Posted by: ivetteromero | February 17, 2014

Kris KI Persad Crowned Chutney Soca Monarch…Again


The Trinidad Express reports that Kris “KI” Persad created history as the youngest artiste to be crowned Chutney Soca Monarch in 2012, and he has done it again. Persad, 28, was named winner of the 2014 Chutney Soca Monarch at Skinner Park, San Fernando, Trinidad, on Saturday night.

Performing in 19th position the lead vocalist of JMC 3Veni band delivered what was described as a superb performance, telling the story of his wife who ran away while he was on tour. Kris KI Persad delivering his winning performance at last night’s Chutney Soca Monarch finals at Skinner Park, San Fernando. Persad’s song “Runaway” has been one of the most popular songs on local radio stations and at Carnival events.

[. . .] Samraj “Rikki Jai” Jaimungal and Ravi “Ravi B” Bissambhar tied for second position and would each receive $400,000, while Kenneth Supersad placed fourth. Nishard Mayhroo placed fifth.

Persad was elegantly dressed in a black suit as he disembarked from a makeshift aircraft on stage, followed by his dancers in flight attendant costumes. He was a favourite from the beginning as the large crowed chanted his name and sang every word of his runaway hit.

And as if he was not getting enough of his fans, Persad mounted the barriers and climbed on a platform in the audience. His voice was crisp and clear, as Persad sang, “Last year I went on tour and I didn’t want to stay. But when I come back, my wife run away”.

Rikki Jai, seven time champion, delivered a well choreographed performance. He was accompanied by Nigel Rojas of the band Orange Sky. He performed “Clap your hands”.

He paid tribute to the icons of chutney music – Drupatee Ramgoonai and the late Sundar Popo. Jai said he has always performed original songs and warned that Bollywood melodies was not chutney music. “You can’t be a chutney singer if you take Bollywood melodies. You have to be original,” he said.

Ravi B performed in first position and was a crowd’s favourite with his song “Bread”. Backed by dancers dressed as sliced bread, Ravi B commanded the audience to chant his name. His performance included a disappearing act by illusionist Kes. Ravi B also paid tribute to mothers including his mother, Nargis Bissambhar, who was brought on stage. He kissed her feet and thanked his mother for her strength and love.

Kenneth Supersad provided comedy with his rendition of “Charging Bull”. His song referred to a herd of bull getting loose in areas across the country. Supersad was dressed as a matador and was backed up by men wearing bull heads.

The winners were announced shortly before 4am today.

For full article, see


Caribbean slave descendants, some of whose ancestors worked for David Cameron’s distant family, are calling for an apology and billions of pounds in reparations. Here are excerpts and a link to the full article below:

From his bungalow on the side of a hill in western Jamaica, Willie Thompson surveys the same lush valley that one of his great-great-grandmothers was forced to harvest for sugar cane more than 180 years ago. “I am an African descendant,” he said, whippet-thin and grizzled at the age of 78. “She came here with the chains on her feet, on a slave trade ship”. Mr Thompson knows that when Parliament voted in 1833 to abolish slavery in Britain’s colonies, Earl Grey’s government was made to pay out compensation worth almost £2 billion in today’s money.

And after an exhausting day spent scratching out a living by farming yams, he wonders what might have been if Nana Bracket and her comrades, rather than the ancestor of David Cameron who owned them, had received £4,101 of it – the equivalent of £415,000 today. “The English made a lot of money back then. A lot of money,” he said, with a sigh almost long enough to reach Dudley, West Mids, where he worked as a labourer in the 1960s before returning home. “I think it is fair for we to get a bit of compensation for what all our people been through.”

A coalition of 14 Caribbean states, including Jamaica, agrees with Mr Thompson, and is now mounting the first united campaign for reparations from Britain over its role in the Atlantic slave trade. Represented by CARICOM, the regional organisation, the group is prepared to sue in the courts. It has hired Leigh Day, the London law firm that last year won £20 million for Kenyans tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.

