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Civic Minds in The Seattle Times

Program Content for December 19, 2014

Date:  Friday, December 19, 2014

E-Edition Date:  Wednesday, December 18, 2014

Article Title:  HISTORIC DAY IN U.S.-CUBA RELATIONS: Obama drops ban on ties to Castro regime

Section:  Main, A1


Vocabulary Review:


“The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between two countries divided by just 90 miles of water but oceans of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill and the nuclear brinkmanship of the Cuban missile crisis.”  


Please look up the definition of stalemate and use in a sentence, using your own words.






Comprehension Questions



1.      President Obama on Wednesday ordered the restoration of what? 


2.      The surprise announcement came at the end of 18 months of secret negotiations that produced what?  


3.      Republican lawmakers who will take control of the Senate and the House next month said they would _____________ lifting the 54-year-old trade embargo.


4.      The move represented a dramatic turning point in relations with an island that for generations has captivated and vexed its giant northern neighbor. From the days of 18th-century presidents coveting it, Cuba loomed   large in the American imagination long before Fidel Castro stormed from the mountains and seized power in ____________.


5.      His alliance with the _______________________ made Cuba a geopolitical flash point in a global struggle of ideology and power.


6.      President Eisenhower imposed the first trade embargo in _________ and broke off diplomatic relations in January _________, just weeks before leaving office and seven months before Obama was born.


7.      Under President Kennedy, what happened with Cuban relations? 


8.      The relationship remained frozen long after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, a thorn in the side of multiple presidents who waited for Fidel Castro’s death and experienced false hope when he passed power to whom?  


9.      Even as the U.S. built relations with Communist nations such as China and Vietnam, Cuba remained one of just a few nations, along with ____________ and ______________________ that had no diplomatic relations with the U.S.


10.   Obama has long expressed hope of transforming relations with Cuba and relaxed some travel restrictions in 2011. But further moves remained untenable as long as Cuba held Alan Gross, 65.  Who was he and why was he imprisoned?


11.   After winning re-election, Obama resolved to make Cuba a priority for his second term and authorized secret negotiations led by two aides, Benjamin Rhodes and Ricardo Zuniga, who conducted ________ meetings with Cuban counterparts starting in June 2013, most of them in Canada, which has ties with Havana.


12.   Pope Francis encouraged the talks with letters to Obama and Raul Castro and had the ________________ host a meeting in October to finalize the deal.


13.   Obama spoke with Raul Castro by telephone Tuesday to finalize the agreement in a call that lasted more than 45 minutes, the first direct contact between the leaders of the two countries in more than _____ years.  


14.   For its part, the U.S. sent back whom for the prisoner swap?


15.   What will the U.S. & Cuba do now?  What changes are in place? 


16.    Although the embargo will remain in place, the president called for an “honest and serious debate about lifting” it.  How can it be lifted?   


17.   Obama’s move had the support of which groups?  



Class Discussion Questions and Essay Prompts:


“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”



Obama ventured into diplomatic territory the last 10 presidents avoided, and Republicans along with a senior Democrat quickly characterized the rapprochement with the Castro family as appeasement of the hemisphere’s leading dictatorship.  


·        What do you think about President Obama’s move to form a new relationship with Cuba and Castro?

·        Do you think it will help the people of Cuba?  Why or why not?



“This entire policy shift announced today is based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the son of Cuban immigrants. “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power.”


·        Do you agree with Rubio’s statement?  Why or why not?




How do you feel about President Obama dropping ban on ties to the Castro regime?  How will this deal benefit the U.S?  How will it benefit the people of Cuba, as well as Cuban Government and leaders?  Was this a good time for this, or not? 



Newspaper-related CBA activity:  U.S. Policy



How the United States government interacts with the world affects people across the globe.  Analyze and evaluate the causes and effects of US foreign policy on people in the United States and across the world.


·        Using The Seattle Times e-edition, find an article from this week that deals with world politics or foreign policy. 

·        What are the main points of view from someone living in that particular country?  How is that “view” similar and different than your own opinion, regarding the specific issue the article is discussing?

·        Why is it important to study and learn about foreign policy?  How does it help you understand the world we live in, using current issues and events?




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