Varias estaciones de servicio que expenden solo gasolina especial amanecieron cerradas en La Habana este sábado, día en el que entra en vigor una medida —aún no anunciada oficialmente— que limita la venta de combustible premium, reporta EFE
Algunas de las gasolineras que solo venden combustible de alto octanaje, el más difícil de encontrar, exhibían desde hace unos días los conos y cintas amarillas que indican que están fuera de servicio.Continue reading
14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 31 March 2017 — The Foundation for Human
Rights in Cuba (FDHC) launched its new program Artists For Rights in
Miami on Friday and sent a strong message to the Cuban government's
"repressors": You are being watched and your actions will not go unnoticed.
The artistic project seeks to sensitize artists and the Cuban people in
general about the difficult situation of human rights in the island.
More than 30 artists have contributed to the project's first activity,
among them artists who are in Cuba, in exile and in other countries such
as Venezuela, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
"In the gallery there will be pictures of all kinds, not necessarily
political. What we consider to be political is the artist's decision to
contribute his art to the promotion of human rights in Cuba," said Juan
Antonio Blanco, president of the Foundation.
The first action of this new project is an exhibition of fine art open
to the public at Calle 8 in Miami, the hub of the Cuban diaspora in the
Among the artists who will exhibit their works at the Cuban Art Club
Gallery are Ramón Unzueta, Danilo Maldonado known as El Sexto, Claudia
Di Paolo, Rolando Paciel, Yovani Bauta, Roxana Brizuela and Ramon
Willians. The exhibition will be open from April 1st to 15th, and
admission will be free
Blanco also talked about the Foundation's project to identify and
document the repressors that the Cuban government uses to muzzle the
"We have numerous documented cases of repressors, with photos and
archives proving their participation in activities against civil society
and human rights activists on the island," he said.
"Publicity isn't important to us, rather we want to have a psychological
impact on military and paramilitary repressors. We want our message to
reach those who carry out the acts of repudiation in exchange for a
sandwich or for a T-shirt, so that they think about it three times," he
According to the FDHC, in Cuba there are more than 70,000 prisoners,
which is why it ranks as the sixth country in the world in prisoners per
"There are thousands of prisoners who are in prison under the charge of
'dangerousness' [without having committed a crime] so they do not have
to call them political prisoners," he added.
According to Blanco, the Foundation is undertaking "quiet diplomacy" to
ensure that these people who have been identified as repressors are not
able to obtain visas for the United States or European countries.
The detailing of the record or repressors has not been without conflict.
"In Miami we have received denunciations against repressors, but we
always ask the denouncer to sign a notarized affidavit that the
repressor is accused of having carried out that work in Cuba," he explained.
According to Blanco, his organization has had to face maneuvers by the
Cuban government to delegitimize the work they are doing, by 'leaking'
the names of people who are not repressors.
"The Havana regime wants to keep it quiet, it is not a priority, but
that is precisely what we do not want. We seek to focus on violations of
human rights in Cuba and we want Cuba to be a priority," he insisted.
Source: Warning to the Repressors: "We Are Watching You" – Translating
http://translatingcuba.com/warning-to-the-repressors-we-are-watching-you/ Continue reading
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 March 2017 – An opinion piece
published in recent days by El Nuevo Herald gives me a disturbing
feeling of déjà vu. It is not the subject – overflowing with a number of
articles by different authors – but its focal point, which presents as
adequate a number of superficial and highly subjective assessments to
validate conclusions that in no way reflect the reality it alleges to
With other hues and nuances, it has the same effect in me as the
experience of participating as a guest at a meeting of journalists,
politicians and academics – primarily Americans – held October, 2014 at
Columbia University, just two months before the announcement of the
restoration of relations between the governments of Cuba and the United
States, where the wish to support rapprochement and to substantiate the
need to eliminate the embargo was essentially based on colossal lies.
For example, I heard how the "Raúl changes" that were taking place in
Cuba favored the Cuban people and a process of openness, and I learned
of the incredible hardships that Cubans had to endure as a result of the
direct (and exclusive) responsibility of the embargo, of the fabulous
access to education and health services (which were, in addition to
being easily accessible, wonderful) enjoyed by Cubans, and even the zeal
of the authorities to protect the environment.