This month it will unveil a list of 10 demands for Britain, France and Holland, including funds likely to total billions, an apology, and assurances slavery will never be repeated, The Telegraph can disclose.

Professor Verene Shepherd, the chairman of Jamaica’s reparations committee, said British colonisers had “disfigured the Caribbean,” and that their descendants must now pay to repair the damage. “If you commit a crime against humanity, you are bound to make amends,” Prof Shepherd told The Telegraph. “The planters were given compensation, but not one cent went to the freed Jamaicans”. [. . .]

For full article, please go to

st.MdownloadSt. Maarten is now an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

While attending the 19th Ordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Council of ACS in Trinidad and Tobago last week the St. Maarten delegation comprised of Acting Head of the Department of Foreign Relations Khalilah Peters and Senior Policy Advisor at the Department Patrice Gumbs successfully lobbied for the inclusion of St. Maarten as an associate member to the organization.

The Association of Caribbean States is the organization for consultation, cooperation and concerted action in trade, transport, sustainable tourism and natural disasters in the Greater Caribbean Region. It is the only organization of its kind that allows for independent and non-independent states of the British, Spanish, Dutch, and French Caribbean to sit, as equals, at a table for the betterment of the region. The organization is also a platform for regional organizations whose work is complimentary to the ACS’ mission. These observer organizations include CARICOM, The Latin American Economic System (SELA), The Central American Integration System (SICA ), The Permanent Secretariat of the General Agreement on Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Additionally, states that have expressed an interest in the region are also given observer status. These states are: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, India, Italy, The Netherlands, South Korea, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, who as Minister of General Affairs is tasked with International Affairs for the country, stated that this is a good step for St. Maarten with regards to regional cooperation: “One of the things I have been stressing on is regarding are our responsibilities and roles that we have to take on as a country. One of those is participation in regional and international organizations. Now we have the capacity to meet with the ACS which us a voice in the region, for example on being against the sanctions on Cuba. The ACS is also very active in terms related to the Caribbean Sea with a focus on its protection and linkages between the various countries within the region. It is important that we remain a player in the region and that we strengthen the bonds between us and the Nations of the Caribbean,” stated the Prime Minister.

For original article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 17, 2014

Steve McQueen: ‘12 Years a Slave’ an opportunity for a conversation


A post by Peter Jordens.

On February 16, 2014, film director Steve McQueen’s epic drama 12 Years a Slave about slavery in the pre-Civil War USA won the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Award for Best Film of 2013. Also, the film’s star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, won the BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actor.

In an interview with ITV Network (UK) at the ceremony in London’s Royal Opera House, McQueen mentioned that he is glad that the film’s commercial success has led to more debate around slavery. “I have seen it as an opportunity to talk about a subject matter. Every Q&A that I’ve done [for this film] has been like a town-hall meeting. It’s been passionate, it’s been heartfelt, so it’s been wonderful to be part of that conversation.” View the 1-minute interview at

McQueen also said that “there are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here,” adding that he hoped that in 150 years a film like his would no longer need to be made: “I hope that, 150 years from now, our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film.” See

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the 44-year-old Brit of Caribbean parentage met last week with Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and a leading figure in the ongoing fight to end modern-day slavery around the world. McQueen shared the corner booth at New York’s The Monkey Bar with Samantha Power, one of US President Barack Obama’s closest advisors. The exclusive party also included Powers’ husband Cass Sunstein, a legal scholar and professor at Harvard, and Cosmopolitan editor Joanne Coles and her husband Peter Godwin. McQueen reportedly initiated the meeting because he was aware of Power’s key role in the fight to end modern-day slavery around the world, which he also formally joined recently when he became a patron of Anti-Slavery International, the oldest human rights organization (see McQueen said, “It was an honor to meet Ambassador Power. Her focus on human rights today speaks to the message and legacy Solomon Northup left with his novel [on which the film is based].”

