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Afro-Cuban Voices - Casa de las Américas & Pedro Pérez Sarduy, May 24 to 31, 2014


Common Ground Travel Services

Licensed Cuba travel agent in Massachusetts

Tel: 954 620-7042 Email for Debbie Ledesma [_AT_ = @]

Common Ground specializes in numerous cultural and professional themed trips to Cuba, trips created in collaboration with Cubans on the island.

Afro-Cuban Voices - Casa de las Américas & Pedro Pérez Sarduy, May 24 to 31, 2014top

Havana & Matanzas, Cuba

(As of March 5, see Details of Program & Costs )

A program of dialogue, interaction and discussion with leading Afro-Cuban writers, artists, bloggers, musicians, filmmakers specifically for full time professionals from the United States in the fields of African diaspora, African-Am Studies, the arts, and culture.

The program is organized at Casa de las Américas and led by noted Afro-Cuban writer and poet Pedro Pérez Sarduy who will also lead the group to Regla, Matanzas, and Jovellanos, exploring directly the modern and historic nexus of the African diaspora.

Now accepting applications

Qualifying for the Program

Apply to Program


Matanzas, San Severino Castle and the Museum of the Slave Trade.

Jovellanos, where families trace their ancestry in Beinin, Angola, Congo.

Neighborhoods of Havana: Santos Suárez, La Vibora, El Cerro, Marianao, Cubanacan, Miramar, El Vedado, Centro Habana, and Old Havana, outlining the history of the city and of African settlement and presence in the city.

Travel by ferry to Regla, a working class town built around the Church of the Black Virgin, shrineto Yemayá. After visiting the church, visit the studio of the late artist Canet and meet with the Historian of Regla, Pedro Cosme Baños. From there walk to the Museo de Regla where you will be received by the important local Afro-Cuban group Nsila Cheche. Afro-Cuban Experience, the Next Generation: Alzar la Voz, a group of rappers and graffiti artists from the Havana suburb of Alamar.

Afro-Cuban trends in Popular Music: son cubano, timba. hip hop, etc. Invited: Magia López.

Afro-Cuban Women in Literature: Invited: Georgina Herrera, Caridad Atencio and Teresa Cárdenas.

Nationality and identity. Gisela Arandia.


Casa de las Américas
Pedro Pérez Sarduy (

The program Afro-Cuban Voices is organized specifically for full time professionals intending their time in Cuba for full time research in their field of an academic non commercial nature under 31 C.F.R. § 515.564(a) of the OFAC regulations, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and for full time students authorized to attend the program for credit towards a graduate or undergraduate degree under 31 C.F.R. § 515.565(a)(1 and 2) .

People to People Exchanges: Afro-Cuban Voices: May 24 to May 31, 2014, with Pedro Perez Sarduytop

On several orevious occasions (see below), well known writer Pedro Pérez Sarduy led a program with Casa de las Américas that brought together outstanding figures in the African diaspora, in the arts, literature and academia, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Afro-Cuban women. That year’s program drew on the experiences written about in Pedro’s book The Maids of Havana. This year, the program will take up where it left off: A freewheeling dialogue and exploration of the lives, art and experiences of those in the African diaspora in Cuba and in the United States. Participants in the program — which is for those who work in the various fields of African Diaspora studies, history, culture and the arts — will meet with some of the most outstanding and cutting edge Cuban historians, artists, writers, bloggers, musicians and others involved in the Afro-Cuban perspective. Cost: approx $2500. -

Included in this tour will be meetings with Gisela Arandia, a well known resercher on race & identity, and Magia López, director of the Cuban Rap Agency.

Full schedule            Application

Travel to Cuba June 15, 2013, with Simunye and Fund for Reconciliation

Simunye and FfRD have just 5 spots left on their June 15 trip to Cuba.

The program includes visits to Regla and the Church of the Black Virgin, San Severino Castle in Matanzas, the Literacy Museum and School City in Havana, visits to Casa Africa and Casa de las Américas, meetings with Afro-Cuban historians and figures from the world of the arts, visit to Cabildo Quisicuabo, to the Women's Federation and to Jaimanitas, visit to the Castellano Psicopedagogical Project, and much more.

Can you make a quick decision? If so you are invited to join them.

Simunye -- Zulu for "we are one" -- is a non profit organization in Florida. Mostly teachers, they consider themselves both ordinary folk and philanthropists, and as Simunye each summer for the past 15 years they travel to different countries as well as to a number of impoverished areas of our own country with gifts of school supplies for teachers and students for the coming year.

This year, thanks to the gracious collaboration of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development, the group will travel to Cuba, June 15 to 22. There are 5 slots left on the trip and they asked us to open the trip to others who might be interested.

