Posted by: ivetteromero | September 15, 2014

Scotland’s Referendum and Caribbean Implications

Saltire and union flag

David Jessop (Director of the Caribbean Council) analyzes Scotland’s upcoming referendum and its implications for the Caribbean and beyond. See excerpts here:

Forget the movie Braveheart and the passion and nationalism associated with the long-standing desire by many Scots for independence from the English. On 18 September, something real and significant will take place in Scotland that could change the nature of United Kingdom and alter Britain’s place in the world. That is the date on which there will be a referendum on Scottish independence which, if the Scottish National Party (SNP) and others who are promoting the yes vote were to prevail, could raise some interesting and even difficult questions for the Caribbean.

For example, if the Scots were to vote yes to independence it would also undoubtedly diminish London’s role and influence in Europe, weaken the UK’s relationship with Washington, and by extension in both cases, affect the positive approach to the Caribbean that the UK encourages on both sides of the Atlantic.

Small nation status

While a yes vote would undoubtedly require the Caribbean to assess how it should relate to an Independent Scotland and a smaller United Kingdom, it may also offer new opportunity, given the many Caribbean-relevant small nation aspects of Scotland’s economic approach. Some of the wider implications of a changed Scotland are only just starting to become apparent.

For instance, in the last week the international dimension took on greater prominence when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, suggested that any new EU state coming out of a current member state will have to apply to accede to the European Union and its entry will have to be approved by all. [. . .]

Caribbean implications

[. . .] That said, for the Caribbean, from a positive perspective, Scotland could represent an interesting future partner. It has a population of around five million and although much wealthier than almost all Caribbean nations it has interesting similarities to the region in that it relies heavily on tourism, financial services and exports of alcohol (whisky) as well as on oil and gas, offshore services and life sciences. It has an outward looking policy that supports Scottish business seeking to trade abroad, promotes foreign investment and defends its interests in Brussels.

The Scottish Diaspora

[. . .] Less positively, a yes vote for Scottish independence  raises all sorts of issues no one has yet addressed in a Caribbean context from its murky past in relation to slavery or how independence will  diminish the role of ‘Caribbean marginal seats’ and political influence in England. That said the Scottish National Party has created a close to sovereign identity for Scotland in the world that has resonance with Caribbean thinking; one that suggests an interesting model for nations in a region that seem unclear about where they are seeking to position themselves and their economic interests. [. . .]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 15, 2014

Edouard expected to become a category 3 hurricane, Bermuda worries


Bermuda has been keeping close watch on Hurricane Edouard, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic season. Already a Category one hurricane, Edouard is strengthening and is projected to pass to the island’s east on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Edouard was 915 miles east-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands, packing winds of 80 miles per hour at it moved northwest at 16 mph. Forecasters say Edouard is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane as it curves towards the north, before weakening as it reaches cooler waters.

The Bermuda Weather Service said Edouard was being closely monitored. But the storm is unlikely to be a threat to land. On its current track Edouard is scheduled to be around 400 miles to the east-southeast of Bermuda on Tuesday evening.

For original report, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 14, 2014

Dominican Designer Oscar de la Renta: First ladies’ first choice


“Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style.”

George W. Bush

Presidential Library

Southern Methodist

University, Dallas

Through Sunday, Oct. 5

This month, the most exciting fashion exhibit anywhere is at a presidential library: the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University, Cindy Graff Cohen reports in

“Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style” is a dazzling collection of work by the designer who created gorgeous clothing for three first ladies: Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

When you think about each woman’s personal style, you kind of scratch your head and wonder how one designer could have clothed each so beautifully – and through such disparate fashion eras, from the big-shoulder ‘80s through this decade – yet de la Renta created just the right look for each president’s wife.

It all comes down to the designer’s approach to the individual client. “I have always felt my role as a designer is to do the best I can for a woman to make her look her best,” he says. “Fashion is only fashion once a woman puts it on.”

