Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 14, 2014

Cuba Highlights Fidel Castro”s Transcendence


Cuba celebrated Fidel Castro’’s 88th birthday with a deep tribute to the historic leader of a Revolution, which fifty-five years after its triumph persists today for the peoples as a symbol of emancipation and social justice, or so Prensa Latina (the Cuban News Agency) reports.

Many activities allegorical to the date, such as concerts, photo and audiovisual exhibitions, dancing-music concerts, book launching, among other cultural events, were carried out throughout the island on occasion yesterday of the birthday of the great Caribbean statesman.

Among those initiatives were the launch of the book “El destino comun de Nuestra America” (The Common Destiny of Our America), a text about the Latin American integration dedicated to the Cuban leader, in recognition of his status as major figure in the region’s efforts for its unit.

Thousands of young people also joined, in tribute to Fidel Castro, the ranks of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, a grass-roots organization focused on mobilizing the entire people in tasks to defend the Cuban revolutionary process and the conquests of the socialism.

The wax museum in Bayamo, the only one of this kind in Cuba, also included in its collection a sculpture by the 1982 Nobel prizewinner in Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a personal friend of the Cuban leader.

The opening of several photo exhibitions, such as “Fidel, amor a la humanidad” (Fidel, Love to Humanity) in Sancti Spiritus, “Sembrador de virtudes” (Sower of virtues), in Havana, and the painting exhibit made by children and adolescents in Ciego de Avila to honor the revolutionary leader, were also stressed.

The photo exhibition “Fidel es Fidel” (Fidel is Fidel) by filmmaker Roberto Chile that was opened on August 12 with great number of people at the Jose Marti Memorial at this capital’s Revolution Square, was particularly highlighted.

Many of those initiatives were part of the context of the campaign “Si tengo un hermano” (If I have a brother), also dedicated to whom Fidel Castro defined as the best friend of Cuba, late Venezuelan and Bolivarian leader, Hugo Chavez.

Also included were the celebrations that throughout the world recalled Fidel Castro’s birthday and the multiple congratulations received from many parts of the planet by social, political, union organizations, figures and heads of State such as those of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 14, 2014

Summer of Rum Festival making Ybor City debut


This article by Jeff Houck appeared in The Tampa Tribune.

In 1862, a man named Facundo Masso moved to Cuba from Spain to open a rum distillery in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

For almost a century, the sugar cane he used from the rich Cuban soil set the standard for Caribbean rum production as his copper stills dripped the spirit inside a room where fruit bats dangled amid the rafters.

Masso’s middle name: Bacardi.

The iconic brand with the bat-shaped logo fled to Puerto Rico in 1960 when the communist revolution took hold of the island, but Bacardi still celebrates its Cuban roots.

It’s fitting, then, that this year’s Summer of Rum Festival moves to the Cuban Club in Ybor City on Saturday, National Rum Day.

More than 20 brands will serve cocktails in multiple “rum zones” at the indoor-outdoor event.

The Cuban Club Main Street will house the main stage and rum huts, while Cruzan and Captain Morgan will serve mojitos and showcase pirate-themed rum drinks, respectively. The Island Rum Tasting Party will offer more than 40 rums from around the world while food trucks serve island-inspired foods.

Live entertainment scheduled throughout the day will feature reggae, ska, calypso, soca and a Jimmy Buffett tribute band.

General admission tickets are $20. For more information, visit

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 14, 2014

National Rum Day is Saturday


A few rum facts for the uninitiated from Christopher Carlsson of the Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle:

The first rum production dates back to the 17th century and the Caribbean sugarcane plantations.The word rum is first recorded in 1654 in the public records of The Colony of Connecticut. Where it is mentioned along side others names such as Kill-Devil.

Twelve million gallons of rum were consumed annually by the early colonists. To give some perspective on how much the colonists loved their rum, Americans today, consume only 30 million gallons of rum a year.

Rations of rum were given to sailors in the British Navy to be mixed with lime juice because it fought off the scurvy. This continued to be a tradition until July 31, 1970 when the last rations were passed out and the storage flagons ceremoniously tossed over the side, this day itself is now observed as Black Tot Day every July 31st.Rum has suffered a bit of an image problem over the years, first as s staple during Prohibition then after WWII it was something very few people except sailors drank, it was considered a rough, cheap and unfashionable spirit. In response to this people like Victor Bergeron (AKA Trader Vic) and a number of other entrepreneurs took advantage of the cheapness and availability of rum (indeed being forced to buy cases of it to get “the good stuff” such as whiskies to start mixing it with closely held secret ingredients and creating “Tiki” drinks and all the atmosphere, food and decor that went with it.

