Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 5, 2015

Cuba and the spirit of revolution


The Cuban revolution is the fountain of resilience and determination, writes Sihle Zikalala in this opinion piece for South Africa’s Mercury/Independent. Zikalala is the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary. Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

Any revolution that seeks to transfer power to the people should eventually result in the betterment of the lives of those pursuing such struggle, in particular the motive forces of revolution.

Like a number of revolutions in the world, the Cuban Revolution remains an inspiration to many cadres who believe in the principle of an equal social and economic status of all people.

Like many other revolutions, the Cuban revolution has gone through many sacrifices.

The 1956 struggle against the regime of Batista saw many revolutionaries losing their lives while others ended up in prison, including the former president of Cuba, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz.

However, the resilience they showed provided determination for the liberation of the Cuban people.

It is such determination which propelled Comrade Castro to face the tyranny without regret.

Even after he was arrested for leading the struggle against the Batista regime, he never backed off but unapologetically presented the vision of their struggle and succinctly outlined the objectives of such struggle.

Presenting his testimony, which was later produced in the book titled History Will Absolve Me, Fidel Castro had this to say: “In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we’re talking about the 600 000 Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the 500 000 farm labourers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don’t have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the 400 000 industrial workers and labourers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the 100 000 small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot love it, improve it, beautify it nor plant a cedar or an orange tree on it because they never know when a sheriff will come with the rural guard to evict them from it …

“These are the people, the ones who know misfortune and, therefore, are capable of fighting with limitless courage!

“To these people whose desperate roads through life have been paved with the bricks of betrayal and false promises, we were not going to say: ‘We will give you …’ but rather: ‘Here it is, now fight for it with everything you have, so that liberty and happiness may be yours.’”

While knowing the brutality of the tyrant Batista regime Comrade Fidel never pleaded for the mercy of the judge but was rather prepared to suffer for the cause of the struggle hence he concluded his testimony by saying: “I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty.

“But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”

Such testimony was not the last to be seen in this world, it resonates with former president Nelson Mandela when he faced the apartheid judge in the famous Rivonia trial.

Mandela never apologised for ideas he stood for during the trial, not even during the 1985 efforts of the regime to release him only if he was to denounce the struggle.

The Cuban revolution is the fountain of resilience and determination.

Such determination has kept the Cubans together for many years facing the aggressive imperial onslaught of the American government right on their doorstep.

The arrest of the Cuban Five is one such vicious evil perpetrated by the Americans against the Cubans. Yet this was not the last, the illegitimate blockade imposed by America against Cuba is the last prolonged effort that seeks to break the Cuban Revolution.

While we appreciate the release of the Cuban Five, the fight against the blockade against Cuba must continue.

Equally the fight against imperialism that loots economies of many African states and other parts of the world must continue.

The Cuban Revolution is also the epitome of internationalism.

This spirit of internationalism is informed by the desire to ensure fair trade among and between different countries of the world without self-imposed domination.

This spirit is derived from an understanding that the revolution knows no boundaries but supports the struggle against injustice irrespective of where it prevails.

This is a spirit which propelled Che Guevara when he left his position of being a minister to pursue the revolution in Bolivia.

“I have always been identified with the foreign policy of our revolution, and I continue to be.

“Wherever I am, I will feel the responsibility of being a Cuban revolutionary, and I shall behave as such. I am not sorry that I leave nothing material to my wife and children; I am happy it is that way. I ask nothing for them, as the state will provide them with enough to live on and receive an education.”

Surely it is this spirit that propelled many Cuban soldiers to participate in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which saw in 1987/1988 the South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) of Nambia and Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (Fapla) confront the South African Defence Force (SADF) and the guerrillas of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) who supported the oppressive regime of Namibia.

Three of the Cuban Five directly participated.

It is this spirit of internationalism which continues to drive the political perspectives of Cuba in relation to other countries.

The support of the medical professionals based in South Africa is informed by such spirit.

While Cuba is not recognised among those of economic influence in the current world order it was one of the countries that sent the largest number of doctors to fight Ebola which has recent engulfed some of the northern parts of Africa.

