Posted by: ivetteromero | January 26, 2015

USC: 20th Anniversary Exhibition and Tribute to Myrna Báez


The twentieth anniversary of the Art Gallery of the University of the Sacred Heart [Universidad del Sagrado Corazón] will be celebrated on Thursday, February 5, 2015, at 7:30pm. The gallery will host an exhibition celebrating two decades of uninterrupted programming committed to presenting the diversity of the best of Puerto Rican art.

The exhibition—dedicated to leading Puerto Rican artist Myrna Báez, professor, founder of the Fine Arts Program and resident artist at the University of the Sacred Heart—will present twenty works by emerging artists as well as seasoned masters of Puerto Rican visual arts.


The participating artists are: Carmen Inés Blondet, Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Mariestella Colón-Astacio, Carmelo Fontánez Cortijo, Iván Girona, Marta Lahens, Nitza Luna, Connie Ann Martín, Antonio Martorell, Patrick McGrath Muñiz, Jason Mena, José Morales, Rigoberto Quintana, Rafael Rivera Rosa, Quintín Rivera Toro, Carmelo Sobrino, Eric Tabales, Rafael Trelles, Víctor Vázquez, and Omar Velázquez.

For full information, see

[Painting above: Myrna Báez’s “Entre dos mundos.” See ]

Posted by: ivetteromero | January 25, 2015

Film: Video Islands, a selection of video works


A screening of Video Islands will take place on Thursday, January 29, 2015, from 6:30-8:00pm at Anthology Film Archives (located at 32 Second Avenue at East 2nd Street in New York.) The event is free and open to the public.

Description: María Elena Ortiz, recipient of the 2014 Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Travel Award, curates a selection of video works from her research trips in the Caribbean in 2014. María Elena’s research has explored film and video practices, through interviews with local cultural producers and artists in the region. Following the screening will be a Q & A session with María Elena Ortiz.

Video Islands is a program of contemporary visual shorts produced by artists from or working in Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago. This presentation includes videos, film shorts, documentation of performances, new media practices, and experimental narratives that portray the nuances of Caribbean experiences. Some of the works narrate personal stories, sit on the realm of nonlinear experimentation, or use animation to explore social imaginaries through classic Caribbean motifs. An investigation of the moving-image, Video Islands is the result of a research initiative in the Caribbean supported by Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Independent Curators International.

The project features works by the following artists (for full descriptions of all artists, visit the link below: Germille Geerman (b. 1988, Oranjestad, Aruba); Marlon Griffith (b. 1976, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago); David Gumbs (b. 1977, Saint-Martin); Alicia Milne (b. 1986, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago); Kareem J. Mortimer (b. 1980, Nassau, Bahamas); Holly Parotti (b. 1972, Nassau, Bahamas); Heino Schmid (b. 1976, Nassau, Bahamas); and Tessa Whitehead (b.1985, Bahamas).

María Elena Ortiz is assistant curator at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), where she curated At the Crossroads: Critical Film and Video from the Caribbean (2014) and the upcoming exhibition, Firelei Báez (2015). Previously, she worked as the Curator of Contemporary Arts at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in Mexico City, where she organized several projects including Carlos Motta, The Shape of Freedom and Rita Ponce de León: David. Ortiz has also collaborated with institutions such as New Langton Arts, San Francisco; Teorética, San Jose, Costa Rica; the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco; and Tate Modern, London. In 2012, she curated Wherever You Roam at the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach. Ortiz has contributed to writing platforms such as Fluent Collaborative, Curating Now, and Dawire. She has a Masters in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts (2010). In 2014, she was the recipient of the The Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC) and Independent Curators International (ICI) Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean. As part of this research, Ortiz will be presenting an upcoming screening program titled, Video Islands, at Anthology Film Archives in New York.

[Many thanks to Rod Fusco for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | January 25, 2015

UWI students block gates in protest demanding 2014 grades


In Trinidad, students at the campus of the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine blocked the gates to the institution demanding that they receive their grades from their exams last year. Lecturers have refused to file the grades as they protest the non-payment of an estimated TT$87 million (One TT dollar=US$ 0.16 cents) in arrears owed to them.

The West Indies Group of University Teachers (WIGUT) has said that the non-uploading of marks’ is still in effect “until a satisfactory response from Campus Senior Management is received concerning the payment of arrears in salaries”.