On February 3, McQueen screened 12 Years a Slave before the British Parliament at the invitation of ParliREACH, “a workplace equality network for increasing awareness and appreciation of race, ethnicity and cultural heritage issues in Parliament” that is composes of people from “the Parliamentary Estate, including Members’ staff from both Houses.” McQueen urged politicians to add Solomon Northup’s book to the curriculum in the country’s schools. The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow, said afterwards, “Steve McQueen is an inspiration to us all. I am honored to welcome him to the Houses of Parliament and wish him every success at the Oscars.”

For the full original article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 17, 2014

Direct From the Eye: The Jonathan Demme Collection of Self-Taught Art

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Direct From the Eye: 
The Jonathan Demme Collection of Self-Taught Art
Day One Auction: Saturday, March 29, 2014, 11 AM
Day Two Auction: Sunday, March 30, 11AM
Exhibition: Saturday, March 22 – Saturday, March 29, 10AM – 6PM Daily
Special Celebration Party: Friday, March 28, 7PM – 11PM
Location: Material Culture | 4700 Wissahickon Avenue | Philadelphia, PA 19144 
In collaboration with: Arte del Pueblo
Curated by: José Zelaya & Wael Qattan

Arte del Pueblo & Material Culture
cordially invite you to an art auction in Philadelphia: 

Material Culture will hold a weekend of auctions dedicated solely to the superb self-taught art collection of Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme. In an exclusive arrangement with the auction house, Demme brings a multitude of sculpture and painting to the sales, totaling over 900 lots. “Direct from the Eye: The Jonathan Demme Collection of Self-Taught Art” is a compendium of Demme’s travels and tastes that transcends borders, encompassing Haitian and American self-taught artists from the 1940s to the present, contemporary intuitive painters from Jamaica, as well as art from Africa, South America and Europe. The auctions will be held on Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30, commencing at 11 AM EST on both days.

Jonathan Demme’s impressive collection will also be on display in an exhibition running from March 22 to March 29, from 10 AM to 6 PM. A special exhibition party honoring Mr. Demme and his 70th birthday will be held on Friday, March 28, from 7 PM to 11 PM, with live music and refreshments. Demme, perhaps best known as the director of films such as The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Philadelphia (1993) and The Manchurian Candidate (2004), will be in attendance at the party with friends and family. Both the party and the weeklong exhibition are free and open to the public.

This comprehensive sale is an excellent look at Jonathan Demme as collector and curator, and the legacy he imparts for the enjoyment of self-taught art. An avid collector of diverse creative interests, Demme has developed a particular appreciation of Haitian art and culture. A Haitian painting he acquired at a New York gallery in the 1980s spurred him to visit the country, where he learned Creole and befriended local artists and musicians. Two documentaries, Haiti Dreams of Democracy (1988) and The Agronomist (2002), focusing on the life of prominent Haitian journalist and activist Jean Dominique, are the fruit of his time spent there.

His art collection represents an additional culmination of these experiences, featuring rare works by Haiti’s most celebrated painters. Many of the artists showcased began their careers at the Centre d’Art, an establishment founded by American artist Dewitt Peters in 1944. The Centre, located in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, is famous for fostering the creation of some of Haiti’s greatest artistic masterpieces. Some of the work in the auction-such as “Une Deeuse Famme,” by spiritual and surrealist painter Hector Hyppolite-dates to the mid-1940s, not long after the Centre’s birth. The astonishing wealth of Haitian self-taught artists represented in these auctions includes Gesner Abelard, Montas Antoine, Toussaint Auguste, Wilson Bigaud, Murat Brierre, Bourmond Byron, Etienne Chavannes, Préfete Duffaut, Gerard (Fortune), Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue, Wilfred Guerrier, Edger Jean-Baptiste, Jasmin Joseph, Pierre Joseph (Valcin), Wesner LaForest, Peterson Laurent, Georges Liautaud, Adam Leontus, André Normil, Philomé Obin, Senêque Obin, Andre Pierre, Odilon Pierre, Ernst Prophete, St.Pierre, Micius Stephane, Gerard Valcin, and Pauleus Vital.

