US-Cuba Sister Cities Association

The US-Cuba Relationship

by Jay Higginbotham

Speech delivered at the
US-Cuba Sister Cities Association
Coming Out Conference -Mobile, Alabama 10.9.1999

For four decades now, the Cuban and American people have been constricted in
their relations by a cruel and inhumane embargo.  The long range effect of
this embargo is a tragic situation in which both Cubans and Americans are

Perhaps the biggest loser is democracy itself, for it has been shown again
and again in recent years that the great majority of the people in the United
States and throughout the world-- even most Cuban-Americans in Florida-- are
opposed to the embargo.

Yet it is maintained--against the wishes of the majority everywhere on earth.

In the midst of this ongoing tragedy, the ideals of an American program-- the
concept of sister cities -- are now reappearing, which is why we have
traveled nationwide, to gather here this evening.

The essence of the sister city idea is this: By creative interactment in
concrete and constructive ways, mutual problems and challenges can better be
met; individuals can not only solve basic problems facing ALL societies, but
can improve their relationships with one another as members of the world

If enough Cuban and American cities can share  ourselves and our problems
with one another, we can eventually transform our governments from combatants
to cooperants, which will inevitably lead to normal relations-- even to true
friendship-- for no amount of hatred and ill will can withstand the power of
people actively sharing with one another and together meeting common

There is no better way to improve oneís community and oneís nation than by
sharing ideas with a culture different than oneís own, by testing and using
different approaches to fundamental problems.  Thus Cubans and Americans
sharing our problems and our solutions, far from being merely a moral
obligation, is a priceless opportunity to learn from one another and together
advance the human spirit.  And what better time to take advantage of this
opportunity than now?

Today a great gulf divides the Cuban and American governments.  Jagged peaks
and barrier reefs bar our closer relations.  Rather than crashing through or
around the barriers, however, which we have long been attempting through
politics and force, together through US-Cuba Sister Cities Association, we
embark on another, more constructive way.

We will flood that abyss with so much goodwill, so many positive ideas and
concrete actions that our joint efforts will lift us above the peaks and
snags of petty politics and carry us across the waters into each otherís open
arms.  We must continue this new-found positive relationship even though our
government, even though Sister Cities International, cannot at this time
approve the relationship.

Like Romeo and Juliet, we shall continue our unblessed affair, despite the
efforts of certain parental authority figures, to keep us apart.  But unlike
the star-crossed lovers of medieval times, however, our sister cities must
strive to bring about reconciliation between our families before  more
tragedy occurs, rather than afterwards.  This is the true meaning of the
sister city ideal-- helping each other, sharing ideas, problems and solutions.

This new relationship will have far-flung consequences for both Cuba and the
United States, as we seek to learn from each other, especially in the fields
of education, crime prevention, narcotics interdiction, environmental
protections and medical technology. What miracles could be wrought if the
richest country on earth began supplying Cuban doctors--some of the most
talented and well-trained in any country-- enough medicines and equipment and
combined medical research?  The results would astonish the world!  New
knowledge from combined resources would not only save the lives of Cubans,
but of Americans as well, just  as Cuba has offered its new Meningitis
vaccine to that purpose.

But the Cuban-American relationship, as important as it is for both our
countries today, has even broader implications.

As the oldest relic of the Cold War, it stands starkly on the world stage as
a seemingly impossible situation to reconcile.  The Cuban-American conflict
is therefore far more crucial than it might appear.  For it symbolizes the
larger clash of societies of different value systems, different creeds of
government.  If this conflict cannot be resolved between close neighbors,
using mutual respect, rational discussion, sharing of mutual goals and
creative conflict resolution, how can humankind expect to resolve more
complex disputes between more distant and  dangerous situations of the
future? Disputes which if not resolved, could put an end to civilization?

Let us therefore make the Cuban-American conflict and its resolution a model
for all world leaders to use in any coming crisis of the new millennium.

If by the spirit of friendship, if by using rational, respectful and creative
methods of conflict resolution, if by extending our hands, our minds and our
hearts, we can succeed in such a seemingly impossible challenge as ending the
longest, harshest embargo ever to be placed against any nation; the US
blockade against Cuba, we will have achieved not merely a hemispheric
victory, but a global triumph for all humankind.

