Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fotos del cumbre de los cubanologos (6)

El Yuma and Os (Circles) Robinson

Fotos del cumbre de los cubanologos (5)

Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra

Fotos del cumbre de los cubanologos (4)

Leonardo Padura, novelist

Fotos del cumbre del cubanologos (3)

Jorge Dominguez, Harvard University

Fotos del cumbre de cubanologos (2)

Archibald Ritter, Carleton University

Fotos del cumbre de cubanologos (1)

Circles Robinson, Havana Times

Press Release: Cuban writer Leonardo Padura to speak at Baruch/CUNY

Dear Friends,

The Third Annual Paul Andre Feit Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura Fuentes (see bio below) tomorrow, March 31, 2011 at Baruch College, City University of New York.

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Padura will read from his sensational historical novel, "El hombre que amaba a los perros," a book that takes its readers from the Spanish Civil War, to the Russian Revolution, to the Special Period in Times of Peace; from Moscow, to Siberia, to Turkey; and from Barcelona, to Coyacan, Mexico, to Havana, Cuba - all chronicling the final years in the extraordinary life of of Leon Trotsky and his encounter with and assassination by the Catalan Stalinist secret agent Ramon Mercader (who lived out his own final years in anonymity in Cuba).

The reading will take place in Spanish.  
Lunch will be served.

Leonardo Padura will be introduced by Profs. Ted Henken and Lourdes Gil. The lecture is organized by the Dept of Black and Hispanic Studies with assistance from the Department of Modern Languages.

Time: March 31, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Place: Baruch College, 24th and Lexington, NYC, Room VC 3-150
All are welcome; Bring ID

PS: Padrua will be speaking again on Thursday evening from 5:45 to 6:30 at the Elebash Recital Hall at the CUNY Graduate Center (34th and 6th) in conversation with Mexican novelist Carmen Bullosa as part of the Cuba Futures Symposium.

On Friday, April 1, he will be interviewed for the programs Contraportada and Pura Politica of New York 1 (Noticias) and by Carmen Bullosa for the CUNY TV program Nueva York.

On Friday evening, he will do a reading at New York's Instituto Cervantes @ 215 E 49th Street at 6:30 p.m.

Who is Padura?  Read on for his bio...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

El manisero llego

Havana March 30, 2011

Mr. Jimmy Carter:

On behalf of several alternative bloggers and other members of Cuban civil society, we would like to give you this present. This is a small sample of the food that the self-employed are able to make from maní, the word Cubans use for peanuts, that dried fruit that you know so well.

For over half a century the maní has been one of the few products that has escaped the control of State planning. Even in the hardest days of the so-called Special Period one of the the few things we could buy on the free market produced by independent people were these cones and peanut butter bars that we offer to you today. There were times when the traditional cry of “peanuts, the peanut seller is here…” had to go practically underground, becoming a phrase whispered into the ears of clients.

This popular “criminal” food, within the reach of every pocket, has become the symbol of public resistance before totalitarian pretensions, a stronghold of creativity and ingenuity in the face of centralism and control. Here is the maní, the conqueror of difficulties, stubborn disobedient, transformed now into a symbol of union, a meeting point between your people and ours.

Yoani Sánchez será recibida por Carter en #cuba

Check out this CNN en Español video featuring a telephone interview with la flaca. Como siempre, no tiene pelos en la lengua! (H/T Penultimos Dias).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cuban disidents and bloggers will meet tomorrow with Carter

Yoani Sanchez and other cyber-activists in Cuba are reporting via Twitter that they are among the members of Cuban civil scoiety who have been invited to meet tomorrow with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (H/T Penultimos Dias).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Las noticias como son...

Here, I want to share a Radio Marti interview (click on "MP3" to the right) from the daily show, "Las noticias como son," that took place on Tuesday afternoon, March 22, a day after the broadcast of the latest chapter in the Cuban government's "Razones de Cuba" series - "Ciberguerra" (Part I / Part II) and following the release on that same day of "Razones Ciudadanas" at Generacion Y. 

