New Jersey State Council

Gordon Johnson, Assemblyman, New Jersey General Assembly

Stephanie Macias-Arlington, Executive Director,
Seton Hall University Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute

New Jersey Farm Bureau

Declan O'Scanlon, State Senator, New Jersey State Senate

Doug Palmer, Former President, U.S. Conference of Mayors; Former Mayor, City of Trenton

Anthony Perry, Mayor, Township of Middletown

Bob Prunetti, Former County Executive, County of Mercer

Daniel Reiman, Mayor, Borough of Carteret

Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblywoman, New Jersey General Assembly

Anthony Russo, President, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey

William w. Spearman, assemblyman, new jersey state council

Bert Steinmann, Mayor, Township of Ewing

Meagan Warner, Board Member, Upper Hunterdon School District

Shariq Ahmad, Edison Democrat Committee Chair, Town of Edison

Tom Arnone, Freeholder Director, Monmouth County

Jennifer Beck, Former State Senator, New Jersey State Senate

Helen Black, CubaOne Fellow, Montclair, NJ

Jerrell Blakley, Council Member, City of Trenton

John Burzichelli, Assemblyman, New Jersey General Assembly

Joe Danielsen, Assemblyman, New Jersey General Assembly

Serena DiMaso, Assemblywoman, New Jersey General Assembly

Roy Freiman, Assemblyman, New Jersey General AssemblY

John Giotis, Board Member, Raritan Valley Community College Foundation

Reed Gusciora, Mayor, City of Trenton

John Harmon, CEO, New Jersey African American Chamber of Commerce


New Jersey & Cuba in the News

PRESS RELEASE: NEW JERSEY LEADERS LAUNCH ENGAGE CUBA STATE COUNCIL

The Press of Atlantic City: Part Three of the South Jersey Jazz Society’s Summers Latin Jazz Series

In December 2010, Arturo traveled with the original Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra to Cuba, returning his father’s musicians to his homeland. Arturo continues to travel to Cuba regularly as an informal Cultural Ambassador, working with Cuban musicians, dancers, and students, bringing local musicians from Cuba to the US and American musicians to Cuba.

NJ.com: N.J. Artist Featured in African Diaspora Film Festival

Jones, a New Jersey native and retired New Jersey City University professor, has been to Cuba 89 times, he says, and finds that each time he goes back, his love for the island’s culture grows stronger.

North Jersey Record: New Jersey Jackals, Rockland Boulders Await Matchups with Cuban National Team

This weekend, the Cuban national baseball team heads to Yogi Berra Stadium for a series against the New Jersey Jackals. The Jackals expect this series to be an exciting one.

"Just every time that we play the national team, there's a high tension feeling of high style baseball," Jackals infielder Conrad Gregor said. "They're pretty tough and they get better every game and they're going to be ready to go. The only way we can beat them is to be ready to out there and have good at-bats."

The Cuban national team is one of the most talented national teams in the world and has produced the likes of Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes. 

Trentonian: JAY DUNN: Path for Cuban players to Major League Baseball remains difficult journey

A few weeks ago Major League Baseball thought it had solved its Cuban problem. The Cubans thought so, too. They even provided MLB with a list of 43 players eligible to be signed by big league clubs in 2019.

Alas, a few days later that list became worthless. So was MLB’s deal with the Cubans.

According to the arrangement, Cuban players would be treated much the same way Japanese players are treated. A young Cuban player would be expected to spend six years playing in the Cuban Baseball Federation. After that he would be “posted” which would allow him to sign with a major league club. That club would a pay a fee for the rights to the player. That’s almost identical to the arrangement with the Japanese professional leagues that’s been in place for years.

There’s only one difference. In the case of the Japanese player the rights fee is paid to his former club. In the case of the Cuban player, it’s paid to the Cuban Baseball Federation.

Yet there’s another difference — a REALLLY BIG difference. Japan has been a reliable American ally since 1946. It’s government has no adversaries within the United States. That’s certainly not the case with Cuba.

Not too long ago most Americans saw Cuba as a dangerous enemy. Under Fidel Castro, Cuba allied itself with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It attempted to spread its revolution into other parts of Latin America and at one point even permitted the Soviets to place their deadly missiles on the island.

Castro is dead and the Cold War is over. But not everyone in America is willing to put all that into the history books and move on — especially not some 50,000 people who live in a section of Miami known as Little Havana.

Little Havana was created by refugees who fled Cuba shortly after Castro seized power in 1959. Today it is populated primarily by the children and grandchildren of those refugees, but they are people who still maintain their bitterness towards the Cuban government. Among them is Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American who is now the senior U.S. Senator from the state of Florida.