Public Relations Officer with the Students Guild, Nikoli Edwards, said that the estimated 18,000 students have been caught in the middle of a dispute between the lecturers and management. He said while the Guild had no issue with the payment owed to the lecturers “our issue is with using us as a bargaining tool.

“Outside of this present situation, we support the lecturers and we have made that clear to WIGUT,” he said, adding that the UWI administration “needs to do whatever they need to do to get the money to pay off these lectures. “But to say we are standing hand in hand with the lecturers during this time that is not the case,” he said. “We will not allow the lecturers to continue to hold us at ransom, to hold us hostage over grades because you have regional and local students who need their grades and their transcripts in order to access funding.” He said there were students who cannot return to Trinidad and Tobago “unless they get funding from their institutions….”

There had been media reports quoting Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim that the Trinidad and Tobago government had stepped in to pay the money owed. Karim said that senior officials of the ministry had met with WIGUT and the campus principal Professor Clement Sankat to address the matter. But Edwards said the Guild has received no official communication on that matter.

[. . .] The registration period for students has been extended to February 20 but Edwards said “this is not enough and will not ultimately fix the situation”.

For full article, see


Josh Tapper (JTA) writes about the Jewish community in Cuba. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

On a recent Friday night inside this city’s Beth Shalom synagogue, Aliet Ashkenazi, 25, stood draped in a blue-and-white prayer shawl leading prayers in a mix of Spanish and near-perfect Hebrew. It was the first time she had ever led services – a feat considering she converted to Judaism seven years ago after discovering her father was Jewish.

The 300-seat sanctuary in the Cuban capital was near capacity, but the crowd filling the wooden pews was largely American, comprised of tour groups from New York and New Jersey. The next morning, with the Americans gone, the crowd had thinned. A handful of youths sat in the first few rows, leaving a gray-haired cohort of congregants in the back.

This is typically how things go for Cuba’s 1,500 or so Jews: Hordes of out-of-town guests arrive, bringing with them suitcases full of clothing and coveted medical supplies, and then they’re gone, leaving Cuba’s diminished Jewish community behind.

A month since the United States and Cuba announced renewed diplomatic relations after more than five decades of mutual recrimination and mistrust, it remains unclear how rapprochement will change things for Cuba’s Jewish community, which has shrunk tenfold since the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, when there were 15,000 Jews here.

[. . .] Amanda Amato, a 49-year-old secretary, sipping a plastic cup of Cristal beer at one of the lodge’s biannual parties, said, “We have a difficult economic situation now, but it’s not for all time.”

Already there has been some easing. Americans — including the thousands of Jews who fled Cuba after the revolution – now can send remittances of $2,000 every three months to Cubans, four times the previous limit.

While Cuban Jews endure the same depressed conditions as other Cubans, surviving on monthly food rations and salaries that rarely exceed $40 per month, the community as a whole is the recipient of largesse most Cubans can only dream of. Cubans generally have restricted Internet access, but computers at Beth Shalom are wired, and the synagogue’s youth lounge contains a PlayStation and Nintendo Wii. Financial support from humanitarian organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which has operated in Cuba since 1991, enables Beth Shalom to provide community members with meals on Fridays and Saturdays – often non-kosher grilled chicken or canned tuna, followed by coconut ice cream. The synagogue office houses the community’s pharmacy, which twice a week dispenses free medicine supplied by Jewish tourists and aid organizations. While heath care is free in Cuba, over-the-counter drugs are rationed for ordinary Cubans.


[. . .] Adela Dworin, president of Beth Shalom and the Jewish community’s de facto government liaison, said that Cuban Jewry is sometimes hamstrung by its financial dependence on aid groups that earmark funds for individual projects, complicating where synagogues can allocate donations. “It would be better to send to us directly,” Dworin said. “We can’t depend our whole lives on Americans and Canadians. We must become more independent.”

The Jewish community also enjoys the support of the regime. President Raul Castro twice has attended Hanukkah celebrations at Beth Shalom. The country has two other synagogues in Havana and smaller congregations in the provincial towns of Santa Clara, Camaguey, Cienfuegos and Guantanamo. [. . .]

[Photos above by Josh Tapper. Top photo: Beth Shalom synagogue, or El Patronato, is Cuba’s largest synagogue, with a 300-seat sanctuary, social hall, library, pharmacy and Sunday school. It draws dozens of Cubans for services on Fridays and Saturdays. Second photo: Adela Dworin has been president of Beth Shalom synagogue since 2006 and serves as the Cuban Jewish community’s government liaison.]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | January 25, 2015

Cayman Islands and Cuban Vessels

Pic 8 (1)

Peter Polack writes that a Cuban boat with 29 people aboard, which included five women, arrived at East End dive resort in Grand Cayman yesterday morning and were directed to move on by a number of local immigration and police officials. The vessel departed at 9:00am.

