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tv   Vicki Huddleston Our Woman in Havana Robin Lloyd Harbor of Spies  CSPAN  March 25, 2018 1:59pm-3:16pm EDT

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supposed to be the most progressive industry in the world. it is the most powerful industry in the world and yet the people who have connected the world and organize the world information and trying to take us to mars, you know, when you ask them what we can do about hiring more women it's like this is so hard. i don't how we saw that and so one of the really important reasons i wanted-- like on top of that i fully believe the people who are taking us to mars and connecting the world and giving us rise of the push of a button i believe they can do this like they can hire women and pay them fairly. another stat for you, the pay gap in silicon valley is five times the national average, so if you control job title and experience in geographical location, that pay is about 5%. in silicon valley it's 28.5%, so
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at the very least you can look at all of the data on paper, just pay women what you pay the men. seems pretty simple. >> you can watch this and other programs online and book .. >> i'm bradley graham, the co-ownef politics & prose bookstore along with my wife, lissa muscatine. and on behalf of everybody here, thank you very much for coming. we have a very interesting pairing of authors and books this evening. one author is a journalist who's written a novel set largely in
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havana. the other is a veteran foreign service officer whose memoir draws on her long experience managing u.s./cuban diplomatic relations. robin lloyd, the journalist, has been involved in tv journalism -- [audio difficulty] you think those were the cubans? [laughter] that -- been involved in tv journalism -- i'm not paranoid -- worked as a correspondent for nbc news reporting mostly from latin america and africa. he also covered the white house and state department during the reagan and bush administrations. later, as an independent news producer, he created and produced news programs with foreign networks from washington and has written documentaries and longer news segments for
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many outlets. about six years ago, robin left tv news to embark on what became his first novel, "rough passage to london," an adventurous tale about a young farm boy in the 19th century who take toss the sea on a long quest. the book reflected robin's own love of sailing. as a boy growing up on the island of st. croix in the u.s. virgin islands, robin often sailed in the caribbean. "harbor of spies" also involves a lot of sea action centered in havana during the american civil war. the narrative focuses on an american sea captain who falls afoul of spanish authorities and is forced to become a blockade runner for a corrupt merchant supporting the confederate cause. he then gets involved in an old, unsolved murder be of an english diplomat, and, well, i'll let
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robin reveal whatever else he thinks best. but let's just say the american captain ends up putting himself in even more peril. how's that for a teaser, robin? now, vicki huddleston. vicki had a long and distinguished career as an american diplomat with extensive experience especially in africa and cuba. before finally leaving government service in 2011. regarding africa, she held ambassadorial posts in mali and madagascar and served as deputy assistant secretary for african affairs in both the state department and the pentagon. regarding cuba, she managed cuban affairs at the state department for a time and spent a tour leading the u.s. intersection in havana, the de facto embassy there. currently, vicki's a consultant on cuba to the transnational
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strategy group, a consulting firm here in d.c. about eight years ago, vicki co-authored to a book, "learning to salsa," about rethink u.s. policy toward cuba. in her new work, she chronicles the past several decades of u.s./cuba relations, recounting the myths, misconceptions and missed opportunities for detente. she also looks ahead to the future when someone other than a castro will lead cuba. so what we're going to do this evening, because it's kind of unusual and really sort of interesting for us to have two no, sir with different books -- authors with two different books. we're going to have robin talk for a little first about his book, and then vicki will talk a little bit about her book. and then the two of them will talk with each other about their books. and then we'll allow time for questions. if you have i a question when we
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get to the q and a period, please raise your hand, and we have a wireless mic that we'll pass around. and with that, please join me, first, in welcoming robin lloyd. [applause] >> well, it's great to be here, and thank you for the very nice introduction. i'm, what i'm going to try to do, because this is sort of unusual, i've written fiction. i've written a no. it's a historical novel, and it's based on a lot of facts and research on my part. so my effort will be, basically, to set up vicki and then bring us to the pregnant. i will talk a lit -- to the present. i will talk a little bit about the present as well in cuba. i'm a television news guy. i wrote documentaries as well as
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covered network news for a long time and a life time of writing for television news teaches you some skills about writing. you keep your sentences short and simple, and preferably you use no adjectives. so how that allowed me to then write a novel, i have no idea. but it is somewhat of a mystery to me. but here i am, this is my second book. and like the first one, it's an historical suspense story with a maritime theme and a mystery. it takes place in cuba during the american civil war. so for the last three years, i've been walking the streets of old havana in 1863 listening to the clanging of bells and the booming of cannons. it was quite a place. it's -- writing a novel, historical novel, is a little bit like live anything two different worlds. you wake up and have coffee with your wife, and then you're gone, you're in another century. so why is cuba salient to me? an old friend of mine from miami
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wrote me a couple of weeks ago, and he said why in the world have you written a book about cuban history? be what inspiration led you to that? and it's certainly a fair question, and it goes right to the heart of why does a novelist pick a topic. and i think there are three answers. certainly, the creative process, there certainly is the research that an author does and, lastly, you draw from your life's experiences. in my case, cuba was always central to me. i grew up in the caribbean, so newspapers brought news about cuba whereas in the united states cuba was not that significant, so you wouldn't have heard as much as we did. when i got to columbia university and did a master's thesis, i chose the cuban exiles living in union city, new jersey, and the challenges that they faced. and i remember walking in a park overlooking the hudson and looking back at the beautiful skyline in manhattan, and there was a statue, a bust statue, a
