History professor hopes Castro's retirement bolsters exchange program
UT agreement with Cuban university well-timed
Posted: February 25, 2008
Brown, visiting Cuba to research his forthcoming book on the Cuban revolution, was standing before replicas of beds the pair had slept in when the tour guide blurted out the latest news: Fidel Castro had temporarily handed power to his brother after undergoing intestinal surgery.
"Kind of a perfect sort of experience for a historian like me," Brown recalled. His timing since then has been fortunate as well.
He helped broker an agreement this month in which UT and the University of Havana pledged to host one another's faculty members and graduate students.
Then, on Tuesday, the 81-year-old Cuban leader announced after almost five decades in power that he would not seek the presidency again because of failing health. In another bit of serendipitous timing, a two-day conference on Cuba is wrapping up today at UT.
"We've been planning this for over a year," said Brown, who is also associate director of the university's Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. "We didn't realize the timing was going to be so opportune."