White House Proposes Scholarships for Cuban Students
[The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 May 2002]
George W. Bush tries defeating Fidel Castro. He tries real hard
By RICHARD MORGAN
Washington – President Bush, as part of a White House speech about a "new Cuba," described in general terms on Monday what would be the first federal scholarships ever granted to Cuban students, professionals, and relatives of political prisoners.
In a ceremony in the East Room with Colin L. Powell, the U.S. secretary of state, and several members of Congress, Mr. Bush called Cuba a "prison" run by "a tyrant who uses brutal methods to enforce a bankrupt vision." Mr. Bush then added: "Our government will offer scholarships in the United States for Cuban students and professionals who try to build independent civil institutions in Cuba, and scholarships for family members of political prisoners." The proposal was part of what Mr. Bush called "meaningful reform," which he set in contrast to "well-intentioned ideas" that will "merely prop up this dictator, enrich his cronies, and enhance his totalitarian regime."
The exact nature of the proposed scholarships is unclear. The White House did not return repeated calls for comment.
Academic experts in Cuban-American relations said that based on the little information available, the proposal did not seem logical.
"I don't know how this would work," said Uva DeAragón, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University. "If [Cubans] come here, and they receive that kind of help from the United States, Cuba isn't going to let them back to do anything. That just doesn't happen. It really doesn't make any sense."
Robert A. Pastor, who will become vice president of international affairs at American University in September, also expressed misgivings about the proposal. "I suspect the only way the Cuban government would give exit visas for study in the United States is if they didn't want these people to return," he said. "So what's the point?"
Mr. Pastor was a national security adviser in the administration of President Jimmy Carter and accompanied the former president last week on his landmark trip to Cuba. Mr. Pastor is currently a professor of political science at Emory University and was founder of the Latin America program at Emory's Carter Center.
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