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memorial statue of jose martin. and i thought, how amazing. here i am on the hudson river, and here's this cuban independence hero that the revolutionary government still adores and the cuban exiles embrace. i don't know if there's a future for jose somehow bringing these people together, i don't know. few years later, my wife and i ended up in miami. i was a local reporter there at the time for the cbs affiliate, and much to my astonishment -- but also pleasure -- they asked me to do reports in both languages, english and spanish. that was a first for me. news about cuba along with a steady diet of cuban food, coffee and anti-castro conspiracy which is what we had in miami these days when i became nbc's latin american correspondent. i traveled to cuba quite often. i went there in the '80s and the early '90s. trips to cuba were actually a
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relief after covering the grisly war in el salvador. i probably made over a dozen trips to cuban, covered the pro-revolution marches in havana listening to castro speaking about yankee imperialism over and over again. i on had a brief encounter with fidel castro once at a diplomatic reception where he walked right up to me. and i proceeded to interview him but, of course, there was no camera because he took me by surprise. mostly, he was interested in hearing himself talk, so i never really got the answers of any of them. the truth is cuba is a difficult place to do reporting in. i should talk a little bit about that, because that'll, i think, lead into what vicki's going to talk about. a television news crew arrives in cuba, you're assigned a government minder from the foreign ministry. you go to the hotel riviera which is bugged, the hallways are filled with men or that are not identified dressed in --
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[speaking spanish] they're military men. they're probably from state security, and they're look at you taking notes. they want to know where you're going and who you're talking to. so wherever you go in cuba -- at that time, i don't know what it's like today -- but you were being followed by these state security guys. and your job as a reporter was to try to elude them. so you'd get into taxis and get out of taxis and get into taxis, and eventually you'd hope you'd lose them. and that did allow me to do a little bit of reporting about some of the what i would call repressive tactics of the castro government. and by that i mean the fact that every block in havana has got party members that are spying on everybody else. so conformity is created by the government by spying. and so that's something that once you see that in place is
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sobering. because you realize these people are trapped. it's like in some sense if you're a free spirit and you're independent, you will feel trapped there. i did a couple of stories in 1980 which left an impression on me. one was the u.s. intersection when cubans tried to take refuge there, and pro-government mobs threw rocks at them causing them harm, and they took safety in the u.s. intersection which was one of the events that led up to the mariel boat lift. i happened to be there during mariel, so i was able to, with my camera crew, cover all these people coming to mariel, getting in boats that were coming from key west and miami, and i saw the desperation in their faces. i saw them leaping onto these boats. and that kind of thing leaves an impression on you. i also interviewed numerous human rights leaders, one of them being alessandro sanchez.
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and he walked around the harbor area and told me about his time in jail in the morrow castle. and so all of that gave me impressions of cuba. of course, i spoke with many cubans, and some of them sincerely, i think -- seemingly sincerely -- support castro. and many others privately say we would like change, but we don't know how to change our system, and we're scared. so i mention all of this because i'm not sure i would have ever written this book on cuba, or dared to, if i hadn't had this kind of on-the-ground experience from the time i was there. but all this past history still doesn't answer the question my friend had, why write about 19th century cuba. and the truth is when i started this book, i really wasn't intending to write a book about cuba. i wanted to write about the civil war and blockade runners. blockade runners interested me
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because these were the guys that defied the union gun boats and got into the south at great odds, risking their lives, and it sounded exciting to me. because i did want to tell a sea tale which my first book was. these were not just southerners, they were people from england, they were from scotland, they were irish, they were spanish, and there were, yes, a lot of new englanders among them too. what was the draw? they were risk takers and, of course, the money. they could make lots of money. and i thought this e eclectic mix of misfits, daredevils and hotheads would make good material. so i spent weeks, if not months, going over the navy's records in the gulf of mexico of what ships they were capturing, all the tricks of the trade, who they were, and all the arrows pointed to havana. every one of these ships that were being captured by the navy came from havana. havana was the supply dee poe
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for the -- depot for the south in the gulf of mexico. i said, whoa. so i read everything i could find about havana at the time. i went through letters, i went through travel journals, i went through articles that were written at the time. i even found a wonderful travel guide by the son of a shipping merchant who lived there who, i guess, also worked in shipping. but he wrote a travel guide in the 1860s. naturally, this involved getting, you know, imminently -- intimately involved with maps and looking at streets, etc. and all that research changed me in terms of what i wanted to do with this novel. there's inscription -- the inscriptions were quite compelling, and the city was a far different one than i had seen. so imagine this, havana -- many of you have probably been there,
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but this was in 163, a fortress -- 1863 a fortress city. there were watch towers, there was a forward in every watch tower. it was a noisy place. there were lots of churches and lots of clanging bells. it was also a place where the military was everywhere. so there was marching soldiers, there was booming cannons. and it was also a place of commerce, tremendous commerce. so you had the cries of street peddlers everywhere. so i'm getting excited about all of this, and then i realize, wow, the havana i knew was crumbling, falling apart. people -- you had entire families live anything a small 10x10 foot room. you'd take into an old house that had been taken over, staircases were falling apart, and this havana was incredible. you had, it was all full of colors. everything brightly painted. no crumbling houses, no
