Latin American Studies Presents Talk on Cuba


On Thursday, Feb. 26, the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute (LALSI) at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) hosted a discussion about the normalization of relations, between Cuba and the United States. The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Margaret E. Crahan, director of the Cuba program at Columbia University, who focused more on the reactions to the opening of diplomatic talks and what it meant in the long term. Crahan believes that despite the lack of immediate change, it was still an unexpected world development.

Students from all spring 2015 semester classes taught by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature and chair of the department of Modern Languages and Literature, were all in attendance along with some faculty from the department of modern languages, totalling around 80-100 people.

Also in attendance were students from two of Cruz-Malavé’s classes focusing on Cuba as a subject, “Cuba: Revolution, Literature, and Film” and another smaller class,  “Cuba’s Contemporary Culture in Havana,” that will be participating in a Spring Break study tour to Havana, Cuba. “This event was sponsored for the spring study tour to Las Casas de Americas … this is especially relevant [to the class] since this moment was something we thought we’d never live to see,” Cruz-Malavé added, addressing his feelings on the mending of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States.

Crahan said, “I was sitting in a room with a bunch of foreign relations specialists, and when we heard the news from President Obama, everyone was in complete shock over it,” referring to the announcement of diplomatic talks made by the president in Dec. 2014.  However, Crahan also added that it will not affect those already traveling to Cuba, except in “some loosening of restrictions for academic study.”

“Tourism rules have not been changed since it is controlled by laws adopted by Congress in the 1990s … so don’t pack your bikinis yet.”

The Fordham study tour is a component of a one-credit spring semester course which can be taken concurrently with the aforementioned Cuba in film course, though prospective students had to apply for the course through the Fordham International and Study Abroad Program (ISAP) website for admission to the study tour. The group will be traveling from Mar. 14 to Mar. 22 this year, according to a bulletin released by LALSI.  However, the course original offering was planned before the announcement of diplomatic normalization, Cruz-Malavé explained, “[The normalization] does not really affect us in the short term [as a class].”

Despite the lack of immediate change, students are still very excited to attend the upcoming study tour. Laura Gerkis, FCLC ’16, said, “It’s really a once in a lifetime opportunity … I’m really excited to go.”