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Industry Briefs
Blacks Explore Growing Opportunities In Cuba

 By Thomas Blanton, JD & Dennis Rogers, PHD

Thomas Blanton
, a Howard University School of Law graduate, is leading a delegation on a cultural exchange and trade mission tour of Cuba . Blanton’s group seeks to build on connections he established on previous trips and work that he and others are doing in Washington.

This delegation is especially interested in establishing business and cultural connections. As the 50-year travel restrictions to Cuba loosen up, hundreds of entrepreneurs, tourists, and others are streaming there to take advantage of the recent thaw in US-Cuban diplomatic relations.  Blanton’s trip to Cuba combines several business and personal interests, including people working on farms throughout the ‘Black Belt South’ and small business interests in Washington, DC and on the East Coast.

Delegation members are coming from Houston, Chicago and Baltimore, joining the July 26th Coalition from New York who will attend the International May Day activities and spend time on the world renowned beaches of Varadero and historic sites of Santa Clara identifying travel and tourism opportunities. 

Thomas went to Cuba in 2009 and 2012 as part of a delegation of trade unionist engaged in fact finding tours and meetings in Havana. The group individually and collectively published the results in numerous forums. The findings included these facts:

   The US imposed blockade prevented US companies from investing in and trading with Cuba.

   The strength of the free health care system was robust.

   Thousands of students obtained free medical education, and volunteered to serve the larger international community.

   Trade unions owned the means of production, the plants, themselves.

   Cuba’s economic and political policies began with discussions at the local level andwork their way up, to the National Communist Party Congresses.

Black farmers in the US are well prepared to trade with Cubans by enhancing their foodstuff such as greens and other produce for consumption. The New Community Program is a 1,600-acre farm in Georgia. Two other groups that have resources that Cuba can benefit from include independent farmers in Alabama, and the Mississippi farmers who have extended themselves to working with Cuba since 1999.

On April 11, 2015, the White House Press Secretary issued a transcript of the remarks by both President Obama, and President Castro, as they at met at the Summit of the America’s in Panama City, Panama..

In President Obama’s remarks he indicated that, “our immediate tasks include normalizing diplomatic relations and ultimately opening an embassy in Havana, and Cuba being able to open an embassy in Washington, D.C. so that our diplomats are able to interact on a more regular basis.”  In President Castro’s remarks he responded by saying, “ We can develop a friendship between our two peoples. We shall open our embassies.  We shall visit each other, having exchanges, people to people.  And all that matters is what those neighbors can do; we are close neighbors, and there are many things that we can have.”

Castro’s concluding remarks included the statement, “I think that everything can be on the table. I think that we can do it, as President Obama has just said, with respect for the ideas of the other. Some things we will agree on; others we will disagree.”

Travel professionals of color and members of the hospitality and tourism industry have emerging opportunities to impact the outcome of US Cuban relations.

Thomas Blanton is the Principal of Blanton & Associates , an investment and management consortium with assets in Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. He can be reached at ; (202) 329­6776. Dennis Rogers is a political scientist and entrepreneur in Washington, DC he can be reached at ; (202) 556-7406