Posted by: lisaparavisini | March 14, 2015

Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?


This article by Mawuna Remarque Koutonin appeared in London’s Guardian.

In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”.

Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad.

Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’.

Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: “Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. “I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker.

Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | March 14, 2015

New from the iD Project: Dominica’s Daughters


New from the iD Project: Dominica’s Daughters
Video link:
Mother and Daughter Esther and Pia Morris gather to discuss their deep love for the Caribbean island of Dominica as part of The iD Project – the documentary series by UK filmmaker Richard Etienne that addresses the subject of cultural absence.
Filmed in part at The Rum Kitchen Notting Hill, Dominica’s Daughters features former Miss CARIFTA (1973) and DUKA member Esther Fadelle-Morris and UK-born singer songwriter Pia Morris.
For more music by Pia Morris visit: 
© 2015 Richard Etienne, Opello Pictures
Additional footage provided by Discover Dominica Authority

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Posted by: lisaparavisini | March 14, 2015

Puerto Rico: the Caribbean without all the edges sanded off


Stylish New Yorkers are heading to Puerto Rico for its chic new hotels, fine cuisine, and rough-round-the-edges charm. Here’s how to join them, MArk C. O’Flaherty reports in this article for London’s Telegraph.

This isn’t Puerto Rico’s first moment in the sun. Back in the Sixties, the island found itself fleetingly one of the most fashionable destinations in the Caribbean. Banned from Cuba, high-society “snowbirds” from the north-eastern United States were happy to slum it for a slice of easily accessible sunshine.

Back then, John F Kennedy and Joan Crawford frequented what is now Ritz Carlton’s newly luxurious Dorado Beach resort, even though Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story had immortalised the island as a place of “diseases … hurricanes … money owing … bullets flying”. The locals were falling over themselves to leave for a new life in Brooklyn. Wealthy New Yorkers just wanted winter tans.

For many would-be long-haul travellers it’s the lyrics of Bernstein’s America that still define Puerto Rico. But that was a long time ago. Now it’s enjoying a tourist renaissance: local chefs have developed innovative, sophisticated new styles; chic hotels are opening up; and for New Yorkers, in particular – taking advantage of low-cost, three-hour domestic flights to San Juan – Puerto Rico has become a favourite weekend break. It’s fitting: the island has all the palm fronds, golden sand and surf of the best of the Caribbean, but with a quirky, urban twist.

Puerto Rico is the 51st American state in all but name. As you land in San Juan, the strip malls sprawl out below you as they do in any major US conurbation. But after a short cab ride to the old town, you’re transported into a labyrinth of candy-coloured, 17th-century, colonial architecture. As long as some behemoth of a cruise liner isn’t docked, spewing its passengers out on to the cobbles (all those designer outlets that you’ll spot are here for the cruise ship traffic), this Unesco World Heritage Site is a joy to explore.

Puerto Rico: the 51st state of luxury

Wandering around dive bars and antique shops, you might find yourself wondering why we don’t paint our buildings emerald green, cerulean blue and canary yellow in Britain. As you squint across the blindingly bright, white cemetery stones overlooking the ocean by the fort, it should be obvious: we don’t have this brutal, beautiful, year-round Caribbean sun.

If you’re looking for the usual paradise island pursuits, they are all here. The St Regis Bahia Beach resort (001 787 809 8000; has been the go-to, family-orientated five-star resort in these parts since opening five years ago. It’s on the edge of the El Yunque rainforest, with its driving and hiking trails and copious waterfalls (you can swim in the pool beneath the La Mina falls). There is a solid Jean-Georges Vongerichten fine dining restaurant, an elaborate and lively pool area and several beautiful areas to jog, fish or get married in around the grounds. Service style borders on over the top, and by-the-book American.

