Posted by: ivetteromero | April 15, 2014

Cuba Then: Rare Vintage Photos of Cuba before the Revolution 


Isabel Raphael (Conde Nast) features a photo gallery with images from the new edition of Cuba Then: Rare and Classic Images from the Ramiro Fernandez Collection. Born in Havana, Ramiro A. Fernández is the author of I Was Cuba. A former photography editor at Time, Inc., he is the owner of more than 3,000 vintage Cuban photographs. The introduction was written by award-winning poet Richard Blanco (author of Looking for The Gulf Motel and For All of Us, One Today.) Raphael describes the book here:

Cuba in the nineteenth century was defined by its vibrant nightlife, heady music, and a life of dancing, sports, politics, and struggle. The new book [. . .]showcases the colorful culture of Cuba before Castro with images from one of the largest archive of vintage photographs from the island nation.

From the earliest daguerreotypes to glamorous shots of movie stars, the photos feature a rich spectrum of personalities: race-car driving aristocrats, sultry showgirls, gangsters, everyday folk, and revolutionaries who would soon transform the nation.

Click through [in the link below] to see rare images of Castro as a schoolboy, a bare-chested Che Guevara, Ernest Hemingway on set, and more.

[Shown above: César Romero, born in New York to an Italian father and Cuban-born mother, and whose maternal grandfather was poet/revolutionary José Martí, is shown with Mexican actress Elena de La Cruz, sitting on the Paseo del Prado, Havana, 1946.]

For full gallery, see

See book information here:

Posted by: ivetteromero | April 15, 2014

Heineken in Haiti Announces Rare $100 Million Investment


Dutch brewer Heineken announced Friday that it is investing $100 million in its Haiti production plant that makes the popular lager Prestige. The media points out that this investment is significant because many international companies have been reluctant to spend money in Haiti due to a perception that the business climate is hampered by red tape, allegations of corruption, and a flimsy infrastructure. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

But Jose Matthijsse, general director of the National Brewery of Haiti that Heineken owns, said the Dutch company is eager to invest more in the Caribbean country because political stability and cooperation have improved under the current government. Heineken purchased the Haitian brewery in 2011, and owns 95 percent of the company that produces Prestige. The remaining 5 percent is held by Diageo Ireland, the company that makes Guinness stout.

About one-fifth of the new investment has already gone toward construction of a second 24,300-square-foot (2,260) production line that opened December in the same facility in Port-au-Prince. The addition will allow the brewery to double output, for 40,000 more cases of Prestige and other beverages produced every day.

The new production line has also enabled the brewery to introduce a 16-ounce bottle of Prestige. The rest of the investment will be used to further increase lager production, manufacture more bottles and to purchase items such as trucks and generators. [. . .]

For full article, see


On NPR, Tess Vigeland, guest host of All Things Considered, recently interviewed author Julia Cooke, author of The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba. As Vigeland explains, Cooke traveled to Cuba as a college student in 2003, and “it so affected her that she returned in 2008 and began a five-year chronicling of post-Fidel society.” [Also see previous post New Book: Julia Cooke’s “The Other Side of Paradise—Life in the New Cuba”.] Here are excerpts from the report and interview (with a link for the full program below).

CookeJulia_web[. . .] Cooke says her first trip helped dissolve preconceptions she had about Cuba. “The media situation here with Cuba is primarily dominated by politics and clichés … and I think actually daily life is much more interesting than I had been led to believe,” she tells “And so I wanted to go back, especially on the verge of this cataclysmic change that was starting to happen — the departure of Fidel from the scene into the background — and find out how things actually functioned.”

Interview Highlights

On the confusing economy of Cuba

In order to get any simple commodity, you have to figure who’s selling it, and who needs to be buying it. So it’s just a matter of spending a lot of time and asking a lot of questions. I think that was one of the things I enjoyed most about being in Cuba was the almost childlike position that it put me in. I had to ask so many questions and be so prepared to have everything — all my preconceived notions — blown out of the water. Things as simple as where to buy fish. You’re on an island. You think there should be fish everywhere, and there aren’t. [. . .]