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blistering paint. the harbor was filled with hundreds of merchant ships, steamships as well as three-masted ships. havana was really in a boom, and the upper classes had an opulent lifestyle. so i was reading descriptions of these rich ladies riding around in their vohantas with silk sort of overflowing the sides, going on tours of the city even as the average person, the common folk were in little horse-drawn wag develops that were call -- wagons that were called wawas. now, that doesn't mean anything to you probably. but in cuba, unlike anywhere else in latin america that i know, a bus is called a wawa, and i never knew where it came from. i still don't really, but it started out with a wagon where 12 people would get into, and
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there would be four horses that would draw it through the streets of havana. so that's what research can help you with, get little details like that. so there was a handful of hotels. there were americans living there, and most of the boarding houses were run by american ladies. and this i found fascinating too. there was a mrs. chambers, a plus cutbush and a mrs. almy, they were the best ones. mrs. gilberts, down at the dock, she was half price, and nobody likes mrs. gilberts because that's where the sailors went, and it was described as roach-infested. so i loved that detail. the other detail i like is that the southerners had their own boarding house. it was mrs. bremer's. so all the confederate agents stayed with mrs. bremer. again, i thought that was a wonderful detail. so i'm going to have to sort of cut short here -- [laughter] i'm getting some three fingers
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put at me, so i'm going to try to wrap it up. just one comment about slavery, because this book that i wrote dovetailed into slavery because of what i found. during the civil war, 10-15,000 new african slaves were brought into cuba each year. the reason -- it was technically illegal, but the reason why they could do that is because the slave traders were actually some of the more wealthy and important people in havana, so the law was there but no one follow it. and the british writer anthony trollop who visited cuba just before the civil war wrote that what most shocked him about cuban slavery was that the slave owner ignored the black man's soul. but then he said the white men here ignore their souls as well. and that sort of captured, i think, a sense of cuba as a place where there was a lot of secrets that were going on.
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which led me to finding a murder mystery which, if you read the book, you'll learn about, shocking murder of a british diplomat. and that, the wife suspected a conspiracy, and the british government ignored her. so that's why i decided to write a book about colonial cuba, the magic of old havana with the steeples and the clanging of the bells and the fortresses and this unsolved murder-mystery had captured me. and then all the intrigue, conspiracy and treachery that i read about that occurred during the can civil war, all of that added up the me as a place where a novelist could really write a good story. lastly, this was a place, havana, where people came and went by ships. there was no telegraph. and the people who came and went during the civil war were not always who they seemed to be. there were lots of agents, lots
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of spies. so that's why the book is called "harbor of spies." [applause] so i hope i've left vicki some way to segway into that. she's got an incredible book, i really recommend that you read it. she's had an amazing career, and i know many of the people that are in her book both here in the united states and state department as well as in cuba, and so our paths never crossed before tonight. but i can say that she's not only a good writer, good diplomat, she's also very brave. so -- [applause] >> thank you, robin. >> so do i get to sit down now? >> you get to sit down. thank you very much. and, robin, particularly thank you for asking me to join you
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because i'm sort of a first-time author. so it's nice to be here with a professional. >> [inaudible] >> and thank you, bradley graham, for this lovely bookstore and this evening. it's really lovely of you. well, i just learned what the best thing is about writing a book. and that's seeing all my old friends. [laughter] i see here two ambassadors who worked with me at the state department, i see here two mission directors who were working with me in the state department and my husband, i have a colleague here from -- [laughter] from haiti. and another one from cuba and another one from cuba and from jabuti, so really, friends, thank you so much for joining me. and thank all of you for being here. it's a great pleasure to be with robin. so he set the atmosphere for cuba. i don't have to add to that. so what i'm going to add to this evening is to tell you about my
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first encounter with fidel castro and how i got him back. [laughter] i had gone down to cuba with a delegation from the africa bureau of the state department, and they were celebrating the conclusion of the tripartheid agreements in which we -- cuba brought back 50,000, 50,000 troops from angola. and they had won for angola, and ma might be ya's in-- namibia's independence. which we can go into. nobody wins wars in africa except cuba. any case, we went to the -- [speaking spanish] it was a large soiree that fidel castro hosted. and so it kind of went on for a while as --
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[inaudible] as they're signing the treaties. when the treaty signing is done, fidel castro walks over to our delegation, and the head of delegation is a really big guy. his name was jeff. and castro takes a look at him, and he's a bit bigger than castro. and castro even has on a bulletproof vest just to make sure that he looks like he's the biggest guy in the room. and so he moves over, he spots me and he says, who are you? someone's spouse? well, here are all the delegations from great britain, from the soviet union, from france, from namibia, from angola, from south africa, and i'm pretty upset. so i stand up as tall as possible and i say, no, i'm the
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director of cuban affairs. fidel waits until the room is absolutely silent, and he says, oh. i thought i was. [laughter] so when i was back in cuba as the head of our intersection -- another myth is that we didn't have diplomatic relations with cuba. well, we'ved had diplomatic relationships with cuba since 1977 when jimmy carter opened the intersection here and the cubans opened their intrasection in their old embassy on 16th street. and we were in our old embassy. so when i was back, i decided to have an outreach program because i wanted the cuban people to have more information.