The interview, which lasts about 22 minutes, includes a Q & A with nearly all those present in the "Razones Ciudadanas" video beginning with the lay-Catholic leader and activist Dagoberto Valdes, lawyer Wilfredo Vallin, and the cyber-activist duo Reinaldo Escobar and Yoani Sanchez.  El Yuma adds his two cents live from Nueva York and a clip of the blogger Elaine Diaz Rodriguez from the government's "Ciberguerra" video is also played during the show.  A summary of the interview in English is available here.

From left to right, Yoani Sánchez, Dimas Castellanos, Reinaldo Escobar, Wilfredo Vallín, Miriam Celaya, and Dagoberto Valdés.

(Disclaimer: I'm told that an obscure US law makes it illegal to broadcast Voice of America and Radio Marti shows within the boundaries of the United States.  So if you actually listen to the MP3 clip above, make sure you do so from some undiscovered country or while floating out in el territorio libre del ciberespacio).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Erasmo: A Test for Dictatorship

A Test for Dictatorship @ Havana Times

March 26, 2011 |By Erasmo Calzadilla 

This post is concerning a TV program whose theme was the media war against Cuba. In it, Yoani Sanchez and other bloggers were presented as mercenaries on the payroll of the empire.

If you want to know if a government is dictatorial, ask its representatives if there are or are not dissidents.  If you get a negative answer, the more absolute it is the more it's a symptom that things are pretty ugly.
How is it possible then, at this stage of the game, that these types of functionaries continue repeating the same thing?  Have they no shame?  Don't they realize that by doing this they're putting nails in their own coffins?

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Monday in Havana with Benicio del Toro

Author: Mireya Castañeda
Fuente: | 22 de Marzo 2011

"Havana is a marvelous place, not just for its architecture and climate, but because of its people," commented Puerto Rican film actor Benicio del Toro, who has just finished shooting the first story of Siete días en La Habana (Seven Days in Havana), a collective film project scripted in part by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura and whose central character is the Cuban capital.

El toque de la clave se escucha desde lejos

Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images
Arsenio Rodríguez, a Cuban composer, bandleader and musician, 
pictured in a recording studio in the 1950s.

Appearances by bands from Cuba as well as films about Cuban musicians will be on offer in New York this spring.

For a quick but surprisingly comprehensive education about Cuban music's influence on the United States and its deep roots in New York, New Orleans, and everywhere in between, check out this article from this morning's New York Times

Also, be sure to click on some of the multimedia links in the article - music clips, photos, video, and of course, the guru Ned Sublette breathlessly describing Cuban music in the US as "the other great tradition."

Alejandro Ernesto/European Pressphoto Agency
Los Muñequitos de Matanzas performing at the National Theater in Havana in January 2004.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"CubaDebate" habla ingles

The cyberwar heats up.  Pa que lo sepa! 

New English website about Cuba

By Karen Lee Wald (

Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:20 pm (PDT)

Cubadebate opens its new Web page in English.  With versions of Fidel Castro's Reflections, El Paso Diary of José Pertierra, exclusive materials from Cuba's Reasons series and news articles about various national and international themes, Cubadebate opens today its Web page in English that you can find at:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Three takes on Cuba's "Cyber-War"

If I have a free moment tomorrow, I will take some time to translate snippets if each of these reactions to the supposed "Cyber-War" breaking out in Cuba (or is it between Cuba and the US?).

However, those who read Spanish should read these three blog posts in their entirety in the original.

Juventud Rebelde: Blast Off for Self-Employment?

Here's the English version of the latest detailed report on self-employment in Cuba from the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

My own quick read of the article indicates three things:

1) The self-employment reforms are attractive to Cubans, both the previously unemployed and the newly laid-off.  There is a worry that the sprouting of scores of little negocios in town and city centers is overcrowding and uglying some areas.  The numbers continue to grow at a steady rate (the last report had the number of new licensees at 117,000 and now the number is up to 171,000).

2) The most common, chronic obstacle encountered by new entrepreneurs is lack of access to goods, lack of availability of inputs/raw materials, no credit, and no wholesale markets.

3) There is new entrepreneurial activity all across the island but a bureaucratic learning curve among those hesitant or slow to issue licenses in some places.