On American misconceptions about Cuba

I’ve gotten so many comments recently that people are surprised to hear that Cubans don’t hate Americans. And you know, I never met a Cuban who didn’t have a family member of some sort who was living abroad. So Cubans are a much more sophisticated bunch than I think many Americans think they are. And there is zero animosity on the part of the Cuban people toward the American people.

I think that’s one really unique thing about Cuba is that contemporary Cuba is very cognizant of how detached politics is from life. … It’s second nature to them to say, “Your government stinks, but come on in and have a rum with me.”

For full program and transcript, see


In Paris, France, UNESCO is sponsoring the event called “Nuit européenne des musées” [European Night of Museums], which takes place on Saturday, May 17, 2014. This year’s event honors the Dominican Republic and will exhibit works by Dominican artists Jorge Pineda and Polibio Díaz.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Mrs. Irina Bokova, has renewed the Organization’s patronage to the “Nuit européenne des musées” for the sixth consecutive year. UNESCO is once again involved with this cultural event of great scope, which aims to make culture accessible to everyone by opening the doors to museums and cultural institutions to the general public free of charge.

This year, UNESCO will celebrate the Dominican Republic, partner of the Organization for the 2014 edition. The public will have the opportunity to discover the work of Dominican artists Jorge Pineda and Polibio Díaz. Visitors will also have the opportunity to experience the modern architecture of the Organization’s buildings and part of the works in its art collection, including those by Appel, Giacometti, Picasso, Miró, Calder, Erró, and Chillida. Visits will be held from 8:00pm to midnight (last entrance time) with guided visits offered in French, English and Spanish (enter at 125 avenue de Suffren, Paris 7).

For more information, see


Puerto Rican director Rubén Abruña’s La casa ausente [The Absent House] is now officially included in the online catalogue of the DOCM Media Library 2014 of the Visions Du Reel FIlm Festival, in Nyon Switzerland. [Also see previous posts New Film: Rubén Abruña’s “La casa ausente” and Film Project: Rubén Abruña “La casa ausente/The Absent House”.]

Description: A designer from the Caribbean pioneered green architecture 30 years ago, and today he confronts climate change with sustainable constructions such as a house without a roof that is completely independent of the power and water utilities, a micro-eco-house on wheels, a pre-designed sustainable house, a parachute-house and a solar-electric car, among others. When architect Fernando Abruña Charneco, FAIA, began designing in the 1970‘s many dubbed him as “crazy” for putting nature first before erecting a building, a practice which later would be labeled as sustainable green architecture. He inherited the design mantra of “doing more with less” from his mentor R. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the Geodesic Dome, with whom he worked as an apprentice. In times of climate change and the doomsday consequences it entails, La Casa Ausente delivers a much-needed, hopeful, pro-active message that we can live sustainably while preserving the Planet for future generations.

To see catalogue of the Visions Du Reel FIlm Festival, follow this link:

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 15, 2014

New bio on Miss Lou


Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture, is a new biography by professor Mervyn Icon. Distributed by Kingston’s Ian Randle Publishers, it will be released this month.

Louise Bennett Coverley, ‘Miss Lou’, has for decades represented the ‘face’ of Jamaican culture, the essence of what it is to be Jamaican. As a poet, performer, storyteller, singer, actress, writer, broadcaster, folklore scholar and children’s television show host, she won hearts and souls for Jamaica with her humorous yet compelling performances worldwide. That diverse career spanned 50 years.


She died in Toronto — where she lived for several years — in 2006 at age 88.

It is Miss Lou, more than any other figure in Jamaica’s history, who showed that the language spoken by most Jamaicans – patois or Jamaican Creole – is worthy of respect.

In Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture, Mervyn Morris traces the life of this legendary Jamaican from early beginnings through to her local and international eminence, and discusses aspects of her work. According to a release from IRP, “the book is brief and affordable, and captures the life of a woman whose actions and life’s work instilled pride in Jamaicans in their language and culture”. A listing of recommended books and recordings is an added feature of this worthy biography of Miss Lou.

