More than 130,000 American citizens have traveled to Cuba in the last six months under federal exemption rules designed to increase "purposeful travel" and diplomatic relations between the Caribbean nation and the United States. [...] Representatives from U.S. and Cuban government, higher education and research agencies met at the National Press Club to discuss new and existing agreements with institutions like the University of Havana.
Cuban ambassador Carlos Fernández de Cossío has for the first time attended the 4th of July celebrations by the United States embassy in Pretoria. De Cossio even had a private meeting with US ambassador Patrick Gaspard on the sidelines of the celebrations at his official home on Thursday. The Miami theme included the serving of Cuban food and a performance by an Afro-Cuban band.
What began two and half years ago as a dream cultural connection between Harlem and Havana, Cuba, is practically a reality.[...] Lloyd Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, said, “We have worked out an agreement with the Cuban Ministry of Culture that on an annual basis, in winter, it will be Harlem going to Havana … and during the summer months, it will be Havana coming to Harlem. During that appearance here, they will participate in Harlem Week.”
Last October, the Institute of International Education led a delegation of college and university officials from the United States on a cultural immersion trip to Cuba, the first of what officials hoped would be many following the return of diplomatic relations with the country. Since then, thousands of students and dozens of officials from U.S. institutions have traveled to the island in the expanded version of cultural exchange agreements between the two nations.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Representative Charles Rangel announced the first-ever annual Harlem/Havana Music & Cultural Festival, an international visual and performing arts, fashion, education and culinary exchange celebrating the rich artistic connection between iconic cities Harlem, New York and Havana, Cuba.
The Shaq show came to Havana on Sunday as NBA great Shaquille O'Neal put on a basketball clinic for local youngsters, becoming the latest emissary for American outreach to the people of Cuba. The 2016 Hall of Fame inductee and four-time NBA champion led star-struck kids in layup drills and coached scrimmages while onlookers cheered from the sidelines, part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored visit to foster people-to-people exchanges with Cuban citizens.
Call it the return of basketball diplomacy. The State Department on Friday named hoops legend Shaquille O’Neal the first ever “Sports Envoy to Cuba” and said he’d visit Havana on Saturday to hold basketball clinics for the island nation’s youth. The trip is a part of the Obama administration’s broader effort to increase cultural exchanges between Washington and Cuba after the two nations restored diplomatic ties last year for the first time in five decades.
The coincidental timing of the exhibition at the OAS’s Art Museum of the Americas in Washington may have a healing effect: “In mounting this exhibit, we’re conscious of the value of artistic expression to communicate both the intentions and views of the artists and to speak more generally about social change and political engagement in the hemisphere,” said James M. Lambert, secretary for hemispheric affairs at the OAS.