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Cuba Scholars Convene on Campus

November 11, 2009 1:00 AM
Brandon Meginley newwave@tulane.edu

New Orleans has strong historical ties to Cuba. In the early 19th century, an influx of 10,000 French-speaking Haitians settled in the city by way of Cuba. Until President Kennedy instituted an embargo in the 1960s, Havana was New Orleans' primary trading partner. It is fitting, then, that Tulane University would be the site of an all-day conference about Cuba.

cubaCarmelo Mesa-Lago, Greenleaf Distinguished Professor of Latin American Studies, initiated the conference, "Cuba: 50 Years of Revolution — Politics, Economics, Environment, Race and Relations With U.S.A.," which will be held on Friday (Nov. 13) in Jones Hall on the uptown campus. A range of topics will be discussed, including the Cuban economy.

"The global [financial] crisis has hit Cuba very badly," Mesa-Lago says.

The day will culminate with a discussion of current U.S.–Cuban relations. Although President George W. Bush had restricted travel to Cuba and put strict limitations on the amount of money Cuban Americans could send home, the Obama administration has loosened restrictions on travel and remittances, Mesa-Lago says.

Much has changed. Still, the embargo looms.

"We trade with China, which is a far more oppressive regime than the Cuban one. We trade with Vietnam, which is also a communist, one-party state," says Anthony Pereira, professor and chair of political science at Tulane. "To make an exception for Cuba is inconsistent, and really kind of hangover, a Cold War hangover."

The symposium is sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research, and the Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute. It will be held in the Greenleaf Conference Room of Jones Hall from 9 a.m. until 6:15 p.m.

Speakers will include Daniel Erikson, author of The Cuba Wars; Rafael Hernandez, a Cuban political scientist and editor; Alejandro de la Fuente, author of a book on the history of racial relations in Cuba; and Tulane faculty members Oliver Houck, law professor, and Rosanne Adderley, associate professor of history.

Brandon Meginley is a senior majoring in journalism at Tulane University.