To illustrate this last point, an American academic presented the
extraordinary conservation state of the Jardines de la Reina
archipelago and its adjacent waters, including the coralline formations,
as an achievement of the Revolutionary Government. She just forgot to
point out that this natural paradise has never been within reach of the
common Cuban, but is a private preserve of the ruling caste and wealthy
tourists, a fact that explains its favorable degree of conservation.
The Cuba that many American speakers described on that occasion was so
foreign to a Cuban resident on the Island, as I was, that I wondered at
times if we were all really speaking about the same country.
In my view, the question was as contradictory as it was dangerous.
Contradictory, because there is certainly sufficient foundation, based
on realities, to consider the (conditional) suspension of the embargo or
to show partiality for dialogue between governments after half a century
of sterile confrontations, without the need to resort to such gross
falsehoods, especially – and I say this without xenophobic animosity or
without a smack of nationalism – when they are brandished by foreigners
who don't even have a ludicrous idea of the reality the Cuban common
population lives under or what its aspirations are. Dangerous, because
the enormous power of the press to move public opinion for or against a
proposal is well known, and to misrepresent or distort a reality unknown
to that public, can have dire consequences.
But it seems that such an irresponsible attitude threatens to become a
common practice, at least in the case of Cuba. This is what happens when
overly enthusiastic professionals confuse two concepts as different as
"information" and "opinion" in the same theoretical body.
It is also the case of the article referred to above, that its essence
is the answer to a question that is asked and answered by the author,
using the faint topic of the first anniversary of Barack Obama's
historic visit to Cuba and some conjectures about the continuity of the
relations between both governments with the new occupant of the White House.
"What repercussions have the normalization of relations between the
United States and Cuba had on the Cuban people?" the writer of the
article asks, and she immediately answers herself by assuming several
suppositions, not totally exempt from logic, but regrettably inaccurate.
"Greater openness to Cuba has undoubtedly meant greater interaction with
the Cuban people through the exchange of information from the thousands
of Americans who now visit the island", she says. And this is partially
true, but this "exchange of information" about a society as complex and
mimetic, and as long closed off as Cuba's, is full of mirages and
subjectivities, so it ends up being a biased and exotic vision of a
reality that no casual foreign visitor can manage to grasp.
A diffuse assertion of the article is one that reassures: "Tourism
represents the main economic source for the country, and at the same
time it leverages other sectors related to textiles, construction and
transportation." Let's see: It may be that tourism has gained an
economic preponderance for Cuba, but that it has boosted the textile,
construction and transportation sectors is, at the most, a mere
objective, fundamentally dependent on foreign capital investment, which
has just not materialized.
In fact, the notable increase in tourist accommodations and restaurants,
bars and cafes in the private sector is the result not of the tourist
boom itself but of the inadequacy of the hotel and gastronomic
infrastructure of the State. If the author of the article has had
privileged access to sources and information that support such
statements, she does not make it clear.
But if the colleague at El Nuevo Herald came away with a relevant
discovery during her trip to Havana –job related? for pleasure? – it is
that many young people "believe in the socialist model." Which leads us
directly to the question, where did these young people learn what a
"socialist model" is? Because, in fact, the only thing that Cubans born
during the last decade of the last century have experienced in Cuba is
the consolidation of a State capitalism, led by the same regime with
kleptomaniacal tendencies that hijacked the power and the Nation almost
60 years ago.
About the young people she says that "many are self-employed and
generate enough resources to live well." There are currently more than
500 thousand people In Cuba with their own businesses, about 5% of the
population, according to ECLAC" [U.N.'s Economic Commission for Latin
America and the Caribbean]. This is another slip, almost childish. The
source that originally reports the figure of half a million
self-employed workers belongs to the very official National Office of
Statistics and Information (ONEI), a Cuban Government institution, and
not to ECLAC. This number has remained unchanged for at least the last
two years, as if the enormous migration abroad and the numerous returns
of licenses on the part of the entrepreneurs who fail in their efforts
or who are stifled by the system's own circumstances, among other
factors, did not make a dent.