Unlike globalisation which is underpinned by an imperial agenda, the spirit of internationalism is based on fair trade, solidarity and mutual developmental initiatives between countries to ensure we attain a world order enjoying humanity, peace and prosperity.

For the original report go to


Now that the U.S. and Cuba have confirmed the official opening of their respective embassies this month, interest in Cuba continues to mount, not just among U.S. filmmakers, but also amongproducers from Latin America and Europe.

“Ever since both countries announced the thaw in their relations, more film and TV producers from the U.S., Latin America and Europe have been making inquiries and visiting Havana to explore and, in some cases, begin developing their projects here,” said Lia Rodriguez, the Havana Film Festival’s industry department head. A Spanish-German miniseries, “Vientos de Cuaresma,” is currently shooting in Havana.

Some American filmmakers have managed to make their feature films in Cuba, despite current restrictions, by including documentary footage and reenactments to qualify. To date, only U.S. docs are allowed to shoot in Cuba.

The first such U.S. film to hit the bigscreen is Rhode Islander Ben Chace’s “Sin Alas” (“Without Wings”), which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June, preempting Bob Yari’s English-language Hemingway biopic “Papa,” which was shot roughly at the same time in Cuba, and is also seeking U.S. distribution.

Elias Axume of Premiere Entertainment Group started international sales of “Papa” in Cannes this year, where it sold to Latin America, the Middle East and China, among others. Both movies are seeking more film festival berths.

“To me the line between fiction and documentary is a bit arbitrary,” said Chace. “My film is a narrative attempt to make an honest document of Cuba.”

Shot in 16mm, “Sin Alas” tracks an aging Cuban scribe who seeks to reconcile the love and idealism of his youth with the reality of modern Havana. Based on his own Spanish-language screenplay, Chace helmed the romantic drama entirely in Cuba with a local cast and crew. Given his micro-budget, Chace used a more “guerrilla” approach to filmmaking, which took his Cuban crew by surprise.

“They didn’t get it initially,” Chace recalls. “They wanted to block traffic and light everything, do takes and repeat things until everything went according to script.”

“I joked that they were more Hollywood than me,” he said, but they told him their training harked back to Soviet-influenced early revolutionary filmmaking. “Most of the crew were experienced middle-aged people, and had come up through the ICAIC (Cuban Film Institute) whose shooting protocol went back that far, to the ’60s.”

In other respects, Chace went by the book, securing shooting permits and script approval from ICAIC.

The “De Nuestra America” (“Our America”) program on Cuban national television will be airing “Sin Alas” in September. Bill Strauss of BGP Film is handling domestic sales.

For the original report go to

Stuart Hall

A post by Peter Jordens.

Call for Papers

Conference: ‘Wrestling with the Angels: Exploring Stuart Hall’s Theoretical Legacy’

TU (Technische Universität) Dortmund, IBZ (Internationales Begegnungszentrum), Germany

February 25-27, 2016

Stuart Hall, who passed away in February 2014, was one of the founding figures of what is known today as ‘Cultural Studies’ and long-time director of the renowned Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham. Besides that, he was a central figure of the British New Left, founding editor of the journal New Left Review, and one of England’s most charismatic public intellectuals.

Crucially, for Hall, intellectual practice was a politics, and questions of culture were political questions. His was a thinking that was questioning, flexible and open-ended, regularly moving across disciplinary boundaries and synthesizing different theoretical outlooks. It was rigorously contextual, extremely attentive to complexity, dedicated to the concrete, activist, committed and practical, and driven by a curiosity that constantly led unto new (and frequently largely uncharted) theoretical terrain. The subjects covered by Hall’s work include topics as diverse as popular culture and mass media, representation and signifying practices, subcultures, questions of power, ideology and resistance, ‘race’ and ethnicity, globalisation, multiculturalism and diaspora, cultural and personal identity, Thatcherism, New Labour, and neoliberalism.