Smaller, and with more “wow” factor as you walk in past the lily ponds to see the sea roaring away on the other side of the infinity pool, is the aforementioned Dorado Beach resort (626 1100; This is top-end territory, right down to the sometimes remarkable molecular cooking of José Andrés in the restaurant, Mi Casa. Try his interesting deconstructed eggs benedict for breakfast, then order the classic version to feel full. Have the tasting menu, with pork belly sliders, sautéed squid and scores of other small plates, for dinner. Drink José’s fantastic twist on the margarita, with salt foam, which keeps the smack of saline constant for the whole glass. The novelty may distract you from the woman from Arkansas at the next table, making a video call to her friend while blowing smoke from an electric blue vape pipe. “Hi, honey! I’m in a restaurant! In Puerto Rico!”

Some of the less urbane guests aside, this is a beautiful place to spend a few days, with one of the loveliest outdoor spa areas in the Caribbean, with onsen baths, fragranced steam rooms and skilled masseurs. This being Puerto Rico, it’s also acceptable to order piña coladas. This guilty pleasure of a cocktail was first mixed on the island, so it’s not tacky, but as much a part of the heritage as the architecture around Catedral de San Juan Bautista.

At the top of the old town, behind unmarked gates, artist Jan D’Esopo has been playing the role of eccentric landlady at her bohemian, ramshackle, opulent Gallery Inn (722 1808; since the Seventies. She takes her white cockatoo, Campeche, around the corner for coffee every afternoon, but doesn’t go into town much. “I let it all come to me,” she says. “We have a salon, and music students and maestros play here. It’s a really interesting crowd.” There are wine tastings, four-poster beds and a roof deck in what was a grand 18th-century home. It’s not for minimalist tastes, but it has bags of budget personality – as do her numerous exotic birds. “Holaaaaa,” begs Campeche, mournfully, nodding towards you in the quest for another piece of cheese.

Eating out in Puerto Rico used to be a stodgy, heavily salted experience. Variations on mofongo (fried plantain) filled up most menus. Now there’s a lighter touch. Berlingeri Cocina Artesanal (527 3244; no website) is a tricky-to-find veggie café, run by two impossibly handsome brothers, at 1958 Calle Mcleary, in the rear of a car park next to a yoga studio. It’s cheap, delicious and many locals’ favourite new lunch spot. Wash down your soup, salad and vegan bake with a peanut butter smoothie.

The food scene has got a whole lot better-looking: chef Santaella’s eponymous restaurant (725 1611;, in the buzzing market/nightlife district of Placita, is the slickest dining room in town. It used to be a hardware store; now it’s full of posh contemporary lighting and exposed cabling, with piles of Santaella’s cookbooks on the reception table and a glass-cased tropical garden in the rear. It’s as noisy as anywhere you’ll find in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan, and the food is notable and nouveau Puerto Rican: spring rolls have a morcilla filling, baby octopus comes stewed with chorizo and chickpeas in sherry and negronis are mixed with coffee-infused vermouth.

You can book for Santaella, but at celebrity chef José Enrique’s eponymous spot around the corner (725 3518;, the oh so New York/London no-reservations clipboard system is in operation, so turn up an hour before you want to eat, leave your mobile number, and go and drink some Medella beer and watch the live music and dancing in the streets until you get the call to devour mountains of smoked pork or fried fish.

Enrique’s Placita mother ship is slightly rough and ready (don’t be surprised when the waiter downs a couple of shots with you before he hands over the bill), but, along with scores of food bloggers and vloggers, Alain Ducasse has become a fan (and friend). Enrique’s new restaurant within the open-to-the-elements, curved-concrete, freshly minted landmark El Blok (741 6020; on Vieques, is smarter – and the food, particularly when José is in the kitchen, sensational. The hotel isn’t exactly luxe (rooms are small, sans closets or phones) but it’s comfortable and packs a visual punch, full of Aesop bathroom products, Eames oddments and framed Nine Inch Nails posters, wrapped in a facade full of artful holes that cast Instagram-worthy shadows across every surface.

Vieques, a 15-minute flight from San Juan, is the reason many come to Puerto Rico. The archetypal one-horse town here is Isabel Segunda, although the island is home to a lot more than a single apocryphal wild horse (be wary of them mid-road when you’re driving).