Cost of the trip is $2800, including airfare Miami/Havana, hotel, breakfast and several other meals, transportation, guide, program, speaker fees, service fees, and visa

African Roots of Cuba - Afro-Cuban Women in Literature, Media and the Arts with writer Pedro Perez-Sarduy, June 1- 8, 2013 top - CLOSED

Join us in Havana - June 1 to 8, 2013Luís Eliades Rodríguez painting

Gisela Arandia (Historian), Sandra Alvarez (Psychologist and Blogger) and Inés María Martiatu, (Theater Critic). Marta Núñez Sarmiento (Sociologist), Georgina Herrera, Caridad Atencio and Teresa Cárdenas. Luisa Campuzano (Head of Program of Women Studies. Casa de las Américas), Daysi Rubiera, (Writer and Researcher), Gloria Rolando (film maker), Magia López (hip-hop artist, manager of Cuba's Rap Agency), "Alzar la Voz" (rappers and graffiti women artists).

These are some of the extraordinary women who joined us at Casa de las Américas in May 2011 for an outstanding dialogue with U.S. academics, intellectuals, writers, and artists gathered together and led by Cuban writer Pedro Pérez Sarduy and Casa researcher and academic adviser Caridad Tamayo.

More than simply dialogue, the project is an important research opportunity for serious scholars of the role of women in the African-Diaspora as seen through the lens and in the voice of Cuba and the Afrocubana.
Here is the program for the trip: program
Please join us by filling out the application form: application form
Read on for costs and criteria for joining.
Medical 2299.00 - Land & Program
$459 - RT Air Miami/Havana*

Accommodations Hotel Presidente or similar Breakfast daily at the hotel

Welcome & farewell dinner, 2 lunches

Daily dialogue, discussion & presentation at Casa de las Américas, with translation

Program as outlined in linked itinerary

Airport transfers and transportation for scheduled program activities

English speaking guide

Entry visa for Cuba

Medical insurance in Cuba

Program & service fees

Mailing fee
For single occupancy, add $250
Not included: $25 Cuban departure tax; tips and gratuities; addiitonal meals/beverages; personal expenses
*Airfare from Miami estimate only; charter companies set their prices on a monthly basis.
Common Ground
Common Ground Education & Travel Services is dedicated to providing opportunities for educational, cultural, scientific exchanges and dialogue between the peoples of Cuba and of the United States. With offices in Western Massachusetts
and Hollywood Florida, Common Ground provides assistance and travel services to all individuals and institutions qualifying under the U.S. regulations for travel to Cuba. Proudly, it remains the only agency in New England assisting Cuban Americans with their specific travel needs.
Read Pedro Pérez Sarduy's Maids of Havana
Criteria for Program
Under U.S. regulations on travel to Cuba participants must be full time in an academic or another field or profession that lends itself to full time research of an academic non-commercial nature with a likelihood of dissemination. For complete information on the U.S. regulations, see the OFAC website

About Casa de las Américas

Founded in 1959 by Haydeé Santamaría and directed currently by Roberto Fernández Retamar, Casa de las Américass promotes, researches, hosts, awards and publishes the work of writers, artists, musicians, playwrights and researchers in literature, the arts and social sciences of the continent.

Cassa was founded at the very beginning of the Revolution, in April of 1959, established by governmental decree and as a nongovernmental organization with the goal of developing and broadening the social and cultural relationships between the peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the world. It was conceived as a space for differing views and perspectives within a climate of renewal. Casa de las Américas promotes exchange between individuals and institutions throughout the world. When all countries in the hemisphere with the exception of Mexico broke relations with Cuba in the early years, Casa de las Américas persevered as a beacon of dialogue and discussion among writers, artists and intellectuals worldwide, a major bulwark against the attempted isolation of Cuba.

Casa de las Américas

Common Ground Education & Travel Services | 413-203-1125 ||
359 Main Street
Unit 2A
Easthampton, MA 01027

Afro-Cuban Women in Literature, Media and the Arts, May 19-27, 2012 top

Dear Friends,   

This past May 2011, Common Ground in collaboration with Casa de las Américas and Cuban author, poet and journalist Pedro Pérez Sarduy held its first research project on Afro-Cuban Women in Literature, Media and the Arts. It was an exciting dialogue. It was a huge success.

Fifteen women and men from universities across the United States met with Cuban writers, artists, bloggers, and filmmakers over the course of a week to discuss what matters to Cuban women in 21st Century Revolutionary Cuba and how they face, convey and communicate through their art.  

