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Cuba Embargo Colloquium

“Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba”

Scholars and activists will discuss U.S. restrictions on travel and trade in a May 20 colloquium at UC Riverside.

(May 12, 2009)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Nearly a half-century after the United States imposed an embargo on travel and trade with Cuba, the Obama administration is moving to relax some of those restrictions. Scholars and activists will discuss various aspects of U.S. policy toward Cuba in a colloquium at the University of California, Riverside on Wednesday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m. in University Lecture Hall (UNLH 1000).

The colloquium, “Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba,” will engage top scholars and the community in a discussion about the historical, political, diplomatic, social and economic aspects of the embargo and why the Obama administration needs to end it, said Armando Navarro, UCR professor of ethnic studies professor and Colloquium Organizing Committee coordinator.

The event is free and open to the public. Parking costs $5.

“The colloquium is being held at a propitious time when the Obama administration recently lifted travel restrictions to Cuba for Cuban Americans in the United States; when it has begun the process of diplomatically opening-up a dialogue with the Cuban government; and when both houses in Congress are considering legislation to lift travel restrictions for all Americans,” Navarro said.

A panel of scholars will discuss various aspects of the embargo, followed by a second panel of scholars responding to the original discussion. Audience members will be able to ask questions.

Panelists include:

Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of history at Pomona College – An expert on oil, politics and culture in Venezuela and Mexico, he is the author of “The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture and Citizenship in Venezuela” and “Under the Shadow of the Eagles, The Border and the Transformation of Sonora During the Porfiriato.”

Saul Landau, professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – Landau is an award-winning filmmaker, author, human rights activist and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. His film trilogy on Cuba includes “Fidel” (1968), “Cuba and Fidel” (1974) and “Uncompromising Revolution” (1988).

Rhonda Neugebauer, bibliographer for Latin American Studies in UCR’s Tomás Rivera Library – Neugebauer has led several delegations of U.S. librarians to Cuba to attend conferences to learn about Cuban libraries and librarianship. Her research includes the study of U.S. government funding of so-called “independent” libraries in Cuba.

Paul Ryer, UCR assistant professor of anthropology – Ryer conducted field work in Cuba from 1995 to 1997 for his dissertation, “Cubanidad, La Yuma and África: Racial and National Consciousness in Contemporary Cuba.” His research focuses on Cuba and its diaspora, particularly the imagined geographies of cubanidad or Cubanness.

Blaise Bonpane, director of the Los Angeles-based Office of the Americas – Bonpane, who was a Maryknoll priest in Guatemala in the 1960s, is an activist and author known for his human rights work. He is a senior research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, D.C., and hosts “World Focus” on KPFK/Pacifica Radio.

Armando Navarro, UCR professor of ethnic studies – Navarro, who will serve as the panel’s moderator, is an author, coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, and founder and former director of the Ernesto Galarza Applied Research Center at UCR. He has led delegations to Cuba, Mexico, Central America and Venezuela.

Respondents to the panel include: David Pion-Berlin, UCR professor of political science; Jim Brennan, UCR associate professor of history; Amalia Cabezas, UCR associate professor of women’s studies; Diego Esparza, UCR graduate student in political science; Maria Anna Gonzales, educational projects coordinator for the National Alliance for Human Rights; and Jesus Meza, a UCR third-year undergraduate history major with an emphasis on Latin America.

Ron Chilcote, UCR professor of economics and managing editor of Latin American Perspectives, will discuss the current issue of the journal, which focuses on “Cuba: Interpreting a Half-Century of Revolution and Resistance.” The scholarly journal, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, addresses issues of capitalism, imperialism and socialism in the Americas.

Marcelle Chauvet, UCR associate professor of economics and chair of the Latin American Studies program, will welcome visitors.

The colloquium is sponsored by the UCR departments of Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Hispanic Studies, History and Sociology, Chicano Student Programs, the Latin American Studies and Labor Studies programs, Latin American Perspectives, the UCR Institute for Research on World Systems and the Miguel Contreras Labor Studies Development Fund. Co-sponsors are UCR’s African Student Programs, Asian Pacific Student Programs, Latin American Student Association, MEChA de UCR, Native American Student Programs, the Department of Political Science, Student Labor Action Project, Students for Barack Obama at UCR and College Democrats at UCR, and Mujeres Unidas, National Alliance for Human Rights and Riverside Latino Voter Project.

For more information contact Armando Navarro at (951) 827-1827 or

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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