BADC Annual Conventions are B-A-A-A-C-K with a vengeance!!! To relaunch one of our signature programs after a six year hiatus, BADC looked south to a neighbor not adequately understood by most Americans — Cuba. For five days, we were immersed in educational, cultural and professional experiences – just enough to tease us to want to go back again to visit more of the island and its people.
Among the 26 Annual Conventioneers, were four BADC Past Presidents (Christopher G, Hoge 1998-99; Nicholas S. McConnell 2003-04; William P. Atkins 2005-06; Paulette E. Chapman 2007-08) and three Judges (Diane Brenneman, Aida Melendez, Victor Palmer).
A former Cuban diplomat and current Cuban history professor laid out the context for our understanding with a lecture regarding Cuba’s history in the 20th century up to today. Professor Carlos Alzugaray in one of his assignments was Cuba’s Ambassador to the European Union, so his insights about Cuba’s place in the world were well honed. It was quite enlightening to hear a Cuba-centric interpretation of recent world history.
A most engaging meeting occurred with the leadership of the National Association of Cuban Lawyers (NACL) at their headquarters. NACL’s role in drafting Cuba’s recently adopted constitution demands much further inquiry. Continued discussions are planned.
Visiting one of the national medical clinics/hospitals provided some exposure to the pros and cons of “socialized medicine” – again requiring further review. It can certainly be said the facility was extremely clean and orderly, and the nurses wore the white crisp outfits with white crisp caps that we remember our nurses wearing in the ’40’s and ’50’s.
Interspersed among these formal meetings were opportunities to visit examples of the burgeoning hospitality industry, particularly in the ownership and private enterprise of many charming and delicious food establishments. We dined at the private restaurant of a young woman who was identified by former First Lady Michelle Obama as a Minority Enterprise Entrepreneur, one of 10 such women from different parts of the world brought to Washington to receive an award from the White House. She spoke to us about her efforts to empower Cuban woman and was delightful. At another neighborhood restaurant, created by the locals to host visitors to the island and to provide jobs for the country neighbors, we learned how the neighborhood also organically grew the vegetables and fruits to be served.
Other highlights included these attractions: riding in vintage American cars, visiting the famous Cuban cigar factory and its retail store, visiting the capitol building, visiting Old Havana, Hemingway’s home compound and watering holes including the location of the inspiration for his book “Old Man & The Sea”, and riding by the American Embassy, just to name a few.
Such a beautiful experience would not have been possible without the able guidance of our “ground operator”, an American company sanctioned by the Cuban government, Global Relations, under the tutelage of its President, Dan Rutherford, a former Treasurer of the State of Illinois. Our thanks to him is heart-felt.
For information about Annual Convention 2020 please click here!