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MC celebrates Latino Heritage Month

September 20, 2013

Kelsi Ford / The Courier

Thanks to the Office of Intercultural Life, Monmouth College will open up its campus to the public to celebrate Latino Heritage Month. This celebration includes a lecture, the viewing and discussing of a documentary and an open house for prospective Latino students and their families. It is taking place Sept. 18-21.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Felix Masud-Piloto kicked-off the event with a lecture titled “Uneasy Neighbors: Cuba-U.S. Relations from Jefferson to Obama.” Masud-Piloto is a Cuba native and specializes in the history of Latinos in the United States and the Cuban Revolution. In this lecture, he discussed the history of the tumultuous relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and his hope for its improvement.

In 1959, Cuba began to enforce a radical and profound social revolution under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Castro had tremendous support from Cuban citizens because they were fed up with dictatorship. Therefore, in 1961 the U.S. cut off all diplomatic relations with Cuba and enforced an embargo. There are 11 million people residing in Cuba, and since the placement of the embargo, 3,000 Cubans have died due to lack of resource and availability.
Despite this conflictive past, Masud-Piloto has high hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. “I’m very hopeful that things will change and [they] will respect one another’s sovereignty,” said Masud-Piloto.

Masud-Piloto has been teaching history for over 30 years. Currently, he and his wife are professors at DePaul University in Chicago. Masud-Piloto’s passion for Cuban history began when he emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba at the age of 10.

“This idea of Latino Heritage Month is extremely important because many Latinos growing up are just now beginning to learn their heritage. It’s a time dedicated to a specific group to celebrate – which is fine. I feel like…we should always celebrate the price of the struggle for those that came before us,” Masud-Piloto said.

Maria Masud shares this dedication with Cuba and Latino Culture. Masud was one of 14,000 Cuban children involved in Operation Peter Pan, a controversial and covert program operated by the U.S. State Department to airlift Cuban children to the U.S. in the early 1960s. On Thursday, Sept. 19, she and Masud-Piloto presented the 2010 documentary “Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba”, which tells the story of five former “Peter Pans” who return to their native country to explore their past.

The final event that MC is hosting for Latino Heritage Month is Latino College Day, which will occur on Saturday, Sept. 21. This day will be focused on providing college information to the Spanish-speaking community of high school students and their parents through a series of workshops.

Penny Flynn
Contributing Writer

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