The boom of Tiki culture in the 1940’s through roughly the 1970’s ( at latest) gave us a host of umbrella drinks of varying quality that are still staples today. It did not however give rum the mystique and cultishness of whiskies – too many overweight men in loud Hawaiian shirts can have that effect on a spirits image. That coupled with the few choices and general low quality of the brands did nothing to help this.

Thankfully that has turned around quite a bit now, even in inland cities such as Rochester. Most liquor stores carry a fair selection of better rums and there are plenty of books and recipes on the internet to help you find a cocktail to your taste.

For the complete report, including recipes, report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 14, 2014

Vaccine Developed for Chikungunya


The World Health Organization reports there have been almost two million cases of the mosquito-borne illness, Chikungunya, throughout parts of Asia since 2005. Researchers are testing an experimental vaccine to prevent outbreaks, which also occur in Africa and the Americas, Jessica Berman reports for Voice of America.  

The virus is transmitted through infected female mosquitoes that bite during the day.  The mosquitos also transmit other viral diseases including Dengue fever.

In fact, the symptoms of chikungunya – including fever, rash, headache and severe joint pain – are often mistaken for dengue, another tropical illness that causes severe aches and pains and a high fever.

Working to develop a vaccine against chikungunya – which the WHO says has reached epidemic proportions – researchers used a virus-like particle, rather than the killed or weakened virus used in traditional vaccines. The experimental drug contained outer surface proteins taken from a West African strain of chikungunya, without the genetic material that causes infection. It stimulated a robust antibody response in the majority of the 25 healthy, young American volunteers in the initial trial. The candidate vaccine was reportedly well-tolerated.  Antibody  response was seen in even at the lowest doses.

More clinical trials and regulatory approval are needed before the vaccine becomes available.

According to the WHO, more than 1.9 million cases of chikungunya were reported in India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Burma over the past decade.  There have also been outbreaks in Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, in the island countries of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. A number of cases have been reported recently in France, Italy and the U.S.

Ann Powers, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says it’s hard to estimate how many people have been infected.

“Because there simply isn’t any treatment available.  So, they learn from their friends, their neighbors, their family that, “Oh, I’ve got chikungunya. It’s going to be a self-limiting disease.  I’ll feel bad for a while, then I’ll recover,” said Powers.

But even after they have recovered from the initial infection, people will sometimes feel bad for months and even years with severely aching joints.

Looking ahead to the possible release of an approved vaccine, Powers says in the United States, it might be given to overseas travelers.

“In contrast, in some place like India where they have chikungunya circulating continuously, it might be something they might want to incorporate into their routine, vaccine regimen,” she said.

Until then, Powers say the best protection continues to be avoiding mosquito bites by covering up and using an insect repellant.

An article on human trials of an experimental chikungunya vaccine is published in the journal The Lancet.

For the original report go to


In “Remembering Guantánamo through the lives of the Haitians held there,” Jacqueline Charles reports on a nationwide project to recount the history of the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Guantánamo Public Memory Project, a traveling exhibit, will make its debut in South Florida today (Thursday, August 14, 2014) at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace in Miami. Charles reminds us that “Before it became a maximum-security prison camp for terror suspects, Guantánamo housed thousands of Haitian refugees fleeing the violence and military junta… [. . .] By the time Cuban balseros arrived in Guantánamo in 1994, 15,000 Haitians were already there.” See excerpts here, and read the full article in the link below:

What life was like, and the faces of the men, women and children who called the U.S. naval base home, will be on display Thursday as part of a national effort to remember Guantánamo’s history.

gaun.DbO.Em.56Known as the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, the traveling exhibit makes its debut in South Florida on Thursday at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Ter. From 6 to 9 p.m., visitors will be able to view a multi-media history of “GTMO,” dating as far back as 1898 and through its most recent history as a holding place for Haitian and Cuban refugees trying to get to the United States.

By the time Cuban balseros arrived in Guantánamo in 1994, 15,000 Haitians were already there. They had been denied asylum by the Clinton administration while fleeing Haiti’s political turmoil. And while thebalsero Cubans were ultimately allowed to enter the United States, most Haitians were repatriated.

The memory project features video testimonies and images of the people who worked, lived, served or were held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba before it gained notoriety as a maximum security prison for hunger strikers and terror suspects.

Among the exhibits on display at the Little Haiti Cultural Center will be the work of Miami Herald photojournalist Carl Juste, “Havana and Haiti: Two Cultures, One Community.”

Since 2012, more than 400,000 people across the United States have visited the Guantánamo Public Memory Project exhibits and participated in community dialogues. In South Florida, five institutions have joined together to hold similar talks on the history of the base, its memories and legacy. The project is based at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights and is aimed at building public awareness about the longtime base on Cuban soil.

For more information about the project, visit

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 14, 2014

First Dutch Caribbean Youth Art Festival


ESO (Evento, Show, Otro) announces that the first edition of the Dutch Caribbean Youth Art Festival (DCYA) was a complete success. With the main theme as “Brotherhood” the performances included references to the four elements: earth, wind, water, and fire. The festival resulted in a wonderful cultural exchange gathering talented young artists from Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Suriname, and Holland. The festival took place at the Luna Blou Theatre Centre in Curaçao, August 1-10, 2014.

In preparation for the performances, the young artists participated in workshops for five days to create a multidisciplinary show, which were received with standing ovations. Performances included spoken word, music, dance, fashion, theater, and an exhibition. For example, Rayangel Boasam, from St. Maarten, presented four dub poems, each one related to an element.

Workshop leader Xemio Jacobs a CD (and a videclip), including one of his new compositions and songs performed by the group. The CD was available for purchase at the end of the shows. Choreographer Hip- hop dancer Remses “Muis” Rafaela put together a show called “Muis back in Town,” which impressed the audience, especially taking into account that the dancers had less than a week to prepare.

For more information (in Papiamentu), see

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 14, 2014

Reggae: Micah Shemaiah to Perform in Europe


The Jamaica Observer reports that a new wave of Jamaican musicians, including singer Micah Shemaiah, are looking to build on the legacy of pioneers of world touring like Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Culture. Shemaiah, kknown for his roots rock and reggae performances, is slated to sing in upcoming concerts in Germany and Spain’s Rototom Sunsplash. He will also perform at the Uprising Reggae Festival in Slovakia and Regalowisko in Poland.

Shemaiah is scheduled to kick off a week of dates tomorrow in Augsburg, Germany, followed by appearances at Spain’s Rototom Sunsplash next week. For the 33-year-old artiste, the Rototom gig is “massive exposure” for his songs which include Dread at The Control and Reggae Rockit. “It’s said to be the biggest reggae festival in the world, so you get introduced to a broad spectrum,” Shemaiah told the Jamaica Observer.

Last year, he did a handful of dates in the United Kingdom and spent a month in South Africa promoting the independent film, Bad Friday.

Born Micah Shemaiah Abraham, Shemaiah’s roots are grounded in the Twelve Tribes of Israel Rastafarian organisation. It’s where he learned the music of Marley, Ini Kamoze, the Visionaires, Mighty Diamonds and Still Cool. Shortly after leaving high school (Excelsior and Jamaica College), he began recording for producers such as Bobby Digital and Buju Banton, but his recent songs like Dread at The Control are self-produced.

[. . .] All Shemaiah’s tracks are released on vinyl, a deliberate strategy to tap into a resurgent market in Europe and Japan.

For original article, see

Also see

Photo from

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 14, 2014

Robin Williams and Jamaica: “Club Paradise”


Howard Campbell (senior writer, Jamaica Observer) remembers Robin Williams in Jamaica (see full article in the link below). The actor died Monday at age 63, a victim of severe depression.

For four months in 1985, scenic Portland was the backdrop for Club Paradise, a movie starring Robin Williams and reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff. Released the following year, the comedy was a launching pad for Williams’ remarkable film career. [. . .] He was a star on the rise at the time Club Paradise went into production. Directed and written by Harold Ramis, it also starred Peter O’Toole, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy and British model Twiggy. Williams played Jack Moniker, a retired Chicago firefighter who moves to the (fictional) island of Saint Nicholas after receiving a disability award. There, he befriends Cliff (bandleader Ernest Reed) and they open Club Paradise, a venue located in the island’s tourist area.

Cliff’s Oneness band was featured in the movie. One of its members was guitarist Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith who remembers hanging out with Williams during breaks from filming.

“I remember one time him a play cricket an’ a ball lick him pon him forehead, an’ him couldn’t do a scene,” Smith told the Jamaica Observer. “Very funny bredrin…Wi used to sing Homegrown (a ganja anthem written by Smith) with Harold Ramis who play guitar.”

A number of noted Jamaicans appeared in Club Paradise, including Louise ‘Miss Lou’ Bennett-Coverley, former Miss Jamaica Cathi Levy, Carl Bradshaw of The Harder They Come fame and theatre veteran Bobby Ghisays.

Warner Bros’ budget for the movie was $15 million but the film turned out to be a flop. [. . .] It did not hurt Williams’ career. In 1987, he had a breakthrough role in Good Morning Vietnam, followed by outstanding performances in Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Mrs Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting. His role in the latter won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1998. [. . .]

For full article, see—Jamaica_17343383

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 14, 2014

Annual Reggae Gold Series—Musical Gems of 2014


Every year, the compilers of Caribbean music, Reggae Gold, gather reggae’s top hits into one must-have collection. This year, Reggae Gold 2014 (VP Records) came out for purchase on August 12. Here is their description of this year’s chart toppers:

The album opens with Major Lazer’s anthem “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)” featuring dancehall artist Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green, whose video alone has over 62 million views. The collection continues with dancehall bangers, including emerging artist QQ’s club-friendly “Jack Hammer” dancehall diva Spice’s “So Mi Like It” (currently at the top of Jamaica’s charts) and Sean Paul’s “Want Dem All” feat. Konshens off his latest album Full Frequency. Soca dynasty Bunji Garlin and Fay-Ann Lyons also rep for Trinidad and Tobago on this diverse set. Garlin gets into the carnival spirt with his 2014 anthem “Truck On D Road” and Fay-Ann delivers a powerful pop-fused melody on “Catch Me.” Jah Cure also delves into the pop and R&B terrain with his captivating John Legend cover “All of Me.” The set continues with Jamaica’s most beloved singers, including Romain Virgo on “Soul Provider,” Etana on “Richest Girl,” Maxi Priest on “Holiday” and Gyptian on “One More Time” featuring Melanie Fiona, to make this truly a reggae music treasure.

VP Records has been at the forefront of the genre with the Reggae Gold series for over two decades. Reggae Gold contains the most popular sounds from renowned artists, crossover recording acts and emerging talent. Reggae Gold consistently lands on the top spot of the Billboard charts for the Reggae Category and is the best-selling compilation for the genre.


1. Watch out for This (Bumaye) – Major Lazer featuring Busy Signal, The Flexican & FS Green
2. Truck on D Road – Bunji Garlin
3. Jack Hammer – QQ
4. So Mi Like It – Spice
5. Want Dem All – Sean Paul featuring Konshens
6. Sekkle And Cease – Assassin (AKA Agent Sasco)
7. Catch Me – Fay-Ann Lyons
8. One More Time – Gyptian featuring Melanie Fiona
9. All of Me – Jah Cure
10. Richest Girl – Etana
11. Holiday – Maxi Priest
12. Soul Provider – Romain Virgo

For original article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 13, 2014

La Marqueta to Get a $3 Million Facelift Compliments of City Council


Vendors at La Marqueta hope that City Council’s $3 million revitalization project will bring the market back to its glory days, Gustavo Solis reports in DNA Info.

“People would come from Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Brooklyn,” said Aurelia Velez, who had run her own fish station at La Marqueta for 43 years. “They would fill their carts and go home.”

The indoor market on Park Avenue between 110th and 116th streets used to sell everything from fresh meat to clothes. It was a one-stop-destination, Velez added.

La Marqueta used to get so crowded that it was like walking in Times Square, said Jose Rodriguez, who used to buy groceries there in the early 1980s and recently opened a small shop with fruits, canned goods and smoked fish.

But the market has been in decline for decades. More than half of the stores are closed and vendors have had a hard time attracting new customers, Velez said.

Fleur D’Oranger, a small bakery that moved there in January, makes more money from selling its pastries at department store downtown than it does from customers at La Marqueta, said Melisa Guardado, 26, one of the bakers.

On Friday, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito visited the market to announce the $3 million allocated to the market.

Part of the expansion plan will support small businesses, artisans and vendors, including upgrading the market’s water and electric infrastructure, remodeling the bathrooms, redesigning the layout and creating new stalls, said a spokesman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation.

La Marqueta also offers a discounted rent of $35 per square foot to vendors interested in opening a stall.

Additionally, the city reopened La Placita, a public space under the Metro-North tracks that has been furnished with chairs, tables and WiFi.

The day after the announcement, La Marqueta got a small taste of what may come.

“There were a lot of people here Saturday,” Rodriguez said. “Some just came to look around but many of them bought things.”

The space is very important for the people of Harlem, said Hazelyn Dowdy, 60, who lives on 151st Street but has been shopping at La Marqueta for decades.

“We come from the Caribbean where we use this kind of fish,” she said pointing to a Link fish. “You can find it in other places but it’s very expensive there.”

She stopped by the market Monday to buy link fish and pig snout, which she uses to make rice. She hadn’t heard Friday’s announcement but was pleasantly surprised when she heard the news.

“I think that’s a great idea,” she said. “This is very important.”

Others aren’t as optimistic yet.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Velez, who has heard talk of revitalization before but hasn’t seen anyone follow through with it.

For the original report go to


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