Posted by: ivetteromero | October 9, 2014

New Book: Ernesto Bazan’s “Isla” (from his Cuban Trilogy)


David Gonzalez (The New York Times, 3 October 2014) writes about Italian-born photographer and his latest book—Isla (2014)—which forms, what he calls a Cuban trilogy, along with Bazan: Cuba (20008) and Al Campo (2011). Here are excerpts:

Destiny took Ernesto Bazan to Cuba. Politics forced him out. Yet that bitter farewell in 2006 was but another moment where fate intervened to change the course of his artistic life. Eight years on, Mr. Bazan, an Italian-born photographer, has been mining a body of work that in two previous books has already redefined how the island is portrayed.

Now, in the final installment of his Cuba trilogy, he has published “Isla,” an ambitious collection of black-and-white panoramas that span genres from portrait and landscape to street photography and still lifes. Mind you, he sometimes accomplishes this in a single frame. While the panoramic camera he used forced him to step back a bit — unlike his up-close 35-millimeter street work — it nonetheless gave him a different intimacy.

“Using that camera I can tell different stories happening at the same time and capture much more,” Mr. Bazan said. “I just love that.” That is an apt sentiment when considering his work. His previous books, “Bazan: Cuba” and especially “Al Campo,” exude an affection for a place that had attracted him like a siren song. In “Isla,” which he will be presenting during a talk and book signing Saturday night at the Bronx Documentary Center, he has continued to mine that feeling, as well as capturing the contradictions, absurdities and challenges of life on the island.

Mr. Bazan started using a panoramic camera about 10 years ago, buying it from a friend who had little use for it. He liked the format, and he soon discovered it let him express himself in a way he had not imagined. The lens was sharp, and the frame almost all-encompassing. “To work with it, you have to forget 35-millimeter and understand how to compose and make pictures with a camera that is twice as wide as a normal one,” he said. “All of that was an intuitive process for me. I can tell you now, 10 years later. But at the time I did not know.”

Judging by the images, his intuition was spot on. Separate little dramas play out in some images, while others take full advantage of the wide frame. Through skill and serendipity, he was able to capture scenes that existed for only as long as he was able to frame them in his viewfinder. The cover image, of a hawk flying over a man on horseback on country landscape, exemplifies that.

“I saw the hawk, and at the same time saw a dog looking at it,” he said. “There was the mountain, a campesino taking cattle to pasture. You have to take it fast, but later you see magic in the photo, and that is one of those. The fact the dog was not only looking at the hawk, but has his tail pointed up to the heavens. That makes it special.” And he took it while on horseback himself.

Mr. Bazan produced this book as he has his others, with the support of students from his workshops and some friends. They helped not only finance it, but edit the work, too. The editing of “Isla” is especially sharp, with some pairings that accentuate aspects of life in Cuba today. An image of a religious pilgrim dragging himself to a shrine is juxtaposed against a man rising from a sewer with a shoulder-fired rocket. A child wearing a mask is contrasted with a scene of a woman surrounded by others wearing gas masks.

“I was in a land where the people, the regular people, are so friendly, open and generous, despite the difficulties they experience each day,” he said. “I could have stayed there all my life taking pictures.” [. . .]

For full article, see

See articles on previous books and

Also see the artist’s page at

083B22C3-EF03-4839-B4B6-34ECBF892B51.jpg__209__400__CROPz0x209y400This article focuses on recent charges by Haitians’ rights groups on human rights. Although the article is not too specific, it seems to have a lot to do with the National Plan to Regularize Foreigners (PNRE), which has been fraught with problems. For one, according to an earlier Haiti Libre article, the PNRE process is free, but migrants are all required notarized documents that cost between 10,000 to 15,000 pesos or more. The document list is also very long, including a bank book, a notarized certificate of domicile, invoices showing that the applicant has made ​​significant purchases in Dominican territory in a store that has a Tax Identification Number, and a certificate of residence issued by a neighborhood committee signed by 7 witnesses (who often demand money for this service). Here is the post from Dominican Today:

Local organizations that defend Haitians’ rights have filed a complaint against Interior and Police minister José Ramón Fadul and Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario. Rosario himself made the announcement, and said the complaint was filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), for allegedly violating Naturalization Law 169/14.