In a video intro, Laura Bush describes what makes de la Renta’s designs so admired. “Oscar is the loveliest man,” she says, “and he really likes women!” The exhibit opens with two dresses she wore at the 2005 inauguration: the winter white wool boucle dress and matching coat for the ceremony and the silver silk sequined gown for the inaugural balls. “You can wear Oscar’s clothes over and over and I have,” she adds.

A real standout is Jenna Bush’s wedding dress. I listened to a couple of little girls say it was their favorite dress there; they just stood and stared at it, kind of like me. “There was only one designer for Jenna to choose for her wedding dress,” Bush said in the video. Next to the gown is the blue silk suit that the proud mother of the bride wore to the 2008 wedding; on the other side is a graceful red de la Renta gown their other daughter, Barbara, wore to a UNICEF ball.

Some of de la Renta’s classic creations are timeless, such as the simple gold gown Hillary Clinton wore to an inaugural ball. Others, like Nancy Reagan’s almost comical big-plaid wool suit with a huge paisley bow tie, are best seen as period pieces of a strange fashion hiccup.

Other de la Renta designs include a lavish pink silk gown with a train that singer Taylor Swift wore to this year’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a section of dresses worn by movie stars are a glittering silver gown worn by Sarah Jessica Parker and one of the gowns worn by Anne Hathaway when she co-hosted the Academy Awards. Vogue editor Anna Wintour also loaned a couple of her de la Rentas.

Although his exclusive ready-to-wear lines are worn by discerning women all over the world, he does have a gift for working with special clients, including Mercedes Bass, who sponsored this splendid exhibit. She loaned several of her own dresses, including two striking black and white Spanish-influenced gowns from 2006.

The designer, who was born in the Dominican Republic, launched his career in Madrid, where he trained at the Balenciaga studios – you can see how he was influenced by Spanish culture and art. Later he moved to Paris to work at couture design houses including Lanvin and Pierre Balmain. He has lived in New York City since the 1960s and became a U.S. citizen in 1969. Ever since, he certainly has done his part to keep America beautiful.

Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style

Tickets $17

Buy in advance at

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 14, 2014

Bermuda On “Eight Weirdest Flags” List


Bermuda has managed to be listed on an article dubbed “The eight weirdest flags the world has ever seen” posted on i100, a new venture from the UK’s Independent, reports.

Bermuda’s flag is listed alongside seven others the article deems weird, including Mozambique, which they said was the only national flag in the world to feature a modern assault rifle, and Hawaii, which they said still bears the Union Jack in its top corner despite never being part of the British Empire

As it pertains to the island, the article said, “Bermuda’s flag bears the British red ensign and a coat of arms that shows the 17th century ship Sea Venture that was deliberately crashed by Admiral George Somers in a bad storm.

“But the flag also bears an ironic resemblance to the Atlantic island’s reputation for being a hotspot for lost ocean vessels and aeroplanes.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 14, 2014

SK&N: Cultural Music Documentary Debuts at Independence

Music Antonio Maynard

A documentary on the cultural music of St. Kitts and Nevis will make its debut over the Independence period thanks to the local UNESCO National Commission which spearheaded its production, SKN Vibes reports.

Antonio Maynard, Secretary General of the UNESCO National Commission, emphasized that as St. Kitts and Nevis celebrates its 31st Anniversary of Independence, it is important to reflect on the music that it has produced, particularly since music plays a very important role in the development of any civilization. He revealed that the documentary, which is based on interviews conducted by the Department of Culture – maps the music, provides background on its origin and has clips of actual performances. Mr. Maynard gave a specific example of music as a marketing tool.

