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Local Voices React to Announcement of a New Relationship with Cuba

The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago, an event which marked the symbolic ending to the Cold War. But you wouldn’t know it looking at the relationship between the United States and Cuba, who continued the mid-20th century conflict well into the 21st.

That was until President Obama announced on December 17 that the United States was taking steps to change its relationship with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce.

These steps will obviously have an enormous effect on the island nation, about 90 miles off the coast of the U.S. But it will also have an effect on many parts of the United States, including Pittsburgh.

Kenya Dworkin y Mendez, the Cuban-born associate professor of Hispanic Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and Scott Morgenstern, the associate professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh discussed the matter on today’s Essential Pittsburgh.

Morgenstern said there would be both tangible and intangible benefits.

“The intangible part is we sort of removed this enemy that from our shores is only 90 miles away… you open up relationships in a very different way because financial institutions start to work with them.”

Kenya Dworkin y Mendez mentioned that several Cuban activists have visited Carnegie Mellon to learn how to open democratic discussions.

“I think that one of the greatest things that Pittsburgh at this very moment has to offer Cuban society is the fact that Pittsburgh is considered one of the top cities in the nation in terms of civic health… its become a center for deliberative democracy.”

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