Comunicado Inspire America Foundation

Logo Inspire America Foundation

Logo Inspire America Foundation

Miami, August 21st, 2017

Inspire America Foundation is pleased to announce that after month-long conversations between IAF and the University of Miami about the future of the Institute on Cuba and Cuban American Studies, the University has made the following decisions:

UM will not enter into any agreements with the current government of Cuba and its Universities;

UM will maintain and strengthen the Institute on Cuba and Cuban American Studies;

UM will begin the search for the permanent director immediately, under the responsibility of the University Provost -not the interim director;

UM will allow the Cuban American community to have input on the selection of a permanent director for the Institute;

UM will not hire any staff or faculty, nor change any policy of the Institute until a permanent director is appointed.

These decisions are win-win solutions that will help the University take the leadership of Cuba studies in the US with support from its host community.

Over a month ago news broke over allegations that University of Miami’s new President, Dr. Julio Frenk, made the decision to close the Institute on Cuba and Cuban American Studies and dismiss its long-time Director, with the ulterior motive of following a more pro-Castro line. The University denied the allegations but appointed an interim director who was engaged with cruises to Cuba promoting business opportunities with the Regime. The interim director also indicated he would “restore” the “academic integrity” of ICCAS, and would be involved in selecting its permanent director, further adding fuel to the speculation that ICCAS would either be dissolved or change into a pro-regime institution.

Many community organizations wrote letters or issued press releases or called the University with their concerns. We, at the Inspire America Foundation immediately contacted the University and began a series of talks with its leadership. IAF and UM discussed the matter almost daily in an effort to find a solution and provide the Cuban American community with concrete assurances that ICCAS would not be closed or become a center of pro-Castro propaganda. Similarly IAF met with numerous other community organizations to ensure their concerns were addressed in any solution which would be adopted. Particularly important to this process were Sam Verdeja and Cesar Pizarro of FACE, and Orlando Gutierrez and Silvia Iriondo of MAR por Cuba.

All efforts led to a meeting on August 18th between the President, the Provost, two of its Trustees, and other senior UM officials joining seventeen of Miami’s most prominent Cuban Americans, and its most prominent American-Cuban, Ambassador Jim Cason. The group included members of FACE (Facts About Cuban Exiles), the Presidents of the Bay of Pigs Brigade 2506 and of Operation Pedro Pan Historical Committee, and Cuban Americans in leadership positions in business, journalism, and other fields. Inspire America Foundation was represented by Diego Suarez and Marcell Felipe.

The group discussed how Cuban Americans came to Miami, a small town, and contributed to the creation of one the most desirable’s cities on earth and the University of Miami in particular. The group discussed the horrors that Cuba has endured and continues to endure at the hands of the worst dictatorship ever seen in our hemisphere, and how that dictatorship specifically targets US academic institutions.

Particularly important to the solutions were UM Trustees Manny Kadre, President of MBB Auto Group, and Enrique Falla, now a retired executive and philanthropist, but once a member of an advanced CIA infiltration team. Also key was the intervention of Diego Suarez. Mr. Suarez was a one of the founders of Jorge Mas Canosa’s Cuban American National Foundation and is now a founding member of the IAF’s Advisory Board. Ultimately, however, it was the decision of President Julio Frenk, who, with the assistance of Rudy Fernandez and Jackie Menendez, helped turn the page and allow everyone to focus on the future of the University and of ICCAS.

Attendees in Alphabetical Order:

Cesar Alvarez, Chairman, Greenberg Traurig; Frank Angones, former President, Florida Bar; Humberto Arguelles, President, Brigada 2506; Ambassador James Cason, former Mayor of Coral Gables; Enrique Falla, UM Trustee, Retired Executive, Bay of Pigs Veteran and CIA Officer; Jeffrey Duerk, UM VP and Provost; Marcell Felipe, President of Inspire America Foundation; Rudy Fernandez, Chief of Staff, SVP Public Affairs; Julio Frenk, President of UM; Manny Kadre, UM Trustee, President, MBB Auto Group; Vicente Lago, MD, Medical Doctor, Cuban Democracy Advocate; Jacqueline Menendez, VP, Communications; Carlos Alberto Montaner, Award Winning Journalist and Author; Adrian Nunez, President, UM Student Government; Cesar Pizarro, Member FACE Executive Committee, Retired Herald Executive; Claudia Puig, Sr. VP, Univision Communications; Kristine Reynardus, President, FEC Cuban Student Organization; Diego Suarez, Sr. Member, Inspire America Foundation Advisory Board, Retired Entrepreneur; Mayor Valdes-Fauli, Mayor of Coral Gables; Carmen Valdivia, President, Pedro Pan Historic Committee; Sam Verdeja, Co-Founder, FACE, Retired Herald Executive.

Nota de la Redacción: Tenemos entendido que también estuvieron presentes: Aida Levitán y el Dr. Julio Pita.

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