Things have changed a lot in the past decade. After a contentious 60-year partial occupation by the US Navy ended in 2003, tourism has grown. There used to be just one lone tour operator offering trips around Mosquito Bay, the world’s most impressive body of bioluminescent water: they let you throw yourself off the boat to marvel at the dinoflagellates sparkling like diamonds as they rolled off your body. Now there are 14 different tours, and ecologists have called a halt to the swimming. Instead, you kayak around the bay. It’s still remarkable to see the glowing organisms rushing off your oars and firing off the silhouettes of fish in the water.

Back in the Sixties, they filmed Lord of the Flies here, making use of the extraordinary sweeps of undeveloped beach that remain a huge draw. For a while, in the Eighties, it was a rustic hideaway for New York’s fashion crowd. Now it has Richard Meier-designed villas, it serves as a backdrop for Victoria’s Secret campaigns and the seafood at Bili in Esperenza is as good, if not better, than anything you’ll get on the Med.

While El Blok is busy being booked out for swimwear shoots by European glossies, it’s the W that brings the five-star urbanites to Puerto Rico. A decade ago, the W (741 410; was the fusty old Martineau Bay resort. The pool was just a pool, now it’s “WET®”. There aren’t just tennis courts, there is “SWING”. It’s easy to roll your eyes at the trite cool of the W brand, but they do resorts spectacularly well. The main lobby here is a brightly coloured lounge by superstar Spanish designer Patricia Urquoila, and the firepit is a lovely place to sink a few cocktails. The service is superb and the rooms are large, with World of Interiors flair, but an 11am checkout time and 4pm check-in time is risible – one hotel trend that must not catch on.

If you want a temporary base on Vieques with a pool, cocktails and your own big bathtub, the W is the place. It also has one of the biggest car rental lots next door; very handy – you can pick up your red Jeep and head off, and off-road, with a picnic to all the most beautiful and isolated beaches along the south coast. And these beaches really are isolated – only Sun Bay has anything you could describe as facilities (a café, lavatories and paved car park). But that’s the beauty of this part of Puerto Rico. It’s raw. There’s no one to rake the seaweed off what the military called Blue Beach (now renamed Chiva) and no one to rush over with a piña colada. Often, there’s just … no one. But for all the new sophistication and refinement that’s on offer in Puerto Rico, that’s still the point. This is the Caribbean without all the edges sanded off.

ITC Luxury Travel (01244 355527; offers a seven-night trip to Puerto Rico, staying at the St Regis Bahia Beach Resort room and W Retreat and Spa Vieques, from £2,295 per person based on two adults sharing. Includes return economy class flights from London and internal flights to Vieques Island and transfers.

British Airways flies from London to San Juan daily via New York from £733.46 return (0844 493 0787;

Cape Air flies from San Juan to Vieques up to nine times daily, from $119 (£xx) each way (001 800 227 3247;

For the original report go to


Save the Date!
14th Annual
Haitian Art Auction & Sale
The Vassar Haiti Project brings you a weekend celebration of Haitian art and culture. The art sale and auction will support the education, health, and sustainable development in the village of Chermaitre.
Vassar College
Multipurpose Room, 2nd Floor, College Center
124 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Friday, April 17           12:00pm – 9:00pm
12:00pm     Sale of Haitian Paintings and Handcraft
  4:30pm     Cocktail Reception / Auction Registration
  6:00pm     Live Auction of Haitian Art
  7:30pm     Dinner celebrating women here and in Haiti.
                      Honoring Caryn Halle, Molly Katz & Kristy Grimes.
                      Tickets $65.  Reservations:  845-797-2123
Saturday, April 18       10:00am – 6:00pm
10:00am     Sale of Haitian Paintings and Handcraft
  3:30pm    Senior Recital:  Nik Srinivasan
  5:00pm    Haiti Trip:  Student Presentation and Reception
Sunday, April 19         10:00am – 2:00pm
10:00am     Sale of Haitian Paintings and Handcraft
All purchases are 50% tax deductible. 
Event is free and open to the public.
Handcrafts start at $5, paintings at $50.
Visit our website for more information.
Questions? Email, or call (845) 797-2123.
Posted by: ivetteromero | March 14, 2015