The ink had hardly dried on the deal between MLB and the Cubans when Rubio spoke out forcefully against it. He said it was unthinkable, to him, that Major League Baseball should be giving money to the Cuban government and he would urge President Donald Trump to use his power to reject the deal.

Trump did exactly that and effectively squashed the deal.

MLB responded weakly that it would be making payments only to the Cuban Baseball Federation — not the government. In reality, the CBF is controlled and financed by the government, so Rubio’s contention is perfectly valid. MLB should have conceded that point and gone on to the real issue:

This arrangement would be infinitely superior to the status quo.

Every Cuban currently playing in the major leagues has been forced to defect from his country and renounce his citizenship. In most cases he came through a third country and was delivered to the United States by an agent (read trafficker) who demanded a sizeable portion of the player’s signing bonus as payment.

MLB has never been comfortable with that process, but for years it didn’t have a way to stop it. Only after 2015, when the U.S. resumed diplomatic ties with Cuba, did it see a way out of the mess. It could now legally negotiate with the Cubans and this deal was the result.

The player could leave Cuba legally and keep his signing bonus. The traffickers would be out of business. Everybody would benefit. Everybody would rejoice.

Well, almost everybody.

The President of the United States killed the deal.

I don’t know for sure why Trump acted as he did but I do know there will be a presidential election next year and Florida is considered a swing state. It is probably good politics on the part of Trump — and also Rubio — to keep the folks in Little Havana happy.

I’ll give them that. It was very good politics.

But it was also lousy government.

Syracuse: New Jersey Photographer and Filmmaker’s Cuba Art Exhibition

Joe Guerriero: Waiting For Normal, Cuba and the United States. May 30 to July 10

Joe Guerriero, a New Jersey photographer and filmmaker, has spent 20 years visiting Cuba and documenting its people, art, music and culture while at the same time documenting the effects of the U.S. embargo. The photography exhibition will include a screening of Guerriero’s documentary “Curtain of Water” which addresses the embargo through conversations with people from all walks of life, in and outside of Cuba, while shedding light on the political and human sides of the conflict.

OnCuba: New Jersey Politicians Join Together Against Cuba Embargo

"Removing trade restrictions on Cuba could bring new opportunities to New Jersey’s top export industries while creating jobs across the state. At a time when New Jersey is facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall and certain industries fall victim to trade disputes, opening up new markets is the key to strengthening New Jersey's economy," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba.

NJBIZ.com: New Jersey leaders build support for lifting US embargo on Cuba

A group of political and business leaders from across New Jersey launched a bipartisan council to urge Congress to lift trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.The effort makes New Jersey the 19th state to join Engage Cuba, a D.C.-based advocacy organization dedicated to advancing federal legislation to lift the embargo on Cuba.

NJ.com: These Jerseyans just launched new effort to end Cuban embargo

A member of the new council, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, said the U.S. could be in a better position to push for Chesimard’s extradition. “Many of us in New Jersey have close ties with the Cuban people, and we should foster that connection." Johnson said. "Both countries have so much to offer each other. We cannot allow the economic and social isolation of the Cuban people to prevent us from continuing to advocate for our interests in Cuba — like the return of Joanne Chesimard.”

New Jersey Globe: Group Seeks End to Trade, Travel Restrictions with Cuba

The bipartisan state council includes State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver), Assembly Speaker Pro-Tempore Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood), Trenton mayor Reed Gusciora, and Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey president Anthony Russo.

Insider NJ: New Jersey Leaders Launch Engage Cuba State Council

Prominent leaders from across the state launched the bipartisan Engage Cuba New Jersey State Council. The council will build statewide support for pro-engagement policies and urge Congress to lift trade and travel restrictions on Cuba that disadvantage New Jerseyans and Cubans alike. Removing sanctions on Cuba could both expand opportunities for New Jersey businesses and empower the Cuban people.

NJ.com: Opinion: This winter N.J. can benefit from a trade thaw with Cuba

History was made when President Obama called for an end to the Cuban trade embargo in his final State of the Union. It's a topic deserving of attention, especially because of what a policy change on U.S. trade with Cuba could mean for the people of New Jersey and for businesses operating in the Garden State.

Star Ledger Editorial Board: End the Cuban travel ban

Granted, there are times when an economic embargo makes sense, such as in the case of South Africa during the Apartheid era, or Iran today. But in those cases, the embargoes had global support. In Cuba, we are all alone. The embargo does not have enough teeth to bring down the Castro regime, and in fact has provided a convenient alibi for the poverty caused by its misrule. On the international scene, it has done more to isolate the United States than Havana.