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Researcher to discuss conflict in Cuba

A researcher with strong personal and professional ties to Cuba will visit Ohio University to discuss the political conflicts in the country and Latin America.

Charles McKelvey will present a lecture titled "Cuba, Latin America and the Global Conflicts of Our Time" at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, in Baker University Center room 240.

McKelvey has lived in Cuba since his retirement from fulltime teaching at Presbyterian College in 2011. He is now a research affiliate of the Center for Hemispheric and U.S. Studies at the University of Havana.

The Women's and Gender Studies and Latin American Studies departments have teamed up to cosponsor the event, which will present attendees with a multifaceted view of Cuban society and politics.

Melissa Wales, director of United Campus Ministries, said she expects the "contemporary, recent history discussion of conflict in Latin America" to enhance understanding of a topic that is oftentimes marginalized in the United States.

McKelvey is the author of "Beyond Ethnocentrism: A Reconstruction of Marx's Concept of Science and The African-American Movement: From Pan-Africanism to the Rainbow Coalition." He holds degrees in religious studies, inner city studies and sociology.

Director of Latin American Studies and Associate Professor of History Mariana Dantas cited McKelvey's "positive view" of certain aspects of Cuban politics as the hallmark of his lecture.

That does not mean that McKelvey approves of or endorses every aspect of the Castro regime. By hosting McKelvey, Dantas hopes to facilitate a broadening of perspectives that encourages people to think critically.

In the United States, people tend to view Cuba against the backdrop of negativity, Dantas said.

Issues and historical events such as the one-sided view of Cuban expatriates, coercion, the Cuban missile crisis, the cold war, persecution of minorities and a lack of democratic debate have colored Americans' opinions about politics in Cuba. But other aspects of the country existed during the Castro regime as well, such as ideas about education, access to public health and greater equality, Dantas said.

Realizing the multifaceted aspect of Cuban society makes students "open and critical" about differing perspectives.

McKelvey will contextualize and historicize Cuban and Latin American politics, and how they are viewed in the United States.

"As scholars, as intellectuals, it's critical to have that information," Dantas said. "We have to find a way to conciliate what is true about the negative perspectives and what's valuable about the positive perspectives."