The former chair of Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies, Jorge Dominguez retired from active teaching after more than 45 years at the University. Jorge Dominguez has written extensively about US relations with Cuba, specifically on the improved relations the two countries have had since former President Barrack Obama took office.
Obama was keen to improve relations between the United States and Cuba. He first made known his willingness to engage in dialogue with Cuba during the 2007 Democratic Primary Debate. After winning the party ticket and consequently the presidency, he made a concerted effort to engage with the island nation. He lifted restrictions on remittances and facilitated easier travel between the US and Cuba, slowly chipping away at an economic embargo that had been in place for decades.
However, it was not until his second term that he pushed to normalize relations between the two countries. Through a raft of bilateral agreements that began in 2014, former President Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro negotiated a historic prisoner swap and further eased restrictions on travel between the two countries. The new push for normalized relations saw the Cuban government open a bank account in the United States, US companies begin operating in Cuba, and postal services between the two countries resume. Cuba was removed from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism List in 2015, and, months later, Obama became the first sitting US president to set foot on Cuba in 88 years.
A former professor of government and international affairs, Jorge Dominguez retired from Harvard University in June 2018. In addition to editing more than a dozen books and writing a range of books and articles, Jorge Dominguez served as the senior editor of the Frontline special report, Crisis in Central America.
A four-part Frontline series that originally aired in the spring of 1985, Crisis in Central America is divided into the episodes “The Yankee Years,” “Castro’s Challenge,” “Revolution in Nicaragua,” and “Battle for El Salvador.” The makers of this comprehensive television project employed rare historical footage to examine the long history of American involvement in Cuba, taking viewers from the 1898 Spanish-American War to wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua through the mid 1980s. There is an in-depth analysis of circumstances in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, and the wider set of countries in Central America and the Caribbean, as well as a close examination, in visual splendor, of U.S. policies toward this region.
The Peabody Board honored the journalistic achievement of Crisis in Central America with Peabody Awards for both WGBH-TV and The Blackwell Corporation.
Having served as Harvard University’s first vice provost for international affairs, former professor Dr. Jorge Dominguez has undertaken extensive research on Latin American economies. Among Dr. Jorge Dominguez’s responsibilities was as the institution’s Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico.
A recent Forbes article drew attention to the potential of Mexico’s Paris Agreement pledge to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 36 percent by 2030, as having the potential for a significant economic impact as well. This reflects World Resources Institute (WRI) quantitative analysis that points to a strong decarbonization path as saving $5 billion in cumulative costs and helping prevent 26,000 premature deaths.
A majority of the proposed decarbonization efforts are centered on Mexico’s transportation, electricity, and industrial sectors. Unfortunately, there is at present no clear decarbonization plan, and emissions in the world’s 10th leading GHG emitter are forecast to rise by 75 percent over the next three decades under business-as-usual scenarios.
Within a WRI-recommended renewable portfolio standard, Mexico will need to increase distributed solar and wind energy sources exponentially to attain its goals. Fortunately, the installation and maintenance of such large scale systems will also be a significant economic driver.
Jorge I. Dominguez, PhD, is a retired Harvard University professor who has an extensive background as a Latin American scholar. As Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Dr. Jorge I. Dominguez has brought particular attention to the social and political issues impacting life in an emerging economy.
A recent MarketWatch article drew attention to the dangers inherent in President Donald Trump’s recent threats to close the US border with Mexico due to a surge in migrants from Central America.
A specific example is the popular Haas avocado, which jumped in price by more than 50 percent after the possibility of a complete border close became likely. Based on US Agricultural Department data, the wholesale prices of a carton of standard-sized avocados entering through Texas spiked to $44 in early April, from under $30. With the US importing some 90 percent of avocados from Mexico, the reliance on imports this year has been particularly acute, given a smaller-than-expected yield from Californian avocado crops.
Unfortunately for border protectionists, avocados are far from the most significant product entering the United States. The US auto industry is heavily reliant on parts made in Mexico for assembling vehicles, and many packaged food manufacturers source ingredients from Mexico. Other sectors with supply chains that would be adversely impacted by a border closure include technology, health care, and energy.
The bottom line is that many US business groups, facing what would be a major economic disruption, are arraying against a border closure that would impact commercial trade.