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St. Paul Mayor Coleman heads to Cuba for cultural exchange

Coleman is one of dozens of civic leaders and business people on the Cuba trip, which was paid for by the National League of Cities.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is in Cuba this week on a cultural exchange with dozens of other American officials and business leaders.

The Pioneer Press story on the mayor’s five-day exploration says the trip “features walking tours of open-air markets in Old Havana, a dinner with international business executives, lunch with foreign journalists and a briefing on U.S.-Cuban relations led by the former Cuban ambassador to the European Union.”

Coleman’s expenses are being paid by the National League of Cities, which is funded, in part, by contributions from member cities, the paper said; St. Paul’s dues are about $15,000 a year. Coleman was president of the national group last year.

The group will visit a Cuban cigar factory and tour Ernest Hemingway’s home, in addition to learning about the country’s economic reforms and foreign investment laws.

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Tom Martin, a representative of the National League of Cities, told the paper that Coleman’s trip “will support our work to foster city-to-city partnerships, and exchange ideas and best practices in our globalized world.”

A city spokesman said Coleman’s trip was scheduled before President Obama announced in December that the U.S. will work to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba.