Posted by: lisaparavisini | August 26, 2014

Itunes, UN Team Up to Showcase Music From Small Island Nations

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Ahead of a major United Nations conference in Samoa on small island developing countries, iTunes has teamed up with the UN to create a dedicated page on the popular site – launched today – featuring music from artists born and raised in some of the world’s smallest islands.

The “Island Voices” initiative ( showcases the eclectic range of works of 57 musicians from the world’s small island nations and features their songs, which can be easily accessed and purchased from the online iTunes Store.

Drawing attention to the Third United Nations Conference on the Small Island Developing States, scheduled to take place from 1 to 5 September in the Samoan capital, Apia, the iTunes partnership also coincides with the 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States, which has been designated by the UN to celebrate the remarkable diversity, culture and heritage of small islands throughout the world.

The dedicated page on iTunes aims to promote the diversity of music from the islands and its contribution to international music, and will feature the best works from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, celebrate many of gifted singers and songwriters and promote music across multiple genres, from reggae to calypso, and from hip-hop to jazz and dance.

Among the well-known icons included on the iTunes page are Bob Marley (Jamaica), Rihanna (Barbados), Cèsaria Evoria (Cape Verde) and Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuba).

‘Island Voices’ will also spotlight lesser known musicians, such as Vanessa Quai from the Republic of Vanuatu, Dilli Allstars from Timor-Leste, Rosalia from Fiji and Imany Mladja, from Comoros.
In a video-message on the iTunes page, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes that artists from the small island developing States are among the “giants in musical history.”

“Every day, island voices are heard all across the planet through music. They represent the spirit and aspiration of the people” said Mr. Ban. “Music helps connect these beautiful islands to the wilder world, influencing global popular culture” he added.

The partnership was initiated by the UN Office for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), which worked with Permanent Missions of small island States and iTunes’ specialist music curators to create a list of songs and artists that reflect the variety and the quality of these 57 islands and their culture.

“One of the chief challenges that all islands face is remoteness, and as such, connectivity to the wider world is a key challenge. iTunes is arguably the largest megaphone in the world, and what better opportunity to showcase the extraordinary and vibrant musical heritage from the small islands” said Ricardo Dunn, Advocacy and Outreach Officer for UN-OHRLLS.

Two days before the official conference on the Small Island Developing States next week, UN-OHRLLS has organized a Private Sector Partnership Forum in Samoa, and hopes that this will be the first of many innovative initiatives to be announced that will benefit small island nations.

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The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who has been accused of paying underage boys there to engage in sexual acts, has lost his diplomatic immunity and could ultimately face prosecution in criminal courts outside of the Vatican, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church announced on Monday, as Laurie Goodstein reports in this article for The New York Times.

The former ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, has already been defrocked by the Vatican, the harshest penalty under the church’s canon law short of excommunication. Beyond that, the Vatican has also said that it intends to try Mr. Wesolowski on criminal charges — the first time it will hold a criminal trial for sexual abuse.

But the Vatican has also caused an uproar in the Dominican Republic because it abruptly recalled Mr. Wesolowski last year before he could face a criminal inquiry and possible prosecution there. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome, and then invoked diplomatic immunity.

The Vatican has said in the past that because Mr. Wesolowski was a member of its diplomatic corps and a citizen of the Holy See, the case would be handled in Rome.

The announcement on Monday came a day after a New York Times article detailed the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski and the Vatican’s handling of the case. In the Vatican’s statement on Monday, the church said that it took the proper steps to make sure that the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski were dealt with seriously.

“The authorities of the Holy See, from the very first moments that this case was made known to them, moved without delay and correctly in light of the fact that former nuncio Wesolowski held the position of a diplomatic representative of the Holy See,” said the statement, by the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

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It added: “Far from any intention of a cover-up, this action demonstrates the full and direct undertaking of the Holy See’s responsibility even in such a serious and delicate case, about which Pope Francis is duly and carefully informed and one which the pope wishes to address justly and rigorously.”

