July 20 - Our New Man in Havana; Cuba's Failing Economy; Will Turkey Turn On the Islamic State?

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Full Program


Part 1

We begin with the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington and talk with the former chief U.S. diplomat in Cuba from 1999 to 2002 Ambassador Vicki Huddleston. She joins us to discuss the new U.S. charge d’affaires in Cuba, our man in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who worked with her during turbulent times between the U.S. and Cuba when Fidel Castro and Miami Cubans were tussling over a Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez who was picked up at sea in the Florida Straits. We discuss the long-overdue re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the closest of enemies and the prospects for building on them.

Part 2

Then we go to Havana, Cuba and speak with Mark Frank who works for Thompson Reuters and the Financial Times and is the author of “Cuba Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana”. We discuss how much Cuba’s failing economy was a factor in breaking the more than five decade-long hostility since, according to Cuba’s official data, its GDP in 2003 was $77.2 billion at the official exchange rate, but using the internal exchange rate of 24 pesos to the dollar, Cuba’s GDP could be as low as $3.2 billion.  

Part 3

Then finally we look into the suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Suruc, near the Syrian border which killed 30 and wounded 100 mostly young Kurdish members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations meeting to plan to go to Kobane to help rebuild the nearby town devastated by fighting between the Islamic State and Kurdish fighters supported by U.S. air power. Henri Barkey, the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars joins us to discuss whether this incident will force Turkey to confront the Islamic State which has benefited from Turkey’s inaction in preventing jihadist recruits from crossing through Turkey to join ISIL in Syria.