Antonio Benítez-Rojo (1931-2005)


Antonio Benítez-Rojo was Thomas B. Walton, Jr. Professor of Spanish at Amherst College since 1983. He died January 5, 2005, Northampton, Massachusetts. Although our blog renders tribute daily to this influential pan-Caribbeanist, today, we remember the leading scholar and author on his birthday, March 14 (1931). We have taken these excerpts from the Amherst Magazine obituary that was published upon his death, but we also provide additional links about his life and work below.  Also see our previous post Remembering Antonio Benítez-Rojo.

The text below quotes one of his students as saying, “He had the unique gift of harboring both a sophisticated intellect and a deep appreciation of the simple pleasures in life;” this is an idea shared by most people who knew him. I will never forget a conference at Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland where Benítez-Rojo was the keynote speaker. At the final dinner-dance celebration, the author—who was ailing from a hip injury and was walking with a cane—joined us all to dance to a contagious salsa beat. He could barely walk, but he stood in the midst of the dancers with a blissful smile on his face, gently swaying to the rhythm. He was an example to us all.

[. . .] A novelist, essayist and short-story writer, Benítez-Rojo was widely regarded as the most significant Cuban author of his generation. His work has been translated into nine languages and collected in more than 50 anthologies. Tute de reyes, his 1967 collection of short stories, won the prestigious Casa de las Americas Prize, and Sea of Lentils, his 1979 novel, was reviewed by John Updike in The New Yorker and listed as a notable book in The New York Times. He won the Pushcart Prize for his 1990 story “Heaven and Earth,” and was co-winner of the 1993 Modern Language Association Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for his book La isla que se repite [The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective]. He also wrote the award-winning screenplay for Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s film The Survivors and contributed to more than a dozen scholarly books.

The complexity and variety of Benítez-Rojo’s writing was a reflection of his own rich background. As a boy growing up in Havana he favored adventure stories like Treasure Island and Captain Blood, and he was influenced by the colonial history of the Caribbean and the sense of romance attached to forts and pirates. In a 2003 interview with Bomb magazine, he said that one of his influences was his family cook, who was a former slave. “Whenever she saw me,” he said, “she called me over and began to recount Yoruba stories to me. And so, on top of the stories about pirates and naval engagements that I was storing in my memory fell the legends of the Yoruba orishas: Shangó Oshún, Ogún, Yemayá, Obatalá, Babalú Ayé….As you can see, by the age of 8 or 9 I was a caribeño. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d answer invariably: a writer.”

[. . .] At Amherst he taught courses in Spanish-American literature, Latin American literature, Cuban literature and culture and creative writing. Dean of the Faculty Gregory S. Call said that Benítez-Rojo “was, by all accounts, beloved by his students, who saw him as the embodiment of the literature and culture that they studied.” “He had the unique gift of harboring both a sophisticated intellect and a deep appreciation of the simple pleasures in life,” Brandt Tullis ’07 told The Amherst Student. “His eyes lit up when, during our last class together, he explained each tiny detail of his Christmas dinner. From the way he described it, you would think he was talking about the most engrossing, awe-inspiring thing. In fact, he had a way of making anything seem amazing.”

Professor of Spanish James Maraniss, who translated several of Benítez-Rojo’s works, said, “I was bored with being an academic until I began a new life as his translator, and in a sense his presenter to the English-speaking world, to share that degree of his power, which was that of a great artist.”

In addition to his 20 years of teaching at Amherst, Benítez-Rojo held visiting positions at Harvard, Yale and Brown universities, among others. Active until the very end of his life, he was one of several intellectuals who signed a 2003 letter asking the Cuban government to release 75 political prisoners, 14 of whom eventually were released.