“I think Elli Matt and the GI’s Brass International is a good example of marketing St. Kitts throughout the world – not only in North America but in Europe and other places,” Mr. Maynard emphasized. “It really lets people know that there’s a small place in the Caribbean with talented musicians. Once you hear our music you understand our culture, and that would have inspired many people to come to St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Two specialists at the Department of Culture were instrumental in interviewing the cultural practitioners. Dance Specialist Lorna “Ava” Henry, and Music Specialist Nigel Williams informed that interviews began at least five years ago when the Department of Culture was under the leadership of Creighton Pencheon. Two years ago its production became more concrete and fine-tuned.

Ms. Henry noted that the documentary was well timed.

“The project was very timely in that we were able to speak to lots of our old musicians,” Ms. Henry revealed. “That’s something we have not done in the past. Even the old folk-forms were recorded. Unfortunately we lost a few of our older practitioners such as Vernon Mallalieu, Mr. Decosta and Tambora Kitwana.”

Mr. Williams revealed that the Documentary featured not just music of St. Kitts and Nevis but more broadly the genre of Caribbean Music. As such, it includes steel pan, brass band and folklore music. Mr. Williams pulled out an example of a musician who had made a name for himself several decades ago.

“For example, Val Morris, when I was a little boy, he had the leading band in St. Kitts,” Mr. Williams enthused.

“An opportunity to interview him was really exciting for me because he was not only involved in calypso music but also military music which I also perform. Interviewing Mr. Morris meant a great, great deal to me.”

It was revealed that Mr. Morris was one of the original members of the Boston Tigers which was a Steel Band of the 1950s and one of the most popular bands of that time.

The Music Specialist informed that several decades ago St. Kitts was known for playing the fastest Calypso in the Caribbean Region, however, other islands now have that reputation. He gave a history of the evolution of soca music, which he said changed from a moderate pace to the fast pace that it has today.

“I don’t think the young people understand where soca really came from,” Mr. Williams explained. “As a matter of fact, it was born out of trying to put a set of music together, where you had a beat that made it easier for the Americans to understand. We used to play traditional calypso with a beat where we define it as boom-boom, boom-boom, now today soca is boup, boup, boup, boup, a straight beat.”

The “Project on the Development and Evolution of Music in SKN” DVD which was produced by IX Media & Marketing will be aired on ZIZ TV initially, over the Independence period and will be uploaded to the UNESCO Website and Facebook pages as well as made available in schools in the Federation. Copies will also be placed with the musicians featured in the Documentary as well as distributed to the St. Kitts and Nevis National Archives and the National Museum.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 14, 2014

At the Point of a Cutlass: The harsh reality of the pirate life


A book review by Phyllis Méras for The Providence Journal.

“AT THE POINT OF A CUTLASS: The Pirate Capture, Bold Escape, and Lonely Exile of Philip Ashton,” by Gregory N. Flemming. ForeEdge. 256 pages. $29.95.
I grew up liking pirates. I hung a skull and crossbones and a map of pirate hideaways in the playroom in our family barn. I named a sailboat Blackbeard after Capt. Edward Teach, the 18th-century English pirate who frequented the Carolinas and the Bahamas and was one of the fiercest of them all.
Now that I have read “At the Point of a Cutlass,” however, I am not sure that I like pirates anymore. There is very little of the romance of the piratical life in retired journalist Gregory Flemming’s book.
It begins with the hanging of 26 alleged pirates on the Newport waterfront in 1723. Among them was a 21-year-old fisherman from Marblehead, Joseph Libbey. The boat on which he was sailing along with another Marblehead man, Philip Ashton, was captured by pirates off Nova Scotia.
The pirates were in need of able-bodied seamen and both Libbey and Ashton were likely prospects. First, they were lured with promises of a share in the loot from captured ships if they became pirates themselves. Then they were threatened with being whipped, shot or having an ear cut off if they refused.
Libbey succumbed and joined the piratical crew. Ashton refused, and, miraculously, survived — simply agreeing to do the work of a crewman on the pirate vessel, but declining to be a pirate. And, ultimately (after being saved from drowning by Libbey), he escaped the pirate ship.
Much of the rest of “At the Point of a Cutlass” is about the Robinson Crusoe-like life Ashton lived, all by himself, on a mountainous Caribbean island. For much of the 16 months he was there, he was without knife or gun or means of building a fire. When he was finally discovered and returned home, his remarkable adventure was published and became the subject of sermons on “signal deliverance” by God.
Sometimes, the book becomes tedious with minutia of ships captured by the pirates and what became of them, but for the most part, for those with a historical or a piratical bent, it should be interesting reading.
Greg Flemming will be appearing at the Providence Public Library, 150 Empire St., on Thursday, Sept. 18, from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. to discuss his book and sign copies. The event is the library’s third-floor meeting room.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | September 14, 2014

