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Sarah Stephens
Sarah Stephens is Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas and its Freedom to Travel Campaign, which fights for the rights of all U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba (

Entries by Sarah Stephens

Blessed are the peacemakers

(0) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 5:22 PM

Blessed are the peacemakers, it says in Scripture - and the peacemakers seem to converging in Havana.

This Friday, the leaders of Roman Catholicism and the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill I, will meet in Cuba to try and advance the healing process...

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Miracles: As Congress Removes the Brakes on Cuba Policy, Commercial Flights Are Cleared for Take-off

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2015 | 3:26 PM

A year ago, when President Obama used his executive authority to make the biggest changes in U.S.-Cuba policy in fifty years, the idea that this sudden and satisfying leap forward toward engagement and reconciliation with Cuba could succeed seemed almost too good to be true.

Even if U.S. and...

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A Television Show Could Put Obama's Diplomatic Achievement With Cuba at Risk

(5) Comments | Posted September 16, 2015 | 12:08 PM

A civil servant from TV Martí walks into a bar, orders 12 shots, and starts drinking them as fast as he can.

The bartender interrupts him to ask, "Why on Earth are you drinking so fast?"

The guy says, "You'd be drinking fast, too, if you had what I have."

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Cuba, The US and Obama's State of the Union

(2) Comments | Posted January 18, 2015 | 12:56 PM

If President Obama talks about his Cuba policy on Tuesday night, his State of the Union Address could be unlike any our nation has experienced.

Earlier presidents were colonizers; like William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, who used their State of the Union messages to justify intervening...

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The Worst Cuba Embargo Story of 2014

(6) Comments | Posted December 6, 2014 | 6:45 PM

Since the Kennedy administration, the United States has tried to overthrow Cuba's government: by force, at the Bay of Pigs; by assassination, through exploding cigars and poison-leaching scuba suits; by isolation, stopping Cuba from joining institutions like the World Bank and the Organization of American States; but, mostly by squeezing...

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Cuban Dissident/Kitten Lover Reveals Hardline Strategy on Alan Gross

(1) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 2:56 PM

"If you ever meet (Carlos Luis Pardo), you will probably see him lovingly carrying a newborn kitten in his hands, or taking care of one of his persecuted friends." -Cubalog.EU
"Let him rot." -Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

It took Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo just three words...

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Cuba, Praised for Increased Vigilance against Terrorist Finance, Remains on US Terror List

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 2:42 PM

Last Friday, The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) congratulated Cuba - along with Argentina, Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Turkey - for taking such strong actions to police its financial system that it will no longer be subject to the monitoring of its efforts against money-laundering and terrorist finance.

Because of...

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Putin in Havana, America at the Movies

(1) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 1:00 PM

When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Havana this week to build closer ties with Cuba's senior leadership, it begged the question, "Haven't we seen this movie before?"

Our narrative starts at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's revolutionary government established formal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union on May...

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South Florida Poll Confirms Big Shift in Exile Community on Cuba

(2) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 6:35 PM

Public opinion about Cuba in South Florida has shifted dramatically. Actually, that's an understatement. Let me illustrate the point this way.

In March of 1991, seventy-three percent of Cuban Americans strongly favored tightening the embargo and 62 percent strongly favored assembling an exile army to overthrow Cuba's government by...

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Secretary Clinton's Bold Stroke

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 11:32 AM

Diana Nyad, America's most celebrated long-distance swimmer, tried and tried to cross the Florida Straits. No one had successfully completed the dangerous, marathon swim before. She set out four times, trained hard before setting off, and failed on each occasion. On her fifth attempt, at age 64, she made it....

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Radio and TV Martí: Jammed in Cuba, Slammed by the U.S. Court of Appeals

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:42 PM

Last week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a finding against the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the agency operating Radio and TV Martí, that it fired 16 employees in bad faith, its decision reopened the question of just how much waste taxpayers and policy makers will...

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El Salvador: New Government, New Opportunity for Peace?

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 1:02 PM

On June 1st, El Salvador's former insurgents, the FMLN, will see its candidate, President-Elect Sánchez Cerén, sworn into office following a peaceful transition. But, he will immediately face a deeply difficult problem. More than 20 years after its brutal civil war ended, El Salvador remained a violent country convulsed by...

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From the Bay of Pigs to the 'Bay of Tweets'

(1) Comments | Posted April 22, 2014 | 5:28 PM

Last week, the John F. Kennedy Library marked the 53rd anniversary of what it called "a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba."

The invasion was a CIA covert operation with the goal of overthrowing the Castro government. President Kennedy was determined...

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USAID's Twitter Trojan Horse

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 1:36 PM

More than a week after the story broke, why are we still talking about USAID and the Cuban Twitter scandal? Why has it struck such a chord?

Think about the Elián González saga from fifteen years ago. He was the six year old boy plucked from the ocean after...

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Action by Cuba Against Terror Financing Compels a U.S. Response

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 5:03 PM

Cuba's government has unilaterally taken action against global terrorism, and this step deserves a positive response by the United States.

According to press reports, President Raúl Castro signed a decree "to immediately freeze funds from foreign banks linked to terror groups, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban."

AFP, the...

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Kerry and Hagel Offer Obama a Way Forward on Cuba

(14) Comments | Posted December 17, 2012 | 11:26 AM

Days ago, the future of Cuba policy in President Obama's second term seemed predictable.

In his first term, Cuba and Latin America never rose on his priority list. At her confirmation hearings, Hillary Clinton promised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she and the president were prepared to...

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Fidel Versus the Ghouls

(0) Comments | Posted November 6, 2012 | 4:52 PM

Since the Cold War, our country has had an unhealthy preoccupation with Fidel Castro's mortality. It's like a vestigial tail that our body politic refuses to shake.

Killing Fidel Castro started as a high U.S. government priority before the Bay of Pigs Invasion, as the National Security Archives -- and...

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Haiku Hype: The Flutter Over Fidel's Twitter-Length Reflections

(10) Comments | Posted June 26, 2012 | 12:33 PM

Whoa, Fidel Castro in the age of Twitter.

Headlines from Miami to London sound the alert. "Fidel Castro leaves people guessing as he writes cryptic, Haiku-like notes." As the Miami Herald put it:

In cryptic paragraphs of never more than 65 words, the...
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Summit of the Americas -- Flashback and Fast Forward

(4) Comments | Posted April 17, 2012 | 11:47 AM

As President Obama makes his way to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas -- "to tout his trade record and convince millions of Hispanic voters back home he cares about the region," as Reuters tartly reported -- I found myself thinking back three years when he last...

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Coming to Florida: Cuba Policy Pander-Fest

(10) Comments | Posted January 24, 2012 | 1:11 PM

Cuba-bashing by both political parties is a four-season sport in American politics, but it's always more extreme around election time.

With Florida's primary and two debates immediately before us, it's worth remembering just how big a role campaigns play in sustaining this failed, Cold War-era policy and toughening the...

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