Jamaican intuitive painting also has a strong presence in Demme’s collection and in the sale. ‘Intuitive,’ as differentiated from ‘mainstream,’ is one of two movements that has dominated Jamaican art since the 1960s. Intuitive artists in Jamaica may draw upon African tradition, or they may simply create from their own imagination as self-taught artists do around the globe, heeding their own visions over that of an artistic establishment. The sale includes pieces by Jamaican artists Albert Artwell, Everald Brown, Jah Calo, Evadney Cruikshank, Ras Dizzy, Byron Johnson, Mallica “Kapo” Reynolds, Sylvester Woods, and Allan Zion.

A large number of significant American self-taught artists also make their way into the sale by means of Demme’s natural eye for the genre. Artists such as John Robert Ellis, Walter Ellison, Minnie Evans, Charlie Lucas, Justin McCarthy, J.B. Murray, Daniel Pressley, Roger Rice, O.L. Samuels, Jon Serl, Slingshot Ham, Edward Welch and Purvis Young are all shown to advantage in the auction, a testament to the diversity of the individual artistic vision.

Of particular note outside the realm of self-taught art is a painting by John Steuart Curry, one of the three great painters of American Regionalism in the first half of the 20th century. The auction also offers European self-taught art, African art, Brazilian Bahia paintings and pieces by anonymous artists. An enticing array of Americana and collectibles includes wood carvings, tramp art, weathervanes, trade signs, film posters, religious art and a collection of vintage glass etched soda bottles.

Demme himself has curated many exhibitions, guided by his love for the diversity of form and representation of self-taught art, and an esteem of the message and the excellence of the art over the fame of the artist. For example, in his 1997 exhibition, “Island on Fire,” which showcased over 100 Haitian paintings in Manhattan’s Equitable Life Building, Demme presented lesser-known Haitian artists alongside renowned masters. Demme’s other shows include “Haiti: Actualities and Beliefs” (1990) at Florida State University, “By Hand By Dan: The Art of Daniel Pressley” (1999) in New York City, “Allegories of Haitian Life from the Collection of Jonathan Demme (2006) at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, Florida, “Jonathan Demme Collection: Inspiration of Haitian Art” (2009) at the fi:af Gallery in New York City, and “Candid Aspirations” (2010) at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, Canada. He has been part of the curatorial team for many shows at Ramapo College in New Jersey, such as “Haiti: Three Visions: Etienne Chavannes, Edger Jean Baptiste, and Ernst Prophète” (1994), “An Apparently Unimportant Event: Self-Taught from the Centre d’Art in the 1940s and 50s” (1997) “Odilon Pierre: Atis d’Ayiti” (2005), and “Still Lives to the Surreal: Selections in Haitian art from 1945 to 1995″ (2012).

The exhibition in Material Culture’s gallery space will explore Demme’s collection in different ways. Haitian works will be grouped by region, with pieces from Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haitien to the artistically vibrant port of Jacmel placed together. Alternatively, ‘mini-exhibits’ of Carribbean watercolors, ironwork and sequined Vodou Drapeaus will be paired with self-taught art from other countries. The show is curated by José Zelaya and Wael Qattan. Zelaya is an art dealer specializing in Caribbean and Latin American art, whose dealership, Arte del Pueblo, represents the most prominent collections of Haitian art in North America. His relationships with many of the early promoters of Haitian artwork in New York, such as Gloria Frank, Carol Rodman and Leon Sevilla, are two decades old. For the past ten years, he has worked with Demme, gaining from him an expertise in Haitian paintings of the 1940s and 50s. Wael Qattan is a writer, critic and performer whose academic focuses are Haiti and modernity, and Haitian visual representation and history in the US. A 200 page catalogue, with essays by Zelaya and Qattan, will accompany the exhibition.

Over 500 Haitian paintings to be exhibited for sale:
The auction installation will feature “mini-exhibits” where Caribbean art from watercolors, iron crosses to devotional Drapeaus (sequined Vodou flags) will hang alongside works by American self-taught artists. The expansive galleries at Material Culture will allow the show’s curators, José Zelaya & Wael Qattan to feature Haitian art by region, from Haiti’s northern city of Cap-Haitien to the artistically vibrant port of Jacmel.


