By Martha Andres Roman
Washington, Oct 25 (Prensa Latina) The 4th Conference on Strategic Studies that is taking place in Havana is being attended by a US academic who has been interested in the Caribbean island for years: Gary Prevost.
The Minnesota-based researcher and Cuban Professor Carlos Oliva will take part in a panel on US foreign policy that will particularly deal about relations between the Donald Trump administration and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Prevost’s participation in the conference is not odd, because, as he told Prensa Latina recently, he has visited Cuba a score of times, either due to his academic interest or to do solidarity work.
He recalled that in 1970, a group of activists invited him to join the second edition of the Venceremos Brigade, the first international initiative of its kind to visit Cuba to express solidarity and challenge Washington’s economic, commercial and financial blockade.
At the time, Prevost could not visit Cuba because he was in the US Army’s reserve and was training, but a decade later, as a professor of Political Sciences and Latin American Studies, his interest in Cuba increased.
Finally, he traveled to Havana in 1984 to start a research and establish relations with local academics. Since then, he has become more familiar with Cuba and its challenges, he recalled.
His participation in the event organized by the International Politics Research Center, which opened on Wednesday and will end on Friday, marks ‘my 18th time on the island’, said Prevost, who commented that in some of his trips, he took groups of university students.
The professor emeritus, who has taught at the Saint Benedict College and the University of Saint John, is also a member of the Minnesota Cuba Committee, which organized the conference of the National Cuba Solidarity Network in Minneapolis from October 19 to 21.
Prevost has been a long-standing researcher on relations between the two countries and when he was asked about the current situation of bilateral ties, he noted that there is no doubt that they are at a difficult time.
However, he highlighted the importance of the agreements signed between the two countries ‘during the short window’ that opened under the Barack Obama administration, in reference to the process of normalization of relations announced in December 2014 by the Democratic statesman and then Cuban President Raul Castro.
It was very significant that when US President Donald Trump asked to review the policy on Cuba, all US agencies said that those agreements had to be maintained in such fields as the environment and law enforcement, due to their national interest, the researcher underlined.
Prevost does not think that a change in the US policy on Cuba will be possible in the near future, but he noted that when that happens, the way will be paved for faster progress in some bilateral matters.
Regarding how solidarity organizations can contribute to objectives like the end to the US blockade or the elimination of the travel bans imposed on US citizens, he said that work is being done at several levels.
He pointed out that at the grassroots level, they are working with community groups and other organizations that are interested in specific matters, in order to connect them with Cuba and establish people-to-people links and among institutions.
A member of our committee worked to link the Minnesota Health Department with the Public Health sector in the Cuban province of Villa Clara, he noted. Prevost added that actions are being taken with local politicians so that they take a stance against the blockade, and underlined the fact that the Minnesota delegation in Congress has a record of opposition to that policy and the travel bans.
This year, the Council of the city of Minneapolis approved a resolution against the blockade and we are working at present with the city of Saint Paul, the state capital, where he expects to have a similar result, he said.