March 29, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
San Carlos Institue
516 Duval St
Key West, FL 33040
$5 Members/$10 Non-members
The San Carlos Institute is one of Key West’s most beautiful and historic landmarks. Founded in 1871 as a Cuban patriotic and educational center, the San Carlos stands as a symbol of freedom and hope for the Cuban people. Jose Marti, Cuba’s legendary patriot, and poet, united the exile community at the San Carlos in 1892. Marti so loved the San Carlos that he called it “La Casa Cuba.” In the nearly 150 years of its existence, the San Carlos has survived fires, wars, hurricanes, abandonment and an attempted forceful takeover by the Castro regime. The building was closed for almost two decades and was in danger of demolition when Rafael Peñalver, a South Florida civic leader and preservationist, led a statewide campaign in 1985 to save the San Carlos. The effort raised over $3 Million and culminated with the reopening of a beautifully-renovated San Carlos in 1992. Today the San Carlos serves as a museum, library, art gallery, theater, and educational center. It is the home of some of Key West’s most prestigious events including the Key West Literary Seminar, the Key West Film Festival, and the Songwriters’ Festival. The Florida Keys College offers classes and holds its fall commencement exercises at the San Carlos. Above all, the San Carlos is a place of pilgrimage. Visitors from all over the world come to the San Carlos to admire the beauty of its architecture and to learn about its history. In many ways, the history of the San Carlos mirrors the history of the Cuban people. The noble principles and ideals that guide this institution could well serve as the cornerstone for the rebirth of the Cuban republic.
Please join us for a champagne reception in the upper mezzanine proceeding the event.
About the Speaker
Rafael Penalver graduated from the University of Miami School of Law with a juris doctor degree in1975.
He has practiced law in Florida and Washington, D.C. since 1976, specializing in real estate and international law. He is legal advisor to the Spanish Consulate in Miami.
Active in civic affairs, Rafael served as chairman of the State of Florida Hispanic Commission, as a member of St. Thomas University’s Board of Trustees and Florida’s Historic Preservation Board.
In 1985 Rafael led a statewide effort to save the historic San Carlos Institute of Key West. The San Carlos had been closed for almost two decades and was in danger of demolition. A beautifully-renovated San Carlos reopened in 1992. Rafael has guided the institution through the years, making it one of Key West’s most important civic and educational centers. The San Carlos has been a labor of love to which he has devoted much of his adult life.
Rafael has also been involved in the human rights movement – targeting discrimination and violations of basic freedoms in his native Cuba and the United States. In the 1980’s, he joined forces with Bishop Agustin Roman of Miami to condemn the indefinite detention of Cuban refugees who came to Key West from the port of Mariel. In 1987 Rafael and Bishop Roman entered the federal penitentiaries in Atlanta, Georgia and Oakdale, Louisiana, at their own initiative and risk, to bring a peaceful resolution to the largest prison uprisings in American history. The Florida Supreme Court gave Rafael a special commendation for his efforts. He later founded Due Process, Inc. and was part of the legal effort that challenged the practice of indefinite immigration detention in the United States. The process took many years but succeeded when the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that indefinite detention was unconstitutional.
In the early 1990’s, Rafael joined forces with a group of Miami civic leaders to pass the nation’s first municipal ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. His efforts were highlighted in the movie “The Day It Snowed in Miami.”
Rafael served as founding chairman of the Dr. Rafael A. Peñalver Clinic, a State of Florida Department of Health medical facility located in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana community. The clinic is named after Rafael’s late father, and its purpose is to ensure that no one is denied medical care due to inability to pay.
Rafael is married to Ana Jaureguizar Penalver; the couple has two children: Ana Maria, age 15, and Ralphie, age 14. They were married in 1999 under a gazebo placed in the middle of Duval Street in front of the San Carlos Institute in a ceremony presided by Key West’s legendary mayor, Wilhelmina Harvey.
This program is sponsored by the Helmerich Trust.