Speaking Tours

Attend an AUSM speaking event at your university to learn about social movements in Latin America, and how you can stand in solidarity.

September 2024 Speaking Tour

Elections in the Empire: Trump, Biden, and the Cuban Revolution

Exact Dates and Locations TBD

As November quickly approaches, we’re sure to hear the refrain, “This is the most important election of our lifetime” and that “Our democracy is at stake.” The 2024 elections feature fierce debates between two parties that can’t seem to agree on anything. Anything, that is, except America’s neocolonial relationship to Cuba. In fact, for the past sixty years, Democrat and Republican administrations alike maintained a depressing consistency in their politics of attrition against Cuba, despite most US citizens favoring rapprochement. Why doesn’t democracy extend to deciding the United States’ foreign relations?

Join Stuart Schussler and Sabrina Melendez as they use the upcoming elections to explore US politics, its neocolonial relationship to Cuba, and how to build the democratic power to change it. The speakers will begin with a discussion of the political-economic structures behind this bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, situating US politics within a broader analysis of global capitalism. They will then present a historical overview of Cuba’s 126-year struggle against US domination, its victory through the Cuban Revolution, and the persistence of this domination via crushing economic sanctions. This brings us to today, where the pandemic, Trump’s tightening of the blockade, and Biden’s maintenance of Trump’s sanctions systematically deprive the entire Cuban population of fundamental necessities such as food and healthcare.

What are the prospects under such circumstances? Stuart and Sabrina will show how – through solidarity – people in the US can forge relationships with the peoples of the world based on justice, respect, and mutual aid. Solidarity won’t be on the ballot, but it’s up to us to put it on the agenda.

Speakers for Elections in the Empire

Sabrina / Saber Melendez (they/them)

Sabrina Melendez (they/them) is a queer Puerto Rican activist, artist, and scholar, as well as an alumnus of the Autonomous University of Social Movement’s study abroad program in Cuba. They studied alternative political economies at Bennington College and the California Institute of Integral Studies, and co-founded a grassroots university for activists which has graduated over 600 students in the span of five years. Sabrina directed a summer camp for queer and trans youth for four years, taught JEDI (Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) trainings for three years, and participated in struggles toward migrant justice, abolition, labor solidarity, climate justice, animal liberation, feminism, and socialism for over a decade.

Stuart Schussler (he/him)

Stuart Schussler (he/him) has a PhD in Environmental Studies and has spent 15 years bringing university students to Havana, Cuba and Chiapas, Mexico. Together with his experience organizing in the anti-eviction movement and for migrant justice in Chicago and Toronto, he is well-versed in struggles to build democracy beyond borders. Stuart’s speaking tour is coordinated by the Autonomous University of Social Movements, which for 14 years taught university students about Cuban history, politics and culture through an accredited study abroad program in Havana.

Previous Speaking Tours