Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 5, 2015

Travel Q&A: Chef José Andrés on giving and getting back in Haiti


Spanish-born chef hopes his PBS special “Undiscovered” will make people want to visit Haiti, Shivani Vora reports for Minnesota’s Star Tribune
Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 5, 2015

Famine lurks as Haiti enforces ban on Dominican products


Haitian and Dominican merchants warned Sunday that the Haiti government ban by land on 23 Dominican products staring October 1 could lead to famine in Haitian villages and towns near the border, EFE reports.

They also warned that if Port-au-Prince doesn’t lift the ban unemployment and crime will jump in border communities along the two countries´ border.

Roul Joseph, of the Haiti merchants Northeast Emergency Committee told EFE that several border towns in Haiti, near the Dominican border, have begun to feel the shortages of several products

He said Haitian merchants, especially those from Cap Haitien, don’t want to visit the binational market held in Dajabon (Dominican NW) Mondays and Fridays because from Ouanaminthe to that city, Haiti´s second biggest, authorities in that country have set up at least four checkpoints and everyone has to pay taxes on the goods they buy in Dominican Republic, regardless of amount.

“This is pushing up prices in my country and people are beginning to notice,” the merchant warned.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 5, 2015

New Book: The Darling by Lorraine M. López


López’s latest novel takes Chekhov’s short story of the same name and reshapes its themes to reflect a more free-spirited protagonist who celebrates her intelligence, her Latina identity, and her sexuality. Caridad loves to read the classics so much that she turns to them for inspiration and guidance, but she’s also aware of their shortcomings, particularly with their representations of women. So she sets out to experience her own narrative in this edgy and humorous novel that will send new readers to explore her previous books. NBC News.

From the Vanderbilt University webpage:

Vanderbilt facuty member Lorraine López has published a new novel, The Darling, with University of Arizona Press in their Camino Del Sol series.

Raised in a household of women, Latina bibiophile Caridad rejects examples of womanhood offered by her long-suffering mother and her two sisters. Instead Caridad, a compulsive reader, educates herself about love and what it means to be a woman by reading classics written by men, and she supplements these lessons from books with lessons from life.

The narrative, set in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, reinscribes Anton Chekhov’s 1899 short story, “The Darling.” Like Chekhov’s protagonist, Caridad engages in various relationships in her search for love and fulfillment.  In a moment of clarity, Caridad compares herself to a trapeze artist who flies from one man to the next, to be caught and held until she is ready to leap again.

López, an associate professor of English and co-founder of the Latino and Latina Studies Program at Vanderbilt University, is the author of five books of fiction, including The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters and Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize in Fiction in 2010.

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 5, 2015

Comic-strip followers pressure Puerto Rico lawmakers for new law


On September 23, a character from a popular Puerto Rico comic-strip was run over by a driver who was texting.

Since then, followers have flooded local lawmakers with emails demanding a new law requiring all mobile service companies to invest 10% of their annual advertising budget on ads or efforts aimed at educating the public on the dangers of texting while driving, Caribbean News Now reports.

It seems to be working.

Lawmakers are feeling the heat as the popular character known as Pepito remains hospitalized and no one is sure when he’ll wake up. Some say it’s when the bill is passed.

It just so happened that on that particular day, Pepito was on his way to the mailbox to send a letter pleading legislators to pass this new law. Needless to say, the letter never made it to its destination. Subsequent strips show Pepito in a hospital bed and the letter still on the ground next to the mailbox. The creators published the contents of Pepito’s letter and asked its fans to forward the letter to lawmakers.

The results have been staggering. Hundreds of letters were sent and the local news media is covering the event as if it really happened to raise awareness to this problem.

The comic-strip, Pepito, centres on a rambunctious seven-year-old and is known for its social critique. The strip is written by its creators Harold Jessurun and Anibal Quinones, and is published daily in Primera Hora, a local newspaper in Puerto Rico, and has over 64,000 followers on Facebook.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 5, 2015

Music lessons from our Caribbean neighbours


This article by Shereen Ali appeared in Trinidad and Tobago’s Guardian.