For full biography, see

Also see,,,, and


In Mérida, the International Reading Fair or FILEY (Feria Internacional de la Lectura en Yucatán) is winding down. It was inaugurated on March 7 and will end tomorrow evening, March 15. It is hosted by the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) for its 90th anniversary, with focus on its mission for local education and an efforts to increase reading trends at a local level. FILEY is taking place at the Chichen Itza Hall in the XXIst Century Convention Center, where there is a space dedicated to Yucatecan writer, Juan García Ponce (photo above).

The main vision for the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán’s focus on reading was to improve local understanding of their social reality as well consciousness-raising about environmental changes. This is why they created FILEY (Feria Internacional de La Lectura en Yucatán). FILEY director, Rafael Morcillo Lopez, reported a 98% improvement for the books on the 2015 edition.

In an interview with Notimex, Morcillo Lopez informed the participation from 143 attendees, including authors, media representatives, editors, sellers, publishers, and shareholders of the reading industry in Mexico and other countries.

Among the participants, are the National Commission of Free Texts [Comisión Nacional de Libros de Texto Gratuitos (Conaliteg)] sponsored by the federal government, which will release a number of texts that have been edited in different indigenous dialects.

For more information, see in English, and in Spanish.

Photo of Juan García Ponce from

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 14, 2015

Great Line-Up Expected for Martinique Surf Pro


The inaugural edition of the Martinique Surf Pro, an event included in the World Surf League Qualification Series (QS) will take place from April 21 to 26, 2015. Wake, Wind, and Surf writes that, as the date draws near, the line-up is getting stronger and looks very promising. The event will be held at the finest surfing location on Martinique: Basse-Pointe, in the north-east of the island. There is an exceptional line-up for the event, including favorite surfers from Martinique and Guadeloupe: Cyril Lucu (see photo above), Louca Jourdan (see photo below), Jerry Schaefer, Gatien Delahaye, Enzo Cavallini, and Timothée Bisso. [Do any of our readers know which other Caribbean surfers will participate? Especially waiting to hear from the Rincón, PR crowd! Please comment below.]


The Martinique Surf Pro is already fully booked. And for good reason, the event has what it takes to attract competitors from the four corners of the Earth. Firstly, it will take place in a top quality location, Basse-Pointe, which offers one of the longest surfing waves on Martinique, which should ensure a great show, fantastic right handers (waves breaking towards the right when you are surfing them), which competitors are certain to enjoy… as will all those watching from ashore or on the water. At a time of year when the trade winds ease off, there is every chance that the waves will be glassy (perfectly smooth). All the ingredients are there to ensure that some of the world’s leading surfers can fully express themselves during the five days of this maiden edition from 21st to 26th April.

Caribbean, Europe, America, Asia…

In spite of its huge surfing potential, Martinique has never hosted an international professional surf competition. Organised by Martinique Surfing, in partnership with the WSL (World Surf League – ex.ASP), the Martinique Surf Pro will be the only Caribbean leg in the QS in 2015. It is no surprise that the event is attracting many surfers from Martinique and other Caribbean islands. Among others, we shall be able to see the Martinique surfers, Louca Jourdan and Jerry Schaefer, the surfers from Guadeloupe, Gatien Delahaye, Enzo Cavallini and Timothée Bisso, as well as the Barbados-based Joshua Burke and Dane McKie.

But the event is not only attracting surfers from the Caribbean. Far from it. It aims to be a truly international event and the line-up confirms this aspect. Registrations have only just opened, but already around forty competitors have signed up from four continents: Europe, America, Asia, Oceania. There will therefore be representatives from Brazil, the United States, Hawaii, Japan, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile and Australia among others. [. . .]

For full article, see

Photos (and additional information) from

commonwealthsLast Sunday, the issue of the lack of voting rights in the U.S. territories was the subject of a commentary on the HBO comedy program Last Week Tonight. This was a timely and, at times, hilarious segment (of course, nothing new for the Repeating Islands team or our readers). The St. Croix Source commented on the details that John Oliver brought up; see link below for full article. Oliver spoke about the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Marianas; four million American citizens or nationals (American Samoans have U.S. passports that indicated that they are U.S. nationals and not citizens) who lack the right to vote in presidential elections or have voting representation in Congress.

