Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization :
spacerBoulder Cuba Sister City Organization [Home]

Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization

"Promoting cultural sharing, understanding, and exchange."



MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2:00 PM, University of Colorado, Boulder, Chemistry 140, Conference on World Affairs:

"Trump's Approach to Cuba:  A Bigly Deal or a Bigly Mess."

Speaker:  Ambassador Vicki Huddleston

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston managed American policy toward Cuba as the coordinator of Cuban affairs in Washington, D.C., and carried it out as the principal officer at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana—our diplomatic mission in Cuba before it became an embassy in 2014.

After leaving the State Department, Huddleston became a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she co-led a project on U.S.-Cuba relations that resulted in a book, Learning to Salsa: New Steps in U.S.- Cuba Relations, that provides a blueprint for normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba. She is currently writing a memoir on Cuba, Our Woman in Havana: The Long Struggle to Overturn Castro’s Revolution.

Moderator: Spense Havlick, President of the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization

for more information see CWF online program.


Spense Havlick: A new revolution in Cuba

Observations from the Boulder-Cuba Sister City delegation to Cuba, October 22-Nov 1, 2016  from the Boulder Daily Camera

The mountains in Yateras, our sister city area.

The mountains in Yateras, our sister city area. (Spense Havlick / Special to the Daily Camera)

Lights flickered at our first short power outage in the airport in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba's second largest city. The 13-hour delay for an internal Cubana Airlines flight made local Cuban travelers restless. This was a harbinger of things to come during our recent Boulder-Cuba sister city trip.

Roads were washed out in eastern Cuba during Hurricane Matthew delaying us from bringing relief supplies to our devastated sister city area. Except for the storm damage very little has changed from a year ago in eastern Cuba where oxen plow the fields, where no American tourists are seen, and where taxis are horse-drawn buggies. Tap water is undrinkable. Rest rooms seldom have toilet paper or soap.

Yet home restaurants (paladares) and bed-and-breakfasts (casas particulares) are more numerous, as are the young people who huddle around the few Wi-Fi hot spots at night with their cell phones and iPads. Thus the seeds for a new revolution are potentially planted as millennials connect with counterparts in Cuba and the rest of the world. Social media have proven a tool of change elsewhere.

Social changes are more apparent in Havana and larger cities compared with our sister city trip last year. During our 2016 October-November trip we saw uban families and young adults frequenting paladares, the ballet, musical events and nightclubs where most of them were using iPhones or cell phones.

There appears to be a new economic stratification widening the gap between young entrepreneurs and the traditional working folks who still get about $20 per month and a food ration card. On a busy street we came upon Erik, age 34, who on that day had just opened his doorway-sized churro sweet shop. He had graduated from college with a journalism degree but could not find employment in television or print media. With money sent from relatives in New Jersey he invested in the sweet dispensary. He was on the sidewalk discussing his business plan with us while admiring his two employees doing a brisk business.For me the most startling discovery was a visit to La Fabrica de Arte Cubano, the Cuban Art Factory on Halloween where thousands of very well dressed Cubans poured into a gigantic four-story retrofitted cooking oil factory. Artists had negotiated with the government to refurbish the building as studios and a showcase for their creativity. Dozens of artistic examples were on display (paintings, modern architecture renderings, sculpture, jewelry, and many forms of still photography, dynamic video productions, political films, and an all-night live jazz concert comparable to what you would hear in the French Quarter of New Orleans). At midnight a line several blocks long was patiently waiting to get in. In the same Vedado area of Havana several other nightclubs were rumored o also be crowded with haute couture attire.

New cars and tour buses are more numerous. In fact dozens of new Chinese-built tour buses queue up in front of major tourist attractions like the Havana Club rum museum and at access entrances to historic old Havana. Hotels are double-booked and restaurants are overflowing with hours of wait time. Narrow pedestrian streets are jammed with tour groups. Begging is more common with the influx of foreign visitors.

It is an open question whether or not Cuba can preserve its charm and novel attractiveness with cruise ships arriving and U.S. commercial airlines delivering multitudes of tourists plus the annual $6 billion of remittances from relatives in orth America. One may wonder if the quiet revolution of youth not accepting the status quo of economic stagnation will evolve and replace the half-century of the Castro brothers' regime.

The Cuban embargo or blockade created in 1962 has been punctured and partially dismantled inasmuch as the U.S. is today the sixth-largest importer to Cuba. Eight U.S. commercial airlines have been approved for direct flights to major Cuban cities. Estimated value of our annual exports to Cuba is approximately $300 million, almost entirely agricultural products. The recently opened U.S. Embassy gave us a warm welcome and a concise history of Fidel's revolution.

Halloween costumes and celebrations have been banned in state-run restaurants and other venues. But on Halloween night last month in old Havana we saw a dozen very little kids fully costumed as pirates, witches, devils, zombies and skeletons going door to door for tricks and treats. And at the Cuban Art Factory many of the attendees were in (forbidden) Halloween attire.

Change, if only as a subtle revolution, is surely underway in today's Cuba.

Spense Havlick is a former member of the Camera editorial advisory board and president of the Boulder Cuba Sister City Organization.

Plaza de Armas, Havana’s oldest square, choked with tourists (Nov. 1, 2016).                            