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we started with handing out books. then we handed out little radios about like this, a m/fm radios. castro hated those rawd owes -- radios because people could dial into any station they wanted. most people in cuba only had -- this is '99-2002 -- only had radios that picked up the national stations. fidel castro and the cuban communist line. so here they had the radio now. they could pick up radio mar marquee, british broadsting, whatever they liked -- broadcasting. and castro said, oh, if she doesn't stop handing out those radios, i'm going to throw her out of the country. i'm going to png her. and so he called a big rally on
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the other side of the bay. and i said to two colleagues, well, you know, if i'm going to be judged, i think i should go. so we showed up, and fidel castro perhaps for the first time ever while on stage did not speak. i suppose he didn't because he didn't want to bring attention to the fact that somebody was in the audience who was saying, look, i don't completely agree with this lack of information for the cuban people. but that's what the embargo unfortunately does. it helps the castro government keep information out of cuba. it hurts the cuban people far more than it hurts the cuban government. in fact, i would say it probably
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helps them stay in power. and i came to this conclusion one evening when i was driving the official car downtown. it was about 5:00, 6:00. it was a spring evening, it was still light. these kids are standing along the avenue looking for a way to get into the center of havana to go to the ice cream shop, the famous ice cream shop. i stop, i pick them up. they hop in the car and all of a sudden it's like, wow, this is a kind of different car. because in havana we have little -- [inaudible] at the time. steve remembers, katherine. and we have mercedes for castro and some of the tourists and the rest are all those great old '50s clunkers that if you go to cuba now, you'll see. so someone in the backseat says
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what kind of car is this? and i say this is a ford crown victoria. kind of quiet. and then the voice of a young lady in the back says, who are you? and i say, i'm the head of the united states' diplomatic mission here. very silent. are they going to ask me to stop and get out of the car? and then a voice in the back says, be our mother. [laughter] take us to miami. [laughter] so that's the whole point. and i think obama saw it when he took his family to cuba. that we have to talk about the future of cuba, the children of cuba so that they have a future and that future is in havana. and the best way to get there is a policy in which we engage with
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cuba. whether we like the government or not, by engaging rather than threatening it will help the cuban people to be entrepreneur, to earn money and to have the opportunity themselves to push for more freedom in their country. thank you. it's great to be here. [applause] >> well, now maybe i get to ask questions. i can play reporter. >> that sounds like fun. [laughter] >> so you spent three years there, or maybe four. i'm not sure which. did you feel that -- and you traveled around the country, which not every diplomat can do in cuba. you went all over. she went all over the entire country handing out radios to everybody she could find, all of which was really tweaking mr. castroer the write.
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terribly. because he's trying to shut out all information and keep the public quite ignorant. so this lady was out there giving everyone little short wave radios. and that was totally irritating him. i thought that was one of the best parts of the book. but you probably got an idea of what the cuban people out there in the country -- which not everyone gets -- what their views are, if they have any, about the united states and the revolution. >> well, most of the cubans that i talked to, including the human rights activists -- and i was very close to the human rights activists -- preferred to have a different u.s. policy. they felt that the embargo hurt them. and now many of the human rights activists say, no, no, actually we don't like the embargo. but when i was there, the vast majority of the human rights activists did not like the embargo. they thought that it was up to the cuban people to make a decision on how their country
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should be run and how it should be changed and that we shouldn't put that kind of pressure on them. now, what i find so fascinating is i was in cuba in october of last year, and then i was there again in january. and i was there right after the change of policy. and when i was there right after the change of policy, the cubans were so enthusiastic. they were so helpful, you know? and the government was allowing them to have private businesses, and they could really see a hopeful future like those kids. when i was back in october and january, they were very discouraged. a lot of dance groups, singers, artists weren't getting visas because the embassy is absolutely closed. there's a chain around the gate, so they're very discouraged. a lot of families couldn't visit. and you know what they said -- and i apologize to those of you
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i might offend, but i will tell you what they said. so i'd say, well, how do you feel, you know? what's happened? and you know what they'd say? trump. it was just prump did this to us -- president trump did this to us. it was like in the old days they'd go, how are things? they'd go, rm -- [speaking spanish] >> you felt out in the countryside where things were a lot more isolated that the revolution, there wasn't a stronger feeling in favor of revolution or just the reverse? i mean, what -- how is it different from havana, is what i'm asking. >> yeah. i think the rural area is the strongest in favor of the revolution because they gain the most. in particular, minorities gained a lot. because havana was one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated places in the world, you know, beginning with
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the spanish and the treasure and all that. but then going into the 20th century this was a country that was as wealthy as mention coe. mexico. but out in the countryside, the wealth just one contributed. and what i saw when i went back in october, i went to the countryside, and now people had their own businesses. they were selling trinkets and tourism items, they had little -- [inaudible] they were remembering out rooms. there just was so much hope because the government had loosened up, and there were so many more americans visiting. >> so as you look at the castro government, now raul castro as it's making its next turn, what do they want? do they want better relations with the united states? on what terms? >> on their own terms. [laughter] look, the castro government wants to stay in power, and, you know, whether it's castro or his
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successor --canal which is the likely successor, a long-term communist party bureaucrat, for lack of a better word having been one myself but on the other side. so they want to stay in power, and they're a little afraid about how far they can go. they want to open up because the economy's you should pressure, but they don't -- under pressure, but they don't want to lose power. and so they're trying to maneuver. >> so when i was last there, which was in the '90s, i interviewed a number of labor leaders, university professors and the human rights folks like you know, sanchez and others. and, you know, there were a range of opinions. the one professor that i spoke with really hit the nail on the head for me. he said, you know, we're never going back to the way we were before the revolution. because at that time he was thinking they needed some change. we're always going to have a socialist country, but we do
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want to open up more both with the market and with politics. and is that the future of cuba, or to you see a darker, more stalinist view? >> i think under most circumstances that's how cuba will look. it will continue very gradually to open up, and they like the idea of cooperatives because that gives everyone more equal basis. one of things they're doing now though is some of the people have gotten too rich, and all of a sudden this one firm just got a notice, million dollar firm closed, you're closed, sorry. you broke the rules. it's not clear what rules they broke. but, yes, it will be a socialist government, it will be a one-party government now without a castro for the first time in over 50 years, and it will be still a very controlling government.
