New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell traveled to the Cuban capital of Havana on April 2 to meet with officials and to learn about their educational and health systems, ESSENCE magazine reported Tuesday.
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According to ESSENCE, the New Orleans Mayor traveled to Cuba with a large delegation consisting of educators, politicians, city officials, and business people.
Cantrell reportedly toured the Caribbean nation and studied their different institutions so that she could help benefit her constituents.
“The connection between New Orleans and Cuba is real. The culture, food, and our people have their souls rooted in community,” the Mayor told ESSENCE, adding that "the historic architecture, music, expressions of dance. Passion and pride. The leadership is willing to and is interested in creating a sister-city partnership that will be aligned with some of our top priorities around education, healthcare, culture, trade, and economic development."
The Mayor was also received well in Cuba as many officials and lawmakers, including the Minister of Public Health José Angel Portal Miranda, complimented Cantrell on her sincerity and open-mindedness.
"It’s no secret we’ve been in Cuba breaking down silos and building relationships to help create economic, literacy, health and new opportunities for the people of New Orleans. Just follow me on social. #CityOfYes," the Mayor's Twitter account said on April 5.
The trip was organized by the President of Diaspora Travel Experience, Abril Baloney Sutherland, Esq., who discussed with ESSENCE the ongoing U.S. embargo on Cuba.
“The U.S. embargo makes access to basic goods and materials difficult in Cuba,” Sutherland told ESSENCE. “Basic items such as school supplies, athletic equipment for kids, toiletries, food products, medical equipment, medications, biotechnology, and much-needed construction materials and equipment, to name just a few, are out of reach for most people.”
Sutherland also highlighted the issues affecting Black Cubans as a result of the U.S. blockade.
“And, the U.S. embargo disproportionately affects Black Cubans who have historically occupied the bottom rungs of society—a vestige of colonialism and centuries of social and economic exclusion,” she added.
The delegation visited the Caribbean nation at a time when the U.S. and their allies have imposed an economic blockade on both Cuba and Venezuela.