Monday, July 10, 2017

Save The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami

"To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections."  - Edmund Burke

An iconic South Florida institution, the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) under threat of being radically transformed or closed at the University of Miami by an out of touch university bureaucracy.

The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies was established by the University of Miami and approved by the Faculty Senate in May of 1999. Over the next 18 years this institute has not only become a world-class academic center for research on Cubans and Cuban-Americans, an integral part of the Cuban cultural landscape in South Florida, and a gathering point for Cuban dissidents from the island  and Cubans in exile to nurture a democratic renaissance in Cuba.

Dr. Jaime Suchlicki, the Director of the Institute, in 2002 explained its importance in Veritas online: “Casa Bacardi is my dream come true. For years I have wanted to create a place where young Cuban-Americans could come and learn about Cuba’s history and culture.”

Dr. Suchlicki (left) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (center) 2002
This Institute is unique and unlike most other Cuban research centers around the country, that have been co-opted by the Castro regime into self-censorship and marginalization of dissenting voices, has embraced Cuban democrats and developed an organic relationship with the local Cuban-American community. News that ICCAS maybe closing its doors is generating both concern and outrage in the surrounding community.

Professor Jaime Suchlicki who has spent 50 years at the University of Miami said to El Nuevo Herald that his leaving "is not a retirement", but a "resignation" due to differences with UM President Julio Frenk over the future direction of Cuban studies at the university.

 Professor Suchlicki adds that "I am going to reestablish ICCAS somewhere else, possibly in the Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, and the staff is leaving with me,"
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he added.

The University is now singing a different tune claiming that there are no plans of consolidating academic programs and the fortifying of institutional relations with Cuban universities. 

My experience in dealing with University bureaucracies and administrators as an undergraduate leads me to believe the faculty member with a half century of dedicated scholarship and service to the community over the newly arrived bureaucrat.

The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies must continue its good works and hopefully Dr. Jaime Suchlicki will reconsider his resignation as the director and oversee the transition in years to come to new leadership that will continue his good works.

The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies over the past 18 years has developed into "a little platoon" of society in South Florida that should be nurtured and preserved not radically altered to advance a narrow ideological agenda.

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