This last point leads the authors of the article to quote President Raul Castro at length once again:

At this point, it would be good to recall what Cuban President Raul Castro said during his speech to the National Assembly of the People's Power (Cuban Parliament) on December 18, 2010:

"Regarding the need for a change of mentality, I want to highlight the following: if we have come to the conclusion that self-employment is a valid employment alternative for Cuban citizens, which can increase the production of goods and services, thus relieving the State of its responsibilities regarding such activities and providing it with the opportunity to concentrate on more decisive issues, then the Party and the government should facilitate its implementation, instead of fueling stigmas and prejudices against these kinds of activities. In this regard, it is essential to change the negative perception many of us have of private labor."

In this regard, the final section of the article is also noteworthy.  Entitled, "The Definite Answer," the section is excerpted here:

"On August 1, 2010, Cuban President Raul Castro announced before the Cuban parliament the decision to boost self-employment as an option for those who lose their jobs in the restructuring process of Cuban companies. He made reference to the elimination of the exiting prohibitions regarding the granting of new licenses and trade in certain products.

"His instructions have been followed. But there are many practical issues that still need to be addressed in order to increase production and services, while improving the quality of life of those who engage in authorized business activities. The State just couldn't continue to afford subsidies.

"The implementation of self-employment certainly plays an essential role in the new economic policy aimed at efficiently increasing production, and it gives those who want to be of use to their country the opportunity to get involved."

Self-Employment Takes Off in Cuba

More than 171,000 licenses have been granted in Cuba to small business owners since the government passed a new law in 2010 broadening the scope of self-employment as a viable employment option. Young people from different parts of the country share their first impressions and experiences with Juventud Rebelde

By: Julio Martínez Molina, Juan Morales Agüero, Roberto Díaz Martorell, Haydée León and Mayte María Jiménez; Email:

Thanx for letting us know... the Orwellian memory hole

File under Orwellian memory hole:

From our good friends at Wikipedia:

A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts, or other records, such as from a web site or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the impression that something never happened.[1][2][3] The concept was first popularized by George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four."

Castro Says He's No Longer Leader of the Communist Party
AP/NYT, March 23, 2011

Fidel Castro said Tuesday for the first time that he had resigned five years ago from all official positions, including chief of the Communist Party, a job he was thought to still hold. In an opinion piece, Mr. Castro wrote that when he got sick in 2006, “I resigned without hesitation from my state and political positions, including first secretary of the party ... and I never tried to exercise those roles again.” The article, which was published on the state-run Cubadebate Web site overnight and in newspapers on Tuesday morning, caught many people by surprise. “It’s incredible. Nobody can believe it,” said Magaly Delgado, a retiree in Havana. A Communist Party Congress is expected to name a new party leader in a few weeks — presumably Mr. Castro’s brother, Raúl, who is now president.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A message from the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN

I have lunch occasionally with a Cuban diplomat who works at the Cuban mission to the UN here in New York City. We rarely agree, but try to keep talking... Today he sent out the following press release:

315 Lexington Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016 
(212) 689-7215, FAX (212) 689-9073

PRESS RELEASE.  New York/ March 22nd, 2011

Illegal U.S. programs to promote
destabilizing activities in Cuba exposed.

     "The U.S. Government maintains unchanged its policy of subversion and interference in Cuban internal affairs, and its priorities of promoting internal counterrevolution and destabilizing activities, while strengthening the blockade and seizure of Cuban commercial and financial transaction all over the world."

The section of the press release that deals with yesterday's (Monday's) episode on Cuba's citizen cyber-activists (referred to dispassionately as "cyber-mercenaries" in the video) is here:

     "In Cyberwar, Cuba exposed U.S. new plans of aggression using new information and communication technology, as well as the so-called cyber-dissidents or cyber-mercenaries, trying to subvert order and create confusion among the population.
     "Cyber Dissidents on the Web” was the site created to prepare the main actions to defame the Cuban Revolution, for which the U.S. Government has enough resources, money and the use of wireless technology, as well as social networks widely used to spread lies.
     "In the documentary Cyberwar, different experts exposed the modus operandi of these powerful cyberspace centers in the development of the so-called “Media Campaigns”, in which they distort reality and attack socialism and the main leaders of the Cuban Revolution. All the actions of the independent bloggers have a unique pattern, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana."