But even assuming as true the immutable number of "self-employed" that
the authorities refer to, on what does the writer base her assumptions
that the self-employed generate sufficient recourses to live well? Could
it be that she ignores that that half a million Cubans includes
individuals who fill cigarette lighters, sharpen scissors, recycle trash
("the garbage divers"), are owners of shit-hole kiosks, repair household
appliances, are roving shaved-ice, peanut, trinket and other knickknack
vendors, and work at dozens of low-income occupations that barely
produce enough to support themselves and their families? Doesn't the
journalist know about the additional losses most of them suffer from
harassment by inspectors and the police, the arbitrary tax burdens and
the legal defenselessness? What, in the end, are the standards of
prosperity and well-being that allow her to assert that these Cubans
I would not doubt the good intentions of the author of this unfortunate
article, except that empathy should not be confused with journalism. The
veracity of the sampling and the seriousness of the data used is an
essential feature of journalistic ethics, even for an opinion column, as
in this case. We were never told what data or samples were used as a
basis for the article, the number of interviewees, their occupations,
ages, social backgrounds and other details that would have lent at least
some value to her work.
And to top it off, the trite issue of Cuba's supposedly high educational
levels could not be left out. She says: "While it is true that education
in Cuba is one of the best in the continent, the level of education is
not proportional to income, much less a good quality of life."
Obviously, she couldn't be bothered going into the subject of education
in Cuba in depth, and she is not aware of our strong pedagogical
tradition of the past, destroyed by decades of demagoguery and
indoctrination. She also does not seem to know the poor quality of
teaching, the corruption that prevails in the teaching centers and the
deterioration of pedagogy. We are not aware of what comparative patterns
allow her to repeat the mantra of the official discourse with its myth
about the superior education of Cubans, but her references might
presumably have been Haiti, the Amazonian forest communities or villages
in the Patagonian solitudes. If so, I'll accept that Cubans have some
advantage, at least in terms of education levels.
There are still other controversial points in the text, but the most
relevant ones are sufficient to calculate the confusion the narration of
a reality that is clearly unknown can cause to an unaware reader. It is
obvious that the writer was not up to the task, or is simply not aware
of the responsibility that comes from a simplistic observation. And she
still pretends to have discovered not one, but two different Cubas.
Perhaps there are even many more Cubas, but, my dear colleague: you were
definitely never in any of them.
Translated by Norma Whiting
Source: The Thousand Faces of "Journalism" / Miriam Celaya – Translating
http://translatingcuba.com/the-thousand-faces-of-journalism-miriam-celaya/ Continue reading
El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, se sometió finalmente este sábado en La Habana a la tan anunciada cirugía de laringe para extirparle un tumor benigno, informó una fuente oficial, reporta EFE.
La operación, prevista inicialmente para el viernes, tuvo lugar la mañana de este sábado en el Centro de Investigaciones Médico Quirúrgicas (CIMEQ) de la capital cubana y fue "exitosa", según información difundida por la Presidencia boliviana.Continue reading
Carlos Alberto Montaner
Maduro rectificó. La Fiscal General del país, Luisa Ortega Díaz, le facilitó el cambio en bandeja de plata. Seguramente fue pactado. Primero, Nicolás Maduro había eliminado cualquier vestigio de democracia en Venezuela. Sus sicarios en el Tribunal Supremo de Justicia se encargaron de asumir las funciones de la Asamblea Nacional. Era la última maniobra. Continuarían la dictadura, pero sin tapujos y con mano aún más dura. El camino quedaba libre para acusar a los diputados de traición a la patria. O de lo que se les ocurriera.
No pudieron. La resistencia nacional e internacional fue demasiado intensa. Los diputados y los estudiantes se echaron a la calle a protestar. El paso dado era demasiado descarado. Luis Almagro armó rápidamente el frente de la OEA, mientras PPK, en Perú, prácticamente rompía relaciones, y los aliados de Maduro –Leonel Fernández, Rodríguez Zapatero y Martín Torrijos—le advirtieron que no podían acompañarlo en este nuevo espasmo totalitario.
La operación para destruir la Asamblea Nacional comenzó tras la derrota electoral de diciembre de 2015. Era la versión venezolana de la piñata nicaragüense. Fue entonces, en las pocas semanas que faltaban para que el nuevo parlamento comenzara a operar, cuando, a toda máquina, reformaron la composición de la cúpula del poder judicial, pisoteando la Constitución y preparándose para gobernar a palo y tentetieso cuando fuera necesario.[[QUOTE:¿Y qué piensa Raúl Castro de todo esto? Debe preocuparle. Al fin y al cabo, la cabeza del Socialismo del Siglo XXI está en La Habana]]
¿Y qué piensa Raúl Castro de todo esto? Debe preocuparle. Al fin y al cabo, la cabeza del Socialismo del Siglo XXI está en La Habana. Nicolás Maduro es sólo un títere (mal) formado en los cursillos de marxismo-leninismo de la Escuela de Cuadros del Partido Comunista de Cuba, sugerido por Fidel Castro a Hugo Chávez.