Mr. Wesolowski has appealed the Vatican’s decision to remove him from the priesthood, a process that will be decided over the coming weeks, most likely in October, the Vatican said. The criminal proceedings in the Vatican will take place after that, the statement said.

Yet the Vatican also said that Mr. Wesolowski could be subject to prosecution in another country though it was unclear if he would ultimately be sent to that country.

Many Dominicans were outraged by the Vatican’s decision to secretly recall Mr. Wesolowski before the authorities there had even learned of the allegations against him. The case has also reverberated in Poland, where prosecutors have sought to extradite Mr. Wesolowski, who holds both Vatican and Polish citizenship.

For the original report go to


Larry Gonzalez’s Tropical Noir is a work-in-progress; it is a photographic exploration of nocturnal urban and suburban spaces in Puerto Rico “where social elements are dramatically staged.” Among the end results of the project are an exhibition and several limited edition books. See more information in the link below.

Description: Tropical Noir is a photographic exploration of nocturnal urban and suburban spaces in Puerto Rico. The project integrates traditional analog photographic methodology with contemporary digital techniques. The specific focus of the work will be to build a visual experience that reveals an underworld where social and geographical elements coexist in dramatic scenes. The project is divided into three stages: The first, and most important, focuses in Puerto Rico. The second and third stages will incorporate The Dominican Republic and Cuba respectively in the coming years.

[. . .] The central thematic focus of the work will concentrate on revealing sociological aspects of Puerto Rican society. The decline and transformation of urban and suburban spaces and its subliminal anxiety are urgent concepts perfectly fitted to the interpretation and scrutiny of the photographic medium. The popular photographic representation of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean is generally composed of easily recognizable elements. Our collective relationship with this these images is one of immediate familiarity. It is a visual language where bright daylight, primary colors and sandy beaches predominate and is commonly accepted as the ultimate tropical reality. With Tropical Noir, I aim to reveal and re-interpret this very familiar geography by utilizing the night and the properties of artificial lighting as dramatic elements.

More than a dramatization of a collective space, is an exploration of Puerto Ricans and their symbiotic relationship with their environment. The night of the “island-universe” provides us with heightened perception of reality. [. . .]

[Many thanks to Néstor Otero for bringing this item to our attention.]

To read full description and to contribute to the project, see

For more images and artist’s information, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 26, 2014

John Collins, Caribbean Journalist, Has Died

Collins_081814Doreen Hemlock (South Florida Sun Sentinel) recently wrote a thoughtful editorial about the life and work of John Collins, a dedicated Caribbean journalist. In her article, published in Caribbean Business (21 August 2014), Hemlock describes him as “a journalist and consultant whose love and knowledge of the Caribbean made him a sought-after reference for the region for decades.” He died on August 11 in Puerto Rico. Here are excerpts:

Born in St. Louis, Collins adopted the Caribbean as his home and lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), the Dominican Republic (D.R.), St. Maarten and mostly in Puerto Rico. He visited almost every island and nation in the Caribbean and contributed to publications across the region.

His work as a journalist won him four Overseas Press Club awards. As an adviser on Caribbean affairs, he served three gubernatorial administrations in Puerto Rico from 1985 to 1993. “Puerto Rico will never realize how much we owe to John Collins,” said Antonio Colorado, a former Resident Commissioner and former P.R. secretary of State. “Our relations with the Caribbean and everything we were able to accomplish in the 1980s and early 1990s was due in a very important part to what John did.”

Collins advised the D.R. Presidents Joaquín Balaguer and Leonel Fernández. He also contributed for years as a fellow to the Global Foundation for Democracy & Development, founded by Fernández.

[. . .] Collins began his career as a journalist in the Caribbean as a correspondent for United Press International from 1978 to 1983. He then worked with Caribbean Business in Puerto Rico, first on staff for five years and later as a contributor.

