Jorge Ignacio Fernandez
Advisor on Cuba Affairs & Trade

Mr. Fernandez, born in Havana, Cuba has been in the International corporate arena for over 30 years with extensive worldwide travel. He has been heavily involved with Cuban affairs since 1997 and considered to be an expert on Cuba after his extensive involvement with Cuba matters of the highest level and was the former Executive Director and Co Founder of the powerful national coalition “Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba” formed in 1998.

His senior executive corporate post have included industries in the materials handling equipment, telecommunications , food industries, pharmaceutical and bio organizations both at the Fortune 100 and mid size level companies as well as start ups.

He has worked on pursuing engagement and normalizing relations between both nations at the highest level on both sides of the Florida straits and with former Cuban Chief of the Cuban Interest Section in DC including Ambassadors Fernando Ramirez, Amb Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, Amb Jorge Bolanos and now *Ambassador Jose Cabanas.(*November, 2012-current)

He served on the International Policy Committee of the US Chamber of Commerce in DC and has given testimony before Congress to end the embargo and pursue a policy of engagement with Cuba since1998. He has spoken on Cuban affairs on a national level and appeared on national and local television media and radio shows including debates on the subject on the Voice of America radio in DC.

He has traveled to his homeland Cuba over 26 times since 1998 including the three Papal visits in 1998 with Pope John Paul II ; 2012 with Pope Benedict VI and 2015 with Pope Francis as well as with the President Jimmy Carter visit to Cuba in 2002 and was a guest at the US residence in Havana in 2000 hosted by Ambassador Vicky Hudelston after the Elian Gonzalez successful reunification with his father Juan Miguel which has given him a unique first hand appreciation of Cuba today.

He has led large and small groups to Cuba in the spirit of People to People exchanges as well as advised the US State Department, members of the US Congress and Senate on Cuba matters from a Cuban born Cuban American perspective as well as advised both major and small corporations, law firms, Chambers of Commerce, Port Authorities, shipping companies ,telecommunication giants, hotel sector and major pharmaceutical industry organizations on Cuba matters, opportunities and the current rules and regulations in place in order to be in compliance. He is the CEO and major shareholder of Havana Ferry Partners ,LLC which was one of the first four such firms to receive the first OFAC license to operate fast passenger ferry between Florida and Cuba in 2015.

His humanitarian work with Cuba has been extensive primarily through the Council of Churches and the Catholic church, CARITAS Cuba,CRS, project “Christ for Cuba’, and other religious and non profit organizations such as Special Olympics and best Buddies International as well as universities and other educational institutions.

He has worked with the Catholic Church in Cuba and Cardinal Jaime Ortega of the Archdiocese of Havana and the Vatican since 1997 and participated in the historic Cuba visits of Pope John Paul II in 1998 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 and Pope Francis in 2015. In 2013 he was a guest of the newly elected Pope Francis at his residence at Casa Marta at the Vatican where he stayed with his Holiness for one week at Casa Marta where many discussions on the Catholic Church and Cuba today where held and other key topics during his stay.

Today Mr. Fernandez is an advisor on Cuban Affairs and Trade and serves on the Board of the Sarasota World Affairs Council.