One of the most moving aspects of Caribbean culture is its music. And this music is richly diverse, with Cuba and Haiti being especially vibrant in music genres and styles.

Santeria drumming, rumba, son, salsa, mambo, Afro-Cuban jazz and classical music rub shoulders with contemporary hip hop-salsa-rock fusions and many other eclectic contemporary mixes in Cuba; Haiti has its carnival rara music, compas dance music, voudoun music, rap, ragga, hip hop kewyol, and many more; you can find merengue and bachata in the Dominican Republic; dance to calypso, soca, rapso, tassa, pan and chutney music in Trinidad; and enjoy  kumina, ska, reggae, ragga, and dancehall in Jamaica. And that’s just grazing the surface. So amidst this musical feast, what music industry lessons can we learn from our Caribbean neighbours?

Taking tourism—and our        cultural products—seriously

Singer/songwriter and calypsonian David Rudder thinks music from other Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica and Cuba, have a greater impact outside the Caribbean than Trinidad’s music because “they’re hungrier, they have huge tourist markets, and we (Trinis) tend to ofttimes stay out of the limelight. There is no ‘Brand T&T’.”

Electronic DJ mixer Chris Leacock, speaking from a party/dance music perspective, thinks we can learn a lot from collaborations with other artists and styles, and admits that some kinds of TT soca dance music may remain incomprehensible to some foreign audiences who don’t understand the TT party scene. He says:

“For a long time, Trinidadian music required context—it would be difficult to comprehend 160bpm ‘wave yuh rag’ songs without coming to Carnival and seeing 10,000 people lose their minds at a fete. But the music we’re making (in the DJ band Major Lazer) is more akin to the pop music on the radio—130bpms, with more universal lyrical content.” So he hints at the need to consider foreign audiences if you want to sell them music, and adapt to suit.

“Jamaica has always been a hotbed of cultural activity,” says Leacock, “but since the success of Differentology and collaborations between local soca stars (like Machel Montano & Bunji Garlin) and international producers, more and more folks are becoming interested in the sound of T&T.”

“I think it’s important for TT artists to make themselves accessible, and not to pigeonhole themselves into a ‘soca’ mindset,” says Leacock.

Caribbean music hotspots: Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica

Meanwhile, music writer Simon Lee addresses cultural strengths within the Caribbean region from which we here in T&T can learn a lot. He observes that the Cuban music scene is strong because they have actively researched and nurtured their own distinctive music forms:

“The Cubans created wonderful music out of necessity—the embargo and isolation forced them to look inward. And the Cuban state initiated a whole research effort into folkloric regional forms of music.”

He refers to the roots music of Haiti, Jamaican ska and reggae, and the Garifuna music of Belize as different examples of cultures valuing their own traditions to create truly unique sounds that crossed over, at different levels, into mass music markets.

“Look at Haiti in the 1980s. The popular music under Duvalier, compas (konpa), was stigmatised. Young people looked to the voudoun roots of their own tradition—either sacred music, which became zouk, or secular music, like the rara band. These were roots music or ‘misik rasin’. They went to ceremonies, learned the voudoun rhythm, even sang traditional voudin songs, played the sacred drum with electronic amplified instruments—an example is Boukman Eksperyans.

“Jamaica has had the most success with reggae, which became linked with nationalism and emerged with Jamaican independence … Early musicians like Ska trombonist and composer Don Drummond of the Skatalites were all people who were highly competent jazz musicians, session musicians who put down the first ska tracks. But too many of today’s TT musicians feel if they can put down two chords and a synthesised drum beat, they’re good!”

Zeroing in on the importance of music artistry and competence, Lee cites Jesús Valdés Rodríguez, better known as Chucho Valdés, the internationally acclaimed Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger whose career spans over 50 years. An original member of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna, in 1973 Valdés founded the group Irakere, one of Cuba’s best-known Latin jazz bands. He has won five Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards. Says Lee:

“Chucho Valdés founded the first Afro-Cuban Latin group; he can play classical music, North American jazz, his own Santeria music, even creolized versions of Chopin! Music training in Cuba is very, very rigorous. I have never met a bad Cuban musician yet!”