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but as the cubans have the opportunity to be entrepreneurs, to travel abroad, to perform abroad, then they will have greater freedom when they come back to push this government toward opening. ing because, let's face it, it doesn't matter what we do, you know? we can be -- do this nonsense we're doing now about closing, keeping the embassy almost completely closed, rolling back the reforms and saying, okay, this is going to lead to the fall of the castro or the communist government in cuba. it hasn't in 50 years, and it's not gonna happen. you know? we have to find a different approach because we tried this one, and it didn't work. >> so, i mean, some people or who are opposed to the castro government have always said, well, we need to push the government so that eventually the people will become so miserable that they'll rise up and overthrow the government. when i was there in cuba, i felt
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people would say they want change, but there wasn't that kind of militant sentiments. it was more of a peaceful sentiment. they seemed, in my mind, not hate castro as some people would hate a dictator. and so there was this confluence of views that as a journalist i was really unable to completely analyze. they, it wasn't like nicaragua, that was clear. they hated him, and they got rid of him. and castro, it was more complicated for me. can you explain it? >> yeah. it's definitely more complicated. and i think there's a certain amount of hero worship almost of castro, you know? he's a big figure in the cuban history. and he did a lot for some cuban people. on the other hand, he completely overturned the society and basically forced out all the
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intellectuals and the professionals in cuba. but he is not by any means in any way hated by the people. on the whole, most cubans just want opportunity. and that's why you see so many coming to the states. 40,000 were coming until obama changed the policy just before he left office. cubans feel so frustrated because they are well educated but can't reach their full potential. and i think that's, that's the hardest thing for cubans. they just, they feel trapped on their island. >> are we supposed to open up to questions, i would imagine? oh. so am i going to be emceeing this? >> well, if you have a question, just raise your hand and wait for the mic -- >> okay. well, i guess why don't you
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start. >> [inaudible] >> i've known vicki forever, and i know robin well. but i had two wonderful years as a political officer in the u.s. mission in havana, 1979 and 'king 0. '80. a little question about your driving the car. i came from brussels, the embassy in brussels in a brand shiny, green mercedes benz four-door. no restaurants then, you had to go home. good family values, have lunch with the wife, don't have a wife anymore, and the kiddies. and drive back, and the bus didn't exist, so all the kids are hitchhiking, and i'd always load up my car with cuban students at the bay of pigs medical school, the victory of the bay of bay of pigs medical
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school. and they'd say nice car, they'd want to know who you are, and they'd ask me who i was, and i would, or wouldn't tell them. i'd say, who do you think i am? i had blond hair, not gray. blue eyes, no glasses. they said scandinavian, are you from norway? no, are you from germany? no. they'd whisper in the back. if there's a spook among them, then we wouldn't go any farther, but if they were all wanting to go to miami, they'd say are you from the united states, and i said, yes, i'm a yankee imperialist. and then we'd all laugh. wonderful, wonderful kids that all wanted to go to miami. your discussion, robin, about how glorious old havana is. if you know the hemisphere and spain, it is one of the unique places on god's earth. why? because of the takeover by fidel castro. so they haven't been bulldozed
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and built all these disgusting buildings we see around us here. and there is a guy that saved it who was the historian of the city of havana. i think he's sick or i think he might have died. and he wanted to save the city and use it to make foreign, change with tourists. and who wanted to have him killed? that wonderful man who brings democracy to that place, raul. raul is the bad guy. he was the enforcer or -- for that nice noisy brother with the facial hair, fidel. raul was in charge of the police, the army, the intelligence service. he had che killed, sent down to bolivia, he had -- [inaudible] shot out of the air. bad guy. he went after -- [inaudible] >> question. >> yeah. so raul is the bad guy.