Maduro les parecía a los servicios cubanos un bruto noble y dócil que hablaba con los pajaritos, mucho menos corrupto y más manejable, por ejemplo, que Adán Chávez, el hermano del fallecido teniente coronel. No era perfecto, pero, entre los venezolanos disponibles, era el más útil para “los cubanos”, precisamente por sus debilidades.
¿Y qué va a pasar ahora? No demasiado, a menos que los Estados Unidos abandone la ridícula actitud de “Venezuela no es un peligro, sino una molestia”, adoptada desde el gobierno de George W. Bush, y luego continuada por Barack Obama.
El gobierno de Venezuela, aunque caótico y desorganizado, sí es un peligro para la seguridad de Estados Unidos por sus vinculaciones con los terroristas islámicos y por sus lazos militares con Irán y Hezbolá. No tiene ojivas nucleares, pero posee otros medios de perjudicar severamente a su archienemigo.
Es un peligro por sus nexos con el narcotráfico y por la utilización de una parte de sus generales en este comercio asesino. Es un peligro por su militante “antiyanquismo”, siempre a la caza de nuevas conquistas, y por ser una de las naciones más corruptas del planeta.
¿De qué le sirve al Departamento del Tesoro de Washington perseguir por corrupción a los jerarcas internacionales del fútbol, o a una docena de banqueros por blanqueo de capitales procedentes de la droga, como señala la DEA, si Venezuela es un narcoestado impunemente dedicado a todos esos menesteres, mientras asiste sin recato a las narcoguerrillas colombianas?[[QUOTE:El gobierno de Venezuela pone en peligro a su propia población, deliberadamente hambreada, mientras el país se aproxima a una terrible catástrofe humanitaria]]
Por último, el gobierno de Venezuela pone en peligro a su propia población, deliberadamente hambreada, mientras el país se aproxima a una terrible catástrofe humanitaria, por una combinación letal entre el pésimo gobierno y la corrupción. ¿No habíamos quedado en que existía “el deber de proteger” a las víctimas de estos horrores políticos?
Estados Unidos es la única nación de las Américas que posee la visión estratégica, los recursos, el peso material y el sentido de la responsabilidad que se requiere para defenderse de sus enemigos y formular una “hoja de ruta”, como ahora se dice, consagrada a cambiar un régimen que le perjudica intensamente y emponzoña la atmósfera en toda América Latina.
Tal vez no sea inteligente que Estados Unidos elimine las compras de petróleo a Venezuela –la única fuente de cash que ingresa el país-, pero sí sería factible abonar el producto de esas transacciones a una cuenta scrow, hasta que la Asamblea Nacional certifique que el comportamiento de Maduro se adapta a las normas constitucionales. Sería una irresponsabilidad alimentar a un gobierno ilegítimo que usurpa funciones que no le corresponden.
No es verdad que la Guerra Fría terminó totalmente. Desapareció la URSS y con ella se evaporaron los regímenes comunistas de Europa oriental, pero Estados Unidos continúa teniendo enemigos tenaces decididos a combatir al país por todos los medios. Si Washington desea continuar siendo la cabeza del mundo libre no puede evadirse del tema venezolano. Tiene que dar un paso al frente y liderar al Continente. Nadie más puede o sabe hacer esa tarea.
(EFE).- El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, se sometió hoy en La Habana a una “exitosa” cirugía de laringe para extirpar un tumor benigno, informó una fuente oficial
La operación, prevista inicialmente para este viernes, tuvo lugar la mañana de este sábado en el Centro de Investigaciones Médico Quirúrgicas (Cimeq) de la capital cubana, según información difundida por la Presidencia del país andino.
Morales llegó a Cuba el jueves tras adelantar por recomendación médica la fecha de la intervención quirúrgica.
El ministro boliviano de la Presidencia, René Martínez, que se encuentra en La Habana con el mandatario, ofrecerá más información sobre el estado de Morales a lo largo de la mañana, avanzó la misma fuente.
La cirugía, de una duración estimada de entre diez y quince minutos, tenía como objetivo la extirpación de un pequeño tumor benigno de la laringe y estaba prevista inicialmente para el 7 u 8 de abril.[[QUOTE:Desde que llegó a Cuba no se ha difundido ninguna imagen de Evo Morales, pero el mandatario se ha mantenido activo en Twitter]]
Durante las dos jornadas anteriores a la operación, el gobernante boliviano fue sometido a pruebas preoperatorias de rutina y recibió una “solvente” atención, según declaró el ministro Martínez a la radio estatal de Bolivia.
