Cuban UN ambassador speaks to QU students

Jacklyn Pellegrino and Julia Barcello

Quinnipiac University’s School of Business and Albert Schweitzer Institute hosted Cuba’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta Sept. 9, to discuss topics such as Cuba’s political history and the nation’s ongoing fight for independence and education.

On the global scale, Pedroso Cuesta discussed rising tension between the United States and Cuba. He told The Chronicle he thinks the Biden administration “betrayed” the commitment that they would review Trump’s policy against Cuba, that was made during the election while Biden was on the campaign trail.

“Not only have they not done that so far,” Pedroso Cuesta said. “But they also have two new measures that have contributed to further strengthen the party.”

Pedroso Cuesta also spoke about the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. He said that American citizens are not able to send money to families in Cuba because of the absence of open markets between the countries, ultimately preventing Cubans from rising financially. 

“But the question means, how these people can flourish and progress if they cannot have access to the closer market, we cannot move from where we are,” Pedroso Cuesta said.

Pedroso Cuesta received a masters in national defense in 1987 from the Raúl Roa García Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana, Cuba. Following his graduation, he joined the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among many other positions, Pedroso Cuesta has been a member of the Cuban delegations to different sessions of the U.N. General Assembly.

Cuban permanent representative to the U.N. Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta spoke Sept. 9 about opening markets between Cuba and the U.S. (AJ Gugliotta III)

In regard to schooling, Cuba has free universal education from kindergarten through college and it is recognized today by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

 Mohammad Elahee, professor of international business, who attended the event said that since Cuba’s private sector is “booming” there may be opportunities for Quinnipiac students to go to Cuba to gain hands-on experience through “experiential learning” and “service learning projects.” 

He also said that we have to realize that policy making happens at the government level but students can still make a difference in other countries.

 “Regardless of what is at the government level, we can play a role in people-to-people collaboration, learning from each other, exerting help where we can help other people or people from other countries, and at the same time enrich our understanding of the world in the process,” Elahee said.

Elahee said that since so many students were in the audience he’s hopeful that students have shown that they can “take Quinnipiac to a new height.”  

Taylor Proulx, a graduate business administration student, said prior to the event he heard the U.S. doesn’t have a great relationship with Cuba and they aren’t allowed to travel there and trade with them.

 “I think having the ambassador come in today and talk about the history of Cuba and how they’re really trying to become independent to where they are today and just how the Trump administration, they didn’t know a lot about what was going on in Cuba and that embargo and now (Pedroso Cuesta) was very open to communicating with us,” Proulx said.

 Proulx as well as Russell Jackson, a junior entrepreneurship and small business management major, said they attended the event to learn more about Cuba and to see what funding they could offer to small businesses there as a part of the program.

“I as well didn’t really know much about Cuba, I just knew there was tension between Cuba and the U.S., I wasn’t sure much of the tension, but I feel like this event, gave me a much bigger understanding and I look forward to potentially being able to work and unblock Cuba from all the sanctions against them,” Jackson said.

Pedroso Cuesta told The Chronicle that one of his main goals as ambassador is to contribute to a better world for humanity.

“To be in a future, where we can live in solidarity, which is that we can respond to your needs and you can respond to mine and we both together can respond to know this and respect the huge diversity that we all represent,” Pedroso Cuesta said. “Because we are all diverse and that is the richness of our humanity, the diversity that we represent.”