He said he was made aware of a hearing on the complaint to take place in the IACHR at the end of October. Rosario said thus far Interior and Police hasn’t submitted any of the cases to the JCE, of the more than 800 foreigners who’ve opted for regularization, for not being registered in the civil registry books.

He said they’ve already designed the ID cards for the foreigners who’ve chosen regularization, which will be provided by the JCE at Interior and Police’s request. “That’s (Regularization Plan) going very well and has been very successful.”

The National Plan to Regularize Foreigners grants an immigration status to foreigners living in the country irregularly.

For original article, see

Also see and

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 9, 2014

No official funeral for Haiti’s Duvalier: lawyer


‘The government has reversed its decision. The funeral will be organized by the family’, Agence France Presse reports.

Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier will not receive a state funeral after all, his lawyer said Thursday, after a public outcry that a man accused of corruption and mass killings could receive such an honor.

Duvalier will instead be remembered at a family ceremony on Saturday in the chapel of his former Catholic high school Saint-Louis de Gonzague in Port-au-Prince, more than a quarter-century after he was driven into exile by a popular uprising.

When the 63-year-old died of a heart attack last week, Haiti’s President Michel Martelly declared in a Tweet that he had been “an authentic son of Haiti” and his spokesman told AFP that a national funeral would be the appropriate protocol.

But the idea that a man accused of overseeing the looting of Haiti by a corrupt elite and of unleashing the murderous Tonton Macoute militia against his opponents be honored in such a way outraged opposition groups and surviving victims of his regime.

It could also have embarrassed Haiti’s international partners, who have stuck by Martelly’s government despite its ties to figures from the former Duvalier regime.

The Duvalier family lawyer, Reynold George, expressed bitterness that the government “rather than stand by its principles has ceded to pressure from certain figures.”

“There will be no official ceremony. The government has reversed its decision. The funeral will be organized by the family,” he told AFP.

Duvalier came to office in 1971 aged only 19 after the death of his still more feared father and fellow president for life Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. He ruled the impoverished Caribbean nation for 15 years until driven into exile by protests.

He returned in 2011 on the first anniversary of a devastating earthquake, saying that he wanted to help his country rebuild, but found himself exposed to lawsuits from the victims of his rule accusing him of graft and human rights abuses.

For the original report go to

In “Hasta siempre, Comandante! Che Guevara’s ideas flourish decades on,” John Wight reminds us that 47 years ago, on 9 October 1967, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was executed in Bolivia. He focuses on Che’s ongoing battle for justice and equality around the world and his undying legacy:

Che Guevara died 47 years ago, but he continues to inspire millions around the world. The popularity he enjoys so many years after his death is proof that though “they” may have killed the man, “they” will never extinguish the ideas for which he died.

On 9 October 1967, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was executed by a Bolivian army officer at the end of his ill-fated attempt to foment revolution throughout Latin America. He was executed at the behest of the CIA, who hoped his death would deal a shattering blow to the influence of the Cuban Revolution in a part of the world traditionally viewed as America’s backyard; its role to provide the cheap labor, raw materials, and markets required to maintain the huge profits of US corporations.

But the CIA were wrong, just as successive US administrations have been wrong, in thinking that the ideas for which Che Guevara fought and died could ever be ended with a bullet. On the contrary, over four decades on from his death the Cuban Revolution continues as a beacon of inspiration and hope to the poor of the undeveloped world.

That a tiny island nation with a population of just over 11 million people, located 90 miles off the coast of Florida, should have the temerity to assert its right to political and economic independence from the United States and survive for so long is nothing short of immense. Indeed, many believe that not only have the ideas for which Che Guevara gave his life survived, they have never been more potent, illustrated by the left turn taken throughout the region in recent years.