Desde que llegó a Cuba no se ha difundido ninguna imagen de Evo Morales, pero el mandatario se ha mantenido activo en Twitter, donde tanto el jueves como la pasada madrugada escribió varios tuits de contenido político.
El presidente decidió operarse en la isla caribeña después de que cinco médicos de su país no lograran curarle una disfonía, según el Ejecutivo boliviano, aunque no es la primera vez que Morales se pone en manos de médicos cubanos y en más de una ocasión ha aprovechado viajes a La Habana para someterse a chequeos de salud.[[QUOTE:La oposición boliviana ha cuestionado que el gobernante haya elegido otro país para operarse y en especial Cuba]]
La oposición boliviana ha cuestionado que el gobernante haya elegido otro país para operarse y en especial Cuba, donde el presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez se trató del cáncer que finalmente acabó con su vida en 2013.
Las autoridades del país andino prevén que la recuperación pueda durar alrededor de una semana antes de que el gobernante vuelva a su país, y mientras permanezca en el extranjero es el vicepresidente, Álvaro García Linera, quien ejerce como presidente interino.
Las señales de ronquera de Evo Morales empezaron a notarse en enero pasado, cuando hizo un largo discurso para conmemorar sus once años en el poder y luego se agudizaron en las prolongadas intervenciones que efectúa cada semana.
El nódulo le fue descubierto al mandatario a principios de este mes en Cuba tras ser atendido de urgencia por una disfonía, sinusitis y dolores de abdomen.
Si el mandatario boliviano o su Ejecutivo no difunden imágenes, es poco probable que trasciendan otras fotografías de la estancia médica en Cuba de Morales, una visita de la que el Gobierno cubano, como es habitual, no ha ofrecido ninguna información al no tratarse de un viaje oficial.Continue reading
El Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ) de Venezuela revirtió este sábado su decisión de asumir las funciones de la Asamblea Nacional, de amplia mayoría opositora, informa la AFP.
En un comunicado, el máximo tribunal venezolano informó que "suprime" algunas partes de la sentencia que dejó sin poderes al Legislativo, indicó EFE.Continue reading
PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE ON HUNGER STRIKE
Two days after Fidel Castro's death, a family of four human rights
arrested in Holguín, south-east Cuba. They received a one-year sentence,
and the three
siblings are currently on hunger strike. They are prisoners of
conscience and must be
released immediately and unconditionally.
Twin sisters Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva, their brother, Fidel
Manuel Batista Leyva, and their mother,
Maydolis Leyva Portelles, all human rights defenders, were arrested on
27 November 2016, two days after the
death of Fidel Castro for allegedly leaving their house during the
period of state mourning. The initial arrests took
place in Holguín and coincided with an "act of repudiation" (acto de
repudio), a government-led demonstration that
is common in Cuba, carried out at the family's home. The family are
government critics, known for their activism
and associated with a number of political and human rights movements
including Movimiento Cubano de Reflexión
(Cuban Reflection Movement). According to Maydolis Leyva Portelles,
currently under house arrest, there were
many non-uniformed state security officials, including political police
and military officials, present during the arrest.
Maydolis Leyva Portelles and her children were charged under Article 204
of the Penal Code, which criminalizes
defamation of institutions, organizations and heroes and martyrs of the
Republic of Cuba, and with public disorder.
On 13 January, a court of second instance upheld a one-year prison
sentence for all three siblings, but allowed
their mother to carry out her sentence under house arrest in order to
care for her grandchildren, Adairis' children.
According to their mother, the three siblings began a hunger strike on 7
March, the day they began serving their
sentences and were imprisoned. The siblings are currently being held in
three separate hospitals in critical
condition. Doctors informed their mother that Adairis is at risk of a
heart attack and that Fidel is urinating blood; and
that all have lost significant weight. On her last hospital visit,
Maydolis Leyva Portelles says that she was asked to
sign a document which would authorize doctors to force feed her three
children, which she refused to do. She told
Amnesty International, "I don't want any of my children to die, but I
want to respect their wishes." All three siblings
and their mother are prisoners of conscience and must be released
immediately and unconditionally.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
- Calling on the authorities to release Anairis Miranda Leyva, Adairis
Miranda Leyva, and Fidel Manuel Batista
Leyva immediately and unconditionally from imprisonment and Maydolis
Leyva Portelles from house arrest, as they
are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising
their right to freedom of expression;
- Calling on them to refrain from using measures to punish hunger
strikers or to coerce them to end a hunger
strike, which would be a violation of their right to freedom of expression.