This conference takes Hall’s recent death as an occasion to explore the legacy of his highly influential and multi-faceted work. For this, it takes its cue from Hall himself, who once said that theoretical work meant ‘wrestling with the angels’ and that the only theory worth having was the one one had to fight and struggle with. This, precisely, is what this conference aims to do: to engage with, examine, use, question, criticise, develop and transform Hall’s many concepts and ideas. We thus invite contributions that:

  • reread his texts in innovative ways, pursue hitherto overlooked or neglected aspects and dimensions, open up entirely new lines of inquiry, etc.;
  • utilise Hall’s work for the analysis of contemporary cultural and political phenomena;
  • investigate the range, and, possibly, the limits, of his thought, particularly with regards to more recent developments such as the rise of new technologies, emerging or shifting forms of power, new discourses and movements, etc.;
  • read Hall’s work in relation to other thinkers and theories;
  • discuss the implications of his thinking – both in terms of its content and its distinct form or ‘mode’ – (as well as his teaching/pedagogy) for the future of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline and political project.

Abstracts of 300 words for 30-minute papers should be submitted by July 31, 2015 to:

Gerold Sedlmayr,

Florian Cord,

Marie Hologa,


Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 5, 2015

Dominican Plan to Expel Haitians Tests Close Ties


This article by Azam Ahmed and Sandra E. García appeared in The New York Times.

For decades, the people of Barrio Cementerio, a neighborhood divided evenly between Dominicans and Haitians, have shared a peaceful coexistence. Proximity smothered prejudice: Working side by side and raising families together helped keep tensions in check.

That is changing now. A government plan that could deport tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic has started to tear at the unity that once bound this place, forcing residents to pick a side.

A bitter landlord stopped renting to a Haitian tenant. The head of the local Red Cross says the deportations are long overdue, while a gang leader promises to hide his Haitian friends from the authorities. A Dominican husband fears losing his wife and their children, who have no papers. A police officer agonizes over the prospect of having to deport his best friend, who came to this country illegally from Haiti.

“I have no choice,” said John Tapia Thomas, the police officer, outside his friend’s makeshift Internet cafe. “It saddens me to think about being ordered to detain someone I really care about. It will be hard not to make exceptions, but I have to go about my job as professionally as I can.”

Like much of the country, Barrio Cementerio is split, creating a patchwork of sympathy, prejudice and resentment born of crowded schools, competition for jobs and a beleaguered health care system. Locals note that the Dominican Republic is a poor country that can ill afford the strain.

But the Dominican Republic, which is also trying to tighten its borders in a separate effort called Operation Shield, is hardly alone in dealing with migrants with policies that rights groups challenge. The surge in migration from conflict and economic hardship has rattled nations the world over, from Australia to the United States.

After threatening to breach European law by kicking out migrants,Hungary announced plans last month to build a 109-mile fence to keep out those hoping to enter the European Union from Serbia — unleashing protests from Serbia’s prime minister, who said it would turn his country into an Auschwitz.

Bulgaria announced plans in April to stretch its border fence with Turkey another 80 miles, as part of its “containment plan.” Australia stops migrants arriving by sea and sends them to Papua New Guinea.

Long before that, the United States was deporting hundreds of thousandsof people and building walls to keep out migrants. Now, the front line is moving south. Under pressure from American authorities, Mexico deported almost twice as many Central American migrants through April of this year than in the first four months of 2014.

“It’s a period of unprecedented human mobility, the greatest on record with one billion people on the move,” said William L. Swing, the director general of the International Organization for Migration, which helped the Dominican government register nearly 300,000 immigrants who were in the country illegally, out of an estimated 524,000.

“There is a resurgence of antimigrant sentiment driven by fear: fear of a loss of jobs, fear of the post 9/11 security syndrome, and then mostly the fear of a loss of identity,” he added.

The Dominican government’s threat to deport Haitians has been popular domestically, playing on the frustrations many Dominicans feel toward their poorer neighbors on the island of Hispaniola.

The politics are pretty straightforward. President Danilo Medina recently announced his campaign for re-election next year. Many praise his efforts to register migrants and expel those in the country illegally.

Sporadic deportations have happened, but so far, with the world watching, the Dominican government has not carried out the mass expulsions many Haitians fear.

Still, the threat of being seized has led more than 31,000 Haitians to leave on their own, according to government figures, opting to cart their belongings across the border rather than risk losing everything in a sudden deportation.

Others say that not all of these departures are voluntary.

