University of Pittsburgh
October 21, 2004

Oct. 26 Panel Discussion Featuring Pitt Faculty to Address Contemporary Cuban Issues

Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies and The Mattress Factory museum continue their educational outreach efforts on Cuba with a discussion of the country's economic and social situations, Cuban literature and cinema, and a critique of U.S. policies toward Cuba
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—For decades, U.S.-Cuban relations have been strained, trade between the countries sanctioned, and U.S. policies toward Cuban immigration to the United States controversial. Pitt faculty will address these and other issues facing Cuba at a panel discussion from noon until 2 p.m. Oct. 26 in 4130 Posvar Hall, 230 S. Bouquet St., Oakland. The event is free and open to the public.

Pitt faculty participating in the panel discussion and the titles of their remarks are:

Carmelo Mesa-Lago

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies

"Cuba's Economic and Social Situation After 15 Years of the Special Period"

Mesa-Lago will discuss Cuba's economic and social situation following Cuba's "Special Period." He has been a member of Pitt's faculty since 1967. In 1968,

Mesa-Lago earned his doctoral degree at Cornell University. His areas of specialization include Latin American economic development, the economy of socialist Cuba, and comparative economic systems, among others. Mesa-Lago has authored or coauthored several books and articles pertaining to Cuba, including Growing Economic and Social Disparities in Cuba: Impact and Recommendations for Change (Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, 2002); "Cuba in the Human Development Index in the 1990s: Decline, Rebound, and Exclusion" in Cuba in Transition (Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, 2002); and Market, Socialist, and Mixed Economics: Comparative Policy and Performance—Chile, Cuba, and Costa Rica (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

Alejandro de la Fuente

Assistant Professor of History

"The Dumbest Policy on the Face of the Earth: U.S. Policies on Cuba"

A 1996 graduate of Pitt's Faculty of Arts and Sciences with the Ph.D. degree in history and a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies, de la Fuente joined Pitt's faculty in 2000. He has taught

courses on the history of Cuba, as well as on Latin American social revolutions. He wrote A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Cuba, 1900-1990s (University of North Carolina Press, 2001); "The Resurgence of Racism in Cuba" in NACLA Report on the Americas (2001); and "Race, Ideology, and Culture in Cuba: Recent Scholarship" in Latin American Research Review (2000). As reflected in the books and articles he has written, de la Fuente's research interests include race and race relations.

Jerome Branche

Assistant Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures

"(Afro) Cuban Literature: Culture, Caribbeanism, Censorship"

Branche received his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1996. He was appointed to Pitt's Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures in 1998. His areas of specialization include literature and society in Latin America and the Caribbean, Afro-Latin American literature, and Hispanic literature in the United States.

María Cristina Saavedra

Assistant Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literatures

"Emigration and Exile in Contemporary Cuban Cinema"

Saavedra's studies focus on Cuba, in particular the national identity in pre- and postrevolutionary Cuba. She earned her doctoral degree at New York University in 1997 and joined the faculty at Pitt's Johnstown campus in 1999.

The panel discussion is sponsored by Pitt's Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) within the University Center for International Studies in conjunction with The Mattress Factory museum. For more information, contact CLAS at