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University of Iowa News Release


March 30, 2007

Panel To Discuss Chinese Migration To Cuba April 4

The little-known history of Chinese migration to Cuba will be the subject of a panel discussion on Wednesday, April 4, in the Ohio State Room of the Iowa Memorial Union. The event will begin with a reception at 3:30 p.m., followed by the panel discussion at 4 p.m.

According to Ben Mai, president of the University of Iowa Asian American Coalition, interviews with three Chinese Cubans provide the basis for that history in the book "Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution."

Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui and Moisés Sío Wong helped lead Cuba's revolution that brought down the Batista dictatorship in 1959, Mai said, adding that in the book they discuss their roles in the revolution, the historic place of Chinese immigration to Cuba, the place of Cuba in world politics today and much more.

"Cuba is a socialist state, which is looked down upon by a lot of countries," Mai said. "However, even with many enemies against their government structure, they have been able to survive long after the Soviet collapse. There has to be a reason for that. It's not saying that we should become a socialist country, but to try to understand and not judge so much. There might be things that we can learn from them."

Mai said that the three generals, all born in Cuba, describe racism before the revolution, but maintain that afterward it hardly existed and the country became more cohesive. He noted that Chinese workers first came to Cuba in 1847 to work on Spanish sugar plantations, earning their freedom after completing an eight-year contract.

In addition to Mai, panelists will include Marcella David, special assistant to the president for Equal Opportunity and Diversity and associate provost for diversity; Dau-shen Ju, assistant director of Student Disability Services; John Lee, president of the UI Korean Undergraduate Student Association; and Mary-Alice Waters, editor of "Our History" and president of Pathfinder Press.

UI sponsors include the following: the Asian American Coalition; the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center; the Korean Undergraduate Student Association; Ju and Student Disability Services; and International Programs.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this panel, contact Mai at 319-400-3937.

International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,; Program: Ben Mai, 319-400-3937,; Writer: Joe Nugent.