The group met during the week with Irene Esther Ruiz, Gisela ArandiaInés María Martiatu, Mavis Alvarez, Daysi Rubiera, Nancy Morejón, Magia Lopez, Gloria Rolando, and Sandra Alvarez.  The Cuban women invited others to come, such as Yusimi, a young blogger new to the scene.  As well, the group went to Santa Clara and met with Pedro's Aunt Antonia.  Everywhere people had the opportunity to talk with Cubans in the streets, the restaurants and city squares. 

Next Program Scheduled - May 19-27, 2012

Start in Santa Clara on May 19, 2012

Spend May 18 in Miami and then fly to Havana where Pedro Pérez Sarduy, the author of the Maids of Havana, will meet you and take you directly to Santa Clara, his home town, for a reception with members of his family.   

Continue to Trinidad, historic city in the hills

From Santa Clara drive to Trinidad, a precious jewel of an old city, nestled in the foothills of the Escambray Mountains.  In exploring the city, you will find that many of the houses are occupied by families who have lived there for generations -- but are often the servants and even former slaves of the original owners. 

Castle of San Severino XVIII - Matanzas 

Returning from Trinidad to Havana, a stop at the Castle, which houses a museum a small but important museum dedicated to the history of slavery in Cuba.  Continuing on to Havana, check in arrival at the Hotel Presidente.    

Sessions at Casa de las Américas

Presentation & Discussion - Black Women in Colonial, Republican & Socialist Cuba. Reception to Casa with Luisa Campuzano, Director of womens' Studies at Casa.  Invited participants historian Graciela Chailloux and researcher/writer Tomás Fernández Robaina

Film - 1912, Breaking the Silence (Voces del Silencio, with English subtitles), Chapt II, with filmmaker Gloria Rolando.
Presentation & Discussion - Afro Cuban Women in the Media. 

Presenters Irene Esther Ruiz, television consultant and specialist in gender issues, and Sandra Alvarez, psychologist, journalist and author of the blog, Negra cubana tenía que ser.  

Presentation & Discussion - Afro Cuban Women & Their Families, with the film My Hair is White, My Skin is Black.  Invited guest, historian and writer Daysi Rubiera

Presentation & Discussion - Afro-Cuban Women in Music & Art.  Sexuality & Race.  Meet artist Dania Fleites in her studio. 

Presentation & Discussion - Cuban Rap, Cuban Poetry. With Carmen González, poet and promoter of the Cuban Rap Agency and the women's rap group Alzar la Voz.  


Visits to museums and Afro-Cuban centers and galleries, evenings at local nightclubs, restaurants, and several special dinners or other meals.

Who is eligible to go on this trip?  We invite all serious scholars of Afro Cuban history, culture and the arts to join this trip.  It is a research trip, with a lot of direct contact with the Cuban people as well as meetings and exchanges with important figures in the scene of Cuban arts, history and culture.  The trip is primarily intended for full time academics and other professionals, but we will be able to consider other applicants on a case by case basis.  It is not a tourism trip, but it is an important and exciting way to add in depth knowledge to your own expertise in the field of the African Diaspora.  We welcome your interest and application. 

Merri Ansara, Director
For more info see Common Ground Education & Travel Services
Tel: 413-203-1125 Email:

Common Ground AfroCuban themed trips with Obsidian Arts Center, 2012 top

These are people to people exchanges trips and are open to a broader public. They are offered in collaboration with the Obsidian Arts Center.

May 18 - 25, 2012
Afro Art Experience in Santiago and at the Havana Biennale 

May 18 - May 26, 2012
LGBT / Arts Tour of Havana Cuba 

July 6 - 13, 2012 
Afro Art Experience at Fire Festival in Santiago and Havana Visit

The Black Women of Cuba from the 20th Century into the 21st, May 21 to 28, 2011top

Dear Friends,  

As Christmas and the New Year come upon us, we are sending to you news and an invitation to join a program in Cuba put together by Pedro Pérez Sarduy, Casa de las Américas, and Common Ground:

The Black Women of Cuba from the 20th Century into the 21st, May 21 to 28, 2011.

Working with Cary Tamayo Fernández at Casa, and a dozen of Pedro's good friends and colleagues, we've put together a program of presentations, interactions, happenings and visits. Pedro Pérez Sarduy is the author of The Maids of Havana, available in English, French and Spanish.

Involved will be some of Cuba's leading Black women writers, poets, filmmakers, artists, musicians, intellectuals, historians, social scientists and other ordinary but extraordinary women.  

The goal is to explore as a group and individually the role of Cuba's Black women through the history, literature and popular culture of the 20th Century. 