“People returning are telling me that the police are working with street gangs to force out immigrants in the big cities,” said one Haitian border guard, clutching a clipboard with the names of Haitians who had crossed that day. “Strangers are going door to door late at night and threatening to burn people’s houses down.”

Near the city of Puerto Plata, Haitians said that unknown Dominican men had arrived at their doors in the middle of the night, yelling threats to return home.

The Organization of American States said last week that it would send a delegation to the Dominican Republic to examine the migration situation, including whether or not Haitian migrants have been forced out.

In the border town of Dajabón, trucks loaded with furniture and tattered mattresses trundled through crowds passing over the battered Friendship Bridge, which stretches across a river where in 1937 a Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, ordered the massacre of more than 10,000 Haitians.

Twice a week, thousands of Haitian merchants are allowed to cross over to buy and sell everything from used clothes to crockery. In one market stall, a throng of Haitian men collected mounds of used T-shirts, stuffing them into plastic bags for a Dominican shop owner, Juan Liriano, who says he is conflicted about the deportations.

He pays Haitian workers about $3.50 a day, and food. He must pay Dominicans nearly $11, not including transportation. But he says people must follow the immigration law.

“If I went to America without papers, I would be deported,” he said. “What’s the difference?”

Joseph Vilno, one of his Haitian workers, supports a wife and four children back home.

Mr. Vilno paid a smuggler $65 to ferry him over the border, a small fortune for him. Now he wonders if he will be deported, and if he can sneak back again.

“I have no choice,” Mr. Vilno said as Mr. Liano placed a hand on his shoulder, warm yet paternalistic. “There is nothing for me in Haiti.”

In the capital, Santo Domingo, the plan to register — or deport — Haitians has gone over well with many Dominicans, who often complain that illegal migration is a drag on the public system.

“I think they should deport them,” said Fiorela Olivero, 26, walking with her husband and two children. “Haitians are invading our country. There is a Haitian on every corner.”

Felis Rosario, 54, is Dominican, but with his dark skin, he says he is often mistaken for Haitian. The other day, he recalled, an immigration truck stopped him in the street and ordered him to get in.

“I told him, ‘I am more Dominican than you because you are from a hill and I’m from the capital,’ ” he said he yelled back at the officer.

In Barrio Cementerio, a neighborhood in the small town of Sabaneta, everyone knows everyone.

Some stand behind their Haitian friends, refusing to be baited by the political winds in Santo Domingo. Others say that, friendships aside, it is time for migrants here illegally to leave.

“If I’m living in this or any country as an immigrant, then I should get a job and work to make enough money to legalize myself,” said Francisco Peguero, the president of the local Red Cross, who counts Haitians here illegally among his friends.

Just down the street, Fibian, a young Dominican gang leader, refused to yield.

“If the police sends a patrol to my neighborhood looking for my friends, I am going to hide them in my house,” he said, standing inside his tin shack. “I don’t understand why you would even ask me that.”

Roberto, a Dominican who works at a souvenir shop in the nearby town of Cabarete, is married to Yoseline, a woman of Haitian descent.

She has no documentation, though not for lack of trying. She obtained an affidavit with seven witnesses testifying that she was born in the Dominican Republic. Two days before the government’s registration deadline last month, the family received a letter stating that the paperwork was insufficient.

“Imagine if your wife was born here but faces deportation to a country she knows nothing about,” said Roberto, who spoke on the condition that his family not be identified by last name. “She would be taken away, and our marriage and lives would be torn apart.”

Their children, ages 3 and 1, would be forced to go with her, he fears. They, too, have no documents.

Nearby, two Johns sat together in a lip of shade cast by the awning of the local Internet cafe. One, John Presime, is the Haitian owner of the cafe, who sneaked into the country a decade ago at 14. The other is John Tapia Thomas, the police officer.

For the last year, Mr. Tapia has tried to persuade his Haitian friends to register, passing them advice about which notary was cheapest, which registration centers had the shortest lines and which lawyers were honest.

But many could not complete the steps, because of bureaucratic or financial hurdles.

“A lot of the Haitians who have paid fees but keep having to pay more and submit more documents feel like they are being robbed,” the police officer said.

That, it seems, is what happened to Mr. Presime. Though he has a receipt, he has no formal documentation to prevent deportation. And Mr. Tapia is left with an impossible choice, between his job and his friend.