Mervyn Morris is a Poet and Professor Emeritus of the University of the West Indies. A cultural icon in his own right, Professor Morris’s work has appeared in publications throughout the Caribbean, the Commonwealth and Britain.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 15, 2014

Professor Mervyn Morris Named First Poet Laureate In 60 Years


Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris has been named Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate in 60 years, the Associated Press reports.Morris, an eminent poet was named by the Tourism Minister, Dr Wykeham McNeill this morning.

The title of Poet Laureate is a national honour that recognizes a distinguished Jamaican poet for his/her significant contribution to the literary community.

It is expected to stimulate a greater appreciation for Jamaican poetry, write poems for national occasions, and preserve and disseminate the island’s cultural heritage through prose.

Morris, a retired professor at the University of the West Indies, has led the charge for the Government to do more to show the country’s appreciation for the arts.

The Poet Laureate Programme is a joint initiative of the Entertainment Advisory Board of the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, the Ministry of Youth and Culture and the National Library of Jamaica.

For more information on Morris follow Jamaica’s Gleaner coverage at

Posted by: lisaparavisini | April 15, 2014

Kamau Brathwaite to be honored


The Clement Payne Cultural Achievement award will be presented to Kamau for a lifetime of outstanding work in the interconnected field of the Arts, Education and Culture. This is an annual award that the Clement Payne Movement has been presenting to outstanding Barbadians who exemplify the spirit and commitment of the Right Excellent Clement Payne. The award has been in existence since 2000.


“Gender and the Caribbean Body,” a Conversation with Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Gerard H. Gaskin, and Kettly Mars. This event is free and open to the public.

Monday, April 28, 2014
7:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. with reception to follow (RSVP encouraged)
25 Broadway, 7th Floor
Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education of CUNY
New York, NY 10004 (Please bring photo i.d. for security)

From throughout the Caribbean – the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Trinidad – writer Kettly Mars, visual and performing artist Nicolás Dumit Estévez, and photographer Gerard H. Gaskin come together to discuss what it means to be a Caribbean artist operating identity at home and within the cultural centers of the ‘global north.’ How does an artist negotiate one’s nationality with one’s varying citizenships to communities throughout the many ‘Caribbeans’ that take form in Amsterdam, New York, London, or Paris? How do varying media and performance styles contribute not only to how art is created in the ‘Caribbean,’ but also to how the ‘Caribbean body’ is perceived by the general public? How is gender affected by these processes?

“Gender and the Caribbean Body” is the culmination of a multi-stage exploration of gender and sexuality sponsored by the CUNY Diversity Projects Development Fund and Barnard College. Organized by Alessandra Benedicty (City College), Kaiama Glover (Barnard College), Maja Horn (Barnard College) and Kelly Baker Josephs, this effort aims to provide an opportunity for sustained transcolonial discussion of gender in the Caribbean.

The goal of this proposed multi-stage program on “Gender and the Caribbean Body” is to bring together scholars and students working on the Caribbean from the Francophone, Anglophone and Hispanophone traditions to determine connections and disconnections across habitual borders. Discourses of gender and sexuality in the Caribbean are overwhelmingly limited to linguistic, and therefore colonial, parameters.  This semester, the “Gender and the Caribbean Body” reading group worked to speak across these divisions and on April 28, we open this discussion up to the public with a panel of three talented artists. More information on the panelists and the reading group can be found on the event website.

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Call for Panels and Papers

10th Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies

Deadline for submission: October 31, 2014

“More than White, More than Mulatto, More than Black”: Racial Politics in Cuba and the Americas

February 26–28, 2015

Modesto A. Maidique Campus Miami, Florida

The Cuban Research Institute (CRI) of Florida International University continues its tradition of convening scholars and other persons interested in the study of Cuba and Cuban Americans by announcing its 10th Conference. We encourage the submission of panels and papers concentrating on any aspects of the main conference theme, but will consider all submissions relevant to the history, economy, politics, culture, society, and creative expression of Cuba and its diaspora.

