Václav Havel Initiative launches new project: Preparing Miami for Democratic Transition in Cuba

Project receives grant from the Knight Foundation

The School of International and Public Affairs at FIU, is proud to announce its latest venture, Preparing Miami for Democratic Transition in Cuba, a project of the Václav Havel Initiative, made possible by the Knight Foundation in Miami.

Founded in 1950 by brothers James and John Knight, the Knight Foundation fosters innovative approaches to increasing engagement skills in the community development field. The foundation funds programs that use technology to foster engagement. It supports individuals as agents for engagement, with a focus on youth leadership, social entrepreneurs and local institutions. Additionally, Knight aims to increase the ability of individuals to engage in change, much like the Václav Havel Initiative’s most recent project.

The Václav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy is a project of the FIU School of International and Public Affairs. Designed to be an international resource for scholars, researchers, parliamentarians, and others, the Havel Initiative provides training, study programs, research, policy analysis and technical assistance in support of democratic aspirations around the world, and with emphasis on Cuba and the Americas.

The challenge and goal of The Preparing Miami for Democratic Transition in Cuba is to inculcate a general understanding among Cuban Americans about the realities of the process of peaceful transition, including timing, challenges, risks, and opportunities.

This innovative project will help prepare our diverse citizenry for coming changes in Cuba. The two-year pilot program will inform local expectations and inspire the community to play a supportive role in a changing Cuba. Engagement will be achieved via 6 workshops, 2 town hall meetings, and a cultural series based on workshop themes called Havel in the Streets.

The Preparing Miami for Democratic Transition in Cuba project reflects the Knight Foundation’s commitment to the promotion of informed and engaged communities. The project will expose Miamians to a wide range of relevant information concerning the very nature of the process of transition away from totalitarianism, including international experiences, successes, failures, and opportunities. The intention will be to help the community manage expectations through a clearer understanding of institutions, procedures, policies and attitudes that must undergo change for a free Cuba. This understanding will then enable participants to play a part in encouraging and sustaining transition and reconciliation.

For the execution of this project, the Havel Initiative will draw upon a rich pool of proven leadership from within FIU, combined with experts from within and without our community, to produce true state-of-the-art results.

Under the supervision of Dr. John Stack, Executive Director of SIPA and Associate Dean of the FIU College of Arts and Sciences, the project will be designed and coordinated by Dr. Martin Palous, Václav Havel Initiative Director.

In celebrating the launch of the Václav Havel Initiative for Human Rights and Diplomacy, the first event will take place on December 10th, 2013 with a special presentation titled, Anticodes. Performed by the Czech Multimedia Theater company, Laterna Magika, this will be a visual dance production based on Václav Havel’s collection of experimental poetry. The event will take place in the Adrienne Arsht Center and is free and open to the public.