The Jamaica Observer writes that dancehall superstar Sean Paul is “in the process of creating chart history.” The singer received his fifth # 1 Reggae album debut on the Billboard Reggae charts for his sixth studio album, Full Frequency.

On Tuesday, February 18, Sean Paul released Full Frequency on Atlantic/VP Records, anchored by lead singles ‘Want Dem All’ featuring Konshens and ‘Riot’ featuring Damian Marley, which is currently the #1 song on the Jamaica Music Countdown chart. The project also debuted as the #1 album in Japan while charting high in multiple territories including top 5 in Mexico.

In anticipation of the release, Headline Entertainment said Sean Paul embarked on a US promotional tour including an appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show.

Headline Entertainment said that Sean Paul is the first Jamaican artiste to have an album cover with an interactive app which is free and allows fans to access music, videos, tour dates, and interact with the artiste through his social media sites.

Full Frequency, through the Layar app, allows fans to scan the album artwork with their android or IOS device and experience Sean Paul content popping up on their screens. Other artistes that have added an interactive app to their projects include, Jay Z, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, Headline Entertainment said.

Sean Paul’s Full Frequency album’s Augmented Reality feature was designed and developed by Jamaican-born Kai Williams and Khaliq King of Zipteq.

Listen to “Riot” here: 

For full article, see–1-debut-on-Billboard-Reggae-Chart-with-Full-Frequency

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 16, 2014

Art Matters: San Juan’s New Wave


Alex Hawgood (The New York Times “T Magazine Blog”) writes about the alternative exhibition spaces that are thriving in Puerto Rico, despite the harsh economic crisis the island is going through. He says:

If the annual art fairs that zigzag through New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong are now on the verge of being greeted with a collective Champagne-soaked yawn, San Juan has emerged as a breath of fresh tropical air.

Despite Puerto Rico’s current economic crisis, a handful of boundary-pushing exhibition spaces are thriving, such as Espacio 1414, housed in a former Royal Tire warehouse; Roberto Paradise Gallery, which is showing the work of the painter José Lerma through April 5; and Galería Agustina Ferreyra, which operates out of a garage. “Art goes beyond geography,” Ferreyra says. “The minute we start thinking about geography, we close each other off.”

For more information, see Espacio 1414 at; Roberto Paradise Gallery at; and Agustina Ferreyra at

For original post, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 16, 2014

Bill Gates: How the U.S. “Runs” PR is Just Wrong


Kevin Mead writes about how Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in a recent interview in Rolling Stone magazine, says that the way the United States “runs Puerto Rico is just wrong.”

The 58-year-old multibillionaire’s comment on Puerto Rico came after a question about income inequality, which he said is a complicated issue and argued the need to overhaul programs to help the poor in the U.S. “When we get things right, it benefits the entire world. The world’s governments don’t copy everything we do. They see some things we do – like the way we run our postal service, or Puerto Rico – are just wrong. But they look to us for so many things. And we can do better.”

The tech industry icon got back on top of Forbe’s magazine’s list of the world’s richest people this month after a four-year hiatus. Gates, who led the list for 15 of the past 20 years, won the spot back from Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who had topped the list for the past four years. Gates’ net worth is estimated at $76 billion; Slim Helu follows at $72 billion.

Bill-Gates-9307520-1-402Gates did not elaborate on his criticism of the U.S. handling of Puerto Rico in the Rolling Stone interview. The residents of the U.S. territory are American citizens but cannot vote for president and do not elect voting members to Congress. The island has one member of Congress, a resident commissioner who does not have full participation in the House of Representatives. The island has no senators.

Federal funding to Puerto Rico is far below what the island would get if it were a state. Microsoft’s Puerto Rico operations include the company’s largest optic disk and software manufacturing center in Humacao, a sales, marketing and service office, and software, digital distribution center. The Washington State-based tech giant has faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill and the Securities & Exchange Commission for its use of “aggressive” transactions to shift assets to subsidiaries in Puerto Rico, Ireland and Singapore, in part to avoid taxes.

As reported by CARIBBEAN BUSINESS online, a U.S. Senate report from September 2012 said Microsoft saved $4.5 billion in taxes from 2009 to 2011 by shifting assets to Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth that offers numerous tax breaks to businesses. Microsoft had already acknowledged under prodding by the SEC that it channels sales through Puerto Rico and the two other low-tax international jurisdictions to keep down its U.S. tax bill.

For full article, see

Image above: Microsoft sales, marketing and service office in Humacao.


