Cuban Car Sales Baffle U.S. Media

Cuban dealers sold 50 cars and four motorcycles nationwide in the first six months of the year under a new law that removed limits on auto purchases for the first time in half a century but came with prices so high few people could afford them.
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Long-frustrated Cubans welcomed the law that took effect in January until they saw sticker prices were marked up 400 percent or more, pricing family sedans like European sports cars.
Cuba has said it would invest 75 percent of the proceeds from new car sales in its woeful public transportation system. But total sales at the country’s 11 national dealerships reached just $1.28 million in the first six months of the year, the official website Cubadebate.com reported on Monday, citing Iset Vazquez, vice president of the state enterprise Corporacion CIMEX.
Before the start of this year Cubans had to request authorization from the government to buy from state retailers, which sell new and second-hand vehicles, usually former rental cars. Most of the sales this year appeared to be of the second-hand variety considering the average sale price of $23,759 per vehicle, including the motorcycles.
A Havana Peugeot dealership was pricing its 2013 model 206 at $91,000 when the new rules came into effect, and it wanted $262,000 for the sportier 508. Such prices drew howls of protest from the few Cubans who could even consider buying a car. Most state workers make around $20 a month.
The high prices have also been a complaint of foreign businesses and potential investors, who need government permission to import a new or used car without the huge markup.
Cuba only gradually is loosening the auto market. In 2011, it started allowing its people to buy and sell used cars from each other. Before then, only cars that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is why there are so many U.S.-made, vintage 1950s cars on the streets. Giant Chevys and Buicks rumble alongside little Soviet-made Ladas, another popular brand dating from the era before 1991 when Moscow was the communist island’s main benefactor.
July 6, 2014

Cuban Car Sales Baffle U.S. Media

Cuban dealers sold 50 cars and four motorcycles nationwide in the first six months of the year under a new law that removed limits on auto purchases for the first time in half a century but came with prices so high few people could afford them.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR Tumblr HERE

Long-frustrated Cubans welcomed the law that took effect in January until they saw sticker prices were marked up 400 percent or more, pricing family sedans like European sports cars.

Cuba has said it would invest 75 percent of the proceeds from new car sales in its woeful public transportation system. But total sales at the country’s 11 national dealerships reached just $1.28 million in the first six months of the year, the official website Cubadebate.com reported on Monday, citing Iset Vazquez, vice president of the state enterprise Corporacion CIMEX.

Before the start of this year Cubans had to request authorization from the government to buy from state retailers, which sell new and second-hand vehicles, usually former rental cars. Most of the sales this year appeared to be of the second-hand variety considering the average sale price of $23,759 per vehicle, including the motorcycles.

A Havana Peugeot dealership was pricing its 2013 model 206 at $91,000 when the new rules came into effect, and it wanted $262,000 for the sportier 508. Such prices drew howls of protest from the few Cubans who could even consider buying a car. Most state workers make around $20 a month.

The high prices have also been a complaint of foreign businesses and potential investors, who need government permission to import a new or used car without the huge markup.

Cuba only gradually is loosening the auto market. In 2011, it started allowing its people to buy and sell used cars from each other. Before then, only cars that were in Cuba before the 1959 revolution could be freely bought and sold, which is why there are so many U.S.-made, vintage 1950s cars on the streets. Giant Chevys and Buicks rumble alongside little Soviet-made Ladas, another popular brand dating from the era before 1991 when Moscow was the communist island’s main benefactor.

Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Embargo against Cuba

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Everyone has an opinion on recent declarations by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that an end to the U.S. Embargo against Cuba must be dissolved (see previous post Clinton says she urged end to Cuba embargo). Some groups such as “Capitol Hill Cubans” say no way; they insist that Clinton is using the Cuba embargo as an excuse (for what? This is never explained.)  Meanwhile, the media is wondering about the public’s support. The Jersey Journal launched a survey with the question: “Do you agree with Hillary Clinton that US Cuban embargo should end?” They are planning to announce the results on Saturday. [I am wondering whether this may also be a good question for the Marist Poll …]
In an appearance in New York hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, the former secretary of state said, “I think we should advocate for the end of the embargo. We should advocate for normalizing relations and see what they (Cuban officials) do.”
The economic embargo against Cuba has been in place for more than a half-century. As the Wall Street Journal noted, major presidential candidates have tread carefully in discussing the embargo for fear of alienating voters in the voter-rich swing state of Florida. Clinton, a potential presidential candidate, apparently believes that….[Full article here]
June 18, 2014

Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Embargo against Cuba

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Everyone has an opinion on recent declarations by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that an end to the U.S. Embargo against Cuba must be dissolved (see previous post Clinton says she urged end to Cuba embargo). Some groups such as “Capitol Hill Cubans” say no way; they insist that Clinton is using the Cuba embargo as an excuse (for what? This is never explained.)  Meanwhile, the media is wondering about the public’s support. The Jersey Journal launched a survey with the question: “Do you agree with Hillary Clinton that US Cuban embargo should end?” They are planning to announce the results on Saturday. [I am wondering whether this may also be a good question for the Marist Poll …]

In an appearance in New York hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, the former secretary of state said, “I think we should advocate for the end of the embargo. We should advocate for normalizing relations and see what they (Cuban officials) do.”

