Learning to Salsa: New Steps in U.S.-Cuba Relations

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Learning to Salsa: New Steps in U.S.-Cuba Relations
By Vicki Huddleston,Carlos Pascual
Brookings Institution Press, 2010
176 pp. $24.95
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This volume describes the lessons for U.S. policy toward Cuba drawn from six simulations, wherein participants imagined that they were gathered in the West Wing or its Havana equivalent. Especially intriguing are the mock deliberations between Cuban President Raúl Castro and his closest advisers as they ponder how to free up the Cuban economy without loosening their grip on power. The contributors emphasize that notwithstanding the restrictive Helms-Burton Act of 1996, the White House retains considerable power to lift sanctions and permit a wide range of commercial, educational, and cultural exchanges. It could, to take one idea, license U.S. companies to exploit Cuban oil and gas reserves, thereby reducing Cuban dependence on Venezuela's Hugo Chávez. Like most committee reports, there are internal contradictions and unresolved dilemmas -- whether, for example, Washington should proceed unilaterally or link the pace of reform to reciprocal Cuban gestures. But Learning to Salsa is replete with doable ideas and should be required reading in the real West Wing.