“Now, we are close to the end,” he said.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 4, 2015

Caribbean Conferences – July 2015 update


Our thanks, as always, to Peter Jordens for compiling this update on upcoming conferences for our readers. The abbreviated list is below. To download the full list, which covers the period ending in July 2016 and contains additional information about the conferences listed click here: Caribbean conferences 2015 July

Abbreviated list of scholarly conferences relevant to the Caribbean

Month of July 2015 only

July 1-3, 2015. Birmingham, England, UK

39th Annual SCS Conference


July 3-5, 2015. Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

11th Biennial AACS Conference: “Land & Water”


July 5-9, 2015. Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

International Breadfruit Conference: “Commercialising Breadfruit for Food and Nutrition Security”


July 6-10, 2015. True Blue, Grenada

12th ACSWE Conference: “Supporting Sustainable Social Change & Social Justice: Scholarship, Policy and Emancipatory Human Services”


July 6-10, 2015. La Habana, Cuba

10th Conference on the Environment and Development: “For an Equitable, Prosperous and Peaceful Future”


July 6-11, 2015. Mona, Jamaica

Centennial Conference of CIArb-Caribbean Branch: “Arbitration and Economic Development in the Caribbean: Capacity Building and Networking for Arbitration in Support of Economic Development”


July 8-10, 2015. San José, Costa Rica

CALACS 2015: “Critical Pan-Americanisms — Solidarities, Resistances, Territories”


July 9-11, 2015. St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

14th Annual ACHEA Conference: “Re-visioning, Re-assessing and Re-committing for Success in Higher Education”


July 12-17, 2015. San Salvador, El Salvador

55th International Congress of Americanists (ICA): “Conflict, Peace and Construction of Identities in the Americas”


July 13-16, 2015. Liverpool, England, UK

Conference: “Trans-Atlantic Dialogues on Cultural Heritage: Heritage, Tourism and Traditions”


July 15-17, 2015. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

16th International Congress of Hispanic Literatures (CILH)


July 19-25, 2015. Maho Reef, St. Maarten

26th Congress of Caribbean Archaeology

Website or

July 22-25, 2015. Ibarra and La Concepción, Ecuador

International Symposium on Black Women in Latin America and the Caribbean: “Listen to My Voice and Convey My Feelings”


July 29-31, 2015. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

13th LACCEI International Conference on Engineering and Technologies: “Engineering Education Facing the Grand Challenges ― What Are We Doing?


July 30 – August 1, 2015. Miami, Florida, USA

25th Annual Meeting of ASCE: “Cuba ― What’s next?”



Non-tourism travel to Cuba from the U.S. has been allowed since President Obama eased travel restrictions earlier this year, but until recently, only a handful of indirect flights were available from Florida and New York, reports. [Photo by Gordon Gebert]

JetBlue announced this week it has begun offering direct charter flights from New York City to Cuba — the first major American airline to do so.

The maiden voyage took off on Friday from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and touched down a few hours later on the runways of Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV). The travelers were mostly Cuban-Americans returning to visit relatives.

“This is something we’re going to talk about for years and years and years,” Carlos Infante, who was born in Cuba but now lives in Brooklyn, told The Hill. “This is an opportunity for Americans to go to Cuba.”

“I can’t explain, it’s something that’s in your heart,” he said of his first voyage home in 50 years. “I don’t have words to say — this is a beautiful day.”

Although JetBlue is providing the transportation, flight arrangements must be made with Cuba Travel Services. The intermediary group has been arranging travel from the U.S. to Cuba through a variety of smaller charter services. But so far, JetBlue has been the only major flyer to show interest in Cuba.

“JetBlue already has a proven track record of providing outstanding service to the Caribbean and has operated a series of successful charters to Cuba since 2011,” Scott Laurence, senior vice president of airline planning at JetBlue, said in a press release. “As interest in Cuban markets grows, JetBlue is positioning itself as a leading carrier to the island nation by operating more convenient flight options than ever.”

Earlier this week, President Obama announced the two countries would be building embassies in each other’s capitals.