He next turns to the skill of Haitian musicians:

“In Haiti, every song can have a different rhythm. There are several thousand rhythms, so to call yourself a master drummer in Haiti means you can play them all. If you can’t play the rhythms but pretend to … it is a form of supreme disrespect to show poor musicianship when you are playing sacred music and trying to invoke a loa…That form of music is involved in a mutual relationship where the player is soliciting help, in a cyclical tradition of honour and respect to the gods.

“This applies to music—because essentially music is sacred. Whether it is religious or dancehall, what is music? It is a celebration and exploration of life. Many have lost that concept of music. Andre Tanker was rooted in that.

Need to ‘listen to ourselves’

“Here, we don’t listen to ourselves, to the region’s music. So what too many people play is very restricted and too easily influenced by global pressures,” believes Lee.

“Of course you can compete in the global music market, but you also have to be real, see the music from its own place…You have to work from where you are, and who you are, before you can take on the world,” believes Lee.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 4, 2015

Cubans vindicated by US policy change, says Gerry Adams

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Sinn Féin leader praises Castro and Obama during visit and calls for end to US embargo, The Irish Times reports.

The people of Cuba have been vindicated by the recent change in US policy towards the island, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said on a visit to Havana.

Mr Adams met Cuban vice-president Salvador Antonio Valdés Mesa, other ministers and National Assembly leaders during his four-day visit. He also spoke at a memorial to the 1981 republican hunger strikes, which he described as “an epic story of unselfishness, courage and generosity versus self-interest, intransigence and imperialism”.

He said the same spirit was visible in Cuba, and claimed its people had been “vindicated” by the recent rapprochement with the US, which recently re-opened its embassy in Havana. “While that [change] will present many challenges, such challenges are part of revolutionary struggle,” he said.

The Sinn Féin leader praised Cuban president Raul Castro and his US counterpartBarack Obama for their work in improving relations between the two countries. He also commended Pope Francis for his work in encouraging the two sides to talk.

Beacon of hope

“These developments are creating a new positive dynamic in the relationships of these neighbours and a beacon of hope and reconciliation in difficult times,” he said.

Mr Adams called for an end to the US embargo of Cuba, which has been in place for five decades and came at “enormous” economic, cultural and human cost to the people of Cuba.

“The interests of Latin America and especially of Cuba and the USA are best served by an end to the embargo and the creation of a new relationship based on mutual respect and equality,” he said.

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 4, 2015

The face (and hairstyle) that’s turning heads on the Paris catwalk

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Lineisy Montero is not the only black face on the catwalk but it is her hairstyle which sets her apart in contrast to the longer tresses of other models, London’s Guardian reports.

Paris fashion week is in full swing, with one face emerging to define the spring/summer of 2016. Lineisy Montero, the 19-year-old model from the Dominican Republic, has walked in all the most significant shows this season, from Balmain to Balenciaga. She is being hailed as an example that the catwalk, which is traditionally dominated by thin, blonde white models, is finally embracing diversity.

Montero has featured in more than 50 shows since mid-September, and is instantly recognisable for her short afro. While she can be seen as part of a wider rise of black faces on the catwalk – ranging from Binx Walton and Joan Smalls to Malaika Firth and Jourdan Dunn – it is this hairstyle, in contrast to the longer tresses of these other models, that sets her apart. In March, Montero’s debut on the Prada catwalk – her first runway show – saw a social media storm, and brought the afro, so associated with 1970s Black Panthers and civil rights activists such as Angela Davis, back into the fashion conversation. There are now several other models with afros, including Karly Loyce. Montero, however, remains the poster girl for natural afro hair in fashion, with her popularity this Paris fashion week a case in point.

In August, she covered Teen Vogue with the quote “I just like being me.” It is this sense of authenticity that has caught fashion’s attention. “Black hair is considered to be quite hard to work with if not relaxed,” says Marie Claire’s senior style editor Des Lewis. “Last season, we saw hairstylists embracing the beauty of natural afro hair and not changing their hairstyle to suit the show hair. Instead, they’re now ‘keeping it real.’”