[. . .] Undeniably, Che’s legend has not only continued unabated since his death it has grown. In every town and every city, from Los Angeles to London, Beirut to Bethlehem, from Nairobi to New Delhi, the iconic image of him carrying that expression of burning defiance, captured by Alberto Korda in 1960, is as ubiquitous as it is powerful, found on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs, rugs, posters and a myriad other items. For many it represents something transcendent in the human experience, an idea that stands in opposition to the values of individualism and materialism which are drummed into us every minute of every day in the West.

A read through Che’s writings brings home the fierce determination of a man who burned with anger at the injustice, oppression and exploitation suffered by the world’s poor. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in1964, he said:

“All free men of the world must be prepared to avenge the crime of the Congo. Perhaps many of those soldiers, who were turned into sub-humans by imperialist machinery, believe in good faith that they are defending the rights of a superior race. In this assembly, however, those peoples whose skins are darkened by a different sun, colored by different pigments, constitute the majority. And they fully and clearly understand that the difference between men does not lie in the color of their skin, but in the forms of ownership of the means of production, in the relations of production.”

Not satisfied with merely delivering such a powerful affirmation of solidarity with the poor and oppressed of another land, Che embarked for the Congo in an attempt to give meaning to them, in the process abandoning the relative comfort and status earned him by the success of the Cuban Revolution to risk his life in a mission to spread the revolution throughout the developing world.

For full article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 9, 2014

Little Guyana, an Indo-Guyanese enclave in Queens


This travel article by Ray Cavanaugh appeared in The Washington Post.

Nobody told me about Little Guyana, a mile-plus-long stretch in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of Queens where the residents are Indian but sound like Bob Marley when they speak.

I discovered it by accident when I fell asleep on the A train, passed up my intended destination and was awakened by a fellow passenger telling me that the train had reached its last stop. The people here, known as Indo-Guyanese, are mainly descendants of indentured servants who were recruited from India (often by deceptive tactics) to work on the sugar plantations of present-day Guyana — formerly known as British Guiana — starting in 1838, when the British abolished black slavery in their colonies.

I was surprised to learn that the Guyanese are New York’s fifth-largest immigrant group, according to American Community Survey figures reported by multiple media outlets. It’s probably safe to say that many, if not most, Americans know little or nothing about Guyana, a small nation on the northeast coast of South America, although some may recall the 1978 Jonestown atrocity, in which cult leader Jim Jones persuaded (or forced) more than 900 of his followers to commit suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in the agrarian utopia he’d founded in that country. Aside from a few Creole-sounding words, there’s no real language barrier in this neighborhood. Guyana is South America’s only English-speaking country. It’s also considered part of the Caribbean, and this West Indies connection accounts for the Bob Marley accent here in Little Guyana, a neighborhood that began to take shape in the 1970s.

Upon my unplanned arrival, I exited from the subway station onto Liberty Avenue, which cuts through the Queens neighborhoods of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park, and is the throbbing heart of Little Guyana. Refreshed by my subway snooze, I felt like walking a mile or so in the direction of the place I’d intended to visit. This intended destination was soon forgotten, though, as the Little Guyana carnival atmosphere cast its spell on me.

It would be difficult to overstate the vibrancy: I was hard-pressed to pass a block of storefronts without witnessing the full color spectrum on display. Nearby 101st Avenue has considerable flavor, but nothing approaching the bewitching carpet ride of Liberty Avenue. The Little Guyana strip runs from 104th to 130th Street. I noticed an Indo-Guyanese presence before and after these streets, but the cultural dynamism began to dissipate.

I kept hearing a wild type of music that I later learned is called “chutney.” It contains sounds of the Far East, but has a faster tempo and a more pulsating beat, reflecting the Caribbean influence. Because the weather was pleasant, cars with open windows kept delivering a loud dose of chutney. In many cases, though, open windows were superfluous; some vehicles were equipped with speakers that blasted the music as if it were a block party.