The trip will take place over a period of 8 days, May 21st to May 28th, 2011. Pedro will accompany and lead the group, and Caridad Tamayo Fernández, researcher at Casa and head of academic studies there, will organize the presentations at Casa.  There will also be films, readings, recorridos, visits, clubs and a variety of activities around the themes of study. 

Participants are invited on the basis of their qualification as full time professionals, whether in universities, the arts, the social sciences or another area of study, teaching or expertise.

The cost is $2500, including RT airfare from Miami to Havana, accommodations at 4* hotels in Havana and Santa Clara, breakfast daily, 3 special meals and parties, lectures and presentations, transportation by air-conditioned bus, English translator, honoraria, entry visa for Cuba, and service fees.  A reading list will be provided in preparation for the trip, including a copy of The Maids of Havana. 

We hope you can join us.  Please pass this notice on to all those who you hope might be interested. 


Merri Ansara                  Pedro Pérez Sarduy
Common Ground                 London

Website for Casa de las Américas

Eligibility for the trip

Under the rules of the U.S. government Cuba sanctions, this is a full time research trip open to full time professionals in literature, history, social sciences, the arts, women's studies and other fields that might require research of the nature presented in this project.  Applicants will be asked to provide us with a statement of their specific research interest in Cuba and will be expected to present the results of their research to their colleagues and peers on their return, through the various media and means at their disposal.  

You can read more about the U.S. regulations regarding travel to Cuba

May 21 to 28, 2011
$2500 from Miami double occupancy; single supplement available


Jazz in Cuba: History, Origins and Current Scene – July 10 to 17, 2010top

 Cost: $1975 in double occupancy; $2200 in single
Includes: Airfare from Miami or Cancun; first class hotel with swimming pool; transportation by airconditioned bus; breakfast daily; 4 lunches and 2 special dinners, evening at Tropicana Nightclub; English speaking guide; medical/evacuation insurance. 
Qualifying for the trip: All travel to Cuba is regulated by the U.S. government which has an embargo of the Island. In exception to the embargo, full time professionals may travel to Cuba for full time research of an academic nature with a likelihood of dissemination. Full time professionals for this trip would include full time musicians, teachers of music, musicologists and all others for whom research on education in Cuba would find practical application in their professional field. 

See Jazz in Cuba for more details. This trip overlaps with the Havana Jazz Festival.

Havana Jazz Festival, 12/02top

December 6th to 16th, 2002

For only $1,550.00 your trip includes

Chucho Valdés
, Bamboleo, Quartet Aché, Taj Mahal, Danilo Pérez, Alain Pérez Quartet, Roy Hargrove Sextet, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Maraca and Otra Visión, Yoruba Andabo, Ivan Lins, Joe Lovano Quartet, Leo Brouwer, Issac DelgadoNG La Banda and others.

Common Ground and the Afrocuban Cultural Council are pleased to invite you to join Alan West Durán of Boston and Alberto Faya of Havana for an exciting trip to Cuba for the Havana Jazz Festival, December 6-16. It's an opportunity that we could not resist offering our friends and clients, even with such short planning notice, and an opportunity we know that few can resist. The cafes, streets, theaters and every corner of Havana will be bursting with music, from traditional Cuban tunes to the latest Jazz sounds from around the world.

Alan West is professor of Latin American literature at Northeastern University and a leading Cuban American poet and expert on Cuban music.

Alberto Faya is a well known Cuban musician, veteran of the Cuban New Music movement, musicologist of Casa de las Americas, and now TV music producer, book writer, and leader of the group Siete de Corazon.

The dates of the trip are December 6 to 16, 2002. The cost of the trip is $1550 per person, double occupancy, with departure from Miami.

The trip is sponsored by Common Ground in collaboration with Afrocuban Cultural Council under license from the U.S. Treasury Department.

  • Round Trip Air to Havana from Miami

  • 10 nights with hotel accommodations with breakfast daily

  • Transfers to/from airport and transportation for group activities and program

  • Program of visits, music presentations and lectures in Havana and Matanzas

  • Credentials for entrance to Jazz Festival activities *

  • Medical/Evacuation insurance while in Cuba

  • Entry visa for Cuba **

  • Local English speaking guide and assistance

*Some jazz festival activities may require additional ticket for entrance. Your hosts will assist you in purchasing these as necessary. 
**Cuban born participants add $130 to cost and contact CG immediately to process visa. 

Note: Participants will be traveling under U.S. Treasury Department license. Treasury Department regulations prevail in all aspects of the trip.

Call us to sign up or for more information: 877-661-7653 (toll free) or 617-661-7653 (local).



topSee their site at Common Ground Education & Travel Services

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