To read the full press release and get the links to all the "Las Razones de Cuba" videos that have been airing on Cuban state TV over the past month, you can go here for the full PDF of the Press Release.  Below are links to the first four parts of the documentary series (the first three of which are available in conveniently translated English versions).

The first four episodes of the ongoing mini-series, "Las Razones de Cuba"
- Documentary: “The Empire´s Pawns” (Part I) / (Part II
- Documentary: “Trues and Principles” (Part I) / (Part II
- Documentary: “Well Paid Lies” (Part I) / (Part II
- Documentary: “Cyberwar” (Part I) / (Part II)

Reality TV, Cuban style - staring you know who

Readers should really check out two new "cyber videos" from Cuba.

The first is a classic piece of official propaganda produced by The Cuban government that aired on Cuban television last night.  It is the latest chapter entitled "Cyberwar" in state TV's new "Razones de Cuba" miniseries.

The other is a simple citizen defense clip (30 min.) featuring 5 of Cuba's most prominent cyber-activists (including Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar, Miriam Celaya, Dimas Castellanos, and Dagoberto Valdes, along with Wilfredo Vallin, a lawyer).  It is titled "razones ciudadanas," appeared on Sanchez's blog yesterday, and can be viewed there, at Vimeo, or at Penultimos Dias.

What follows is a Guardian article describing the Cuban TV show and some of Sanchez's reactions to it via Twitter.

Two highlights from the article, first from the government: "Cyberwar is not a war of bombs and bullets, but of information, communication, algorithms and bytes. It is the new form of invasion that has originated in the developed world," said the narrator.

Sanchez's retort: "I am so happy. Finally the alternative blogosphere on official television, although it's to insult us. They don't know what they've done! Pandora's Box has been smashed open!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Yes he did"

"Yes he did, in a hundred ways he admits to the bombing campaign. He was proud this was a success, minus the death."

Today's New York Times and Miami Herald on Bardach's testimony at the Posada Carriles trial.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ritter, Perez, & Peters: The State of the Cuban Economy - Inter-American Dialogue and FIU's CRI (Friday, 3/11/11)

What's up with the Cuban economy?

A week ago the Inter-Amerian Dialogue and Florida International University's Cuban Research Institute hosted a one-hour-and-twenty-minute trifecta of presentations by my friends and colleagues Arch Ritter (@ 5:00 minutes on the mp3 linked below), Lorenzo Perez (@ 26:10), and Phil Peters (@ 45:15), followed by a 20 minute Q & A (starting @ 1:02:00 minutes).

Both Ritter and Perez gave Power Points which are also linked below.


The State of the Cuban Economy

By Danielle Nesmith, March 11, 2011

The Inter-American Dialogue and Florida International University ’s Cuban Research Institute co-hosted a discussion on the Cuban economy. The session took place at the Inter-American Dialogue from 8:30a.m. - 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 11.
Cuba experts Lorenzo Perez, Arch Ritter, and Phil Peters, discussed the wide-ranging set of economic reforms proposed by the Raúl Castro government, and the extent to which they are likely to effectively respond to the formidable economic challenges facing the country.

Lorenzo Perez has served as Assistant Director of the IMF Western Hemisphere Department and President of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE); Phil Peters is Vice President of the Lexington Institute and author of the blog, The Cuban Triangle; and Arch Ritter is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and International Affairs at Carlton University .

For more information, please find a copy of the Power Point presentations given by Arch Ritter and Lorenzo Perez.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Historia y ficción en "El Hombre que Amaba a los Perros"

Leonardo Padura en Nueva York
Viernes 1o. de abril, 6:30 PM

Historia y ficción en El Hombre que Amaba a los Perros

Leonardo Padura, autor de la novela El hombre que amaba a los perros, reflexiona en este encuentro sobre la investigación de los procesos históricos y la inserción de personajes reales en el cuerpo de una obra de ficción. La redacción de la novela requirió a su autor varios años de búsqueda de materiales y documentos, para poder obtener una imagen cercana de los procesos que narra en la novela y un contexto lo más detallado posible de dos personajes históricos de diferente presencia en la bibliografía: de un lado León Trotski, figura pública y muy biografiada, del otro su asesino, Ramón Mercader, un hombre sin historia, con varias identidades, una criatura de las tinieblas.

