Credit: Miles Marshall Lewis

Up in the Air Life spoke with about Afro-Cuban entrepreneurialism, superior Cuban healthcare, and the effect of tourism on the struggling Cuban economy.

Cubans are part of the same [African] diaspora, they were just dropped off before we were,” said Brandie Cobb, a Hampton-grad educator who’d just returned with the group. “They embrace us. It’s like, ‘you’re still our people.’ They’re just happy to see us. We went to the beach one day, and it was just like, ‘hey, you want some rum?’ We didn’t find really good rum until beach day,” she recalls with a laugh.

Music may hold the key to future opportunities in Afro-Cuban entrepreneurialism should Cuba go the route of, say, Jamaica, and link its future tourism to music festivals akin to the annual Reggae Sumfest—bolstering the Cuban economy by embracing the local reggaetón and salsa styles on the island.

“There’s plenty of investment opportunities, especially for African Americans, because they would love to do business with us specifically,” says Jason Ridgel, president of Jusco Medical. “They feel closer to us, that there’s actually not a lot of difference [between us] at all.”

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