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Václav Havel Initiative to host talk on Cuba and human rights


Change may be coming to Cuba and FIU’s Václav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy is zeroing in on recent activities by the European Union.

After two decades of disagreement, officials from the European Union and Cuba met earlier this year to explore opportunities for cooperation.

Havel Initiative Director Martin Palous said the discussion of international human rights in Cuba should be front and center. Palous is the former Czech ambassador to the U.S. and ex-Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the Czech Republic. He is also an original signer of the Charter of 77, an informal civic initiative in communist Czechoslovakia.

“People seem to be rather skeptical about change coming to the island. This regime has been in power for five decades using the same totalitarian tactics. But, right now, something is in the air, something is happening,” Palous said. “The Václav Havel Initiative is in a position to provide study programs and assistance in support of freedom.”

Cuba flag cropThe Havel Initiative will host an interactive panel discussion on international human rights and Cuba at 9:30 a.m., June 28 in the MARC Pavillion on the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to RSVP.

The panel discussion, titled “International Human Rights and Cuba in 2013,” will allow attendees to examine the fundamental philosophical ideas behind the contemporary international human rights discourse regarding Cuba, and it will allow them to assess the strategy of the defenders of human rights in Cuba to make their voices better heard. Moderated by Palous, the panel discussion will be in English and Spanish with simultaneous interpretation. Attendees can participate in a general discussion after the panel discussion. Panelists include Glenn Hughes, professor of philosophy at Saint Mary’s College; Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation; Alexis Jardines, Perez Bengochea Distinguished Scholar in Residence at FIU; and Hanibal Travis, associate professor of law at FIU’s College of Law.

The Václav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy serves as an international academic center for scholars, researchers opposition leaders and others. It will provide training, study programs, research, policy analysis and technical assistance in support of freedom around the world, with emphasis on Cuba and the Americas.

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