October 26, 2015
On August 14, 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cuba to see the U.S. flag raised over the embassy there for the first time in more than five decades. This symbolically and substantively important moment signified a major shift in the relations between the two countries, which have been at each other's throats - literally and figuratively - since shortly after the success of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959. Important as the restoration of diplomatic relations is, however, the relations between the two countries are far from normal. Chief among the remaining barriers between the two countries remains the economic embargo that the U.S. maintains against Cuba, and which can only be eliminated through Congressional action. The embargo--referred to with the more bellicose term "blockade" on the island--has been the centerpiece of the US government's policy toward Cuba for the last 50 years.
On July 28, 2015, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL14) and Tom Emmer (R-MN06) introduced the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (HR.3238) to lift the embargo and allow U.S. businesses to freely trade with Cuba.
NYU Washington, DC hosted a forum and panel discussion with U.S. Representative Tom Emmer and a panel of Cuba specialists who discussed the dynamics of political and economic change under way in Cuba, the political prospects for the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 in the U.S. Congress, and its likely political and economic impacts in both countries.
Michael Danielson is a Research Fellow at the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, and teaches Latin American politics and international affairs at George Washington University and the University of California Washington Center.
He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from American University in 2013. His dissertation, "Politics At Home Abroad: The Engagement of Mexican Migrants in their Home Towns" was supported by Fulbright, National Science Foundation, and Gill Family Foundation awards. He holds an MA in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now the Middlebury Institute of International Studies) and Spanish and Philosophy degrees from Santa Clara University.
As a practitioner, he has consulted for the Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada and the Kino Border Initiative and served as a policy analyst for the Children's Defense Fund and the Center on Policy Initiatives.
Tom Emmer is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 6th congressional district, serving since 2015. Emmer attended St. Thomas Academy, a military, college-preparatory high school in Mendota Heights, near Saint Paul. He then attended the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1984. In 1988 he received a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
After practicing law for several years, Tom followed his entrepreneurial calling and opened his own law firm. The next 20 years were spent balancing family, business, hockey coaching, and serving on the city councils in Independence and Delano.
In 2004, he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives and re-elected by overwhelming majorities in 2006 and 2008. After an extremely narrow loss in the 2010 gubernatorial race, Tom entered the radio business as a conservative radio host on Twin Cities News Talk AM1130, and his show became a favorite for conservatives across Minnesota.
The Congressman along with Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL), introduced the Cuba Trade Act of 2015. This legislation would lift the Cuba embargo and allow for businesses in the private sector to trade freely with Cuba, while prohibiting taxpayer funds to be used on promotion or development of this new market.
On September 10, 2015, Congressman Tom Emmer also participated in the the Foreign Affairs Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee Hearing on the benefits lifting the Cuba Embargo would bring to the agriculture community.
Marc Hanson is a leading expert on U.S. foreign policy and international assistance, and a key member of WOLA’s Cuba program. Prior to joining WOLA in 2013, Mr. Hanson led Refugee International (RI)'s Colombia program and government relations. Before that, he covered foreign policy, economics, budget and tax policy as legislative assistant with Congressman Sam Farr (CA-Monterey). While with the Farr office he was responsible for the Congressman’s appropriations work with the State, Foreign Operations and Financial Services subcommittees. In this capacity, he worked to rebalance U.S. foreign assistance to Colombia, expand funding for civil society in Mexico and improve relations with Cuba. He participated on numerous congressional staff delegations to Latin America, including trips to Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras and Mexico. Previously, he was a community-political organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) where he led a legislative campaign to expand the labor rights of low-wage home healthcare workers.
Mr. Hanson, a onetime bookseller at Kramerbooks, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, a volunteer with Servicio Paz y Justicia in Argentina, conducted field research on local institutions in Trinidad & Tobago, and observed elections in Azerbaijan and El Salvador.
He has a degree from Santa Clara University in Political Science and Philosophy and Master of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles
Marguerite Rose Jiménez has a Bachelor’s degree in Music, a Master’s degree in Foreign Policy, and a PhD in Political Science from American University’s School of Public Affairs. Since moving to Washington, DC in 2005, Marguerite has worked as a consultant for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institute for Policy Studies, served as program coordinator for Executive Training programs for the U.S. Department of State, directed undergraduate study abroad programs in Havana, Cuba, and worked on a range of Latino outreach and educational initiatives.
Her research focuses on policy innovation and diffusion, and comparative public policy in lower and middle-income countries with a specialty in public health policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. Additional research interests include policy implementation, diplomatic history, global health, international organizations, and vaccine diplomacy. Marguerite recently completed a second edited volume on contemporary Cuba, a monograph on vaccine diplomacy for the National Academy of Sciences, and was named an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow for 2014-2015.
Jason Marczak is deputy director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council. He joined the Atlantic Council in October 2013 to help launch the Arsht Center and set the strategic direction for its Latin America work.
The Arsht Center, with Marczak’s co-leadership, has established itself as the “go-to” center for analysis and insight on the new Latin America and its strategic role in the transatlantic community. Its work on issues such as energy, global commerce, urbanization, Mexico’s reforms, US-Cuba relations, and Brazil shape the opinions of policymakers, business leaders, and media.
Marczak frequently provides English- and Spanish-language commentary on political and economic issues in Latin America, including a weekly appearance on Bloomberg TV in Mexico. He has written for publications such as CNN, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, The Miami Herald, Roll Call, and USA Today as well as El Universal, El País, and O Estado de São Paulo. Marczak is also a Huffington Post blogger.
Marczak previously served as director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas in New York City where he was a cofounder and senior editor of Americas Quarterly magazine. He also led high-level working groups composed of private- and public-sector leaders that produced white papers on topics ranging from security and violence prevention to immigration, the rule of law, and market access.
Prior to joining AS/COA in 2006, Marczak was a program officer and founding member of Partners of the Americas’ Center for Civil Society. He managed efforts to ensure civil society participation in multilateral processes, including the Summits of the Americas. From 1999 to 2001 he was a legislative aide in the House of Representatives with a portfolio including trade, technology, and small business issues. He has also worked at the National Endowment for Democracy and the Andean Community General Secretariat in Lima, Peru.
He received a bachelor's degree from Tufts University and a master's degree in international affairs and economics from the Johns Hopkins University Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Marczak is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations where he served as a member of its 2014 North America Task Force. He is a board member of Qualitas of Life Foundation in New York City.