In Jamaica, Rastas ready for legal pot

Jamaica Rasta Rights

Taking a deep draw on a pipe that glows with burning marijuana, reggae luminary Bunny Wailer gives a satisfied grin through a haze of aromatic smoke in his yard painted in the red, green, gold and black colours of his Rastafarian faith, Asutralia’s Sky News reports.

These days, the baritone singer from the legendary Wailers, the group he formed in 1963 with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, has reason to feel good.

There is unprecedented traction building in Jamaica to decriminalise pot, meaning the dreadlocked Wailer and other adherents of Rastafari – a homegrown spiritual movement that considers the drug divine – may soon be able to smoke without fear of arrest.

‘Rastas have treated marijuana as something legal all along, even though we have been sent to prison for using the herb in our prayer. But this is the time for all these pressures to stop. The world is catching up now,’ the 67-year-old three-time Grammy winner said at his modest Kingston home.

Jamaica is known internationally for its marijuana. The hardy plant grows easily on the tropical Caribbean island, where its use is culturally entrenched despite being legally banned for 100 years.

Cultivation is kept hidden, with small patches tucked into mountainsides, in swamps and between rows of other crops. Wailer, himself, was convicted of possession in 1967 and did more than a year of hard labour.

Previous moves to decriminalise the drug failed to advance mainly because officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington.

But now, with a number of US states relaxing their marijuana laws – Colorado and Washington even allow recreational use – Jamaica is rethinking its position.

Justice Minister Mark Golding says Jamaica’s Cabinet has approved a plan to decriminalise marijuana, including for religious purposes, and legislators are expected to authorise it before the end of the year.

Freedom to use marijuana for religious worship is one of various amendments to Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act supported by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s administration.

Her ministers also have proposed unclogging courts by decriminalising small amounts of weed for personal use.

The main hope is that a regulated medical marijuana and scientific research sector could help draw investments to the cash-strapped island, which is labouring under its latest loan program with the International Monetary Fund.

Rasta adherents say use of the ‘holy herb’ induces a meditative state that brings them closer to the divine.

For many, Jamaica’s decriminalisation plans signal a crucial victory after decades of struggle.

The momentum building ‘presents a major step forward for the recognition of the religious rights and expression of Rastafari,’ said Anta Anthony Merritt, a Rastafarian priest who is a faculty member at San Diego State University.

Wailer said Rastas had been hassled for years, ‘getting criminalised and locked up for using the herb’.

‘But things are changing because ganja is what the world needs now,’ he said, before taking another appreciative toke from his pipe.

For the original report go to–rastas-ready-for-legal-pot.html#sthash.tt16PHiJ.dpuf

Posted by: ivetteromero | September 14, 2014

Golden Krust Celebrates 25 Years


Golden Krust, the nation’s largest and fastest growing Caribbean franchise, has been celebrating 25 years in business this year. Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, Inc. is a Caribbean food chain based in New York. Founded in 1989 by Lowell Hawthorne and his family, Golden Krust headquarters is located in Bronx, New York, and has 120 stores nationwide. I do not want this to serve as advertisement, but rather to congratulate a successful example of Caribbean business in the diaspora (especially one that has helped so many of us alleviate pangs of homesickness through their products).

