Kirby Jones

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Fidel Castro, Kirby Jones

Kirby Jones has traveled regularly to Cuba for the last 35 years, has consulted with dozens of U.S. firms and organizations, has conducted several television and print interviews with Fidel Castro, and has written extensively about Cuba.

Described by Newsweek as having “better contacts in Cuba than any other American,” and by The New York Times as the “man to see about business in Cuba,” Jones is the President of Alamar Associates, a Maryland-based consulting firm which provides a full range of consulting services to companies and organizations interested in establishing relationships with, and conducting business in, Cuba.

Jones has assisted several clients in negotiating the first sale of U.S. products to Cuba in 40 years. The first such client reached an agreement in December, 2001, and others have signed agreements over the last few years. He has participated in negotiations involving chicken, fresh produce, organic fertilizers, chewing gum, shipping, fruit juices, supermarket products, and lumber.

Jones has served as consultant to several official state delegation visits to Cuba in the last few years including California, New York, Delaware, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Georgia.[1]


Mr. Jones worked from 1982-93 as Chief of Corporate Communications for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and then, from 1993-1997, he was Managing Director and Chairman of the Government and Emerging Markets Practice of Burson-Marsteller.

Mr. Jones is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, was former press secretary to Senator George McGovern in the 1972 Democratic presidential campaign, was a member of the presidential campaign staff of U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy and served in the United States Peace Corps.[2]

First trips to Cuba

Kirby Jones first traveled to Cuba in 1974 as a special correspondent for CBS. He participated in an interview with Fidel Castro, which was broadcast in October 1974, as “CBS Reports: Castro, Cuba and the U.S.A.” For his work on this project, Mr. Jones was awarded the “Citation of Excellence for Best Interpretation of Foreign Affairs” by the Overseas Press Club.

Again in 1986, Mr. Jones interviewed Castro as a PBS special correspondent for the documentary narrated by Raul Julia titled “In the Shadow of Doubt”, which aired nationally later that same year. Part of that interview was also published in Playboy Magazine in 1986.[3]

Writing on Cuba

Mr. Jones is co-author of the book, With Fidel: A Portrait of Castro and Cuba, published by Playboy Press in 1975 and Ballantine Books in 1976; he also co-authored “Havana, 1974: Around Town with Fidel” published in 1997 in The Readers Companion to Cuba, Harcourt Brace and Co.

Mr. Jones is contributing author to the book titled Subject to Solution: Problems in Cuban-U.S. Relations published by Lynne Rienner Publishers in September 1988, and he wrote the benchmark 1988 study on the “Opportunities for U.S.-Cuban Trade”, which was commissioned by School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.[4]

Promoting trade with Cuba

Kirby Jones was invited to present testimony on Cuba trade before the hearings in Congress in 2009 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and also testified at hearings conducted by the International Trade Commission in 2002 and again in 2007; has appeared on the TODAY Show, ABC Close-up, CNN’s Situation Room, PBS, CBS Evening News, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, Bloomberg TV, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, ABC World News Tonight to discuss Cuba; and was one of eight participants in the “Firing Line” debate on Cuba broadcast nationally on PBS in August, 1998.

Jones was the organizer, sponsor, and speaker at the 2006 “US-Cuba Energy Summit” held in Mexico City in 2006, and the 2002 and 2003 “U.S.-Cuba Business Conferences” held in Cancun and Havana. From 1998-2001, Jones founded and chaired the series of five U.S.-Cuba Business Summits which brought over 250 U.S. executives face to face with Cuban officials and potential business partners; and was also chairman of the Euromoney ’92-93 International Conference series on Cuba held in London, Cancun, and Havana.

From 1974-82, Alamar arranged visits to Cuba for more than 300 representatives of U.S. firms and organizations. Several of these firms were subsequently able to conduct business through their subsidiaries and others were able to establish direct commercial relations in those areas that were then legal.

Several Alamar clients participated in the U.S. Agribusiness Trade Shows held in Havana in September, 2002, and several others in the 2003-2008 Havana Trade Fairs in Havana

Kirby Jones is a frequent speaker on Cuba at business groups and organizations including the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco; Brookings; National Convention of Association of Hispanic Journalists; the National Summit on Cuba held in Washington, D.C. and Tampa; the U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Products Conference, held in Cancun in January, 2002 and February, 2003; the LASA meeting in Chicago; the Dallas Morning News conference, “Cuba in Evolution;” the Learning Center in New York City; the International Business Symposium, “Cuba: The New Realities” sponsored by the Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida; the Acosta Latin American Forum in Puerto Rico; and “Doing Business in Cuba,” sponsored by the Stetson College of Law in Tampa, Florida.[5]

"Cuba and the United States: Historical Perspectives, Political Prospects"

September 26, 2008, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Institute for the Study of the Americas, convened a panel titled “Cuba and the United States: Historical Perspectives, Political Prospects.”.

Panelists including former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson, former American Interests Section Director in Havana and Center for International Policy Senior Fellow Wayne Smith, National Security Archive Latin America project director Peter Kornbluh, Lissa Weinman of the World Policy Institute, Kirby Jones of the US-Cuba Trade Association, Phil Peters of the Lexington Institute, Geoff Thale of the Washington Office on Latin America, William LeoGrande at American University, Sarah Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, Al Fox of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, and others.[6]