Actress Olivia Wilde, who has spent time volunteering in Haiti, writes about the scenes she and her business partner found there, their experience bagging bodies in a morgue, helping arrange proper burials, and how it changed them. The article also speaks about their founding of the company Conscious Commerce [described as “an experiment in living (and shopping) with a conscience”]. Wilde and Burchfield say, “Many people feel they are useless if they can’t afford a seat at an expensive gala, and yet they thirst for a more meaningful life. There are thousands of nonprofits in need of financial support, yet the pool of donors is relatively small. We felt the need to build a bridge between the good intentions of folks at home who had no extra cash to spend on fundraisers and the desperate needs of those in the toughest places on earth.”

Writing in the spring issue of Darling magazine, Wilde and her partner, Babs Burchfield, explore their experience, which led to the founding of their company, Conscious Commerce. “We stood next to each other, cigarettes dangling from our mouths, rum burning our throats, hazmat suits covering everything but our sweaty faces, clutching a handful of rosaries each,” they write in one section.

“We were aware of the unlikelihood of the moment — two white American girls working to bag bodies in a morgue — but this was Haiti, and we had come to expect the darkly unexpected. We were among a group of local volunteers who made this gruesome journey weekly, giving a dignified burial to the city’s discarded poor. The cigarettes were to mask the retched smell, the rum to ease the shock.”

Haiti, which is still suffering from the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake, has been the focus of several celebrity efforts to help with its recovery. Wilde and Burchfield returned home determined to invest in an alternative way to raise funds for good causes. Thus, Conscious Commerce, which they describe “an experiment in living (and shopping) with a conscience. This is our attempt to be useful humans, and we’d like to share what we’ve learned so far,” the two write on their website.

“Along with pointing you in the direction of cool, ethically sound businesses, we have paired some of our favorite brands with small, locally run organizations, to create limited edition products. These exciting collaborations are our way of bringing together consciousness and commerce, and making them make sweet, sweet love,” they write.

Darling, which is sold at retailers such as Anthropologie and Nordstrom, is an ad-free magazine that touts itself as “artisanal” and is aimed at reshaping the way that media represent women and girls. [. . .]

See Darling preview of the article here:

For original post, see

For photo and more information, see

VSdownloadThe Institute of Caribbean Studies of the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPR-RP), invites the academic community and the general public to the 1st Gordon K. & Sybil Lewis Memorial Annual Lecture: “Reparations and the Right to Development: The CARICOM Case” by Dr. Verene Shepherd (University of the West Indies-Mona, Jamaica; Chair, United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Vice-Chair, CARICOM Reparation Commission).  Dr. Daniel Nina (Professor of Law and Political Science; Editor in Chief of El Post Antillano) will introduce the lecturer.

This activity will take place on Thursday, March 20, 2014, from 1:00 to 3:30pm at the Manuel Maldonado Denis Amphitheatre (CRA 108) of the Carmen Rivera de Alvarado Building, School of Social Sciences, UPR-RP.

Description: The 34th Meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government held in July 2013 in Trinidad & Tobago, agreed to establish National Committees on Reparation, to ascertain the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparation by former colonial European countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community, for native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery. Heads further agreed to establish a CARICOM Reparations Commission to report directly to a Prime Ministerial Sub-committee chaired by the Prime Minister of Barbados. Why has CARICOM joined the reparation movement after decades of virtual silence?  What strategies will it pursue? How will the work of Caribbean scholars like Gordon K. Lewis provide the intellectual guidance to the process?  These are among the questions that the Lecture will try to address, especially the strategies linked to the discourses on the right to development.

This lecture will be broadcast LIVE online through the following website:

Comments and suggestions on this presentation will be welcome at:

For further information, you may call Dr. Humberto García Muñiz, Director, at (787) 764-0000, extension 4212, or write to

See the Institute of Caribbean Studies on Facebook at


Janine Mendes-Franco examines the situation in Trinidad and Tobago, where—as in many other Caribbean countries—fathers are denied the right to witness the birth of their children. She focuses on the ongoing crusade by midwife, family advocate, and director of the Mamatoto Resource & Birth Centre Debrah Lewis.

Debrah Lewis started noticing the gap between private and public health care in Trinidad and Tobago whenever she had to transfer a laboring mother to the hospital. The first thing that struck her was the look of anguish on the faces of the parents-to-be.  “We have a concern about the condition of your baby,” she would gently explain. Barely had the word “hospital” come out of her mouth than the mother would whimper, “But I’ll be all alone!” and the father would add, “And I won’t be able to be there for the birth!”