- Urging them to provide the siblings with access to qualified health
professionals providing health care in
compliance with medical ethics, including the principles of
confidentiality, autonomy, and informed consent.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 12 MAY 2017 TO:
President of the Republic
Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba
Fax: +41 22 758 9431 (Cuba Office in
Geneva); +1 212 779 1697 (via Cuban
Mission to UN)
Email: email@example.com (c/o Cuban Mission
Salutation: Your Excellency
Dr. Darío Delgado Cura
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Amistad 552, e/Monte y Estrella
Centro Habana, La Habana, Cuba
Salutation: Dear Attorney General/
Señor Fiscal General
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your
country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
According to its webpage, El Movimiento Cubano de Reflexión is a
non-violent organization which aims to mobilize Cuban
citizens to bring about social change.
The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a
Cuban-based human rights NGO not recognized by
the state, documented a monthly average of 827 politically motivated
detentions in 2016.
Provisions of the Cuban Criminal Code, such as contempt of a public
official (desacato), resistance to public officials carrying
out their duties (resistencia) and public disorder (desórdenes públicos)
are frequently used to stifle free speech, assembly and
association in Cuba.
Article 204 of the Cuba Penal Code criminalizes "defamation of
institutions, organizations and heroes and martyrs of the
Republic of Cuba." (Difamación de las instituciones y organizaciones y
de los héroes y mártires). Under the law, anyone who
publically defames, denigrates or disparages institutions of the Cuban
Republic, or political organizations, or heroes or martyrs
of the homeland, risks sanctions of deprivation of liberty of three
months to a year or a fine.
Under international law, the use of defamation laws with the purpose or
effect of inhibiting legitimate criticism of the government
or public officials violates the right to freedom of expression.
Name: Anairis and Adairis Miranda Leyva (f), Fidel Manuel Batista Leyva
(m), Maydolis Leyva Portelles (f)
Gender m/f: all
UA: 76/17 Index: AMR 25/6001/2017 Issue Date: 31 March 2017
Source: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AMR2560012017ENGLISH.pdf Continue reading
Festival New York
by SANDRA GUZMAN
If there is one film that can serve as a metaphor for how little the
world knows about Cuba, Latin America, and the rest of the region, it's
"The Forbidden Shore," a marvelous documentary that introduces the world
to forty Cuban artists.
It's one of thirty-seven films being shown at the Havana Film Festival
New York, the longest running festival featuring the work of Cuban and
Latin American filmmakers, now in its 18th year.
The film's director, Canadian-born Ron Chapman, said that when he first
visited Cuba eight years ago, "I was overwhelmed at what I didn't know.
I was amazed at the diversity of its music and how very little Cuban
music is known or played internationally other than The Buena Vista
The same could be said of the rest of the region, but that has been
changing, partly due to the work of today's Latino and Latina
filmmakers, as evidenced in this festival.
"We wanted to show a snapshot of the work that is being produced today,"
said Diana Vargas, the festival's artistic director for the past
"Cinema coming out of the area is fresh and innovative and artists of
the region are eager to tell stories that correct many misconceptions of
Latin America," Vargas said.
This year the festival is paying tribute to two film masters: Cuba's
Juan Padrón, whose iconic Vampiros en la Habana (Vampires in Havana) is
a hilariously funny animation classic that was produced decades before
"Twilight," as well as the work of the late Argentine Eliseo Subiela,
whose brilliant film, El Lado Oscuro del Corazón (The Dark Side of the
Heart), paved the way for Argentina's film boom.
In addition, twenty directors are traveling to New York to participate
in talkbacks during the nine-day festival.
We spoke to The Forbidden Shore's Ron Chapman about his film, which
closes the festival on April 7.
What inspired you to make this film?
I am a Canadian and we have an open relationship with Cuba that
continued uninterrupted through and after the revolution in 1959, in
spite of considerable pressure from the United States to join the
embargo; more Canadian tourists visit Cuba every year than from any
other destination in the world.