For the original report go to

Posted by: ivetteromero | July 4, 2015

Despair and Anger as Puerto Ricans Cope with Debt Crisis


I am a little tired of reading news on Puerto Rico’s financial predicament and—yes—I would rather stick my head in the sand, but here is one more article on the island’s “chronicle of a debt foretold.” Terribly depressing, but . . . here are excerpts of “Despair and Anger as Puerto Ricans Cope with Debt Crisis.” (Happy “Independence” Day to you too. . . ) The New York Times reports:

It’s the lunch hour at Baker’s Bakery, a fixture in Río Piedras, one of Puerto Rico’s oldest neighborhoods, but the bustle at the counter is long gone. The front door opens and shuts only a few times an hour as customers, holding tighter than ever to their money, judiciously pick up some sugar-sprinkled pastries and a café con leche.

On the first day of the new sales tax, which jumped to 11.5 percent from 7 percent, the government’s latest rummage for more revenue, Puerto Rico’s malaise was unmistakable. “People don’t even answer you when you tell them, ‘Buenos dias,’ ” said Ibrahim Baker, 55, on Wednesday as he stood at the cash register of the bakery he has owned for 25 years. “Everyone is depressed.”

After nearly a decade of recession, Puerto Rico’s government says it cannot pay its $73 billion debt much longer. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla warns that more austerity is on the way, a necessity for an island now working feverishly to rescue itself. With so many bracing for another slide toward the bottom, the sense of despair grows more palpable by the day. [. . .]

Before long, Puerto Ricans will face more tax increases — the next one is in October. Next on the list of anticipated measures, these for government workers, are fewer vacations, overtime hours and paid sick days. Others in Puerto Rico may face cuts in health care benefits and even bus routes, all changes that economic advisers say should be made to jump-start the economy.

People ricochet from anger to resignation back to anger again. Along San Juan’s colonial-era streets, in homes and shops, Puerto Ricans blame the government for the economic debacle. Election after election, they say, political leaders took the easy way out, spending more than they had, borrowing to prop up the budget, pointing fingers at one another and failing to own up to reality.

[. . .] Taxes continue to go up. But so do other costs. Living on an island, many business owners must ship their goods in from a mainland port, already a costly proposition. But a 1920 law, the Jones Act, which requires Puerto Rico to receive its shipments from the United States on American-built ships with mainly American crews, makes the cost of transporting goods even more expensive. Recently, it got costlier, Mr. Baker said.

Now there is a chorus of calls for Congress to relax the law as it relates to Puerto Rico. And some powerful Democrats are rallying behind the idea of granting Puerto Rico, a commonwealth, the ability to file bankruptcy for some of its debt-laden agencies.

[. . .] Many others in Puerto Rico, including a stream of professionals and middle-class workers, have sought alternatives. They have moved to the mainland for jobs and better prospects. Over the past decade, Puerto Rico has lost more than 5 percent of its population, which now numbers 3.6 million, according to a New York Federal Reserve report. An additional 250,000 people are expected to leave by 2020, according to the Puerto Rico Planning Board.

This year, the government closed dozens of schools across the island. About 40 percent of the island’s municipalities now have more old people than children, which means fewer workers in the pipeline and a greater need for benefits like Medicare. [. . .]

For full article, see

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 4, 2015

Five Dutch policemen suspected in death of detained Aruba man


Five Dutch policemen have been suspended and are under investigation over the death by apparent asphyxiation of a Caribbean man after his arrest at a music festival, prosecutors said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. [Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

The death of Mitch Henriquez, 42, from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, sparked riots in The Hague on Monday after videos were posted on the Internet showing him being pinned to the ground by five white male policemen.

The circumstances were likened to incidents in the United States that sparked protests over excessive police use of force..

Police had initially said Henriquez, who prosecutors said was detained after shouting that he had a gun, became unwell on his way to jail. But videos showed him apparently already unconscious as he was loaded into a police van.

Prosecutor Kitty Nooy told a televised news conference in The Hague that autopsy results showed Henriquez had “very probably” died of asphyxiation.”And it is presumed that this oxygen deprivation is the result of police actions,” she said.

Nooy said the autopsy on Henriquez did not turn up any indication of drug use or excessive drinking. It also turned out that Henriquez had no gun, a prosecutor’s spokeswoman said.

