Pittsburgh Matanzas History
Efforts to form a sister city with Cuba began in 1992 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the U.S. passed legislation to “starve the Cuban people into submission”(actual quote) in that moment of extreme humanitarian crisis for the Cuban people.
Navigating the US policy vacuum towards Cuba, is challenging, and makes it necessary to work collectively within our diverse personal interests. A sister city seemed the best way we could form an umbrella organization that could encompass the many interests and perspectives of within our own communities to engage with Cuba.
At the time, Cuba was on the ‘List of Terrorist Nations’, and it was illegal for U.S. residents to travel there. Cities around the U.S. began to challenge U.S. law that violated their own freedom of travel, and the humanitarian crisis that U.S. sanctions were causing. Given the mostly successful ‘demonization’ of the Cuban government, people wanted to de-fuse the politics, and uplift ‘people-to-people’ so sister cities with Cuba began to surface, Mobile, Alabama was the first to challenge U.S. policy, Madison Wisconsin was the second, and Pittsburgh was the third. Dozens followed, which helped neutralize public opinion and supported legislative changes.
Today, many of these initial sister cities are still in human solidarity with the Cuban people, and committed to work to normalize U.S.-Cuba policy. Pittsburgh continues to be a national leader in this quest.