In Cuba I learned about rumba to rap and everything in-between. I wanted
to make a film that would be able to cross borders and restrictions
imposed by the difficulty of travel and restrictions imposed by the US
I made a film that helps to overcome some of the myths about Cuba and
the Cuban people that showcases their great diversity of musical talent
and shares with the unique creative collaborative relationship the
artists have with each other and their unusual and very pure passion for
art. [It's] the creative process that is uniquely not affected or
informed by the necessity of creating for an international market or any
market that requires making music or art for profit. I stopped shooting
this film on the day Obama said publicly in his famous speech that it
was time to end the embargo.
What is unique about Cuban music?
Cuban music's main influences come from Africa and Europe, mostly Spain,
so it is based on an interesting mix. Up until the Cuban Revolution,
Cuban music and artists traveled freely throughout the world, and there
was a connection and dialogue between artists of the world.
After the Cuban Revolution, there was no longer the same ability for
Cuban artists to travel, meet, play and be influenced by contact with
foreign artists. Also, all multinational record companies connected with
the U.S. could not sign an artist from the island because of the
embargo, making it difficult to export the art form.
As a result, the island developed a musical community and identity that
was not based on appealing to the tastes of the international community.
The music was created really solely for the Cuban population; it is much
more insular and a reflection of the Cuban people, their culture,
society politics and life.
This music is beyond the Buena Vista Social Club. What are some of the
lesser known genres and artists that you want the world to meet?
My working title for the film for years was "This Ain't the Buena Vista
Social Club." The world knows their music, and they are great musicians
and there are some Cuban groups living on the island that have
followings in some countries around the world, especially in
Spanish-speaking countries, like Los Van Van, or Chucho Valdez.
But it's fair to say that most of the artists in the film, which have
some of the greatest artists and talents in Cuba, are not well known in
I included forty artists in my film, and I still had to leave artists
and music on the cutting room floor, not because they were not as good,
or as talented, only because of the time limitations.
Even some of the greatest artists in Cuba now are unknown to the world,
such as X Alfonso, Haydee Milanés, Kelvis Ochoa, Roberto Fonseca, Aldo
López Galvan and Harold López Nusa, Telmary, Charanga Habanera, Danay
Suarez, Roberto Podermo, Djoy de Cuba and Polito Ibáñez.
There are so many artists, and so many different genres which is why I
found it necessary to "take a snapshot" of the music of Cuba today, and
present the incredible diversity of artists that are creating on the
island and make this film to share this music with the world.
You mentioned that there are 33 unique musical genres in Cuba. Why do
you think this island has given birth to such distinct music?
Part of why the island has given birth to so much distinct music has
been the isolation. Cuba, the country, has been very much like a petri
dish, everyone influencing each other, but not really having the
opportunity to go outside the country and mingle with other artists.
They could for the most part only interact with artists who came to Cuba
for short periods of time, and also, whatever music made it into the
country that they could find.
There were no radio stations from outside the country available, or
television stations, newspapers or magazines or Internet connection
available to the majority of the population. It was a matter of what
came in, what they found some exposure to, and then they would take
elements from these musical styles and integrate aspects of them into
their core music, so their music would grow, expand, but always be
anchored by its Cuban roots.
What is your hope with this film?
I wanted to educate the public. I realized how little the people of the
world, and, in the case of this New York premiere, how little the people
of the United States actually know or understand about the music of
Cuba, the people of Cuba, their artistic process, the effects of the
embargo (good and bad) and how they then overcame or worked around these
I was greatly moved by some of the things that impacted their careers,
lives and creative output, in a good way, and as well, in a bad way. All
these contribute to the creative spirit, soul and the creative outcome
Hopefully, this film will encourage viewers to search them out and find
their music, and introduce audiences to new styles of music, to
encourage them to visit Cuba, to know Cuba better through their music,
and in the case of the U.S. to better understand the effects of the
embargo on the population, on the people of Cuba, and to encourage them
to actively encourage their leaders to end this political situation and
stalemate that has caused so much damage to the people of Cuba in so
many ways, and kept the people of the U.S. from knowing or having any
real relationship or understanding of the people or the country.
The New York Havana Film Festival runs from March 30th thru April 7th.
For a full calendar check out www.HFFny.com
Source: The Cuban Music You Haven't Heard: 'Forbidden Shore' at Havana
Film Festival New York - NBC News -
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/cuban-music-we-don-t-know-forbidden-shore-havana-film-n741021 Continue reading