This speech may be reprinted in its entirety. Please distribute widely.
Help foster US-Cuba Sister City relationships.

For further information on USCSCA please contact:

US-Cuba Sister Cities Association
320 Lowenhill Street
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15216

412-563-1945 Fax


US - Cuba Sister Cities Association Mission Statement:

To foster sister city relationships
and understanding through mutually beneficial
exchanges between individuals, community groups,
organizations, and institutions in the United States
with counterparts in Cuba

Dear Friend:

Thank you for your interest in the US-Cuba Sister Cities Association.
Enclosed please find our introductory ìseed packetî for your perusal.

We are engaged in many activities, one very important, is collecting all the
documentation from the folks already enjoying relationships with Cuba, to
help you in your efforts to create your own people-to-people project. If your
group already has any formal or informal connections in Cuba, please forward
for our database. We want to document this widespread interest extending into
so many fields.

Building a US-Cuba Sister City, or any "sister" relationship with any
institution in Cuba, requires a collective effort, obviously inclusive of the
Cuban people. This is so easily said, and yet not so easily accomplished.
That is a primary reason this organization was founded, to help
communicate/coordinate our efforts, and work through the channels our Cuban
counterparts have established to make it possible for them to be most
participatory.  That is why we ask you to begin your work by joining USCSCA.
Secondly, we advise you to begin with an open-minded, "Generic," (Your City,
school, organization, etc., Cuba Sister City Project," because this allows
you to have the Cuban people participate in the choice of the best place to
twin, for you, and for them.

Most people only have (limited) experiences with places in or around Havana
or Santiago, since these are the places most tourists visit.  Havana is
congested with twinning requests, worldwide, and is therefore not the best
place to seek a viable exchange. The Cuban people want to share, be explored
and engaged in this work.
Therefore, Cubans want to be ACTIVE players in making choices of who and
where these twinnings occur. We are specializing in helping that exchange
process happen.

We are also compiling a basic ìorganizerís manualî to help with the
fundamental steps found to be most useful in approaching and building the
diverse constituency of people, organizations and institutions that build a
community base for a successful sister city project. It will include
firsthand experience about organizing students, healthcare workers,
universities, cultural and educational exchanges and organizing the
participation of elected officials, among others. This will be a growing
information network, as people add their experiences to the mix. USCSCA can
also help people find within their own cities, resources and other people who
share this interest, who may not, as of yet, be aware of each other.

Our existing sister cities are eager to assist in many ways. Weíd like to
connect established sister cities with cities in formation in hopes of
mentoring the new projects through what can be a complex, but profoundly
rewarding process. Persistence pays off. We hope to be able to match like
institutions, so that specific and individual needs can be best addressed.
Allowing for reciprocal input from Cubans seeking sister counterparts is a
major part of our challenge, helping soulmates find each other. This can only
happen when we have a base of people from one city open to begin the
communication and exploration process with people from another. Like all
rewarding human relationships, it requires some time, a lot of patience and a
splash of humor.

Please look over the materials, and contact us so that we can better serve
you in a more customized fashion. Each of us brings a unique perspective to
this work. We must all begin where we are, and that is a different starting
point for everyone. We look forward to your city, or organization joining
with cities through out the US to reach out and bridge years of cold war
isolationism suffered by the people of both our nations. As we enter the next
millennium, it is the ordinary people, like us, doing an the extraordinary,
commonplace thing: of extending the hand of friendship to people living in
other lands with whom we must co-create a future and share a world, who will
light the way.

We look forward to your support and hope that we will be of value and service
to your efforts to create your own US-Cuba Sister City Project. Our next
national meeting will be in Madison, Wisconsin, in June of 2000. Please make
plans to join us for this important national coordination/implimentation

We will also be taking a delegation of nationwide representatives of
established or emerging projects to Cuba in May, 2000, to meet with Cuban
counterparts and look from within, at how Cuba works with the over 32 nations
she has sister cities with. If you would like to participate in that
delegation, please contact us for further information.


Lisa Valanti

US-Cuba Sister Cities Association

Please scroll the following information:

Table of Contents

Enclosed Please Find:

1.      Vision Statement

2.      Mission Statement

3.      Goals

4.      Activities

5.      Member Services

6.      In Conclusion

7.      For Further Information

~ Vision Statement ~

The US-CUBA Sister Cities Association has been created out of the efforts of
citizens nationwide to form sister city partnerships with their counterparts
in Cuba. It aims to build on their successes while limiting the frustrations
related to reestablishing constructive relations between our peoples, nations
and governments.

