I recently attended the Council of Leaders of the League of Women Voters of Florida “Viva La Liga” in Tampa, Florida, and was privileged to also sit in on the Board of Directors meeting. This year’s Council focused on the Cuban experience. Eighty-four League members attended the two day Council.

For me, there were two main highlights of Council. First, the luncheon organized on Friday featuring Dr. Blanca Munster, a distinguished scholar from Cuba and co-author of the book “Women in Cuba:  50 Years After the Revolution,” published in 2010. Her visit was a joint effort by Oxfam Canada, LWVF and the LWVEF’s Global Democracy Programs. Unfortunately, a second co-author, Dr. Reina Freitas did not receive her exit visa on time and was unable to attend the meeting. Dr. Blanca discussed the impetus for the report, the successes to date, and the gaps uncovered that need to be addressed. For example, many laws and legal proceedings have been implemented over the years to address violence against women but implementation is not yet successful. In addition, although women have made huge advances in health, education, and even political empowerment cultural barriers such as a “macho” culture continues to deny their equal access to opportunities.

Another highlight was the concert held in the evening of May 11 titled “Rhythms of Cuba” featuring guest conductor Enrique Perez Mesa, part of the cultural exchange between Cuba and the Florida Orchestra of Tampa. The program was a fascinating mixture of Cuban and other Latin rhythms together with music from U.S. composers influenced by the music from Cuba.

I enjoyed my experience at the Council very much. I was very impressed with the energy and professionalism of the board, staff, and committed League members.