Inspire America Foundation releases statement on ICCAS mess

From the Inspire America Foundation web site:

UM Assures Cuban Americans that the University will not enter into any agreements with Castro Government or its universities; Search for new ICCAS Director to begin immediately by Provost directly with input from Cuban Americans.

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:

  1. Decline to enter into any agreements with the current government of Cuba and its Universities;
  2. Maintain and strengthen the Institute on Cuba and Cuban American Studies;
  3. Begin the search for the permanent director immediately, under the responsibility of the University Provost –not the interim director;
  4. Allow the Cuban American community to have input on the selection of a permanent director for the Institute;
  5.  Not hire any staff or faculty, nor change any policy of the Institute until a permanent director is named. In a sense ICCAS will have no staff until a new director is appointed.

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, its President.

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.

For a list of those in attendance at the August 18 meeting with president Julio Frenk go HERE

For a video interview with a spokesman for president Julio Frenk go HERE, in Spanish

3 thoughts on “Inspire America Foundation releases statement on ICCAS mess”

  1. If there’s no staff, no new staff can be hired, and no changes are to be made until a new permanent director comes in, why have an interim director, who obviously has to be paid, especially one who is undesirable in that post to the Cuban-American community that cares about this issue? What kind of PR is this?

  2. Falla is listed as an emeritus UM Board of Trustees member and Kadre as a regular member; neither is listed as a senior member, and neither has an executive or leadership position such as Chair or Vice-Chair of the board. I’m a little surprised they didn’t trot out Gloria Estefan (who’s also an emeritus member), at least for window dressing, but I suppose that might have been a little too obvious. In any case, we shall see.

  3. On second thought, if UM approached Gloria Estefan to, uh, help out, it’s possible she opted to avoid getting publicly mixed up with this mess, since doing so could potentially backfire. Estefan aside, my basic point is that all we’ve seen and heard officially from UM on this affair could be largely un montaje para salir del paso. Do I sound overly cynical or mistrustful? If you think so, I’ve got news for you: when one cannot trust even the titular Vicar of Christ, officially styled as “His Holiness,” I’m afraid one can’t trust anybody, especially anybody who’s at all dubious.

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