From the October 2015 Desktop News | A dedication ceremony for The University of Alabama’s new Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship will be held Thursday, Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m. at Capital Hall on UA’s Bryce campus.
In conjunction with the dedication, special guest Dr. Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst for the National Security Archive, will present “The Secret Story of How Washington and Havana Normalized Diplomatic Relations” at 3:30 p.m. in room 1004 of Shelby Hall on the UA campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Kornbluh will also sign copies of his book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, which he co-wrote with William LeoGrande. The book was re-released this month containing a new epilogue detailing how U.S. President Barack Obama secretly negotiated a reconciliation with Cuba.
The Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship was approved earlier this year by the UA Board of Trustees. The academic center builds on the activities of the 13-year Alabama-Cuba Initiative by continuing to develop scholarly activities for UA faculty and students with institutions and programs in Cuba. Both the center and the initiative efforts have been led by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Speakers at the dedication will include Dr. Stuart Bell, UA president; Dr. Robert Olin, dean of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences; Kornbluh; and members of the center’s faculty advisory board.
UA and Cuban educators and academic institutions have worked together since 2002 through an academic travel license from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which permits travel to Cuba for certain specific educational activities. More than 45 disciplines and departments, approximately 85 faculty, and nearly 75 graduate and undergraduate students at UA have participated in the initiative.
Kornbluh has worked at the National Security Archive for nearly 30 years, earning the title of senior analyst. He directs the archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. In March 2001, he organized the 40th anniversary conference on the Bay of Pigs invasion, which brought Kennedy White House officials, retired CIA officers and former Cuban exile brigade members to Havana to meet with Fidel Castro; and in October 2002, he organized the 40th anniversary conference in Havana on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Kornbluh has served as a historical consultant on numerous documentary and Hollywood films, most recently working with Steven Soderbergh and Benicio Del Toro on their bio-pic of Argentine revolutionary leader Che Guevara, a major figure of the Cuban Revolution. As a journalist and historian, he is the lead correspondent on Cuba for the Nation magazine and has also written for many other publications, including Cigar Aficionado, Mother Jones, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and The New Yorker.
He played a large role in the campaign to declassify government documents, through the Freedom of Information Act, relating to the history of the U.S. government’s support for the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. He is the author of a number of books including The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, which was named a Time Best Book of the Year, and he edited Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba.
For more information about the center, visit www.cuba.ua.edu.