Cuban diplomats to visit Gainesville in early December
Joe Courter
November/December 2000

After months of planning Gainesville will be visited by two high ranking diplomats who are serving as first secretaries at the Cuban Interest Section in Washington DC. These positions are equivalent to assistants to the Ambassador, as the US and Cuba have not had formal diplomatic relations since the Cuban revolution over 40 years ago.

Coming to Gainesville will be Dr. Olga Fernandez Rios and Prof. Fernando M. Garcia Bielsa, a married couple whose life work has been a blend of academic and political work in Cuba. Their fields of study and teaching include the disciplines of philosophy, history and social sciences.

Their visit to Gainesville is at the invitation of the Gainesville-based Center for the Advancement of Human Co-operation, with co-sponsorship from the Gainesville Cuba Friendship Network, the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Student Peace Action, Graduate Assistants United and UF/SFCC Campus NOW.

Sunday's public event will be a potluck community dinner at Westminster Presbyterian Church from 5:30-9:00pm. Following the dinner there will be talks and discussion. The church is on the south east corner of NW 34th St. and 16th Ave., at 1521 NW 34th St..

On Monday afternoon, following an informal tour of the UF campus and meetings with various departments and faculty, there will be a short talk and question and answer session at the Presbyterian Student Center from 3:30-5:00pm for students and community people; that location is at 1402 W. University Ave.

Monday evening from 6:00-9:00pm there will be a reception for Dr. Fernandez and Prof. Garcia at the Civic Media Center hosted by various so-sponsoring organizations and including remarks and discussion with our Cuban guests. Light refreshments will be provided; the CMC is at 1021 W University Ave.

It's a rare opportunity for Americans to meet and talk with Cubans who reflect the positive side of Cuba. Too often it's the anti-Castro faction who dominate the picture we get of Cuba. Cuba is full of people who are proud of their country and what their society has achieved, here's a chance for Gainesvillians to balance their perspective.

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