Elle UK’s acting content director Kenya Hunt believes this shows fashion representing wider society more. “We’re just living in a time where we’re finally starting to see media reflect its audience in a meaningful, non-tokenistic way,” she says. “I was in New York last week and walked past a news stand that had black women on the covers of seven different magazines. I’ve never seen that before.” Katy Moseley, a spokeswoman for Montero’s agency Next, believes the model represents this change. “Her universal appeal is refreshing,” she says, “bringing diversity into the mainstay of the show season and campaigns of the future.”

This increase in diversity goes beyond skin tone. Fashion this season has moved on from the so-called “cookie cutter” model, where each girl out on the catwalk looks like the one before, to embracing individuality. This can be seen in the success this season of shaven-headed models Ruth Bell and Kris Gottschalk and pint-sized actress Zoë Kravitz walking in the Balenciaga show alongside models, and Beth Ditto walking for Marc Jacobs in New York. Lewis credits social media, an anything goes platform, for playing a part in this. Hunt hopes it is an actual shift, rather than a fad. “It’s not just about promoting diversity of race or skin tone, but really showing the full breadth of womanhood – we’re seeing this with models ranging in not just race, but size and age,” she says. “Fashion loves a rotating trend but I’m hopeful that this change we’re seeing is more than that.”

We may still be some distance from a situation where diversity is a given rather than an exception on the catwalks. Major shows like Christian Dior still only featured one black girl, and Montero’s afro has been covered up at shows including Balmain, where her hair was styled in the ponytail that all of the models wore. “Each season there will be one or two non-white girls that break through but there is still a long way to go before it is a level playing field,” says Lewis. “I look forward to the day when a model’s skin colour is invisible because it becomes the norm.”

For the original report go to

Posted by: lisaparavisini | October 4, 2015

Shameful statelessness in the Dominican Republic

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An editorial from the New York Daily News.

A country declares that members of a minority group that has lived in the state for generations are no longer citizens.

That country is the Dominican Republic — a U.S. friend and the ancestral home of 750,000 New Yorkers. The minority are people of Haitian descent who have seen their rights as Dominicans dissolve into thin air.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a Caribbean island. The DR’s population of 10 million includes an estimated 210,000 children and grandchildren of Haitian immigrants.

They began a journey toward statelessness when Dominicans amended their constitution to decree that children born in the country to a foreigner would no longer be automatically granted citizenship. The move essentially mirrors Donald Trump’s call for ending birthright citizenship in the United States.

Two years ago, the top Dominican Republic court ruled that the exclusion applies not only to present and future infants, but to every Dominican born to someone who had been born in another country, back to 1929.

Ever since, Dominicans of Haitian descent have existed in a nightmare limbo, unable to provide the papers necessary to get a passport, go to school or even obtain a cellphone.

Some have been escorted across the border to Haiti — a place they may never have been, with a language many of them don’t speak.

President Danilo Medina has kept the U.S. at bay with a recent law intended to give a pathway to citizenship to some born on his soil to foreign parents after they register with the government .

Um, when? Medina’s government, say human rights observers, has shown no rush to recognize the dispossessed or their documents. That should be a red alert for a certain very large and powerful neighbor whose tourism and factories power the Dominican economy.

The U.S. must press for allowing anyone born in the Dominican Republic to stay, with the full encouragement of New York’s congressional delegation — including the so-far silent Charlie Rangel, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Some New York elected officials who have stood up for the Dominican government — hello, Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez — should join the pursuit of a humane solution.

Mayor de Blasio showed courage in pressing the citizenship issue but reached too far in decrying “a racist act by the Dominican government . . . happening because these people are black.”

Much of the Dominican Republic is black. It’s happening because that nation’s leaders are dangerously indulging a popular view that holds Haitians, a small minority, responsible for crime and unemployment.

Demagoguery has taken hold in a not-so-distant land, at great human toll. Voices should be raised against it.