HANIF Kureishi’s new novel is exemplary only in its oddity, Geordie Williamson writes in this review for The Australian. Reading it is like happening across a grazing hippogriff on your morning walk through the park: whatever novelty the moment has soon gives way to disquiet – surely this is not part of the natural order of things.

A bucolic country house farce in the spirit of PG Wodehouse, The Last Word is nonetheless built from gossip of such ferocious spitefulness that would have blown Plum Wodehouse right out of his tartan spats.

Yet however exaggerated, extravagant and improbable its narrative progression, the work does retain clear lineaments of a real-life encounter – that between Nobel prize-winning novelist and nonfiction writer VS Naipaul and his young biographer Patrick French.

It connects life and art so blatantly that the reader feels ashamed for both parties: Kureishi, for an act of lese-majesty that only reveals his middling rank; and Naipaul, for being obliged to suffer the equivalent of a fictional kneecapping in front of our eyes.

The outline of Naipaul and French’s relationship has been well rehearsed. The elderly author granted his Boswell (French was a talented and industrious writer in his own lights) a series of brutally frank interviews, permitted open contact with old lovers, enemies and friends, and made his papers available, along with some grimly incriminating diaries belonging to his first wife.

The result, The World is What It Is, published in 2008, was extraordinary: what Ian Buruma, writing in the The New York Review of Books, called “almost the invention of a new genre: the confessional biography”.

Kureishi has taken this story and produced a work from a very old genre indeed, the novelistic takedown (a literary subgenre reborn in the modern era with Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale, which went to town on Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole). Though its swipes at Naipaul are designed to give the work frisson, they’re not meant to be the main event. Instead the story of an up-and-coming writer named Harry, packed off by Rob, his boozy, drug-addled editor, to Somerset (Naipaul lives in adjoining Wiltshire) to visit an elderly Indian-born author, Mamoon Azam, risen to eminence in his adoptive Britain but now in decline, in the hopes of writing an unvarnished version of his controversial life, is intended to explore broader relationships between master and pupil, genius and mere talent, sexuality and creativity, and the eternal struggle between fiction and fact.

But our knowledge of the reality hovering behind these pages continually obtrudes. Kureishi’s narrative toys with Naipauline connections so obviously, and with such evident delight and disdain, that any more abstract investigations are cancelled out.

Harry may be a lesser writer than French – handsome, frivolous, priapic and obsessed by his mother’s suicide when he was a boy – but the material he uncovers, using equal amounts of guile and charm, is essentially that given freely by Naipaul to his biographer.

A first wife, sad and alcoholic, treated with horrific indifference by an author of growing reputation; a second who was younger and pushing; and, in the middle, a long-time lover who submitted to Mamoon’s sadomasochistic demands only to be cast aside: all these are lifted straight from Naipaul’s life.

If Kureishi creditably gives Mamoon equal voice here, during torrid interview sessions in which the old lion is evasive and abusive, grandly aloof and intellectually incisive, he is also painted as impotent, crotchety and absurd: a monster shriven of the gifts that forgave his worst acts.

That Mamoon turns out to be wilier and stronger than Harry initially suspects puts a few tricky knots in the latter parts of a fairly frayed story. As a novelist, however, Kureishi is a great screenwriter (his other career since the early success of My Beautiful Laundrette in 1985).

Dialogue is witty and assured, yet also empty of distinct character – speeches forlornly await a flesh-and-blood actor to animate them. Various essayistic asides on the state of the nation are mean-spirited and cynical, Martin Amis without the stylistic glitz, and the analytic substructure of the novel (doubtless inspired by Kureishi’s long professional relationship with therapist Adam Phillips) jar with the more playful elements of the plot:

Still, what he [Harry] and Rob admired about Mamoon … was his talent as a provocateur, his ability to create anarchy and fury and then sit back to gaze out over the ruins. On occasions Mamoon was more Johnny Rotten than Joseph Conrad. Harry had begun to think that, as his father had suggested, he had been too passive. His fears had kept him too safe. He’d make some mayhem; it was time to go gonzo, and up the stakes.