In one of the sad-but-true moments of hilarity, Oliver said, “It’s like for over a century, America’s computer is saying, ‘an update to your country is available,’ and we’ve been clicking ‘remind me later’ again and again and again.” One of the most tragically-funny points he made was that the fact that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens comes as a surprise to a “shockingly large number of people” as proven when Sonia Sotomayor was named to the Supreme Court. I recommend watching the 13-minute segment below.

In the video, program host John Oliver linked the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the voting rights march through Selma, Alabama, with the larger question of a group of more than four million American citizens who lack the right to vote in presidential elections or have voting representation in Congress.

The report then cut to video of Delegate Stacey Plaskett from the V.I. on the floor of Congress calling attention to the lack of full voting rights for residents of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Marianas islands.

Oliver called it “the kind of unsettling fact that deep down you probably knew, but chose not to think about.” Even worse, he said, is “why” those residents, though officially U.S. citizens, are denied equal voting and representation. It’s because of a 1901 Supreme Court decision that said the territories – which then did not include the V.I. but did include the Philippines – were populated by “alien races” that were unable to understand Anglo Saxon legal and political traditions. The decision was written by Justice Henry Billings Brown, who five years earlier had written the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholding the legality of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites. That decision stood 60 years before being overturned in Brown v. Board of Education in the 1950s.

Oliver pointed out that more than 98 percent of those territorial residents are racial or ethnic minorities. Puerto Rico alone has “more American citizens than 21 U.S. states, but less voting rights than any of them” he said.

Further, Oliver said, the 1901 court decision said denial of rights would be legal “for a time,” indicating that as the residents became assimilated in U.S. culture, those rights would be addressed. [. . .]

See segment here: 

For original article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 14, 2015

Documentary Film Screening: “Poetry is an Island”


To celebrate World Poetry Day on Saturday, March 21, 2015, CNCF will be screening a documentary film about the Caribbean Poet Laureate, Derek Walcott, followed by Q&A with the director Ida Does. The film, Poetry is an Island will be screened at the The Harquail Theatre in Grand Cayman. Canapés will be served. Doors open at 6.30pm and screening begins at 7.00pm. Followed by a Q&A with the director.

Description: In ‘Poetry Is An Island’ we share Caribbean moments with Walcott as we visit some of his favorite places, his studio, and St. Lucia home. We travel through St. Lucia and encounter childhood friends whose ‘lives became poetry’ through Walcott’s work. We discover the anger and frustration that the poet holds against the downtime of the arts as he talks to us about the meaning of poetry to him personally, and about the significance of art for humanity. Family members reveal some of the poet’s life challenges, and people who have worked with him speak frankly about their experiences with Walcott. Poetry is an island is an intimate portrait of the man, the poet, and son of the Caribbean: Derek Walcott.

World Poetry Day was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world and, as the UNESCO session declaring the day says, to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements”.

Derek Walcott, OBE OCC (born 23 January 1930) is a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature and is currently Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990), which many critics view “as Walcott’s major achievement.” In addition to having won the Nobel Prize, Walcott has won many literary awards over the course of his career, including an Obie Award in 1971 for his play Dream on Monkey Mountain, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, the inaugural OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize for his book of poetry White Egrets.

When Derek Walcott saw a picture in the paper of US President Barack Obama carrying around a copy of his collected poems, Walcott says he was flattered, “But for me, what that means is it’s nothing to do with me so much as a fact if you have a president who reads poetry, there’s hope because poetry tries to tell the truth.”

For fill article, see or visit for more information.

For a a clip of the documentary HERE

Visit for more information.

