U.S.-Cuba relations: A historic change, but pitfalls ahead

Cuba

Two 1957 cars cruise Havana’s Malecon; and a Cuban roadway. (Photos by Gerry Balding, Ana Garcia)

Near-simultaneous announcements by U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in December opening the path to re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries were historic, writes Harley Shaiken in his introduction to the new edition of the Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies.

But “bumps, potholes, stalls, and detours clearly lie ahead,” says Shaiken, chair of Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) as well as a professor of geography and education, introducing the magazine’s cover article, “A Way Forward,” which examines the secret history behind the dramatic development as well as the possibilities going forward.

Vineyard

Lapostolle Vineyard in Chile is certified as both organic and biodynamic. (Photo by Jorge León Cabello.)

Other articles detail research at Berkeley. In “Is Our Carbon Sink Sunk?” Berkeley forest ecologist Jeffrey Chambers sounds a dire warning about climate change through his research on tree mortality in the Brazilian Amazon.

“Chile and California: The Wine is the Land” follows researchers from Berkeley and Chile as they travel to vineyards to investigate the impacts of climate change and explore biodynamic approaches and other strategies for the future of vineyards in California and in its Mediterranean-climate counterpart in the Southern Hemisphere.

And in “Disparities From the Cell to the Street,” Dr. Lee Riley’s research in Brazil’s favelas bolsters his concern that urban poverty is a key factor in public health worries of the future — such as the spread of contagious diseases like Ebola. Riley is a professor in the School of Public Health and chair of its Infectious Disease and Vaccinology division.

The magazine also revisits the third annual Chile-California Conference held at Berkeley. An examination of the themes brought out in an expert discussion on income inequality in both countries turned on “the apparent contradiction between capitalism and democracy.”

Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies can be read online here.