The five officers involved in Henriquez’s arrest have been suspended pending results of an investigation.


The Hague’s police force has previously been criticized by Amnesty International and in a 2013 Dutch TV documentary for targeting foreigners and immigrants disproportionately and with greater use of force. Police have denied racial profiling.

Amnesty International said on Wednesday the investigation in Henriquez’s case was insufficient and called for a broader inquiry into discrimination within The Hague police force.

The Dutch government has promised Aruba a full and independent investigation in the Henriquez case.

For the original report go to

Police suspended in The Hague following Aruba man’s death

Police action probably killed Mitch Henriquez, Prosecutor says

Dutch Prosecutors: Police actions likely led to death of man in custody; death sparked riots

Video at

Posted by: lisaparavisini | July 4, 2015

Call for Papers The Meaning of Blackness II



El significado de la negritud / El significado de ser negro II
The Meaning of Blackness / Significance of Being Black II

Universidad de Costa Rica
San Pedro, Costa Rica
February 12-14, 2016

The second conference on “The Meaning of Blackness” will be held at the Universidad de Costa Rica on February 12-14, 2016. The conference follows on the first, successful, conference which was held in February 2014, whose proceedings are being published in Spanish and as an e-book by Universidad de Costa Rica Press and in English in the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora, Africa World Press.
For the 2014 Conference, see

The 2016 Congress is organized around the following themes:

A. Hispanic America and Perceptions of Blacks in the Nation
1. Costa Rica, Central America and the Caribbean: Perceptions of Blackness
2. Arts, Literature, Music, and Dance in Popular Imagination
3. Economic and Political Expressions of Blackness

B. Blackness in the Global Context
1. Skin Color in Establishing Social Distance
2. Scarification, Hair, Skin and Image
3. Definitions of Mulatto, Pardo, Ladino, Nigger, and Noir

C. Identity, Dignity and Citizenship
1. Biographical Accounts of Blackness
2. Church, State and the Legal Code on Blackness
3. Dissemination of Knowledge of Africanity
A related workshop for teachers and the Costa Rican judiciary will be held in association with the Conference. Simultaneous translation in English and Spanish will be provided.

Individuals interested in presenting papers on the themes of the conference should send their proposals and a brief c.v. to Leidy Alpízar at or . Proposals for papers will only be considered if they fit within one of the themes. Proposals must be accompanied by an abstract.

Please note that individuals are expected to cover the costs of travel and accommodation. There is a registration fee that will cover the costs of superb Costa Rican coffee for our breaks and the expenses of a live band and food for the evening reception at Chez Gidan Zaki in San Ramón de Tres Ríos on the final evening of the conference.

Details for accommodation near the University and locations of reasonably priced restaurants, also close to the University, will be provided later. A limited number of subsidies for graduate students will be provided.

Rina Cáceres, Cátedra de Estudios de África y el Caribe, Universidad de Costa Rica
Paul E. Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, York University

Sponsors: Contact:
Universidad de Costa Rica
The Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.


The Performance of Pan-Africanism: from Colonial Exhibitions to Black and African Cultural Festivals

International Conference20-22 October, 2016

Keynote speakers:

Andrew Apter (UCLA)

Cheryl Finley (Cornell University)

Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia University)


Martin Munro (Florida State University)

Tsitsi Jaji (University of Pennsylvania)

David Murphy (University of Stirling)

In April 1966, thousands of artists, musicians, performers and writers from across Africa and its diaspora gathered in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to take part in the First World Festival of Black and African Culture (Premier Festival Mondial des arts nègres). The festival constituted a highly symbolic moment both in the era of decolonization and the push for civil rights for African Americans in the United States. In essence, the festival sought to perform an emerging pan-African culture, to give concrete cultural expression to the ties that would bind the African ‘homeland’ to black people in the diaspora. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Dakar ’66, this conference seeks to examine the festival and its multiple legacies, in order to help us better to understand both the utopianism of the 1960s and the ‘festivalization’ of Africa that has occurred in recent decades. The conference is also interested in exploring the role of colonial exhibitions and world’s fairs in establishing a set of representational frameworks that would later be contested but also sometimes (unwittingly) adopted by black/African groups in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The Dakar festival was the first, and one of the most significant, attempts to perform and translate African culture in the era of decolonization, forging in the space of the festivalscape a rich, multifaceted, ephemeral, unstable but highly charged sense of a shared Pan-African culture. The conference is interested in exploring whether cultural Pan-Africanism as posited in postcolonial festivals acted as a complete rejection of the representations of blackness in colonial exhibitions or whether it  sometimes in fact continued such tropes, and if so, how?