The immigration officers advised that Deputy Governor Franz Manderson had ordered that no Cuban boat was allowed to land or receive assistance from local residents. Attempts by local residents to provide fuel and water was prevented by the police officers present. According to Polack, local residents and visiting tourists at the resort expressed outrage at the position of the Cayman Islands government believed to be the result of pressure by the Cuban government.

Local activist Billy McLaughlin expressed the view that the Cayman Islands faced a backlash from tourists due to failure to help the Cuban vessels that pass through the Cayman Islands.

[Photo above provided by Peter Polack.]

Posted by: ivetteromero | January 23, 2015

Happy Birthday to Derek Walcott!


Producer and director Ida Does has just reminded us that today is Derek Walcott’s 85th birthday. We join Ida in wishing him a wonderful birthday! In honor of this special day, the Walcott Film Team made him a digital present—see the video included here “’In Amsterdam’ by Derek Walcott”:

This video is brought to you by the makers of the feature length documentary film Poetry is an Island, Derek Walcott. The DVD of this film is due to be available in approximately three months. The film is being translated into different languages and will be released with subtitles in Dutch, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Hindi. The DVD, with extra scenes, extra poems, and the whole interview with Derek Walcott, will also be made available for educational purposes and school/ campus screenings.

More pictures and posts can be viewed on Facebook (please join by liking, for regular updates) at


Posted by: ivetteromero | January 23, 2015

Search for Rare Diablotin Bird in Dominica

The Dominica government recently announced that a team of officials from the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the organization Environmental Protection the Caribbean (EPIC) has been searching for the rare and endangered Diablotin bird (aka the Black-Capped Petrel or Pterodroma hasitata) on the island since the beginning of this year. The team’s objective is to determine whether the endangered bird is still nesting in Dominica. The black-capped petrel is one of the world’s most imperiled and least known seabirds. According to the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) blog, this species was thought to be extinct for most of the 20thcentury, “then was rediscovered in 1963 nesting high up in the mountains of southeastern Haiti. Since then, various expeditions have found diablotins nesting among the cliffs, boulders, and pine forests of four sites on the island of Hispaniola.” See link below to the Dominica government site. [Also see second ABC link for studies conducted in the US.]

 Last found nesting in Dominica over 150 years ago, the Diablotin bird is the namesake of both Morne Diablotin and Morne Aux Diables. The decline in its numbers worldwide is attributed to overhunting by its predators, cats and rats; habitat loss and human harvesting. [. . .]

The Black-Capped Petrel or Diablotin bird is a nocturnal sea-bird which means it spends its days feeding at sea and nests in burrows three feet deep on the highest and steepest mountain peaks at night.

“Almost the entire population of birds feeds off the United States so they’ll fly up to a few thousand miles to feed and then come back to places like Dominica to nest. They require a pristine habitat which is why they’re not found on most in the Caribbean; they require very steep and undisturbed forest habitat. Dominica has that so the places where we’re looking and they places where they were historically are the highest areas,” says Adam Brown, Senior Biologist with Epic. [. . .]

For full article, see

[Photo above by Tazio Taveres: One of three Black-capped Petrels destined to carry a satellite tag for the first time in history. Source:

To read more on petrel conservancy projects, see


The Object of the Atlantic: Concrete Aesthetics in Cuba, Brazil, and Spain, 1868-1968 by Rachel Price was published by Northwestern University Press in late 2014. It will be presented this evening at 6:00pm at the McNally Jackson Bookstore along with Javier Guerrero’s Tecnologías del cuerpo: exhibicionismo y visualidad en América Latina (Vervuert, 2014). Javier Guerrero, Rachel Price, Licia Fioll-Mata, and Jennifer Rodríguez will lead the launch. The bookstore is located at 52 Prince Street, New York, New York.


The Object of the Atlantic is a wide-ranging study of the transition from a concern with sovereignty to a concern with things in Iberian Atlantic literature and art produced between 1868 and 1968. Rachel Price uncovers the surprising ways that concrete aesthetics from Cuba, Brazil, and Spain drew not only on global forms of constructivism but also on a history of empire, slavery, and media technologies from the Atlantic world. Analyzing Jose Marti’s notebooks, Joaquim de Sousandrade’s poetry, Ramiro de Maeztu’s essays on things and on slavery, 1920s Cuban literature on economic restructuring, Ferreira Gullar’s theory of the “non-object,” and neoconcrete art, Price shows that the turn to objects—nd from these to new media networks—as rooted in the very philosophies of history that helped form the Atlantic world itself.