In Kureishi’s previous novel, Something to Tell You (2008), this brand of psychoanalytic slapstick was a pleasure to read, the therapeutic yawp of people returning to the world in all its madness and passion.

Here such insight is used mostly to wound, and the outcome is simply enervating.

For all its interpretive brio in recording the battle of wills between subject and life-writer, Kureishi forgets that, in reality, French’s passivity was never passive: he rather employed a kind of jujitsu of objectivity, allowing Naipaul’s own words to define him, whether for good or ill.

Some will enjoy this novel on the basis that Naipaul/Mamoon had it coming, that a few bits of rotten fruit launched at the pillory is what a man of such an angry and divisive nature deserves. Others’ sympathy, for exactly the same reasons, will be wholly with the devil.

But what The Last Word waits too long to acknowledge – indeed not until its final lines, in a wave of the wand meant to dispel all that has passed before – is that “Mamoon had counted for something as an artist, that he’d been a writer, a maker of worlds, a teller of important truths, and that this was a way of changing things, of living well, of creating freedom”.

My sympathies are firmly with the devil.

Geordie Williamson is The Australian’s chief literary critic.

The Last Word

By Hanif Kureishi

Faber and Faber, 352pp, $29.99

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | February 17, 2014

Renaming of park proposed to show love for Marley’s mark


Bob Marley continues to get love from his one-time home, Yann Ranaivo reports in this article for Delaware’s The News Journal.

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory is proposing an ordinance that would rename the Tatnall Playground to “One Love Park.” The park, located at 24th and Tatnall streets, would be named in honor of Marley’s famous song.

During the mid-1960s, the reggae icon lived for a time at 2313 Tatnall St. The house belonged to Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, who ran a Jamaican music shop on Market Street until the late 1970s.

Gregory said he hopes the renaming sends a positive message to a community that has had to deal with shootings and other crimes.

“It’s not a cure all, but you do little things to try to promote a positive in the community,” he said.

The proposed ordinance is being co-sponsored by council members Nnambdi Chukwuocha and Trippi Congo.

Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, also plans to ask the General Assembly to approve a historical marker for the playground. She said timing for her effort depends on when City Council approves Gregory’s proposal and an unveiling ceremony occurs.

“The fact that [Marley] was in Delaware is historic, and I want people to know that,” Henry said.

The ordinance is slated to go before the city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The renaming would add to a list of activities and properties in Wilmington that honor Marley and his ties to the city.

The Peoples Festival, which celebrates Marley’s music and message, is held annually in Wilmington.

Across the street from the Tatnall playground, a home sits above a mural and stairs painted in red, yellow and green. The mural includes a painting of Marley singing and playing a guitar. Next to him, a sentence on the mural says “I feel so good in my neighborhood.”

Above the house’s entrance, reads “Governor General.”

Beryl Jackson, who lives at the house on the corner of Tatnall and 24th and a native of Jamaica, said she hopes the renaming causes more people to come out to the park.

“It would be a great idea,” she said. “It would be something for the neighborhood to enjoy.”

Ulysses McManus, who has lived in the area his entire life, said “One Love” has always been his favorite Marley song because it came out when he served in Vietnam.

McManus, 68, said he recalls seeing Marley on the street and in the park. McManus said Marley, who began achieving fame in the early 1960s when he lived in Wilmington.

“He was already there,” McManus said, “but around the neighborhood, he was just Bob.”

For the original report go to


“At this moment I’m no longer a doctor. Right now I consider myself a farmer like everyone else.”

On the outskirts of Havana, sandwiched between highways and public housing, a revolution is taking place. Here, in the district of Alamar, a 26-acre farming co-op provides employment for dozens of workers, while producing vegetables and medicinal plants for the local community and beyond.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s, Cuba was no longer able to access machinery and agricultural chemicals from its former Communist allies. In this difficult environment, the government relaxed economic rules and allowed the formation of cooperatives – like the Organopónico Vivero Alamar.

film still

What began as necessity – farming without pesticides and chemical fertilizers – has become a source of provide to coop members. They fertilize with compost and cow manure, raise their own insects for biological pest control, and have even created a fully biodegradable alternative to the plastic bag for use with seedlings.

