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Pasadena | Community News File

Official Plans Trip to Help Mark Havana Anniversary

September 05, 1997

City Councilman William Paparian, whose trip to Cuba last year drew the anger of some residents, said Thursday that he is planning a second trip there to attend the 478th anniversary of Havana, at the invitation of that city's mayor.

Paparian, an outspoken opponent of the 34-year-old U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, said he received the invitation in July to attend the three-day celebration, which begins Nov. 13.

"Many people are traveling to Cuba these days," Paparian said.

Paparian was Pasadena's mayor when he made his first trip to Cuba in 1996. He was greeted as a dignitary and made a speech against the blockade, which he called inhumane. Some residents called the speech an endorsement of Fidel Castro's regime and protested in the council chamber upon his return. Paparian insists that he is not a fan of Castro and noted dozens of supporters also attended the council meeting upon his return.

"It's hard for me to fathom the controversy with musicians and congressmen going down there . . . [as well as] the U.N. Assn. of Pasadena," said Paparian. He said since his last trip he heard from more supporters than opponents of his trip. To comply with State Department requirements, Paparian said, the Cuban government will pay for all his expenses in the country.

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