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so anybody says he's opening up and doing nice things, vicki agrees with me. and he's not going away either, he's just moving up to be head of the party. so it's not going to move in a long time, and it's certainly not going to move until the president of the united states goes away. so my question, am i right, vicki? of course i am. [laughter] >> yes or no. >> well, raul became the good guy. he was the bad guy when i was there, i agree. but he became the good guy because he's pragmatic, and he began to do the reforms, okay? and allowing cubans to have private businesses to have restaurants and the hotels, that's made really a huge difference in cuba. so i have to give raul a little credit. but the real problem, it seems to me right now, is just as we're going to have this big succession -- it's more of a you can session than a transition.
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-- transition. it's still a leader of the communist party will take over, and raul castro will remain the secretary-general of the communist party. but just as you have not a castro in charge of cuba anymore, the united states begins threatening cuba again. and, of course, now they're rolling back the reforms, and they're circling the wagons. because whenever the united states threatens, then cuba pulls back the reforms. so at a time when it might have opened with someone other than castro, we pushed them in the direction of closing up. >> go ahead. >> could you wait for the mic? [inaudible conversations] >> hi. i have two quick questions for ambassador huddleston.
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my first question is based on your book. you seem to be sliding towards in terms of the sonic attack, seem to kind of be hedging towards it being a possible rogue element, and i was wondering if you still had that hypothesis. and the second question is in your book you emphasized the role of cuban-american politicians and interest groups in pushing american foreign policy. what role would you give to u.s. strategic interests in the hemisphere and interests in military security, economics, the markets in cuba, that kind of thing in shaping u.s. policy towards cuba? thank you. >> wow. well, great questions. [laughter] on the strategic side, i mentioned two things. i said motive and means for the sonic juries of the -- injures of the american and canadian diplomats. and i said the cuban government had means and motive but
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unlikely because we had an opening with them and a rogue element, as you just said, would have motive and means. but then i went to maybe malfunctioning listening devices. and that's increasingly what it appears it is. there's been a study that has reversed engineered -- reverse engineered the sounds, and they're beginning to think that what happened were like there were two listening devices in a room that kind of collided with each other. but this increasingly makes sense to me. and the role of cuban-americans comes in here. because in any other situation when we didn't know what happened, what kind of device, when we didn't know who did it, we wouldn't have drawn down our diplomats, forced cuban government here, their embassy here to send their diplomats
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home and say, well, it's the cuban government's responsibility even if we don't know what happened. that happened because senator marco rubio really, really effectively convinced president trump that it was in his political interests -- despite the fact that president trump before his president -- sent his lawyer down to look at the possibility of a trump tower in havana. [laughter] that it would be politically beneficial to have the support of cuban-american republicans in particular because they came here earlier, they're the wealthier group, they're more willing to support republican candidates. having the support of that constituency was more important than u.s. policy. but to me, u.s. policy should care about the caribbean. this is our backyard with.
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this is our strategic interest. and who are moving into the caribbean now into cuba? the russians. the russians just sent a tanker of oil, and now they're going run the san fuegos refinery which the venezuelans used to run. so the russians, along with the chinese who are cuba's major trading partner, are sucking up all the air in cuba. and i don't think that having russia and china 90 miles off our shore is a very good idea. it certainly didn't work out well in 1962. [laughter] when weed had the missile crisis -- when we had the missile crisis. [inaudible conversations] >> hi. [inaudible conversations] >> go ahead. >> thank you. yeah.
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i just had a question. did you study a lot about the transition between, from i guess -- [inaudible] havana into the communist country that it would become? because it seems to me that it kind of made sense that a lot of the people didn't like castro. he seemed to be while not necessarily a very nice person p seemed to be nicer than what had happened before. it seemed like the other interest had let the mob run cuba to a large degree. so i could kind of see why they'd be something -- i mean, he's not the mob, i guess. did you have any notes or thoughts on the transition like about, you know, anything like that? >> are you talking about the transition from -- >> from, like, what it was with the foreign interests controlling the country and the transitioning over to the communist country it became -- >> you mean in '59 when castro took over? >> yeah, yeah. i always found it strange that
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they did wonder why they were so eager for him to come into power. it seemed like they left a hole of neglect, and i totally understand why the rural -- >> from a journalist's point of view, i think vicki that more or less summed it up in the sense that people were pleased at certain aspects of what castro did and who he was and basically what he projected. castro did a lot of things for that island. among them being working with hospitals and medical care. as vicki said, in the countryside he helped a lot of poor people. and so he provided opportunity. that being said, if you go to cuba, you will find widespread poverty from your vantage point, and you will find people living in very, very humble circumstances. so that's my perspective.