Aesthetically, Liberty Avenue is less than flawless. Suspended overhead is a subway rail, an old structure that emits a cacophony of squeaks every few minutes as a train passes by. I also had to dodge some bird droppings. Urban grit is rife, but there’s no real danger.

The strip is bustling and unabashedly commercial. A house of worship might stand 30 feet from a rum joint and right next door to a henna tattoo parlor. Within three minutes of people-watching, I’d spotted Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and cross-wearing Christians passing by the same street corner. In a five-block radius you’ll find a Pentecostal church, a Jehovah’s Witness kingdom hall, a Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Hindu temple and an Islamic clothing store.

There’s also a spiritual venue directly beneath a subway entrance. This is called the Sri Durgamatha Astrological Center, where you can ascertain your everlasting destiny, for better or worse. I tried to go in, but the place was closed. Hopefully, there was no deeper meaning there.

Although many women go about in Western garb, I saw no shortage of saris, the traditional Indian dress, or sari shops, where prices range from a few dollars to many times that amount. My bargain-hunting senses were titillated by the DVD boxes full of low-priced Bollywood flicks at many spots along the strip.

For the original report go to

Posted by: ivetteromero | October 9, 2014

Jamaica calls for greater partnership with T&T

Sharon-Folkes-Abrahams-Official-Web-470x600Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams [shown above] has called for increased co-operation and trade facilitation between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago in order to boost innovation and competitiveness. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

[. . .] Ffolks-Abrahams was speaking at a business networking luncheon at the International Waterfront Centre in Trinidad, following the opening ceremony of the eighth Americas Competitiveness Forum.

She identified several areas where these partnerships can occur. In the area of logistics, connectivity and productivity she said while State-owned Caribbean Airlines is a major player in terms of transportation and connectivity in the region there needs to be another airline.

“We need more. For example carriers can be slightly repurposed by identifying the time slots which have the least commercial activity and reserving them for air freight. This would be an innovative way to boost efficiency in the transport of commercial cargo and maximise the utility of air carriers and that way of course you make more money as well and it will make all of us a lot happier,” she said.

“More frequent trips to the islands and more direct connections where applicable would also allow for greater movement of persons,” Ffolkes added.

She also suggested that through film and animation both islands can also work together as there is a high demand for Caribbean productions. Other areas of collaboration, she said, were through the fashion industry, sport, education and the energy sector.

“We in Jamaica are again exploring the fashion industry. We can collaborate on that and beat the system by working together. We already have Caribbean fashion collaborations with both Jamaican and Trinidadian designers through Caribbean Fashion Week and Style Week. A valuable way to build on these connections is to establish a mentorship programme which utilises the expertise of each country and consider exchange programs that would pair young designers with more established ones.”

On another note, Ffolks-Abrahams said both islands must lobby for greater freedom in the movement of people if they are serious about leveraging skills to boost innovation, productivity and entrepreneurship. [. . .]

For full article, see


The Trees That Feed Foundation (TIFF)  says in the last five years it has donated and planted 50,000 food-bearing trees in Haiti and Jamaica to combat hunger, Kells Hetherington reports for

A founding member of the U.S.-based TTFF, Mike McLaughlin, told VOA Thursday breadfruit trees produce a fruit substitute for flour, rice and potatoes, which are too expensive for many in the Caribbean to afford.
A breadfruit tree costs about $15 and takes three years to reach a point where it can feed an entire family. According to McLaughlin, however, that is too much money and too long a wait for a poor farmer earning on average $2 a day.

McLaughlin said every tree is a big deal, especially in Haiti, where he says a second tree means a cash crop for a farmer.

A fully grown tree can produce anywhere from 250 to 300 pieces of fruit per year, but the number depends on rainfall, according to McLaughlin. He says one piece of breadfruit can sell for as much as $1.

According to McLaughlin, TTFF continues to monitor the situation closely.

“We actually track this pretty exactly. I mean we know exactly where our trees are growing. Its round numbers – 40,000 to Jamaica, about 10,000 to Haiti, and there is a few more – You know, we are getting past the 50,000 already – trees of different varieties – so mostly breadfruit but not exclusively,” said McLaughlin.