USCSCA believes the people of Cuba are part of our shared world and should
not be isolated or exempted from the global community or refused the mutual
benefits of sister city programs on the basis of political considerations or

At a meeting in New York City in September of 1998, while sharing stories of
our astounding successes and the profound benefits of our sister city
projects, participants noted the desire of many other cities to enter into
equally mutually beneficial exchanges by developing official people-to-people
community linkages.

After comparing our common experiences of the incredible warmth, welcome and
cooperation of the Cuban people, we decided to pool our joint experience and
expertise to help others wishing to create sister city projects. We "founded"
USCSCA in a meeting in Pittsburgh, Pa. in March of 1999, and recently held
our first profoundly successful "coming out " conference in Mobile, Al. which
was attended by over 100 participants from different parts of the US.

Responding to another consequence of the lack of normal relations, is that
the Cuban people are unable to approach US cities with whom they might like
to develop partnerships.  A mechanism needed to be created that allows
reciprocal exchanges. We envision this network as a means to establish
principles and standards on which to build mutually beneficial and reciprocal

The US-CUBA Sister Cities Association, agrees to create a nationwide
organization inviting people interested in learning more about sister cities
and those already engaged in the work to join together to create a broad, new
network between the people of Cuba and the people of the United States.

~ Mission Statement ~

To foster sister city relationships and understanding through mutually
beneficial exchanges between individuals, community groups, organizations,
and institutions in the United States with counterparts in Cuba.

~ Goals ~

*      To develop community partnerships between US cities, counties, and
states with similar jurisdictions in Cuba.

*      To create opportunities for city officials and citizens to experience
and explore another culture through long-term community partnerships.

*       To stimulate environments through which communities will creatively
learn, work and solve problems together through reciprocal cultural,
educational, municipal, business, professional, and technological exchanges
and projects.

*     To create an atmosphere in which mutual community and eventual economic
development can be enabled and strengthened.

*      To collaborate with organizations and individuals in the US & Cuba
that share similar goals and objectives.

~  Activities ~

1)         Help cities identify and choose an appropriate partner city in

2)       Create a nationwide register of sister cities in formation to
eliminate duplications.

3)      Put developing projects in touch with the appropriate Cuban
counterparts and help them follow appropriate channels of communication.

4)      Offer a national advisory network of people to interface offering
peer support on all societal levels in developing projects.

5)        Share local government resolutions and other forms of public

6)        Help projects gain official recognition within their city.

7)       Help with the logistics of delegations and trips to Cuba and
coordinate tours of Cubans coming here to the US, especially, but not limited
to educational & cultural groups.

8)        Share strategies on public relations and media coverage.

9)        Publish a nationwide newsletter reporting on our growth and

10)      Develop a national website with links to all other member sister
cities projects.

~ Member Services ~

**  USCSCA will strive to ensure that each project undertaken by its
membership will reflect the diversity of its local network. It will promote
the broadest diversity of ethnic and racial minorities, people who are
physically/mental disabled, women, youth, and also reflecting diverse
socio-economic status in all activities.

**    USCSCA with the cooperation of  Cuban counterparts, will:

      * Help a city register and select an appropriate partner city in Cuba.

     * Help coordinate linkages on all levels within the US and Cuba.

     * Share advice, experience and expertise from established sister city
       projects and emerging member projects.

     * Help a project through the steps required to sign an official  sister
        city agreement.

    * USCSCA will provide information on resources, consultants and
        current affairs among other information.

For Further Information:

To learn how to begin a US-Cuba sister city project, to be connected to
people within your city who might already be working on a project, to involve
your organization, to register your interest in a city in Cuba, to find out
what cities in Cuba would like to have a sister city, or to get in touch with
other sister city projects nationwide, or any questions please contact:

US-CUBA Sister Cities Association
320 Lowenhill Street
Pittsburgh, PA. 15216

Phone: (412) 563-1519
Fax: (412) 563-1945

For more information:

Click here

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Date 03-20-03 by Takashi Yogi