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UNC Hosts Cuban First Secretary Miguel Fraga

November 29, 2017
UNC Global Affairs

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill welcomed First Secretary Miguel Fraga from the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Washington, D.C., on November 17, 2017.

During the visit, Fraga met with faculty from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health to learn about the School’s long-standing research initiatives in Cuba. He also discussed UNC’s engagement in Cuba with senior administrators in the Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA), UNC Global, and the College of Arts and Sciences. Fraga later delivered a presentation on U.S.-Cuba relations at the FedEx Global Education Center.

Fraga was appointed first secretary at the embassy when diplomatic relations were re-established between the U.S. and Cuba in 2015. Since 2006, he has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the North American and U.S. divisions and the Office of the Minister, including three years at the Cuban embassy in Canada. He earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Havana and a Master of Science in foreign relations from the Higher Institute of Foreign Relations “Raúl Roa García.”

In his role as first secretary, Fraga has made many visits to universities and communities throughout the United States to engage in education and outreach. Cressie Thigpen, a former member of the UNC Board of Trustees who has organized trips to Cuba since 2015, arranged Fraga’s visit to UNC.

“UNC has longstanding ties to Cuba,” said Lou Pérez, ISA director and J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History. “The opportunity to host Secretary Fraga served to strengthen the Cuba-Carolina relationship.”

Miguel Fraga points to a projector screen in front of seated audience members on the fourth floor of the FedEx Global Education Center
Miguel Fraga presents on ‘U.S.-Cuba Relations’ in the FedEx Global Education Center.

Pérez is a distinguished, internationally recognized historian on Cuba. The UNC Cuba Program, under the direction of Pérez and ISA, supports initiatives that foster production and dissemination of knowledge of Cuba, based on collaboration between UNC faculty, staff and students with colleagues in Cuba. The program sponsors a Speaker Series, hosts visiting Cuban scholars, organizes international conferences and collaborates with the “Envisioning Cuba” series at UNC Press.

UNC faculty in public health have collaborated for more than 25 years with researchers at Cuba’s Pedro Kouri National Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), currently focused on HIV prevention and treatment and cancer. Research collaborations and other relationships also exist at UNC with the University of Havana, the Centro Cultural ‘Juan Marinello,’ the Fundación Fernando Ortiz, the Casa de Altos Estudios, the Academia de Historia, and the Unión de Artistas y Escritores de Cuba. A partnership between the Biblioteca Nacional ‘José Martí’ in Havana and UNC’s Davis Library enables the libraries to fill gaps in their respective collections.

Since 2003, more than 100 UNC undergraduate students have studied at the University of Havana during the spring semester through the Study Abroad Office in the College of Arts and Sciences. During UNC’s 2017 spring break, 23 media and journalism students traveled to Havana to create a multimedia documentary website — Cuba’s New Wave — that explores the Cuban youth culture. Cuba has also been the subject of interest for graduate student research in areas such as anthropology, biology, history, law, medicine, political science, public health and Romance studies.

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