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>> robin, would you elaborate please on something that you talked about in your remarks which is the relationship during the civil war between cuba and the south and the north? >> well, it was one of those great aspects. this was spanish colonial cuba, but it was the kind of thing that the cubans today could have done too. they were very nuanced in their politics. just as they were nuanced about slavery and slave trading. so with respect to the united states, they favored the south. they -- that was their choice, because the south supported slavery, and they worried -- the elite did anyway -- that once its union won, what was going to to happen cow baa? what was going -- cuba? what was going to happen to slavery in cuba? which they wanted to support. there was one great details in
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this report i read from the con to suggest general where a report to washington said that, the guy said the colored people in havana are marching, and they're shouting in the streets of havana -- [speaking spanish] onward, mr. lincoln, onward. you are our only hope. that practically gave me goose bumps. and it also told me that arsenal war was being closely watched by everybody in cuba. our civil war. black and white, poor and rich. and so the spanish were nuanced because they didn't want to irritate the north, they didn't want to be invaded, but they favored the south. so they were technically neutral. but under the table they were doing something else. >> that really comes out in your book, yeah. it's great. >> hi. i have sort of an old and modern
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question. is it still possible for tourists to go to cuba like it was in -- [inaudible] so suppose you had a research thing you had too old and you couldn't find it anywhere else and it was around 1866 or thereabouts. i'm not saying anything potential, but would it still be possible to get on a plane negotiation to cuba and look at the archives and see if they had anything gabby about 1866? >> you're looking at me? [laughter] i think if you want 1866, you're unfortunately going to have to go to madrid because it's all colonial. and my guess is it's not in
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havana, and even if it were in havana, it might be hard to get to because, you know, that's sort of an era that the revolutionary government just doesn't care about much. so i don't know. the records i got of the port of havana's activities, everything i got was from american sources. so all the regulations i got about how things worked in the port of havana all came from shipping merchants that were american shipping merchants. i'm sure you can find those kind of things, but you're going to have, probably have to go to madrid. i i guess. i don't know. i don't know what you think. [inaudible conversations] >> you think it was seville? >> either one. i'm not sure where the records are. you know, seville was before, but then madrid -- they have the records n seville.
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>> you can access them online, but you -- [inaudible] >> well, thank you. sounds like you done this. >> i have many questions for you. >> oh, okay. all right. >> thank you very much for your presentations. your book about the history sounds fascinating. but i believe those records of all the americas are in sevilra. i wanted to ask vicki a question. it's great to see you. two quick questions. well, the first one's quick which is the way i will put this is i suppose you met the yesman, the american -- the gentleman, the american who ended up spending so many years in jail in cuba because of those radios? >> [inaudible] do you want me to -- thank you,
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katherine. do you want me to go ahead and just say a little about alan gross? >> please. >> so alan gross went down to cuba, and he was setting up an intracommunications center among the very small jewish community left in havana. and before he went, the bush administration -- the george w. bush administration which initially, for the first year and a half, had continued the clinton policy so we could hand out radios and books and things like that that katherine refers to -- then changed positions about the time that jeb bush was running for re-election and became very hard line. and they came up with this commission for a new cuba -- that's not quite right. but anyway, $50 million for various activities to be carried out by usaid in cuba.
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well, the document also said that this was to hasten this transition from a stalinist regime. so what did fidel castro do? he made it illegal to receive any kind of assistance or equipment from usaid. so when usaid sent to cuba alan gross and others to set up communicationing systems -- which seems to us to be fine and normal -- he was acting against cuban laws. and the cubans caught him. they already knew what he was doing, but they needed alan gross as a pawn. since you have such good spies in your book, so this is p kind of a spy story. so the cubans, we had picked up five cubans who had been spying in the united states. essentially what they had been doing was spying on exile
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organizations like brothers to the rescue, alpha 66, cuban-american national foundation, and they received very long sentences in u.s. prisons. and the cubans had been trying for a long time to get them out, and they said, okay, we're going to pick up alan gross who wasn't a spy, he was an aid worker, and we'll put him in jail, and he'll be our pawn for getting the five spies -- or heroes, as cuba calls them -- out of jail. and eventually it worked. before obama could to the opening, he had to get alan gross back. he didn't want to exchange him as a spy because he wasn't a spy, so a long-term cia spy who most people didn't even know in cuba was exchanged for the remaining three who were still in prison in the united states. and at the same time, alan gross was released on humanitarian
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grounds. but i would just say -- because my husband's with aid, i have two former aid directors in the audience -- that aid you have should have never, ever gotten into clandestine activity the. -- activities. it just is not a good thing for the agency to do that does so much good around the world, because then it taints their reputation. >> thank you. could i just go on with my next question, please? and i wanted to first make a little aside about in reference to an earlier question about why did fidel go to the soviets? because we turned him down. >> [inaudible] >> and my question though to you, vicki, you've talked about marco rubio, etc. what do you see, and you see the current policy as not positive toward what we would like to, the influence that we would like to have in cuba. do you see, what are the policy
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proposals you would put forth? thank you. >> we need to engage with cuba. what obama was doing was absolutely the right thing. because cuba was beginning to open up. >> okay. we have time for one last question here. >> this notion of an enlightened pro-market international rule of law government, the cubans are actively involved in venezuela. they have takenover security operations down there -- taken over security operations down there. this is a desperate despotic situation that the cubans have knowingly facilitated. so i would push back a little bit that the cuban government are the little sisters of charity and wish everyone well. i mean, they're making real trouble for tens of millions of
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people. anyway, what is your view on cuba and venezuela? .. because after this collapse they lost their $5 billion and we retitled the embargo and then seven years later they found chavez and that's how they got there. and now once again they start to open we change the policy
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again and guess who they are going to know russia in china. we need a policy [applause]. we had copies of both books in our checkout desk. they will both be sticking around to sign books. here is a look at the some authors recently featured on book tv afterwards.