For the original report go to


On the sidelines of the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations, representatives of the Haitian government and other international partners last week signed an agreement to support reforestation efforts in the impoverished Caribbean country, which has only about 2% of forest cover, as Caribbean News Now reports.

The Haitian defence and foreign affairs minister, Lener Renauld; the Haitian minister of environment, Dominique Pierre; French minister of ecology, Segolene Royal; and international actors such as Fernando Sulichin, Sean Parker, Phillip Caputo and Sean Penn proceeded to the signing of a protocol for the execution of an important project for reforestation in Haiti.

The signing of this agreement took place on Monday, September 28, 2015, at the French Mission to the United Nations in New York, in the presence of French President Francois Hollande and the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.

The initiative entitled “Haiti Takes Root” marks a major turning point in the fight against deforestation in Haiti and forms part of the 21st Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention of the United Nations Climate Change 2015 (COP21 / CMP11), also called “Paris 2015”.

The conference which takes place from November 30 to December 11, 2015, should lead to a new international climate agreement.

For the original report go to

Posted by: ivetteromero | October 4, 2015

Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination


On October 1, 2015, the New York Public Library opened its latest exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination” (October 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015). Curated by artist John Jennings and Reynaldo Anderson, the Afro-Futuristic collection showcases a variety of artworks by 87 emerging, mid-career, and acclaimed artists. The collection of visual materials on view serves as a creative, experimental and educational impetus to analyze the growing corpus of work surrounding the nexus between S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and contemporary artistic production.” Some of the artists included are of Caribbean origin, such as Jamaican-born artist Paul Lewin [see his work “The Offering” above].

Description: Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination is sure to satisfy the sci-fi/fantasy nerd in all of us. Curated by artist John Jennings and Reynaldo Anderson, this exhibition includes artifacts from the Schomburg collections that are connected to Afrofuturism, black speculative imagination and Diasporan cultural production. Offering a fresh perspective on the power of speculative imagination and the struggle for various freedoms of expression in popular culture, Unveiling Visions showcases illustrations and other graphics that highlight those popularly found in science fiction, magical realism and fantasy. Items on display include film posters, comics, t-shirts, magazines, CD covers, playbills, religious literature, and more.

Participating artists: Jiba Molei Anderson, Julie Anderson, K.F. Anderson, Shawn Alleyne, Dawud Anyabwile, Lalo Alcaraz, Gil Ashby, Alex Batchelor, Eric Battle*, Geneva “GD Bee” Benton, Rivenis Black, Manzel Bowman, Stanford Carpenter, Matthew Clarke, Chuck Collins, Denys Cowan, Dave Crosland, Jennifer Cruté, Sharon L. DeLa Cruz, Andrew Dalhouse, Andre Leroy Davis, Damon Davis, Mike and Mark Davis, Paul Deo, Duane Deterville, Julie Dillon, Pierre Droal, Damian Duffy, James Eugene, Tim Fielder, Krista Franklin, Craig Fusco, Nettrice Gaskins, Charlie Goubile, Kari Gunther, Shomari Harrington, N. Steven Harris, Micheline Hess, Alex Huchiwood, Ariel Jackson, John Jennings, Art Jones, Vigilism X Ikire Jones, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Black Kirby, Mshindo Kuumba I, Paul Lewin, James Lewis, Shawn Martinbrough, James Mason, Sheeba Maya, Brian McGee, Miranda Meeks, Richard Meril, Goni Montes, Edison Moody, Jon Moody, Bryan Christopher Moss, Maurice Mosqua, Tim Okamura, Eric Orr, Brandon Palas, John Jude Palencar, Ken Patterson, Ben Passmore, Cedric Peyravernay, Tony Puryear, Jason Reeves, Afua Richardson, Tristan Roach, Stacey Robinson, Adam Roush, Vincent Sammy, Mathieu Saunier, Craig “C Flux” Singleton, Kevin Sipp, Maya Smith, Tansie Stephens, Marque Strickland, Ron Wimberly Toujour, Obi Ud, Quentin Vercetty, Dave White, Eric Wilkerson, and Loic Zimmermann .

For more information, see

Also see review by Candice Frederick at

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