Short Study Trip to Cuba – July 2006

Short Study Trip to Cuba – July 2006

July 2006 CHLS 490 II Summer Session


For the last three years during the third summer session, the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies has offered a unique international experience to all CSULB students by sponsoring a short study trip to Cuba. In July of 2002, CSULB professors, Dr. Victor M. Rodriguez, Associate Professor and Dr. Juan Benitez, Assistant Professor, from the department in Chicano/Latino Studies, accompanied 23 CSULB students on a 10 day trip to Cuba. Recently, Dr. Rodriguez accompanied 19 students to Cuba during the summer of 2003. In the summer of 2004 another group was led by Dr. Juan M. Benitez to Cuba. All participants enroll for academic credit, have meetings and lectures prior to the trip, engage in reasearch and write a paper, keep a journal of their impressions during this short study trip. Previous groups have traveled from Santiago, on the eastern coast of Cuba to Havana on the northwestern tip of the island. They visited Trinidad, Bayamo, Camaguey, and Santa Clara on their return trip to Havana experiencing the island’s culture and history. They also experience the social and economic challenges this country is undergoing as a result of the “special period” and the U.S. embargo. However, participants also experience the warm hospitality of the Cuban people. We are preparing to offer another study trip during July 2006.

Since 1959, Cuba, 90 miles from Miami, became a mystery and a source of political conflict for the United States. However, Cuba is also one of the countries of Latin America with the longest history of cultural and political exchange with the United States. Since President Thomas Jefferson expressed interest in annexing Cuba, Cubans have struggled to maintain their autonomy and independence while at the same time experiencing a strong American cultural influence. In turn, Cubans infused the United States with its strong Afro-Cuban culture. From Jazz, to Mambo and Baseball, Cubans have left their imprint on important symbols of American culture.

This international experience offered new ways of understanding our complex relationship with our Communist neighbor less than 90 miles from the United States.

Contact: Dr. Victor Rodriguez, Chair of the Chicano and Latino Studies Department at or the trip coordinator Dr. Juan M. Benitez at for more information. Or call 562-985-8560 or 562-985-2482.