Instituto Cervantes @ Amster Yard
211-215 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Subway E,V to Lexington Ave-53rd St; 6 to 51st St.
Tel: (212) 308-7720

Cuba-US: Alan Gross & the "Cyberwar" - IPS

HAVANA, Mar 14, 2011 (IPS) - The 15-year jail sentence handed down over the weekend to U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who was found guilty in Cuba of "acts against the independence and territorial integrity of the state," is part of a new chapter in the conflict between Havana and Washington, which is now playing out in cyberspace.

Cuban authorities say Gross was providing sophisticated communication technology to internal opposition groups, including independent journalists and other activists whose anti-government activities have mainly been carried out over the Internet, vía blogs and social networking sites.

Bardach, Posada, and the First Amendment

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A New York Times reporter who interviewed a shadowy ex-CIA operative about masterminding bombings that rocked hotels, nightclubs and an iconic eatery in Cuba in 1997 is set to testify at his perjury trial Wednesday after long resisting taking the stand.

Ann Louise Bardach (link to her Foreign Policy article, "Caught in the Crossfire" - H/T Cuban Colada) has been subpoenaed at least four times for federal court appearances since 1998, when she interviewed anti-communist militant Luis Posada Carriles over two days at a lavish, walled-off compound in Aruba where he was hiding. She fought those unsuccessfully, saying her testimony would discourage other people from talking to journalists.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Democracy, Development, or Destabilization? Gross gets 15 years

If you want Internet access in Cuba it's best you get it from Big Brother and not Uncle Sam as US facilitated access is considered a Trojan Horse.  Just ask Alan Gross.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Colección Padura

Hmmm...  Where to start?

3 + 7 + 1 (MSY) + 1 (FLL) = 12

No, that's not a quadratic equation. 

It is an update to my previous update to my initial post, "From 3 to 11":

Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) now joins New Orleans, Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Juan as the new cities one can catch direct flights to Cuba.

This new development should go a long way to bringing down the very high prices of flights to Cuba from the current departure cities: Miami, New York, and LA. 

More competition and convenience and less monopoly and manipulation.

The Internet in Cuba: Democracy, Development, or Destabilization?

Ted Henken

Cuba in Transition, Vol. 20, Papers and Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE).

A few excerpts:

The Internet does indeed lay a good foundation for the “battle of ideas,” but it does not necessarily
choose sides.

Expanded access to the Internet does not move societies in a single direction, partly because different constituencies within any country view the potential of the web in different ways.

Is the web a place to download democracy, boot up development, or plant the virus of dissidence and destabilization?

For many governments, especially those like the Cuban government that struggle against underdevelopment and the “digital divide” that continues to separate wealthy from poor countries in terms of Internet cost and connectivity, new ICT has the potential to be harnessed as a veritable “economic miracle” allowing a country to “leapfrog” into the modern era.

At the same time, citizen journalists and blogger-activists often understand the web (and especially the potentialities offered in many web 2.0 applications and the cutting edge mobile technologies made widely accessible by the new generation of smart phones) as a kind of revolutionary “Roman senate” where they can open up a closed system carrying out a “net roots” reform movement they like to call “blogostroika.”

Meanwhile, governments around the world have become wary of the security risks posed by increased and nearly universal connectivity with financial, military, and other secrets potentially exposed to malicious hackers often working at the service of their foreign adversaries. For them, the same web that could be embraced to boot up development, should also be feared as a potential “Trojan horse” where its enemies, real or perceived, can unleash the “virus” of dissidence and destabilization.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


In a previous post, "From 3 to 11," I forwarded a news item that stated that there were eight new cities/airports authorized by the Obama administration to arrange direct flights to and from Cuba, in addition to the three current direct embarkment points: Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX).

However, while that article gave the number eight, it only named seven new cities/airports: Tampa (TPA), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD), San Juan (SJU), Pittsburgh (PIT), Baltimore (BWI), and Atlanta (ATL).

What, then, is the mysterious eighth city/airport left off that first list...?

The city that care forgot, of course. 

New Orleans, Louisiana (aka, NOLA, The Big Easy, MSY).

Check out this AP article that gives the details on New Orleans and its Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY) being included in the mix.

