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Past Event

Cuba: Lessons from the Past

Past Event

With longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro ailing and fading from the political arena, President George W. Bush recently outlined a series of measures to bring democracy to Cuba. Yet, how did former Presidents Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Carter deal with the Cuban government during the height of the Cold War and after? Did these Republican and Democratic administrations engage Fidel Castro? And how did those decisions affect current U.S. policy toward Cuba?

On November 14, the Brookings Institution hosted five former Chiefs of Mission of the United States Interests Section in Havana for a discussion on the U.S.-Cuba relationship. They provided their insights into the personalities and styles of Cuba’s past and present leadership and their relationships with Cuba’s opposition.

Brookings Visiting Fellow Vicki Huddleston, who served as Chief of Mission from 1999 to 2002, moderated the discussion.





Wayne Smith

Senior Fellow and Director, Cuba Program, Center for International Policy; Chief of Mission of USINT, 1979-1982


Jay Taylor

Research Associate, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University; Chief of Mission of USINT, 1987-1990


John Ferch

Former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras; Chief of Mission of USINT, 1982-1985


Alan Flanigan

Former U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador; Chief of Mission of USINT, 1990-1993

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