The Jamaican family-owned and operated business started back in 1989 in the South Bronx is now a leader in the franchise and baking industry. The celebration began with the company’s Mavis and Ephraim Hawthorne Golden Krust Foundation Scholarship Ceremony on Aug. 12. Golden Krust’s president and CEO and foundation chairman Lowell Hawthorne was beaming with pride exclaiming that “nothing brings me greater satisfaction than knowing that in some small measure I am sharing in the success of the young scholars being awarded this evening.”

Thirteen well-deserving graduating high-school seniors were presented with $2,000 scholarships toward their college education and 26 students in the United States and Jamaica received scholarships this year.

The company also celebrated this major milestone with system-wide celebrations on Aug. 23, providing the first 100 customers with 25-cent beef patties!

The events kicked-off nationwide at noon, and customers enjoyed live music, free samples, and lots of other giveaways. The main event took place at the company’s first location on 1381 E. Gun Hill Rd. in the Bronx. [. . .] The executive team, staff, family, friends, and customers were out in full force to support and enjoy the unforgettable sounds of the Platinum One Band, the taste of succulent jerk chicken, and a memorable ceremony.

[. . .] The Golden Krust team thanks all their franchisees, staff, and customers for their commitment to the brand. There are other milestones left to be achieved for the Golden Krust organization. Hawthorne stated that the company looks forward to fulfilling its’ 2020 vision of making Jamaican-styled patties and jerk chicken mainstream food items.

For full article, see

Also see www.golde‌nkrus‌tbake‌

downloadPoet and scholar Urayoán “Ura” Noel’s new book InVisible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (just published by University of Iowa Press, 2014) is considered to be the first book-length critical study of Nuyorican poetry.

Description: Since the 1960s, Nuyorican poets have explored and performed Puerto Rican identity both on and off the page. Emerging within and alongside the civil rights movements of the 1960s, the foundational Nuyorican writers sought to counter the ethnic/racial and institutional invisibility of New York City Puerto Ricans by documenting the reality of their communities in innovative and sometimes challenging ways. Since then, Nuyorican poetry has entered the U.S. Latino literary canon and has gained prominence in light of the spoken-word revival of the past two decades, a movement spearheaded by the Nuyorican Poetry Slams of the 1990s. Today, Nuyorican poetry engages with contemporary social issues such as the commodification of the body, the institutionalization of poetry, the gentrification of the barrio, and the national and global marketing of identity. What has not changed is a continued shared investment in a poetics that links the written word and the performing body.

The first book-length study specifically devoted to Nuyorican poetry, In Visible Movement is unique in its historical and formal breadth, ranging from the foundational poets of the 1960s and 1970s to a variety of contemporary poets emerging in and around the Nuyorican Poets Cafe “slam” scene of the 1990s and early 2000s. It also unearths a largely unknown corpus of poetry performances, reading over forty years of Nuyorican poetry at the intersection of the printed and performed word, underscoring the poetry’s links to vernacular and Afro-Puerto Rican performance cultures, from the island’s oral poets to the New York sounds and rhythms of Latin boogaloo, salsa, and hip-hop. With depth and insight, Urayoán Noel analyzes various canonical Nuyorican poems by poets such as Pedro Pietri, Victor Hernández Cruz, Miguel Algarín, Miguel Piñero, Sandra María Esteves, and Tato Laviera. He discusses historically overlooked poets such as Lorraine Sutton, innovative poets typically read outside the Nuyorican tradition such as Frank Lima and Edwin Torres, and a younger generation of Nuyorican-identified poets including Willie Perdomo, María Teresa Mariposa Fernández, and Emanuel Xavier, whose work has received only limited critical consideration. The result is a stunning reflection of how New York Puerto Rican poets have addressed the complexity of identity amid diaspora for over forty years.

[Many thanks to The Loisaida Center for bringing this item to our attention.]