Lewis, a midwife for thirty years, and a staunch advocate for parents and families, found the situation heartbreaking. In Trinidad and Tobago — as in many other Caribbean territories — fathers are routinely denied the right to witness the birth of their children. Lewis, largely through the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Midwives, has been lobbying for years to get the situation changed.

While changes have been coming, progress is slow and often random. The San Fernando General Hospital (the main health facility in the southern part of the island), still refuses to allow fathers into the delivery room. At the Sangre Grande hospital, which serves east Trinidad, fathers must sign a form agreeing to abide by certain regulations.

In Port of Spain, the country’s capital, the hospital has too many conditions to count and even if you satisfy all the requirements, including attending birth classes, there is no guarantee. Being allowed into the delivery room is often up to the whim and fancy of the medical staff, who often come up with excuses not to include the father. “We’re too busy.” “We don’t have time to deal with that.” “It’s a ward situation.” “It’s our decision.”

Lewis is arguing that it’s not. One father actually called her, crying in the middle of the night, begging her to intervene. He had jumped through all the hoops to ensure that he would be there when his child was born; when the time came, staff denied him access. Despite her contacts, Lewis couldn’t change their minds. She finds the stance of the public health system towards this issue hypocritical. “This child is never going to be born again,” she explains. “But then people will turn around and complain that our society is deteriorating; that fathers do not maintain an active presence in the lives of their children. Yet, when that child first comes into this world, the fathers are not allowed to be there.”

As the Executive Director of the Mamatoto Resource & Birth Centre, a community-based childbirth center founded in 2004 to help address the demand for family-centered pregnancy care, the contradiction must seem especially bizarre to Lewis. “I don’t think most people realize that the discrepancy between public and private care is so wide,” she says. “They don’t understand the large number of fathers who are not afforded the opportunity to see their child being born.”

At the end of November last year, Lewis gave a talk at TEDxPortofSpain. The theme was “Connecting” and many in the audience expected her to talk about the maternal connection. Instead, Lewis stood up for women by furthering the cause of the men in their lives. “I’m a feminist,” she says, “but feminism has often given men the short end of the stick. They get blamed for things we don’t allow them to do. Men may have issues, but we’re part of the problem. The middle of the spectrum is where we need to be, but we’re at the other end.”

Regionally, policies are not based on current research or empirical evidence — and even when new guidelines exist, they are not implemented. For instance, the Mount Hope medical facility, which wanted to achieve baby-friendly status, has a much more modern policy, but it is not put into practice. Lewis maintains that there is an easy fix for the situation and that it lies in the hands of parents. “People have to demand it,” she says, “and when enough of us do, all the Ministry of Health has to do is make it a national policy. There’s something called the Patient’s Charter of Rights — once the right of fathers to be present at the birth of their children makes the list, the public hospitals will have to abide by it. They will no longer have an excuse.”

In anticipation of that day, Lewis has been focusing on educating the public. The Association of Midwives and Mamatoto speak anywhere they are invited: churches, schools, community centers. Their mission is simple: to educate people about their choices, so that they can make informed decisions. [. . .]

[Photo above: Debrah Lewis, photographed by Georgia Popplewell.]

For full article, see

Check out the rest of PRI’s The Ninth Month (#ninthmonth) series on pregnancy and birth around the world.

[This story by Janine Mendes-Franco was original posted by Global Voices, a community of bloggers from around the world.]



A unique documentary on the Caribbean poet and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott—Poetry Is an Island, Derek Walcott by Ida Does—will screen on March 30, 2014, at the Bijlmerparktheater, located at Anton de Komplein 240 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. [Also see interview with Ida Does here: Ida Does: A Brief Interview with Repeating Islands.]

Description: The documentary Poetry is an Island has already premiered to great acclaim in Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, St. Lucia, and the United States. Now, finally screening in the Netherlands for the first time, with the participation of director Ida Does, is the festival version of the film–the director’s cut. The screening will take place on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

The evening will include a reception with cocktails and Caribbean live music, a short presentation by well-known Curaçaoan actress Paulette Smith to open the evening, a reading by Antoine de Kom—winner of VSB poetry prize in 2014 and grandson of the Surinamese resistance hero and human rights activist Anton de Kom—and a performance by young violinist Yannick Lutz, providing an impromptu musical interpretation of the poetic recitation. After the screening of the film, there will be a Q & A session where the audience will have the opportunity to engage with the director.

