NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Castro, despite all his faults, implemented art and music education in school and the workplace. Fidel's brother, Raul, carries on that legacy.
Stephen F. Austin State University is hopeful the cultural exchange can be extended to Nacogdoches, but political factors will be an influencing factor.
Piero Finci, an SFA art professor and accomplished contemporary ceramic artist, is wanting to pack his bags for Cuba this summer.
"I have the glorious opportunity to go to Cuba for an international convocation for deans of fine art," Finci said.
While not the dean, Finci was the logical proxy selected by Dr. Buddy Himes, SFA's Dean of Fine Arts.
Finci is fluent in Spanish. He majored in Latin American studies and minored in art.
"And here, what, 50 years later, I find myself an artist deeply involved in Latin America, so it's all worked out," Finci
Along those lines, Finci established the first and only ceramic art exchange program between the state university of Chihuahua and SFA.
Gaby Hijar is one of his graduate student seeking a master's degree in her field.
"It really changed the way I work with ceramics," Hijar said. "When he makes a demonstration about his work it was really great. For all the people to get to know him it's really, really helpful."
Now two men who grew up during the Cold War have a similar goal in mind.
"This relationship that I had with Mexico might be repeated in Cuba," Finci said.
"I think it's wide open with opportunities for us to go to Cuba and began an exchange with various programs there and hopefully recruit some graduate students to come back here," Himes said.
There is a degree of uncertainty. Politics in both countries may have a huge influence on any cultural exchange.
"I hope the coldness, so to speak, between the two countries that has taken place in the past, we can put all that behind us," Himes said.
"I don't know what's going to happen because of the new leadership in our country," Finci said. "It will be very interesting to see what happens."
Himes says the momentum between the U-S and Cuba is so well established it will be difficult to block any progress.
SFA currently has fine art programs in Italy, China, England, and Australia.