban 5 last December, the final hurdle to the December 17th Obama-Castro announcement of the normalization of relations.**

Still, I thought, with some outreach and planning and an explanation and presentation along with person-to-person contacts and face-to-face exchanges, it was an effort worth exploring. Getting few good leads from my informal individual inquiries here and there from the beginning of the year, my posts to a dozen community technology and related lists this spring yielded numerous suggestions, pieces of advice, words of endorsement and support (and warnings), requests for updates, and a donated laptop to pass along as encouragement.

I learned a lot from the experience. By-passing three tentative telecentre possibilities, I gave the computer to a member of the University’s Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras, who has taken it upon herself to help develop project contacts. The possibilities for a US-Cuban co-operative network alliance hold some promise. The US-based Pastors for Peace Caravan, supported by the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos/ICAP, looks like an especially good avenue for further exploration with some dimensions of this project already in place.  I look forward to learning more, hearing suggestions, getting more expressions of interests, and providing an update of these and additional efforts in the near future.***

__________

* In lieu of a fuller analysis of this 25th edition of the Global Justice Center’s co-sponsored seminar and some of its financial, programmatic, and project FAQ features, here are:  the seminar agenda; my presentation on “The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century — CyberMarxism, Community Technology, and Their Implications for Cuba”; and a compilation of all the U.S. delegation presentations.  My US-based fellow delegates included:

  • Everet Green (Mercy College, NY), “Nanny, Garvey, Rodney and the Cuban Revolution”
  • Zay Green, author of Christianity and Black Oppression: Duppy Know Who Fe Frighten, “Is Christianity a Major Factor in Black Oppression”
  • Shakara Tyler (graduate student, Michigan State University), “Building an Agroecological and African Cultural Exchange between the African Descendants in the US and Cuba: The Afro-Ecoexchange”
  • Tiffany Montoya (graduate student, Purdue University), “Organizing the Precariat Class as a Strategy for Systemic Transformation”
  • Cliff DuRand (Center for Global Justice), “Obama’s New Scheme to Reverse the Cuban Revolution” and “Building a Regulatory Regime for Cooperatives”
  • Al Campbell (emeritus, University of Utah), “New State-Civil Society Relations and New States for Socialism in XXI Century” and “The Structure and Practices of US Neoliberalism as Attacks on Labor”

** The “US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest” story that the Associated Press broke in April 2014 becomes more bizarre the more details are revealed, involving front companies and Cayman Island bank accounts, using $1.6 million of USAID money publicly earmarked for an unspecified project in Pakistan and stolen Cuban cell-phone numbers, to create a social media platform, ZunZuneo, as a covert program designed, in the report’s language, “to undermine” the Cuban government. Official US government and major news sources had claimed Alan Gross’s innocence in the face of his arrest for bringing in a laptop to help the small Jewish community in Havana develop communications resources. The $3.2 million settlement Alan Gross received less than a week after his release “avoids the cost, delay and risks of further proceedings, and does not constitute an admission of liability by either party,” the USAID statement said, suggesting there was something more going on than what the New York Times and government sources referred to earlier, Gross’s denial of working for any intelligence agency and White House press secretary Jay Carney’s claim “Mr. Gross is a 64-year-old husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing aid to underserved communities in more than 50 countries.”

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January 2016 — New Year’s Update

“Che Guevara and ICT4D in Cuba,” an end of the year / December 17th anniversary summary of follow-up research is available here. This draft consists of four or five parts, beginning with its titled introductory section, slightly revised and formatted for a June ICTD conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This brief summary of Che Guevara’s little-known contribution to the field provides a frame of reference for looking more closely at some more recent and current examples of ICT4D in Cuba — collaborative projects and studies involving inter-university ICT capacity building and Open Source, and problematic U.S.-based governmental and nonprofit “community development” technology efforts involving USAID and the Alan Gross and ZunZuneo fiascos, and Roots of Hope and the Hackathon for Cuba. This will hopefully contribute to the building of alternative, progressive perspectives, organizations, and projects.

David Nemer (dnemer.com), fresh off his PhD on CTCs in favelas, urban slums in Brazil, is back from his Havana research; Brian Beaton and Susan O’Donnell, presenting by invitation on how indigenous communities are using digital technologies in remote communities in Canada, as per ciresearchers, are at the University of Havana through the end of January; LandauTravel has announced another Open Technology Exchange for March; and the AltruVistas.com /CTNbayArea.org Community Technology delegation and tour is set for April. It’s an exciting time for progressive US-Cuba technology program development.

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