A conference pla…

by Andrew Donohue

A conference planned to discuss the 100 years following the Spanish-American War will be held this weekend at the University, despite the absence of two keynote Cuban speakers.
Because of U.S. diplomatic policy, Camilo Guevara, son of Argentinan Marxist revolutionary and guerrilla leader, Ernesto Che Guevara and Orlando Borrego did not even bother to apply for visas. Both are lecturers at the Ernesto Che Guevara Studies Program at the University of Havana.
Felix Wilson, the deputy chief of the Cuban Interests Section, will now be the featured speaker for the weekend. Wilson, a Cuban resident, is in the country to head the Cuban Interests Section. The section is a diplomatic organization working in Washington, D.C., on relations between Cuba and the United States.
The two nations are not on official diplomatic terms; thus, anyone wishing to enter the country must apply for a visa. Because of a 1985 presidential proclamation, restrictions for visa acceptance are held against Cuban government employees and officials. Teachers at a Cuban school, Guevara and Borrego are considered employees of the government.
“We don’t question their decision to not apply for visas,” said August Nimtz, professor of political science. “We respect their decision.”
Event organizers suspect the two lecturers were deterred from visa application because of an incident that took place this March in California. It was the first Cuban conference in the United States in the 30 years since the Cuban Revolution, and 21 Cuban academics applied for visas. Only eight were approved; the other 13 were denied because of Communist connections.
“The U.S. Department of State has a long history of denial of visas,” said Cristina Cordova, a member of the Minnesota Cuba Committee, which is sponsoring the event along with several other organizations. “Anyone who is involved with the nation politically is denied.”
“The absence of Guevara and Borrega means that it becomes more difficult for people to gain information from Cuba,” said Tom Fiske, an activist from the committee. “Democracy in this country depends on gaining information from other countries. This hinders the conference because we are not able to relay information on the success of the revolution.”
The event, “The Struggle for National Sovereignty in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines,” will feature forums and workshops planned for Friday and Saturday at Coffman Union.
— Staff Reporter Emily Dalnodar contributed to this article.