America's Cuba Policy: The Way Forward

David A. Perez, Yale Law School


Over the last decade, America’s image and influence in Latin America have been declining as a result of poorly executed policies and general neglect. Given the region’s importance to American economic and national security interests, the United States must begin pursuing policies that foster trust and cooperation with Latin America, rather than fear and enmity. Reaching out to the Cuban government would have positive and reverberating effects.

In October 2008, I approached Harold Hongju Koh, then Dean of the Yale Law School, about writing a supervised research paper that would take the form of a policy recommendation for the U.S. State Department. I spent the fall researching on my own, and gathering thoughts from various Cuba scholars, as well as from former and current diplomats. Beginning in January 2009, I began co-moderating a weekly reading group with some Yale Law students who were also interested in the topic. Over the course of these meetings we debated and discussed the entire gamut of U.S.-Cuban relations, with a focus on the future. These students provided invaluable insights and thoughts that I have, at various times, incorporated into this report. As part of this reading group, in March 2009 I organized a trip to Havana, Cuba, with five of these students to meet with various government officials and professors of law at the University of Havana, and to speak with dissidents like Oswaldo Payá, Oscar Espinosa Chepe, and Miriam Leiva.