For more information, see


George Landini interviews Coro de silencio [Choir of Silence] author Roberto Rodríguez [see previous posts Film: Roberto Rodríguez Díaz’s “Coro de Silencio” and New Book: Roberto Rodríguez’s “Coro de silencio” (Choir of Silence)] whose book was adapted to film in 2013. Landini writes:

The purpose of this meeting [in a crowded café in Old San Juan] is the film-documentary Coro de silencio, of which he [Roberto Rodríguez] is director and executive producer; he became the first Cuban exile director to participate in a film festival in Cuba—the Festival of New Latin American Cinema of Havana. But he began writing the script for this film many years ago, precisely in 1961, when Roberto, still a boy of 11 years of age, was sent by his parents to the United States as part of Operation Pedro Pan.

Here are excerpts of the interview; see the full interview in the link below:

Your documentary film Coro de silencio made you not only the first Cuban exile to participate in a film festival in Havana, Cuba, but it was also shown at the Havana Film Festival in New York (April 2014) and here at the Film Festival of San Juan, Puerto Rico (2013). [. . .] Did you perceive different reactions in each one of those cities?  No, in every place where it was exhibited, the reaction was the same. Well, maybe in Havana it was different because everyone already knew the history of documentary, while in San Juan and New York many viewers admitted [. . .] that they had no idea of the dark and negative aspects of Operation Pedro Pan.

You originally wrote the book called Coro de silencio. How and why did you get the idea of turning it into a documentary film? I originally traveled to Cuba for the sole purpose of seeing my country, to visit the house where he was born, to revisit the school, walk the streets of my childhood; and all the emotions and feelings of that trip led me to feel the conviction that I should write the story of my experiences and that of other children who participated in the Pedro Pan program. The book was born of the agitation [the emotion] of seeing again, of walking once more on the land of my birth. Travelling from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, visiting El Cobre, seeing my neighbors again, making new friends … I went back to Miami with the story of the entire book in my head, and when it finally came off the press, those who read it started to tell me that I should make a movie.

Can you tell us about your particular experience and that of other children of the Pedro Pan Program with whom you lived or with whom you had contact later on? At first no one wanted to talk, because of different traumatic experiences they had suffered, so I decided to take the first step and tell my story. After the book came out and later the film, other “Peter Pans” have felt encouraged to speak out. Now, more people are beginning to tell their stories, which, in many cases, were even worse than mine.

The worst of all is to think that there was no need to go to orphanages, reformatories, or to fall into homes of people who abused us in many ways. People should be aware that there was mental, sexual, and physical abuse; and the same priests told us that if we spoke out, we would be sent back to Cuba and that we would bring shame on our families. I understand that this was the biggest problem of Operation Pedro Pan, and while it is true that not all priests behaved this way, most of them did.

You mean that the United States led the Cuban families to believe that the state would take away their children? Someone circulated a text, a false rumor about of a law, which was surreptitiously, secretly going from one family to another [. . .] saying that the government would take away parental rights, and as that story circulated, many parents, like mine, decided to send their children to the United States.

After seeing a documentary I had the impression that Cuban families ended up delivering their children to pedophile priests and / or unscrupulous people. Of course it was not in all cases, but who you think is to blame that so many children were sent far away from their families?

They were members of the American government—those who made people believe in this talk of loss of parental rights—with the complicity of the church, and they exacerbated the families’ fear (now known to be unfounded).

The church showed a false “gentle face” lending itself to appear as if it were reacting at the request of Cuban families, when what really happened is that the American government had mounted a huge advertising campaign in its favor, and did not care that for its political purposes, entire families went bankrupt and thousands of children suffered so much. I completely blame the church, because what it did and what the Archdioceses of Havana and Miami agreed to do was aberrant.

Furthermore, to understand the dimensions of what happened, we must not forget that it was the largest exodus of unaccompanied minors in history, 14,048 children left Cuba (the previous exodus was the ‘Kindertransport’ in Nazi Germany, which involved 10,000 Jewish children). [. . .]

For full interview, see

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