Breadfruit is round with green skin. When cooked, it tastes similar to unleavened bread.

McLaughlin says 80 percent of the world’s hungry reside in the tropics.

For the original report go to


Dominica has cancelled a contract with a Nigerian band scheduled to participate in a local music festival, citing worries about the Ebola virus.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Thursday that he struck the band called “Flavour” from the lineup of Dominica’s three-day World Creole Music Festival out of “an abundance of caution.” He noted that a total of four musicians would have flown in from Nigeria.
It is one of several countries in West Africa where Ebola has spread. However, the vast majority of the more than 3,800 deaths linked to Ebola have occurred in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 9, 2014

Joke about Ebola gets man kicked off Dominican Republic flight

Ebola-CDC brief

An American passenger’s “joke” while aboard a plane flying to Dominican Republic caused authorities to isolate the aircraft on the tarmac for more than a hour, Fox News reports.

Just before the U.S. Airways flight 845 landed on the Caribbean island the unidentified passenger yelled out, “I’ve been to Africa!” Fox News Latino reported. Initial reports by the Dominican press said the passenger had yelled, “I have Ebola!”

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed nearly 4,000 lives.

Emergency personnel wearing blue HAZMAT suits boarded the plane at Punta Cana International Airport and the passenger was escorted to the airport’s medical center for testing.

FNL reported the passenger, who officials have only identified as a man from North America, was reportedly coughing during the flight. Medics verified that the passenger did not have a fever – a key early symptom of Ebola.

Video taken from the plane was posted online and shows airport officials taking the man off the flight.

In the video, he is heard saying, “I ain’t from Africa.”

Paola Rainieri, vice president of marketing and communications for Grupo Punta Cana, which owns the airport, told FNL that the airplane was held on the tarmac for nearly two hours until medical and airline officials determined there was no risk to the 200-plus passengers.

Reached for comment, a US Airways representative confirmed the incident, saying in a statement that the flight was cleared by local authorities.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, but the safety of our customers and crews is our main priority,” the statement said.

There have been no reported cases of Ebola in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere in the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America.

For the original report go to


This month will see the publication of Imaging the Great Puerto Rican Family: Framing Nation, Race and Gender during the American Century (Lexington Books, October 2014) by Hilda Lloréns, a visiting scholar of American Studies at Brown University.

Description: In this book, Hilda Lloréns offers a ground-breaking study of images—photographs, postcards, paintings, posters, and films—about Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans made by American and Puerto Rican image-makers between 1890 and 1990. Through illuminating discussions of artists, images, and social events, the book offers a critical analysis of the power-laden cultural and historic junctures imbricated in the creation of re-presentations of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans by Americans (“outsiders”) and Puerto Ricans (“insiders”) during an historical epoch marked by the twin concepts of “modernization” and “progress.”

The study excavates the ways in which colonial power and resistance to it have shaped representations of Puerto Rico and its people. Hilda Lloréns demonstrates how nation, race, and gender figure in representation, and how these representations in turn help shape the discourses of nation, race, and gender. Imaging The Great Puerto Rican Family masterfully illustrates that as significant actors in the shaping of national conceptions of history image-makers have created iconic symbols deeply enmeshed in an “emotional aesthetics of nation.” The book proposes that images as important conveyers of knowledge and information are a fertile data site. At the same time, Lloréns underscores how colonial modernity turned global, the conceptual framework informing the analysis, not only calls attention to the national and global networks in which image-makers have been a part of, and by which they have been influenced, but highlights the manners by which technologies of imaging and “seeing” have been prime movers as well as critics of modernity.

Hilda Llorens is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the Caribbean and on U.S. Latinas/os. She has conducted ethnographic research and published articles about race and blackness in Puerto Rican visual and cultural production. Her book, Imaging the Great Puerto Rican Family: Framing Nation, Race and Gender during the American Century (October 2014) synthesizes over a decade of research on this topic.

For purchasing information, see or

Also see

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