Cuba and California: The Opening of Relations to Cuba and Its Implications

Friday, September 28, 2012
9:00am to 5:00pm
Available multimedia: 
Event has video

On January 14, 2011, President Obama eased some restrictions between the United States and Cuba that offer a slight thawing in this historically uneasy relationship. At the same time, the Cuban government has initiated a new program of modest economic reforms that have the potential to expand business and cultural exchanges between these two nations. It is the purpose of this conference to offer fresh insight and analysis into this evolving bi-national relationship, and to ask, what might these developments mean for California and the U.S.?

The purpose of this gathering is to bring together leading experts from the United States, Canada, and Cuba to explore the evolving relationship and emerging opportunities between these countries. The conference will examine the economic, social and political developments taking place in Cuba and the role Californians, especially, might play in advancing U.S.-Cuba business and cultural exchanges and initiatives.

9:00-9:10 am Welcome and Opening Remarks
George Breslauer (Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost, UC Berkeley)
Introduced by Jack Citrin (Director, Institute of Governmental Studies, and Heller Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley)

Keynote Speakers

9:10-9:40 am The Federal Landscape and Cuba: U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, (D-CA)

9:40-10:45 am Prospects for U.S.-Cuban Relations


  • Carlos Alzugaray Treto (Professor, Center for Hemispheric and United States Studies, University of Havana) Text of keynote [pdf]
  • Julia E. Sweig (Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America, Council on Foreign Relations) 

Chair: Lisa García Bedolla (Associate Professor of Education and Chair, Center for Latino Policy Research, UC Berkeley)

10:45-11:00 am Coffee break

11:00 am-12:30 pm Panel I: Forecasting Cuban Economic Reforms


  • Mark Entwistle (Director and Special Advisor, Acasta Capital) 
  • Kirby Jones (President, Alamar Associates) 
  • Paolo Spadoni (Assistant Professor of Political Science, Augusta State University) 

Chair: Laura Enríquez (Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley)

12:30-1:30 pm Lunch Break

1:30-3:00 pm Panel II: Politics and Social Developments in Cuba


  • Katherine Gordy (Assistant Professor of Political Science, San Francisco State University)
  • Rafael Hernández (publisher and editor of Temas)
  • Arturo López-Levy (Research Associate, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver)
  • Wayne Smith (Senior Fellow & Director of Cuba Program, Center for International Policy)

Chair: Cristina Mora (Assistant Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley)

3:00-3:15 pm Coffee break

3:15-4:45 pm Roundtable: Cuba and the Golden State: Exploring New Opportunities


  • Darius Anderson (President & Founder, Platinum Advisors)
  • Bill Martinez (Attorney & Cuban Music Promoter, San Francisco)
  • Carl Voigt (Professor of Clinical Management and Organization, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California)
  • Michael Zuccato (President, Cuba Travel Services)

Chair: Raúl A. Fernandez (Professor of Social Sciences, UC Irvine)

4:45-5:00 pm Closing Remarks: Martin Sanchez-Jankowski (Director, Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, and Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley)

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

Cuba-California conference

 Photos courtesy Peter Maiden

Sponsored by the following UC Berkeley centers and institutes:

Institute of Governmental Studies
Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
Center for Latino Policy Research
Center for Latin American Studies

This conference is funded in part by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, the Institute of International Education, and Platinum Advisors.

For more information, please contact the conference co-coordinators:

Marc A. Levin
Associate Director, UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies
marcl [at]; (510) 643-6476

Christine Trost
Associate Director, UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Societal Issues
ctrost [at]; (510) 643-7237