6:30 to 7:00pm—Reception with cocktails and Caribbean steel drum music

7:00 to 7:05pm—Opening by Paulette Smith

7:05 to 7:10pm—Reading by poet Antoine de Kom

7:10 to 7:15pm—Musical interpretation by Yannick Lutz

7:15 to 8:35pm—Screening of Poetry is an Island: Derek Walcott (director’s cut)

8:35 to 9:00pm—Q & A with director Ida Does

9:00 to 9:30pm—Post-screening drinks with live music

[There is only a limited number of places available. See below to secure tickets.]

For more information (in Dutch), see

Also see (official website)
Facebook: / PoetryIsAnIsland
Twitter: @ walcottfilm
Vimeo: / idadoes / videos

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 15, 2014

Paris Book Fair Features Euzhan Palcy and Dany Laferrière

salon du livre1

Among the many activities organized at the 2014 Paris Book Fair [Salon du Livre de Paris], from March 21 to 24, there is a section dedicated to France’s Overseas Departments—Les Outre-Mers de près ou de loin. The guest of honor of this section is Dany Laferrière.

Dany Laferriere

There will also be a talk by Martinican director Euzhan Palcy—“Rencontre entre images et mots”—on March 22 at 3:00pm, in which the filmmaker will discuss her approach to the autobiographical novel by Joseph Zobel, Rue Cases Nègres, which she adapted for the big screen. This dialogue will address the work of the literary film adaptation and provide an overview of the cinema of overseas territories. The director will also have a DVD-signing session. The DVDs were produced in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the film Rue Cases Nègres [Sugar Cane Alley]. (Stand B 63 – Aisle B / Pavilion 1)

On Friday, March 21, there is a round table in honor of Palcy as the first woman president of FESPACO (2013) with Ab Al Malik and Marguerite Abouet.  Stand 64 / Hall 1)


Other round tables include “Créolité Tout-Monde,” on traditions of Creole writing and language, with the participation of exponents of Créolité such as Tony Delsham, Benzo, Suzanne Dracius, Hector Poullet, and Benzo; “Les lignes de l’exil”, ​​on graphic arts, comics, and novels consistent with the literatures of the overseas territories (exile is present in the Hippolytus et Zabus comic books, is central to the texts Dany Laferrière, and remains a present-day concern); and “Du poème au roman” [From Poem to Novel], with Frédéric Ohlen and Jean-François Samlong.

More activities include « Chants-Slam-Poèmes » [Songs-Slam-Poems], a roundtable focusing on the words and illustrations of slam performances and readings. A special tribute will be paid to the poetry and stories of all overseas territories, through the voices of poets, storytellers, and slammers including Nicolas Kurtovich, Lémy Lémane Coco, Flora Devatine, Frédéric Ohlen, Paul Wamo, Benzo, André Rober, and Suzanne Dracius, among others.

For more information, see

Photo from

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 15, 2014

The History and Influence of Jamaican Music


This is an old but interesting article from 2012 on the trajectory of Jamaican music, starting with mento and ska, then the reggae greats, and finally their influence on modern rhythms, such as dancehall, reggaeton, trip-hop, and dubstep. Here are excerpts from Bret Love’s assessment of the influence of Jamaican music.

[It is] impossible to quantify the remarkable impact the island has had on global culture, thanks in large part to a legacy of musical innovation stretching back over 50 years. Without Jamaica, the world would never have known the sounds of ska, reggae or even hip-hop, all of which were born on this tiny island in the West Indies.

THE ROOTS: Though most people associate the island with the laid-back rhythms of reggae, Jamaica’s first major musical movement was the more uptempo sound of ska. Combining elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm & blues, ska arose in the wake of American soldiers stationed in Jamaica during and after World War II, and its celebratory sound coincided with Jamaica’s independence from the UK in 1962. Early acts such as The Skatalites and The Wailers remain legends today, influencing ‘80s acts such as Madness, The Specials and English Beat and ‘90s icons such as Sublime, No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. But by the late ‘60s, as American soul music was becoming slower and smoother, ska began to evolve into reggae, whose central themes of peace, love, justice and equality mirrored the ideals of the American counter-cultural movement of the same era.