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 13, 2015

Cuba’s Bay of Fat Cats


In “Cuba’s Bay of Fat Cats,” Abigail Jones (Newsweek) writes about the many wonders, surreal beauty, and contradictions of 21st century Cuba. She also offers us a glimpse of an ultra-creative society and a view of Havana’s art world through the eyes of collector Alberto Magnan (of the Magnan Metz art gallery in New York). Dr. Michael Connors—specialist in decorative arts, and author of many books such as Havana Modern–writes, “I highly recommend reading Abigail’s article as she was able to convey the Cubanismo that we all so cherish.” Here are excerpts (and I enthusiastically recommend reading the full article—see link below):

[. . .] Half an hour later, guests start disappearing inside, so I follow—down a spiral staircase until I reach a living room so vast and opulent I feel as if I’m on the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio period drama. [. . .]

Everyone here is dressed—older women in gowns, young models in tight dresses, men in sharp suits and hats and shiny shoes. It’s as if age—and Communism—doesn’t exist here; older guests mingle with the younger set, and not a single person is looking at a smartphone. I am surrounded by Cuba’s intellectual and cultural elite. I meet Cucu Diamantes, the Grammy-nominated Cuban-American singer and actress, and her husband, Andrés Levin, a Venezuelan-born and Juilliard-trained American record producer and filmmaker who won a Grammy in 2009 for the In the Heights cast album. He spearheaded the inaugural TEDxHabana last November. Together, he and Diamantes founded the fusion band Yerba Buena, which earned a Grammy nomination for its 2003 debut album. Levin points out some famous Cuban actors and musicians. There are even a few members of the Castro family. A cloud of cigarette and cigar smoke envelops us all.

[. . .] At the same time, in a country where almost nothing has changed for generations, I found cranes erected across the city in preparation for renovations and construction. New paladares pop up almost weekly, as do small pizza shops. Hotels are filled with tourists; at Meliá Cohiba, where I stayed, I heard more American accents than I usually do walking down a random New York City street.

Now that the country is opening up for the first time in over five decades, hope, determination and money are in the air, and everything is up for grabs: real estate, construction, telecommunications, tourism. Small businesses, from bicycle and car repair to plumbing, restaurants and taxis, are all poised for growth. Netflix has announced it is coming, despite the fact that just 5 percent of Cubans have Internet access, according to a 2012 Freedom House report. [. . .]

Cuba is suddenly brimming with potential, restrained by a tentative government and populated by hopeful, hardworking people. Who, exactly, stands to benefit and who could be left behind? Is Cuba’s future a newfangled Jamaica, thronged by spring breakers, bachelors and bachelorettes wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and Castro-style Army caps? And is that a best- or worst-case scenario? Cuba is suddenly brimming with potential, restrained by a tentative government and populated by hopeful, hardworking people. Who, exactly, stands to benefit and who could be left behind? Is Cuba’s future a newfangled Jamaica, thronged by spring breakers, bachelors and bachelorettes wearing Che Guevara T-shirts and Castro-style Army caps? And is that a best- or worst-case scenario? [. . .]

[Alberto] Magnan is known for showing Cuban artists like Roberto Diago, who explores race, religion and Afro-Cuban roots; Alexandre Arrechea, a founding member of the collective Los Carpinteros; and Glenda León, who represented Cuba in the 2013 Venice Biennale. [. . .] Today, Magnan is behind some of the most innovative and controversial art events in Cuba, including Chelsea Visits Havana at the National Museum of Fine Arts in 2009, the first art exhibit of American artists in Cuba since the revolution. The event was part of the 10th Havana Biennial, which, despite its name, has occurred every three years since 2000. [. . .] In 2012, Delgado transformed the Malecón into an art exhibit for the 11th Havana Biennial. Arlés del Río’s Fly Away featured the silhouette of an airplane cut into a large, rectangular chain-link fence placed at the edge of the seawall. Rachel Valdés Camejo installed a large mirror facing the water; she called it Happily Ever After No. 1.

“Art moves society, and art moves people,” Delgado says. “I hope Obama will help the cultural scene here, give funding to make books, do shows and help artists promote their work…. I want Havana to have its theaters filled.” He pauses for a moment, then looks straight at me. “Bueno,” he says. “Maybe you could find out where [the new money] is gonna go?” [. . .]

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