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our weekly author interview program that includes the best-selling and non- fiction nonfiction books and guest interviewers. brian kaplan argued against college for everyone. with the survivalist parents. and you using the phd at cambridge university. james swanson will retrace the events leading up to the assassination of martin luther king jr. south carolina republican senator m scott and representative trey gowdy will talk about their friendship and time in congress. and this weekend the human rights campaign press secretary sarah mcbride discusses her rights as a transgender person. speemac i remember right after the election we were so scared about how young people were
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internalizing this. the results of the election. and i think over the last year and a half i say a few things at them. in my own life i have dealt with bullying and harassment and comments that truly made me question whether there was a place for me. what i say to them or young people whether they are seen boys in the white house. everyone deals with something that they're insecure about. everyone deals with something that society tells them they should be afraid of. we have taken that the fact
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that they've told us that is wrong. be ashamed of. we have taken that fact and not just accepted it but moved forward to it the the place of pride. and the bullies whether it was a sexual orientation or how they look. they see that you have conquered your insecurities and that power. and whatever is coming our way you need to know that you are powerful. powerful just by being. afterwards airs on book tv every saturday all previous afterwards are available online. see. >> i'm sad today i have to ask a sitting president when they signed a proclamation about
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dr. king if he was a racist again i'm sad today about that. but with the patterns that haven't going on in all of the other issues that have been happening globally this is the perfect place to be. not only is it the 50th anniversary. it was an anniversary for the poor people's campaign. fifty years and another anniversary 50 years after the current commission report this is a big year. if you took a picture of that day and put it up against
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today. it would still look the exact same. the economics haven't changed. yet the black boys and black girls can go to school with a white people but soma still looks the same. but what the ironing is. to include soma album a bmi. about the richness of the soil. i look to the fact that they put them over the top in alabama. fifty years later the spirit once changed but what does that change look like in 2018.
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from the past as we move forward. as we are sitting in the now moment. i loved sitting there. and listening to wisdom and the stories that she tells. she told me a story just this week. when caretta scott king. what was the question. use your microphone. it would be what would the talk about two things be. what would martindale about whatever was going on. what would martin do. and we would talk about it. and then we would say what what would martin say. we would talk about what martin would've said about
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whatever was going on. and this was for years and in between martin luther king day depending on what was happening around the world i always ask myself. i just came back from speaking down in tampa for their martin luther king celebration. and what he would do. about all that's going on. in one of the stories that lgbt groups have been wanting her to come out and say something in favor of the rights of people without regard to sexual orientation. the man who was up with martin. i shouldn't do it.
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that is not my issue don't do it. we talked about and of course martin not only was he a race man but he was a human rights man and he believed in the rights of all people. that's how we have to think about it. so martin would do it. i don't care what they said if you come out here to atlanta. what would martin say. that was the story. that was other things over time i think one of the lone star state and's and i often think about it myself whenever i'm in crisis over some issue of social justice.
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what would martin do about it. i think that is an important thing to think about you also said something about components of what dr. king would do. what he would always do about issues and he learned over time he wasn't just bored with so much wisdom. when he was chosen to be the leader but the people in montgomery and that church because he was not born in a leader. he learned when they made a mistake. it is a tailor -- terrible failure. he learned how to strategize and how to organize and how to conceptualize pick targets and
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have a figure what you were going to get out of the some situation when you are trying to lead the people. the effective leader is not somebody who tries to lead the people. what the result ought to be. it's not enough even to be courageous and to be willing to sacrifice yet to you have to be smart in strategic about what you're doing. that i think is something we should all learned about what he did and how we go about it. and the resistance that we are engaged in. i sometimes think and i said this to the folks in tampa to see what they thought. if i were dick durbin and i was in the white house and the
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president said whatever he said. and then other people running around in circles. but whatever he said i had been at the white house and said stuff that they didn't want me to say. i used it. i always think about what martin said about using for the people for the cause of concerned i would say do you want to go out and tell people that you did that. this issue that i'm trying to deal with that i want you to take care of if i can get you to take care of that than i might forget about what you just said or what you just did. i might go on home. that is a kind of leverage that i need.
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bishop td jakes is here in the house. they got to bury what happened today. something drastically different. the whole situation it immigration and any kind of policy on the table. is it just about the numbers and what the economics look like. is it just about the numbers and what the economics look like. thank you for allowing me to be on this platform. since i'm here i might as will say something. love is hard to love --
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legislate. you can't think thank them enough for this. i think it's a futile pursuit for us as american people to try to manage the hearts of people only god can do that. sometimes i wonder if we could even manage that. we will not rise and fall on the backs of what one or two people think or say. we will rise or fall because we have the corrected systems they eat the underbelly of our society. when you look at the field systems like the criminal justice system. they called us underprivileged people. and not had fear opportunities while the story is aggravating in a lot of other things.
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i think it is a distraction from the deeper issue. they are about getting policies in place. it will really affect people who are underserved and don't have the proper opportunities. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. welcome those who are on the heritage .-dot org website. for those in house we would ask that courtesy. that our mobile devices


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