The festival was organized in the middle of a period extending from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s during which a wide range of cultural, sporting and political organizations were created, and major events were held, all of which were informed by Pan-Africanist ideals. In terms of festivals alone, the 1966 Dakar event was followed by hugely ambitious Pan-African cultural festivals in Algiers (Algeria) in 1969 and in Lagos (Nigeria) in 1977. From an early twenty-first century perspective, the Pan-African ethos of the period appears strikingly utopian. Nonetheless, the Pan-African ideal has endured, in particular in the domain of culture. Indeed, it might be argued that it was the series of cultural festivals organized in the aftermath of decolonization that marked the most meaningful articulations of Pan-Africanism. As was argued above, these festivals witnessed the ‘performance’ of a Pan-African culture, and they facilitated concrete encounters between Africans and members of the diaspora that forged a new and profound sense of cultural affiliation. For instance, in his autobiography, Music is my Mistress (1973), the great US jazz musician Duke Ellington wrote of his performance in Dakar in 1966: ‘the cats in the bleachers really dig it. […] It is acceptance of the highest level and it gives us a once-in-a-lifetime feeling of having broken through to our brothers’.

If Pan-African cultural festivals of the 1960s and 1970s were marked by a profound utopianism, over the past five decades, we have witnessed a growing festivalization of culture across the world from which Africa has not been exempt. There are now literally thousands of festivals held across the continent each year and, in such a context, it is important to assess whether any of the idealism of the past has survived. In 2010, a Third World Festival of Black and African Arts and Culture (widely known as FESMAN) was held in Dakar. For Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, organizing FESMAN was a process of looking to the future but also of renewing with an idealistic, utopian Pan-Africanist past, which was primarily articulated through evocations of the 1966 Dakar festival, indicating that processes of recuperation, nostalgia and amnesia play a major role when we engage today with landmark but ephemeral cultural events from the past.

Potential topics for papers might include:

• The role of colonial exhibitions/world fairs in establishing parameters for the representation and performance of black/African culture.

• The role of earlier events—e.g. the 1956 (Paris) and 1959 (Rome) African Writers’ Congresses, the Makerere Writers’ conference in 1962, the First International Congress of African Art and Culture (ICAC) organized by Frank McEwen et al in Salisbury in 1962—in paving the way for the 1966 festival and those that followed.

• Case studies drawn from any of the 4 major pan-African festivals of the 1960s-70s: The First World Festival of Black and African Culture 1966; The Algiers Pan-African Cultural Festival 1969; The black music festival held in conjunction with the Rumble in the Jungle (Kinshasa, 1974); The Second World Festival of Black and African Culture (Lagos, 1977).

• The relationship between cultural festivals and the major Pan-African political gatherings of the twentieth century (e.g. the various Pan-African congresses, the creation of the Organisation for African Unity)

• Competing visions of Africa: e.g. the attacks on Negritude in Algiers; tensions between Nigerians and Senegalese before the Lagos festival regarding the inclusion of North Africa.

• (Pan-)African cultural festivals outside of Africa.

• How is the Caribbean history of cultural festivals like Carifesta related to and articulated with similar events in continental Africa?

• Does the Caribbean phenomenon of carnival function as an articulation of pan-Africanism?

• Recuperation, nostalgia, amnesia

• Does festivalization necessarily connote the commodification of culture?

• How do festivals articulate the relationship between “High” and “Popular” culture?

• Cultural pan-Africanism and Political Pan-Africanism

• The performance of identity

• Diasporic engagements with African culture in these festivals

• Print and other media representations of the festivals

Proposals for papers may be submitted here.

Proposals for panels may be submitted here.

Deadline for proposals: 1 February 2016.

For further information, please contact,,

Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

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