Rachel Price is an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures at Princeton University.

521795Tecnologías del cuerpo: exhibicionismo y visualidad en América Latina offers five chapters focusing on Reinaldo Arenas, Salvador Novo, Armando Reverón, Fernando Vallejo and Mario Bellatin; the author proposes that the body goes through visual and fictional records to fashion itself and to be modeled in a process that is always incomplete and unstable, which, therefore, allows for revolt.

Javier Guerrero is assistant professor of Latin American Studies at Princeton University. He is co-editor of the book Excesos del cuerpo. Ficciones de contagio y enfermedad en América Latina (2009, 2012), the double volume Cuerpos enfermos/Contagios culturales (2011) and of Visual Archives: Visualities, Visibilities and the Politics of Looking (forthcoming).

For more information, see, and


As part of its Conferencias Caribeñas 16, the Institute of Caribbean Studies of the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPR-RP), invites the academic community and the general public to the first event of the Spring 2015 semester, a conference titled “Crisis ecológica en el Lago Enriquillo de la República Dominicana” [Ecological Crisis at Enriquillo Lake in the Dominican Republic] and (UPR-RP) will comment the lecture.  

The activity will be held on Thursday, January 29, 2015, from 1:00 to 4:00pm at the Manuel Maldonado Denis Amphitheatre (CRA 108) of the Carmen Rivera de Alvarado Building, School of Social Sciences, UPR-RP.

The conference includes Dr. Rafael Méndez Tejeda (Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences-UPR Carolina) with the lecture “Analysis of weather conditions at the Lake Enriquillo,” Prof. Rosado Gladys Jiménez (Center for Marine Biology Research / CIBIMA/ Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) with the conference “Impact of the flooding phenomenon of Lake Enriquillo on hydrochemistry and biodiversity,” Dr. Wilson Ramírez Martínez (Department of Geology, UPR- Mayagüez) with the lecture “Geohydrological Analysis of the Lago Enriquillo Basin,” graduate students from the Department of Geology, UPR- Mayagüez, Elson E. Core and Kevin Vélez with the talk “Research at Lake Enriquillo and Los Haitises” and Yesenia Herrera and Ashlyann Arana, presenting “Paleotemperature of Lago Enriquillo Corals.”

This lecture will be broadcast LIVE online through the following website:

Comments and suggestions on this presentation will be welcome at:

For further information, you may call Dr. Humberto García Muñiz, Director, at (787) 764-0000, extension 4212, or write to

See the Institute of Caribbean Studies on Facebook at\



According to the Antigua Observer, health and environmental stakeholders in St. Lucia are studying the preliminary findings of a University of the West Indies (UWI) research project into the potentially harmful volcanic gases at the Sulphur Springs and findings of the volcanic gas network established to monitor potentially harmful volcanic gases from the Soufriere volcano.

Led by the UWI Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC), the project was launched in March last year, with the primary objective of gaining a better understanding of volcanic emissions or gases at the Sulphur Springs and the potential impact on environmental and human health.

The project was funded by the UWI Trinidad and Tobago Research and Development Impact Fund (RDI), The Soufriere Regional Development Foundation, the National Emergency Management Organization and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

UWI-SRC volcanologist, Dr. Erouscilla Joseph, who is also the principal investor on the project, said the study sought to measure the ambient concentrations of sulphur dioxide at the Sulphur Springs Park and in the west coast town of Soufrière, in response to concerns raised by both visitors and residents regarding the possible health effects of the volcanic gases.

One of the gas monitoring methods used was a low-cost, low-technology sampler developed in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry at the St. Augustine campus of the UWI.

Staff of the Soufrière Regional Development Foundation (SRDF) was trained in the use of the low-cost samplers as part of the project’s attempt to foster community participation in scientific research being conducted in the area. [. . .]

[Joseph said that] “The role of volcano tourism is recognised as an important contributor to the economy of volcanic islands in the Lesser Antilles. However, if it is to be promoted as a sustainable sector of the tourism industry, visitors, tour operators, and vendors must be provided with information about potential volcanic hazards to which they may be exposed in volcanic environments.”

For full article, see

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