"Rediscovering Cuba"

A year-long program featuring presentations by experts on all things Cuban--economy, film, book club, cuisine.

Past events include:

"US/CUBA: Can the Best of Enemies Kiss and Make Up?"

Featuring Vicki J. Huddleston, former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, currently president of a small company that provides workshops for entrepreneurs in Cuba and board member of Finca Vigia, Hemingway's former home in Cuba.

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 3:00 pm University of Colorado Muenzinger Auditorium.

“Public Health in Cuba: An Overview.”


Dr. Gisele Coutin Marie, physician and biostatistician from Havana, discusses the Cuban health system and some of the challenges it currently faces to a standing room only crowd.  (Jan 26).

Upcoming events include:

June 23, Joe McGowan Jr "A Day With Fidel Castro"

August date and time TBA, Cuban award winning photographer, Julio Larramendi

Contact us at to get on our mailing list.


For information on becoming a member of

the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization,

click here: Membership Application



                Presenting a painting of Boulder made by students at BCSIS to Yateras

                                 School Children in Yateras


                                               Making new friends



Thank you

Muchas gracias

to our volunteers, participants and sponsors who contributed to the success of BOCUSCO'S

Colorado Cuba Arts and Dance Festival

October 18-24, 2014.


Miguel López at Intercambio Fiesta    Art workshop with Tony Ortega and Oscar Lasseria


Dance classes with Yaneisi Chibas                Drum classes with Miguel Angel López

Cuban Art Show


Ezequiel Torres Group                                                    Yaneisi Chibas as Yemaya  

Sikan Afro-Cuban Dance Project


Sabanas Blancas project


Art Historian Jorge Núñez                             Enthusiastic audiences


Description: BAC logo.jpg Description: Dairy logo.jpg





Hurricane Relief

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to hurricane Sandy relief in eastern Cuba.  BOCUSCO contributed to medical relief containers sent by MEDICC and Global Links and received this message:

"Thanks to the support we received from individuals and organization across the US, we were able to ship 4 containers in November and December to help hospitals in Santiago.  Two more are planned for late January / early February.  We could not have have been able to provide 6 containers of medical aid so quickly without the help of supporters like your organization."
On October 25, 2012 Hurricane Sandy tore through eastern Cuba leaving destruction, devastation, and death in Guantánamo, Holguín and especially Santiago de Cuba provinces.  See photos below.


Photos of Santiago de Cuba taken October 26, 2012. © Julio Larramendi


Ongoing projects :

Boulder Sister Cities in a trunk

The Boulder History Museum is busy gathering art, cultural artifacts, and resources from each of Boulder's seven sister cities and preparing them to travel to area classrooms or community groups.  The Cuba trunk containing 64 items from or about Cuba including maps, books, art work, stamps, musical instruments etc is ready!  Please contact Emilie at for more information.                                         


Environmental Publications

To see some of the publications about eastern Cuba that BOCUSCO has supported over the years, visit: Ediciones Nuevos Mundos


Shipping medical equipment and supplies to Eastern Cuba

Since 2006 the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization has been raising funds to sponsor the shipment of medical equipment and supplies to Guantánamo province in conjunction with Denver-based Project C.U.R.E. We are pleased to announce that the first FIVE 40’ cargo containers have arrived at their destinations: a container of hurricane relief supplies following the devastion of Hurricane Ike; as well as containers to the main hospital in Guantánamo which serves the entire province including Yateras; the Guantánamo Pediatric Hospital; the main hospital in Baracoa, and the hospital in Palenque, Yateras.

We would like to thank all of the donors, sponsors and volunteers who have contributed to the success of this project. Thanks to everyone’s efforts and generosity, we have been able to provide one of the poorest provinces of Cuba with such supplies as X-ray machines, anesthesia machines, mamography units, operating tables, stethoscopes, microscopes, laboratory supplies, defibrillators, and much more.  Please visit our HEALTH committee page to learn more about health care in Yateras and our health related projects. THANK YOU!!



About the Boulder-Cuba Sister City Organization

The Boulder Cuba Sister City Organization (BOCUSCO), is a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-political, all-volunteer citizen network which exists to create lasting partnerships to promote cultural sharing, understanding and exchange between citizens of Boulder, Colorado and the municipality of Yateras, Guantánamo, Cuba. Yateras, a municipality located in the mountainous easternmost Cuban province of Guantánamo, became Boulder’s sixth sister city in 2002. President Eisenhower promoted a people-to-people initiative in 1956 to involve individuals in citizen diplomacy, with the hope that personal relationships, fostered through sister city, county, and state affiliations, would lessen the chance of future world conflicts. Sister Cities International (SCI) is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. SCI promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation. SCI currently represents more than 2,500 communities in 134 countries around the world. Boulder is a member of SCI and has other sister cities in Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Tibet, Kenya and Tajikistan.

Although many of our exchanges and activities involve the community of Yateras, we are also involved in projects, such as health and environmental projects, in other areas of Guantánamo Province including Guantánamo City and Baracoa. BOCUSCO organizes activities, with support from the Boulder community, through its five committees: Arts and Education, Environment and Sustainability, Health, Music and Dance, Sports.


Donated bicycle



To make a tax-deductible donation please make check out to BOCUSCO and mail to

2835 Lagrange Cir

Boulder, CO 80305