Notre Dame University



Minister in Charge of Consular and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Cuba in Lebanon, Mrs. Maria Isabel Velazquez, visits LERC

Tuesday 23rd September 2008

At her request, the Minister in Charge of Consular and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Cuba in Lebanon, Mrs. Maria Isabel Velazquez, paid a visit to the Lebanese Emigration Research Center (LERC) at Notre Dame University on September 23, 2008.

Mrs. Velazquez is currently in charge of Consular and Cultural Affairs at the Cuban Embassy in Lebanon having previously held the post of Counselor at the Cuban Embassy in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Mrs. Velazquez started her diplomatic career at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Cuba in 1972, and has since been charged with several diplomatic functions.

Mrs. Velazquez listening to Ms. Hourani’s explanations on LERC’s collection (September 2008).

The reason of Cuba’s Cultural Attaché’s visit to LERC was to learn more about the Center’s main activities and accomplishments, including all its publications, on the issue of Lebanese Migration, to see the Center’s collection on Cuba and to offer its support in providing material on Lebanese in Cuba. Mrs. Velazquez, aware of the uniqueness of LERC’s efforts in the domain of migration in Lebanon, was impressed by the Center’s long-term plans that include the conception and construction of the Lebanese Migration University Museum at NDU.

LERC’s Director Ms. Guita Hourani explained the aim behind the establishment of such a cultural, interactive and pedagogical museum in Lebanon to conserve the national memory of emigration and to reveal the main phases of immigration, as well as to afford receiving countries the opportunity to share their history and culture. The purpose behind LERC, she said, was to work mutually with the Lebanese embassies in the countries of destination, the communities and the returnees in order to obtain various materials that commemorate the different phases and tendencies of migration from and to Lebanon.

In addition to providing Ms. Hourani with an opportunity to present LERC’s accomplishments and future plans, the meeting allowed Mrs. Velazquez to express her interest in contributing to such a project by building upon and expanding the present Cuban collection developed by LERC.

Over a presentation of the collection on Brazil, from left to right: Ms. Haddad, Mrs. Velazquez and Ms. Hourani (September 2008).

Mrs. Velazquez mentioned her close relation, Mr. Rigoberto Menendez, the Director of the House of Arabs “Casa de los Arabes” in Havana, as a person who might put the experience of his institution at the service of LERC’s efforts to document and expose the history of Lebanese emigration to Cuba.

At the end of the visit, Ms. Hourani provided Mrs. Velazquez with copies of LERC’s publications to take as a gift to “Casa de los Arabes.”

Ms. Velazquez was also taken on a tour of the Center and of the Lebanese Emigration Archive and Database, where LERC indexer Ms. Liliane Haddad explained the process of archiving LERC’s database electronically, illustrating her presentation with items such as papers, studies and reports, articles, photos and music that were related to Cuba. LERC Research Assistant, Ms. Basma Abdul Khalek, then accompanied Mrs. Velazquez to the Museum to introduce her to the permanent exhibition.