08/20/13 - Tallahassee Democrat (blog) - Elizabeth Ricci: Trips offer a special way to connect with Cuba
Cuba, long-forbidden to most American travelers, is now easily available to
those who wish to experience its history, culture and changing demographics
- and Tallahaseeans are missing out.
The League of Women Voters of Florida conducts Sisters Across the Straits
delegation visits to this island nation through an official license from
the U.S. government, and this spring I traveled with them to experience
Cuba first-hand. Since the league began conducting these trips in 2011, 225
people have taken part. Only nine, however, have been from Tallahassee.
We spent a week meeting and exchanging ideas with Cuban scholars,
environmentalists, artists, musicians, community organizers and authors.
We talked with women who said their first priority was to protect their
We learned about Cuba's dual currency, saw elderly amputee and child
beggars and visited a dilapidated first-grade classroom. We went to a
self-sustaining biosphere, met highly educated women, saw Havana and
Historic Trinidad and enjoyed fine music, art and cuisine.
These were once-in-a-lifetime experiences, most of which were positive.
There is still, however, much to learn and a strong anti-American
A woman in Havana realized we were from the U.S. and told her dog to bite
my mother, a fellow delegate from Tallahassee. The editor of the Cuban
newspaper La Mujer described Cuban-Americans in Miami as "a cancer."
Because the perception of so many Cubans is that Miami represents the
entire state, trip leader and former state Rep. Annie Betancourt insists
that delegates wear badges listing not only their names, but also the
Florida cities from which they hail.
The delegates, though, were not the only ones to learn from this
people-to-people experience. For example, many of the women with whom we
met erroneously believed that lifting the U.S.-Cuba embargo was solely up
to the U.S. president rather than Congress.
With a particular focus on education and strengthening ties with Cuban
women's groups, the league's trips to Cuba offer a unique perspective and
are an excellent and affordable way to see this once-forbidden country.
The League's Sisters Across the Straits trips offer travelers the
opportunity to learn about Cuba's struggle and how Florida's families and
businesses might benefit as the relationship between our two countries
I strongly encourage all Tallahasseeans (including men - don't be thrown
off by the "Sisters" name!) to take advantage of this unique opportunity
and travel with LWVF to Cuba. Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime
The deadline to register for the October trip is Aug. 30. Visit
TheFloridaVoter.org for more information.
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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