Tierralismo introduces us to everyone from agronomists and senior management to workers who plant, plow, and propagate. The film also covers non-farming aspects of the operation, such as human resources and accounting practices (transparency is paramount).

Many of the coop’s members have come from other fields – including a former pathologist, a fisherman, and an oil-industry worker. More than half are seniors – including an 82-year-old who says when it comes to hoeing, he can outwork anyone in their twenties.

Lovingly shot, Tierralismo offers not only an in-depth portrait of the Organopónico Vivero Alamar, but also a stirring defence of the importance of farm work, and of sustainable farming practices.

Our thanks to Leslie Offutt for bringing the film to our attention.


Mayra Montero, a Cuban writer who has been based in Puerto Rico for 40 years, laments being known for her erotic literature, which she finds unfair because she has only published two novels in that genre—La última noche que pasé contigo and Púrpura profundo—while she has published quite a few novels on love and historical topics. She has just published El caballero de San Petersburgo [The Knight of St. Petersburg] (just released by Tusquets) which centers on General Francisco de Miranda, the precursor of American independence. She discusses her novel with EFE; here are excerpts translated from the Spanish-language original:

The writer has found that, historically, there is “some prejudice against Miranda,” especially in young soldiers who carried out the fight for independence, who perhaps considered him a dilettante because of his cosmopolitan airs, passion for culture, his love of books, and the fact that he mastered various languages.

She regrets that the protagonist of her new novel, the historic General Miranda, is virtually unknown in the Americas, except in Venezuela, a situation which she attributes to the fact that he has disagreements with Bolívar and “history condemned him to invisibility.”

mayramontero_1Montero says that, with this novel, which she defines as a “love story,” she is not vindicating the figure of Miranda, by whom she was fascinated and who she considers to be “the first internationalist combatant” of history, who, as well as fighting for the emancipation of [many of the now Latin American] countries, fought for the independence of the United States and the French Revolution.

Miranda, who was a friend of Catherine the Great and Potemkin, also spent a few years in Russia, where Montero choose to set her novel; she includes other historical figures such as Spanish diplomat Pedro Macanaz, an agent of the Crown who tried to capture him.

The idea that a young Cuban Creole woman, who was seduced by Miranda, was living in Russia was not unusual at that time, according to the writer, who documented that, for example, the wife of Miranda’s Russian host was also Spanish.

Montero, who bases Miranda’s Russian adventure on the general’s extensive diaries, assures [her readers] that his amorous, political, and military adventures were such that he had to be careful because “reality takes over” and there are situations that may seem unlikely, although they were historically true. [. . .]

For full article (in Spanish), see

For more information on the novel, see


Carlos Varela and his band will offer a concert on February 18 at the theater hall of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes [National Museum of Fine Arts], as part of the launch of Habáname: La ciudad musical de Carlos Varela [Habaname: The musical city of Carlos Varela] a book that La Memoria Publishers, of the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Center, will present at the upcoming XXIII International Book Fair. The book will be available during the launch.

The volume, with a foreword by the famous U.S. musician Jackson Browne, includes eight relevant essays by Cuban, Canadian, and U.S. researchers and musicologists. It also contains photographs of the singer and the lyrics to all the songs of his official discography, which adds value to this compilation and will make it transcend as de rigueur research material when analyzing Cuban music and songwriting.

Habáname… has been translated into English and will be published this summer by the prestigious Toronto University Press in Canada.

Varela, author of songs like “Habáname, “Nubes,” “Una palabra” and “Como los peces,” has received much attention from the academic world and a few days ago it was announced that Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada will award the singer with an honorary doctoral degree (Honoris Causa) in Law. The investiture ceremony will take place on June 13, 2014.

For original article (in Spanish), see

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