California: Tour of Universities and Communities, April 2008

Six events were held in five days, with hundreds of people participating. Three radio interviews were aired, reaching thousands of people not only in California, but in other parts of the U.S. as well.

Arnold August used his stimulating photos, maps, charts and tables in the PowerPoint presentation to focus on the 2007–08 elections in Cuba and the functioning of the state between elections.

On April 14, an overflow audience of more than 80 students from San Francisco State University packed a conference hall for a lecture to hear about the realities of elections and the political process in Cuba. A lecturer from the Department of Raza Studies, College of Ethnic Studies at the San Francisco State University (SSFU), was the convener of the event. Despite the fact that attendance was non-obligatory, all of his current students attended the presentation. In addition, a professor of history and the director of the Latin American Areas Studies Program at SSFU supported the lecture by inviting his students to attend, all of which explains the full-house for this activity

The second meeting was held on April 15 at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The meeting, sponsored by the university’s Multicultural Center, was attended mainly by students, but some members of the community also joined in.

The third event took place on April 16 at noon. It consisted of a lively meeting with students from Port of Los Angeles High School in San Pedro. A large number of students from two classes participated. The students exhibited a very high political understanding and interest. They asked questions such as whether or not Cuba has gerrymandering as exists in the U.S. Another student wanted to know what the speaker had to suggest to the U.S. in order to make their system more democratic. These and other questions in that meeting are dealt with in the book by Arnold August.

Next, the lecturer visited the Latin American Studies Department of California State University in Los Angeles, headed by the prestigious professors Marjorie Bray and Donald Bray. Both of these Latin-American experts, who also are the guiding lights behind Latin American Perspectives, found the talk and PowerPoint presentation most helpful and mentioned that they are anxiously awaiting the publication of the book.

This fifth activity, on April 17, was sponsored by the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center, Palo Alto (see video extracts).

The sixth and last meeting took place on April 18 in San Rafael, sponsored by the Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas.

The tour was organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, in Oakland, California, in conjunction with the sponsoring universities and organizations mentioned above.