[. . .] Colleagues remember the blue-eyed, high-energy Collins for his insatiable appetite to understand the Caribbean.  He was open-hearted in sharing his knowledge and contacts, and often gave friends books.  “John knew everybody and was always available to help you—a kind and generous man,” said writer Mark Kurlansky, author of “A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny.”

[. . .] Collins was outspoken with colleagues on his views, and over the years, came to lament what he called the “marginalization of the Caribbean in the era of globalization.”

“John had a discriminating mind and called the shots as he saw them,” said Caribbean scholar Anthony Maingot, professor emeritus at Florida International University.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1952 to 1956, deployed in Illinois, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Washington, D.C., Germany, Morocco and Libya. [. . .]

For full article, see

Also see

See readers’ comments at


Historia mínima de las Antillas hispanas y británicas (El Colegio de México) is a new book published by Dr. Consuelo Naranjo Orovio. It is a comparative study of the Hispanic and British Caribbean.

Consuelo Naranjo Orovio is principal investigator in the Research Group for Comparative Studies of the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, and professor at the History Institute at the CCHS/CSIC in Madrid, Spain.


For more information, see


Jason Mena’s “Paisajes ideológicos” [Ideological Landscapes] will open at the Museum of Modern Art of the Dominican Republic on September 2, 2014, at 7:30pm. This exhibition is sponsored by the Dominican Republic’s Fundación Imagen 83, Centro de la Imagen, the Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Embassy of Mexico. The show is part of Photoimagen 2014, a photography festival that runs every two years in September, photography month in the Dominican Republic.

Other participating artists include: Graciela Iturbide (Mexico), Marcos López (Argentina), Alex Castro (Cuba), Colectivo MR: Marina García Burgos y Ricardo Ramón Jarne (Spain), Quintapata: Jorge Pineda, Raquel Paiewonsky, Belkis Ramirez and Pascal Meccariello (Dominican Republic), and Alejandro Cartagena (Dominican Republic), among others.

Description of “Paisajes ideológicos”: A space usually reserved for advertisers is transformed into an active platform for the promotion of ideas. We are constantly being bombarded with messages trying to persuade us to consume a certain product or brand. Billboards hovering over crowded highways are a perfect example of this effort in mass consumption. In this series of photographs, advertisement spaces are replaced with carefully chosen texts that urge the viewer to think for themselves. These images, although technically and conceptually concrete, are to be considered proposals for an actual urban intervention.

See more images at

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 25, 2014

47th Leeds West Indian Carnival


The 47th Leeds West Indian Carnival took place today (August 25) in Leeds, England, with a Carnival parade that traveled from Potternewton Park, through Harehills Avenue, Harehills Lane, Roundhay Road, Barrack Road and Chapeltown Road before returning to the park for a costume judging in the early evening. Oliver Wright and Abigail Jaiyeola  (BBC) write that the “Leeds Carnival provides Caribbean cure for homesick West Indians.” They also say that discussions continues as to whether Leeds or London’s Notting Hill is home to the oldest Caribbean carnival. Here are excerpts:

The streets of Leeds [were] awash with the sights, sounds and scents of the West Indies on Monday, but how did carnival spirit make the journey from the sun-drenched islands of the Caribbean to the cooler climes of Chapeltown?

When Arthur France [see above] arrived in West Yorkshire in 1957 he quickly found himself longing for his home in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis. But, as the homesickness set in he resolved to cure his melancholia by bringing the carnival spirit of his birthplace to the grey streets of Leeds. “When we came here, we came from different parts of the Caribbean and, apart from the cold, we had nothing to hold on to,” Mr France said. “We needed something that would bring us together.”

In 1964 he gathered 27 friends together in his cramped bedsit and outlined his grand plan. “Most of the people thought I was crazy,” he said, “They said ‘A carnival in England? You’re mad’.” But, in 1967 that plan became a reality and the first Leeds West Indian Carnival took place.