THE HEART: The dawn of reggae found Jamaican music spreading throughout the world, with Bob Marley & the Wailers leading the charge. With lyrics that balanced sociopolitical discourse, religious themes and messages of love and positivity, songs such as “Get Up, Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff” made them international superstars (particularly after the latter was covered by Eric Clapton in 1974). But they weren’t the only Jamaican artists to break out: Acts such as ex-Wailer Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru and Culture all emerged as stars on the global stage. Wailers producer Lee “Scratch” Perry was chosen to work with British punk legends The Clash, while British bands such as The Police and Steel Pulse proved reggae’s influence was spreading far beyond Jamaica’s borders. In 1985, the Grammy Awards introduced a Best Reggae Album category, signaling the Jamaican sound’s firm place in the mainstream.

THE BRANCHES: While the influence of ska and reggae cannot be overstated, it was another Jamaican music sub-genre that ultimately changed the world. Popularized by production wizards such as Lee “Scratch” Perry and Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru and Culture is a largely instrumental version of reggae originally used to test sound systems. To hype the crowds at the parties and nightclubs where the DJs performed, they would get on the microphone and “toast” in hip rhyming patterns. When Kingston native Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell moved to the Bronx, his legendary parties gave birth to the sound now known as hip-hop, influencing practically every DJ and MC that followed. In recent years a bevy of popular musical forms have evolved out of Jamaican styles, including dancehall, reggaeton and trip-hop. Whether it’s Bob’s son Ziggy Marley singing the theme song to the children’s TV show Arthur, pop star Sean Kingston or the techno hybrid known as dubstep, these days Jamaican music is everywhere, ensuring the little island will continue to be a big influence for many years to come.

Bret Love also stresses the centrality of must-visit landmarks:

• BOB MARLEY MUSEUM (Kingston) This museum features the world’s largest collection of writings, photographs, artifacts, memorabilia and other mementos from the reggae legend’s extraordinary life.

• JAMAICA MUSIC MUSEUM (Kingston) This museum chronicles the history and evolution of the island’s music, from mento and ska to reggae, dub and dancehall.

• PETER TOSH MEMORIAL PARK (Westmoreland) This memorial (overseen by Tosh’s mother) includes his mausoleum, a small museum/gift shop and memorabilia of the legend’s life.

• REGGAE XPLOSION (Ocho Rios) Provides an extensive overview of Jamaican music history, including digital photo archives, music-related art, vinyl albums and a replica of a mobile record shack.

[Many thanks to Rod Fusco for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | March 15, 2014

A Heartfelt Homage to the Late Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón


At 84, intellectual activist Dr. Luis Nieves Falcon died on Monday of leukemia at the Auxilio Mutuo Hospital in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día writes that “With the death of Dr. Luis Nieves Falcón, Puerto Rico has lost one of its greatest minds and a strong defender of just causes, including the fight against ideological discrimination, social exclusion, and persecution.” Here are excerpts (translation is mine):

At a time when our country needs profound and lasting solutions to its many social and economic problems, the legacy of Dr. Nieves Falcón offers an example of an intrinsic sense of solidarity with which each challenge must be addressed in order to exert change.

With that solidarity and rooted leadership, sociologist, scholar, writer, lawyer, and activist for human and civil rights, devoted his final years to the struggle for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has been incarcerated for almost 33 years for “seditious conspiracy” in the United States. Nieves Falcón was active in the campaign for the release of the last Puerto Rican political prisoners in the U.S. since the nineties, but was not satisfied with the success of these efforts and never abandoned his efforts for López Rivera.

Born on December 29, 1929, in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Nieves Falcon earned a BA from the University of Puerto Rico, a Masters in Educational Sociology from New York University, a Ph.D. in sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and after retirement from his professorship at the University of Puerto Rico, received a “juris doctor” degree from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico.

In the field of law, he was an instrumental figure for the Puerto Rico Bar Association, as stated by the president of that institution, Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, who praised the ability of the deceased to integrate “legal knowledge with sensitivity, intellectual ability with concrete action, and the need for justice with cultural achievement.”

His participation in the law field allowed him to put into practice a better defense of human and civil rights, as well as to promote the cause of the release of political prisoners more effectively.

A consistent and self-sacrificing pro-independence leader, as described by the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, Rubén Berrios, Nieves Falcón always delivered “all his zeal in the service of justice and his country, for which he dreamed of a process towards decolonization and sovereignty.”

In the field of culture, Nieves Falcón also devoted many years to preserve the literary heritage of a great intellectual—deceased Puerto Rican lawyer Nilita Vientós Gaston. He took on this worthy mission through his founding, in 1995, of the Nilita Vientós Gaston Foundation, founded in 1995, which he so lovingly cultivated ad promoted. [. . .]

For full article, see

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