Back in Business: GY and Voces Cubanas

Generacion Y is back in business as of a few minutes ago.  As is Reinaldo Escobar's Desde Aqui, Miriam Celaya's SinEvasion, and Dimas Castellanos' blog, as well as the two older blogs that I mentioned earlier: the long dormant blog Retazos by El Guajiro Azul and the very much alive blog La Colmena, a blog about Cuban masons.  

In the end ... it seems that the fix was ... pretty straightforward... a little piece of code was added.... and here it is again!

So no nefarious nabobs of negativism this time around!

What's up with GY?

From Translating Cuba... (also see here).

La Guarida's owner, Enrique Nuñez, changes his bets

Getty Images

I once interviewed Enrique Nuñez, the owner of the recently re-opened La Guarida paladar restaurant in Cuba. There's a link to my interview here.

Two things that I remember from that interview (conducted sometime between 2000 and 2001) that are appropriate to mention here:

Enrique told me then that "if I were a betting man, I would not buy stock in the future of self-employment in Cuba. It's a game and you have to know how to play it. But the government really doesn't want us around."

He also said: "I realize from this expereince that I was a born-entrepreneur.  The only problem is that I also discovered that I was born in the wrong country."

From the article below, it seems that Enrique (along with many other Cubans) is changing his bets and now has a reason to hope that Cuba is no longer the "wrong country" for an aspiring entrepreneur.

Vamos a ver.

Getty Images

Chef with a dream bets on Castro's hunger for reform
In his final report from Cuba, David Usborne visits a Havana restaurant benefiting from a relaxation of private business laws

Tuesday, 8 March 2011 -
Enrique Nuñez tells the story of the traveller given sustenance by a poor farmer who lives on the milk of a single cow. He shows his gratitude by killing the animal. When he returns a year later the farmer is rich. "It forced him to put his pastures to new uses," says Mr Nuñez. In Cuba, it is time to kill the cow, too.

From 3 to 11: Washington opens eight new US airports to Cuba travel

Washington opens eight new US airports to Cuba travel

March 8, 2011 - Boosting the number of airports allowed to host Cuba flights from three to 11, the Obama Administration is creating space for more growth of Cuba travel from the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) added Tampa, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, San Juan, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Atlanta to the list of airports authorized to host Cuba flights, according to Tampa airport officials. Miami, New York and Los Angeles have so far been the only U.S. airports licensed to host Cuba flights, with Miami capturing the bulk of Cuba travel from the United States.
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that Tampa International Airport received permission to offer Cuba flights. 
"We thank the Obama Administration for recognizing the benefits of expanded air service to Tampa Bay area residents and businesses," said Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. "Cuban-Americans in our community and businesses conducting legal trade with Cuba can now save time and money by flying nonstop from Tampa."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Generation Y is down and Desde Cuba is up

A friend wrote me this morning from Central America asking if I was also having trouble viewing Yoani Sanchez's Generation Y blog.  I logged on and typed in and indeed got the error message above.  Checking back again now six hours later, I'm still getting the same message.

At the same time I noticed that an entirely new interface is up at GY's traditional web portal  Instead of being directed to the previous portal with links to the now defunct magazines, Consenso and Con Todos, as well as to the entire collection of texts that make up the polemica intelictual, the site now hosts links to 41 individual blogs or sites as shown in the screen shot below.

This format essentially mirrors that of Voces Cubanas (see screen shot below), where links to the same 41 blogs (plus 1) are housed.  However, checking through them, I discover that five other blogs apart from Sanchez's Generacion Y are also unavailable at present. 

These are: Reinaldo Escobar's Desde Aqui, Miriam Celaya's SinEvasion, and Dimas Castellanos' blog, as well as two older and I think now defunct blogs - Retazos by El Guajiro Azul and La Colmena, a blog about Cuban masons. 

Can anyone confirm, deny, and/or explain any of this?

Finally, I noticed one new blog on the Voces Cubanas site called Ciudadano Cero.  Check it out!

Gross guilty? Not so fast...

Phil Peters points out that a verdict and sentencing have actually not yet been rendered in the Gross case, contradicting earlier reports (shared by this blogger, me) that Gross had been found guilty.

