Hurricane Experts from United States and Cuba to Meet in New Orleans

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An invitation from Wayne Smith, Former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and Senior Fellow and Director of the Cuba Program at the Center for International Policy

This conference in New Orleans on disaster preparedness seems to open a new and critical door for bilateral exchange.

Cuba and the U.S. Gulf Coast are both in the path of hurricanes, which are striking with increasing frequency and ferocity.  It is therefore of marked importance that they cooperate with one another against these onslaughts, exchanging information and providing assistance to one another as needed.  The Cubans have indicated their full willingness to do so.  It is fitting that Cubans and Americans gather in New Orleans, the American city that was most damaged by and had the highest losses in lives from Hurricane Katrina, to discuss how this cooperation can best be achieved. 

For more information, see Patrick Doherty of the New America Foundation’s article on US-Cuba policy and disaster preparedness HERE

Also, check out Wayne Smith’s report on “Disaster Relief Management in Cuba”

Here’s a former post from the LAWG Blog – Hurricanes Hit Cuba

And on from the New York Times on the Opportunities around Hurricane Cooperation

The CIP Invitation is posted below with the schedule of the day included. 

1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036-2000
202.232.3317 · Fax: 202.232.3440 ·

The Center for International Policy Takes Pleasure in Inviting You to
A Conference on U.S.-Cuban Cooperation in Defending Against Hurricanes
To be held November 23, 2009, in New Orleans at Mardi Gras World
1380 Port of New Orleans Place

2 p.m. – Introduction by Wayne S. Smith of the Center for International Policy

2:15 – 2:45 p.m. – Vital U.S.-Cuban Cooperation in Tracking Hurricanes and Warning of their Approach.   Jose Rubiera, of the Cuban Meteorological Center (invited) and Lixion Avila of the U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami.  Chaired by Jay Higginbotham, Archivist Emeritus of Mobile

2:45 – 4:00 p.m. –   U.S.-Cuban Cooperation in the Face of Hurricanes. Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, Cuban Vice Minister of  Foreign Relations (invited); Lt.General (Ret) Russel Honore, Former Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina;  Lt. Col (Ret) Jerry Sneed, Director of Emergency Preparedness of Orleans Parish; Ivor van Heerden, Founder of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center;  Robert Turner, Director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority. Chaired by Wayne Smith, Center for International Policy.

4:00 – 4:30  p.m. – The Growing Focus on Disaster Medicine and Disaster Management in Both the U.S. and Cuba.  Dr. Guillermo Mesa Ridel, Director, Latin American Center for Disaster Medicine (invited); Dr. Alex Isakov,  Founding Director of the Emory University Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response; Lt. Gen Russel Honore, Board Member, Tulane Disaster Management Leadership Academy; Chaired by Randy Poindexter, Executive Director of International Cuba Society

4:30 – 5:00 p.m. – President Obama’s Prerogative, Despite the Embargo, to Authorize U.S. Companies to Sell Cuba Reconstruction Materials and Equipment. Robert L. Muse, Attorney, Muse and Associates

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. – Open Discussion. Participants from the various delegations to Cuba, and other interested parties, are invited to comment and express opinions as to new initiatives and directions and how we could better organize to advance our objectives

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. –  Reception with cash bar in the Grand Oaks Mansion

Admission is free, but seating is limited.  RSVP ASAP:  or              

The Center for International Policy wishes to express its appreciation to
Atlantic Philanthropies for the support which made this conference possible.

How to get there:

The new Mardi Gras World site is not to be confused with Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World on the West Bank. The new location is situated at the Upriver end of the Convention Center just beneath the Mississippi River Bridge, also known as the Crescent City Connection right next to the Port of New Orleans.

If arriving by I-90, exit Tchoupitoulas Street and drive Upriver following the signs to the Port Terminal. Turn on Henderson Street. Turn into the long avenue of palm trees lining the entrance to the Port of New Orleans and Mardi Gras World. Turn right upon arrival at Mardi Gras World and follow the signs to the “Hurricane Conference.” The River City Complex is at the far end of the Mardi Gras building. Park free and enter from the river side of the building to the Iberville Reception Room where our conference is being held.