Students with the LEAP Center engaged in a global discussion with a well-positioned source early in the spring semester. Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State, tackled topics such as democracy, energy, relations with Cuba, and democratization, giving SHSU students insight into diplomacy at the highest levels.
“It was a great opportunity to meet with one of the President’s key advisers,” noted LEAP Center Vice President Megan Chapa. “And to complement our classroom learning with a practitioner’s view.”
Indeed, Secretary Jacobson recently returned from historic talks in Cuba, becoming the highest-ranking official to visit Cuba in 40 years. Her visit included an exchange with dissidents, a meeting that drew criticism from Cuba’s leaders, but which was part of a larger odyssey to thawing relations with its Communist neighbor.
In her speech, Secretary Jacobson stressed the importance of trying a new approach in Cuba, after more than a half of a century of stagnant relations. Ms. Jacobson also discussed happenings in South America, where she had hopeful things to say about Argentina and Colombia. She tempered these hopeful comments, however, with an overview of the history of Latin America and the difficulties the region has faced with corruption, the drug trade, and achieving basic democratic objectives.
Although the bulk of her speech addressed the Americas, Ms. Jacobson also touched on China. Rather than seeing China’s growth as a threat to US power, she argued that growth would likely open China, and increase its demands for US products, helping both China and the US.
For the students, the discussion was an opportunity to hear from an extremely knowledgeable “guest lecturer,” while also serving as a call to learn more about international relations.