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La Jolla’s Institute of the Americas, which is housed on the UC San Diego campus and bills itself as an “impartial and independent nonprofit organization” that “promotes cooperation between the public and private sectors to improve the economic, political and social well-being of people in the Americas” is seeking well-heeled individuals to form a group that will spend a week in Cuba this December immersed “in Cuban government, business, art, and culture as legally licensed educational travelers [emphasis in original].”

The week kicks off with cocktails, dinner at a private restaurant, and a cabaret show after a chartered flight from Miami to Cienfuegos, Cuba and a city tour, per the itinerary. The following morning, the group will travel to Trinidad, take another city tour, and hear a talk from artist Yami Martinez.

Yami has achieved international recognition for her art depicting the strains of life on Cuban women. She will discuss her art, as well as her experiences running both a gallery and a “casa particular” (bed and breakfast) out of her home.

After meeting with a local priest to talk about church-state relations and freedom of religion issues, the night ends with more cocktails and another dinner party, this time at a private residence.

The next day, the group heads to Havana, stopping along the way at Playa Girón, site of the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. Following check-in at “one of the finest and best located hotels in Havana,” guests head off for:

Cocktails and tapas at Café Madrigal with English‐speaking graduate students from the University of Havana in the fields of economics, international relations and law. Students will offer their opinion about everything from the higher education system to the country’s future to the delicate relationship with the United States. Madrigal’s owner, Rafael Rosales, will join the group to provide an overview of how his new private business has quickly grown to be Havana’s most famous tapas bar.

The week continues, with talks by local business and tourism professionals interspersed with more tours, dining, and drinking.

Rates range from $5800 to $6500 and include meals and cocktails, ground transportation, lodging, requisite government visas, and access to English-speaking guides. Airfare to Miami is at an additional cost.

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monaghan Sept. 13, 2013 @ 2:26 a.m.

This is a lot like the Cuba trips that Harvard and other bastions of American capitalism have been offering lately.

Big bucks, not counting airfare from California to Miami, lots of visits to government-approved new "private" restaurants and undoubtedly government-approved entrepreneurial art galleries. No striking out on your own, that's for sure, and also with the requisite visit to the U.S. "Special Section" which is like an embassy -- if we had an embassy there, which officially we don't.

The U.S. continues a decades-long punishing blockade of Cuba. The Cuban people are profoundly poor and the city of Havana is a physical ruin. Fidel is aged and out of sight and his brother Raul, the replacement Lider, will soon retire. Russia doesn't hugely support Cuba anymore and assistance from Venezuela after the death of Hugo Chavez continues, but is iffy. The future is uncertain.

To sum up the difference between here and there in the most grotesquely exaggerated terms: Cuban defector and baseball phenom Yasiel Puig is 22 years old, signed a $40+ million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in late spring and reportedly bought a Rolls Royce the first chance he got.


Yankeedoodle Sept. 13, 2013 @ 6:07 a.m.

I think you can go to Cuba more easily now. Doesn't have to be that pricey. I would love to go, myself, just not quite that way. Maybe figure out a less pricey educational trip, like to educate ourselves on the coral reefs of Cuba, and the biogeography...


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