Now, 47 years later, the event which is held annually on the streets of Chapeltown and Harehills attracts up to 150,000 and is estimated to bring in as much as £10m to the local economy.

Mr France, who remains at the helm of the organising committee, said ahead of the inaugural parade he bought and plucked a dozen chickens to help make costumes. He said: “You need feathers to make an Indian costume but they didn’t sell feathers in the shops in England. As you know West Indians like chicken and rice for Sunday dinner. So, we found people in the community who were buying chicken. We went to Otley and bought 12 chickens, then we plucked them and passed them on to people who buy chicken for Sunday dinner.” [. . .]

In the years that followed the carnival went from strength to strength. But some would say 1967 marked the pinnacle of its success. Rex Watley, who played in a steel band at the first carnival said: “I still think the first carnival was the very best one. We had a troupe of Indians and we had a big troupe called the Fallen Angels. I remember that really well.” [. . .]

For full article, see

Posted by: ivetteromero | August 25, 2014

Art Exhibition: Julia Santos Solomon’s “Golden”


Julia Santos Solomon’s solo exhibition—“Golden”—will be on view from September 7 to 28, 2014, at Julio Valdez Project Space in New York City. The opening reception will be on Sunday, September 7, 3:00-6:00pm. The exhibition features Solomon’s latest gold leaf series.

The Julio Valdez Studio is located at 176 East 106th Street, 4th floor, New York.

For more information, see

Also see artist’s statement at


The sensible Dominican Republic government has banned Miley Cyrus concerts from its country based on “morality grounds,” People magazine reports.

Cyrus, who made “twerk” a household verb after her 2013 VMA performance when she grinded up against Robin Thicke and grabbed herself with a foam finger as he sang “Blurred Lines,” had a September concert scheduled in the country, Kaitlan Collins reports for The commission that oversees public performances released a statement Thursday saying Cyrus “undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law.”

We can’t exactly blame them.

On her “Bangerz” tour, Cyrus has ridden an inflatable hot dog, had dollar bill confetti fall from the ceiling, and grinded against an Abe Clinton lookalike.

For the original report go to


Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez complained that his Abdala recording studio, which he founded in Havana in 1998, is “dying” as a result of all the bureaucratic red tape and useless government officials, while directly blaming the island’s Culture Ministry, Hispanically Speaking News reports.

“Abdala, which was a project approved and supervised by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro, is being destroyed by the complacency of the many government officials aware of the situation but who do nothing,” Rodriguez wrote in the latest entry on his personal blog, Segunda Cita.

The founder of Cuba’s “Nueva Trova” musical movement said that some of those culture officials “never forgave the existence of Abdala,” a project carried out with financing by the Cuban government and by Rodriguez himself, and which became the leading studio on the island from the time it was inaugurated 16 years ago.

“Instead of seeing the studio as a cultural gem, they felt it was showing up their incompetence. People who think like that aren’t musicians, and if someone was a musician, he would quit thinking like that,” he said.

The studio – managed in recent years by the state-run Cimex corporation – is currently without electricity for not paying the bill, but it can’t pay its bills “because for the past eight months it’s been in the process of being transferred to the Culture Ministry, a process that never gets done for some unknown reason,” Rodriguez said.

“Several days ago a deputy culture minister said that he can’t pay Abdala’s electricity debt because companies must pay off their own debts,” he said.

The musician said the studio had to suspend its work despite having signed contracts “that could bring our country quite a few thousands.”

“Abdala won’t be able to start that work because of this situation. Nor can it pay its debts and, naturally, it will continue deteriorating as a company,” he said.

“It looks like ‘a plan of the enemy’ but it’s not the CIA,” he said.

Rodriguez noted that the Abdala matter “has gone through the hands of three Culture Ministries” and believes “there’s no willingness to do anything.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time knocking on doors that don’t open and talking to ears that don’t listen. Don’t think I don’t feel ashamed to confess this in public. But it will make me even more ashamed when I see the studio in ruins,” he said.

For the original report go to

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