In 1893, the Cuban patriot, journalist, and poet José Martí published his famous article, “Mi raza” (“My Race”). In it he argued against fomenting racial divisions within the context of Cuba’s independence struggle from Spain. His axiom that “man is more than white, more than mulatto, more than black” has been extensively cited since then. Although Martí’s thought has been praised for promoting racial integration and equality, scholars and activists have criticized the practical implications of his model of racial democracy in Cuba and elsewhere.

The Tenth Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies takes Martí’s dictum as a cue for further academic inquiry and public debate. Our main theme, Racial Politics in Cuba and the Americas, invites comparisons between Cuban experiences of race and those of other Latin American and Caribbean peoples (such as Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Haitians, and Brazilians), as well as their diasporic communities. Although we emphasize the racial politics that emerged from the African-European encounter, we welcome analyses focusing on other racialized groups in Cuba and the Americas. We are especially interested in examining the economic, social, and cultural underpinnings of racial politics, as well as their histories, enduring significance, and potential futures. Panels and papers could focus on but are not limited to the following topics:

• Conceptualizations of race, racialization, racial identity, race relations, mestizaje, and other related terms as they apply to the experiences of Cubans and other peoples in the Americas

• Differences and similarities between the Cuban system of racial classification and that of other Latin American and Caribbean countries

• The origins of race relations in Cuba and the Caribbean during the days of the colonial slave plantation system

• The impact of Chinese indentured labor on race relations in Cuba and the Caribbean

• Changes in racial discourses and practices, political culture, public opinions, and attitudes toward race in Cuba and other Latin American and Caribbean countries

• The contemporary debate about the ethnic and racial diversity of the Cuban population

• The racial politics of the Cuban exodus to the United States and other countries over time

• Afro-Latinidad as an alternative concept of strategic identities and alliances

• Interactions between Cubans and other ethnic and racial groups in the United States, particularly in the Miami metropolitan area

• The impact of racial prejudice and discrimination in the educational, occupational, and housing markets of Cuba and the United States

• Analysis of the multiple intersections among race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and other factors, both in Cuba and in the diaspora

• Literary, artistic, musical, and religious expressions of racial identities in Cuba and its diaspora

• The performance of blackness in theatre, music, dance, cinema, and the visual arts

• The role of Afro-Cuban intellectuals, writers, and artists in the development of black consciousness

• The rise in racial activism in Cuba and the Americas and its influence on the ideology of racial democracy

• Historical and contemporary exchanges between Afro-Cubans and other Afro-descendants in the Americas

• The racial politics of civil rights discourse

• The effects of the “Special Period in Times of Peace” on racial inequality in Cuba

• The racially differentiated impact of family remittances and the persistence of socioeconomic gaps between people of African and European origin in Cuba

• The representation of race in the media

Guidelines for Presenting Panels and Papers

Although we prefer panel proposals, we will attempt to group individual papers in sessions according to shared themes. Panels will ideally include four paper presenters, a chair (who may be one of the presenters), and a discussant. Panels may feature five paper presentations if they do not include a discussant. Participants may perform two roles at the conference (chair, discussant, roundtable participant, or paper presenter) but may not present more than one paper. Submissions may be in English or Spanish.

Proposals for panels or roundtables must include a general description of the theme and one-page abstracts of each participant’s paper. Each presentation will be limited to 20 minutes. The following information must be submitted for each participant: full name, role in the session, academic affiliation, title of presentation, preferred addresses, office, cell, and home phone numbers, fax, and email address. Persons wishing to submit individual papers must present a one-page abstract and all pertinent personal data.

The deadline for submission of all paper and panel proposals is October 31, 2014. Notifications of acceptance (or refusal) will be sent out by December 1, 2014. For further information about the conference and other CRI activities, please visit our website at All submissions and requests for information should be sent to An acknowledgement of receipt will be sent.

Dr. Jorge Duany, Director

Cuban Research Institute

Florida International University

Modesto A. Maidique Campus, DM 445

Miami, FL 33199

Tel. (305) 348–1991

Fax (305) 348–7463

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