Looks like I'm the one guilty here...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gross found guilty

By Jeff Franks, Reuters
HAVANA — American contractor Alan Gross was found guilty on Saturday of working to destabilize Cuba's communist government, Cuba's state-run television reported, and now faces up to 20 years behind bars in the latest blow to U.S.-Cuba relations.
A panel of judges reached the widely expected verdict after two days of testimony including a vigorous defense by Gross, and now must decide his sentence, which will come in a few days, the report said.

Latin American Herald Tribune on self-employment growth

HAVANA – More than 113,000 licenses to start businesses were granted in the first four months of President Raul Castro's push to expand the scope for self-employment and entrepreneurship, Cuba's official press said Friday.

"As a result of the new measures in effect since the end of last year there are 157,371 self-employed workers in the country, a number that will soon double," Juventud Rebelde newspaper said.

More on growth in self-employment

Havana, March 4, 2011 - More than 113,000 permits for non-state employment, known as self-employment, have been granted in Cuba, now with the advantage of receiving social security benefits to raise the standard of living of those workers.

Prensa Latina: Number of Self-Employed Cubans (nearly) Doubles

Havana, March 5 (Prensa Latina) - Some 113,618 Cubans had been authorized to work as self-employed workers by January 31, 2011, since the regulations to exercise that kind of labor modality were eased in late October 2010, according to Idalmys Alvarez, director of Employment at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.

When the new measures were taken in late 2010, there were 157,371 self-employed workers in Cuba. Alvarez noted that 20 percent of the new self-employed workers got their licenses to make and sell food, in its different variants, including the so-called "paladares" or restaurants.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bienvenido a Leonardo de la Caridad Padura Fuentes!

I just received an e-mail from Leonardo Padura in Havana.  Taking a break from filming Siete dias en La Habana (Seven Days in Havana) with visiting actor and first-time director Benicio del Toro, Padura wrote to inform me that he has been granted a visa to travel to the U.S. during March and April to promote his latest book, El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs). 

This more good, welcome news for those of us who advocate for an expansion of cultural, educational, and people-to-people exchange between the U.S. and Cuba. 

For those unfamiliar with Padura's work, some of which has been translated into English, you can go here and here for previous posts where I discuss him and his work.  When I was still a graduate student at Tulane Univeristy in the late 1990s, I was lucky enough to meet him and even take a few classes from him as part of an exchange of writers, artists, scholars, and intellectuals that was quite active under the Clinton administration.

From the impression I had of him then, and have deepened since from reading many of his books (music journalism, literary criticism, crime novels, and historical novels), I can say that this guy will blow your socks off whatever your political persuasion or allegiances.  He has a sharp, critical mind and his books unflinchingly depict Cuba's rich, complex culture and history, as well as the beauty and tragedy of today's Havana with a love and fidelity bordering on obsession.

Padura will be at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from March 24-26 for a writer's conference, before arriving in New York for public events at Princeton University (March 29), Baruch College (March 31 - see below for more information on this event), The Bildner Center as part of the three-day Cuba Futures Symposium (March 31), and New York's Instituto Cervantes (April 1).  He will also make a quick stop at Chicago's branch of Instituto Cervantes (April 6), before returning to Cuba. 

Though he will be passing through Miami, that city and state's singularly obstructionist foreign policy has made it impossible for any public univeristy there to sponsor an event with him.  

I guess any interested miamenses will have to travel north to hear this amazing writer. 

The Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
The Department of Black and Hispanic Studies
and the Paul André Feit Memorial Fund cordially invite you to
a book reading and discussion by:

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Welcoming remarks by:
Professor Ted Henken, Chair
Department of Black and Hispanic Studies

Introduction and Presentation by:
Professor Lourdes Gil
Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
and Black and Hispanic Studies


LEONARDO PADURA is Cuba's foremost living writer. A novelist, literary critic and journalist, his last novel El hombre que amaba a los perros (The Man Who Loved Dogs) on Trotsky's assassination, is "a fascinating historical exploration of how socialism, the great utopia of the 20th century, became corrupted."

Date: March 31, 2011
Place: Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave., Room: 3-150
(Vertical Campus Bldg.)
Time: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
All Are Welcome! - You must bring Picture ID