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FocusCuba is operated by two partners who each has more than 20 years experience working in Cuba in business, travel, academic, and policy work.

Phil Peters

Philip Peters is an expert on Cuba and U.S.-Cuba relations with two decades’ experience in economic research, policy activism, and business consulting. His contacts in Cuba span all sectors: government, business, culture, academic, religious, and diplomatic.

​As a business consultant, Peters has worked in hospitality, agriculture, transportation, and real estate development. As a principal in the D17 Strategies firm, he provided consulting services that enabled Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to enter the Cuba market by signing hotel management agreements and making the first American investments in Cuba since the embargo was imposed. He has led business delegations for the United States Chamber of Commerce, pharmaceutical companies, agricultural enterprises, and others.

​Peters is president of the Cuba Research Center, a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, Virginia. His published work on Cuba’s economy began with a 1996 study of the nascent entrepreneurial sector, and includes A Viewer’s Guide to Cuba’s Economic Reform (Lexington Institute, 2012) and publications on real estate, sugar, telecommunications, agriculture, small enterprise, historic preservation, immigration, and U.S.-Cuba relations. He writes the blog The Cuban Triangle and tweets @philpeters1.

​Peters is a long-time advisor to members of the House and Senate, and has organized many Congressional delegations to Cuba. He has testified before Congressional committees and the U.S. International Trade Commission and is widely cited in print and broadcast media.

​Peters served as a State Department appointee of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and as an aide in the House of Representatives. He holds degrees from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Graduate School. 

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson works closely with the business and political communities to improve trade relations and investment between the United States and Cuba. His focus is on improving agriculture production, supply chains, trade, investment, and the sustainability of our shared natural resources.

Over the past twenty years Paul has traveled to and for extended periods lived in Cuba as a student of its culture, language, history, and commerce. His Masters thesis on Havana’s economic development, researched in 1999, sparked his interest in doing business in Cuba. He founded Chicago Foods International in 2008 and exported food products that served Cuba’s growing national and tourism markets.

Paul is the Chair of the United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba since its founding in 2014. Its more than 100 members – national and state agriculture organizations, corporations, and producers – advance the mission of improving two-way agricultural trade and working in Washington to promote sound commercial policies.

A Chicago native, Paul holds an international relations degree from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is widely cited in broadcast and print media and has testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

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