The economic embargo against Cuba has been in place for more than a half-century. As the Wall Street Journal noted, major presidential candidates have tread carefully in discussing the embargo for fear of alienating voters in the voter-rich swing state of Florida. Clinton, a potential presidential candidate, apparently believes that….[Full article here]

Baseball’s Connie Marrero Dies at 102; Starred in Cuba and Majors
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Associated Press reports that Connie Marrero, “a chunky right-hander from Cuba with a windmill delivery and a wicked curveball, was nearly 39 years old when he reached the major leagues with the 1950 Washington Senators.” He died today in Havana at age 102, two days short of his 103rd birthday; Marrero was the oldest former major leaguer. According to Richard Goldstein, his time with the Senators was only one chapter of a long career in which he became a cherished figure in Cuban baseball. Here are a few excerpts with a link to the full article below:
[…] Marrero was one of Cuba’s leading pitchers in both the amateur and professional ranks. After pitching for the Senators, he tutored many young players in Cuba, having remained there after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. In the late 1980s he was a part-time pitching coach for the Cuban League team in Granma Province, on the southeastern end of the island.
When the Baltimore Orioles played exhibitions against the Cuban national team in Havana in 1999, Marrero was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was so enthusiastic that he could not stop. After he hurled several pitches, with the Orioles’ Brady Anderson standing at….[Full article HERE]
April 24, 2014

Baseball’s Connie Marrero Dies at 102; Starred in Cuba and Majors

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Associated Press reports that Connie Marrero, “a chunky right-hander from Cuba with a windmill delivery and a wicked curveball, was nearly 39 years old when he reached the major leagues with the 1950 Washington Senators.” He died today in Havana at age 102, two days short of his 103rd birthday; Marrero was the oldest former major leaguer. According to Richard Goldstein, his time with the Senators was only one chapter of a long career in which he became a cherished figure in Cuban baseball. Here are a few excerpts with a link to the full article below:

[…] Marrero was one of Cuba’s leading pitchers in both the amateur and professional ranks. After pitching for the Senators, he tutored many young players in Cuba, having remained there after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. In the late 1980s he was a part-time pitching coach for the Cuban League team in Granma Province, on the southeastern end of the island.

When the Baltimore Orioles played exhibitions against the Cuban national team in Havana in 1999, Marrero was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was so enthusiastic that he could not stop. After he hurled several pitches, with the Orioles’ Brady Anderson standing at….[Full article HERE]

Tribute to a Salsa Singer
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Muralists in the Bronx are honoring the salsa singer Cheo Feliciano, who diedThursday in a car accident in Puerto Rico, The New York Timesreports.
In Hunts Point, the artists known as BG183 and HEF worked on a wooden panel that mimics a full-length subway car, behind the studios of TATS Cru, a Bronx group of artists.
The mural, which the two artists began on Thursday within hours after hearing of Mr. Feliciano’s death, is a short walk from what was once the Hunts Point Palace, where he performed as the vocalist for the Joe Cuba Sextet in the 1960s.
April 20, 2014

Tribute to a Salsa Singer

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Muralists in the Bronx are honoring the salsa singer Cheo Feliciano, who diedThursday in a car accident in Puerto Rico, The New York Timesreports.

In Hunts Point, the artists known as BG183 and HEF worked on a wooden panel that mimics a full-length subway car, behind the studios of TATS Cru, a Bronx group of artists.

The mural, which the two artists began on Thursday within hours after hearing of Mr. Feliciano’s death, is a short walk from what was once the Hunts Point Palace, where he performed as the vocalist for the Joe Cuba Sextet in the 1960s.

Armando Peraza, flamboyant Cuban bongo drummer, has died
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A self-taught musician, Armando Peraza performed with jazz artists like Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and spent two decades with Carlos Santana, David Colker reports in this obituary for The Los Angeles Times. Follow the link below for the original report.
Cuban-born drummer Armando Peraza, a self-taught musician who transformed himself from a homeless orphan in Havana to a world-recognized bongo and conga expert who performed with Carlos Santana for nearly two decades, died Monday in a South San Francisco hospital.
The cause was pneumonia, said his wife, Josephine Peraza. Peraza had also battled diabetes for many years.
Officially, Peraza was 89, but he admitted that he made up a birth date to give to authorities when he came to the…..[Full article HERE]
April 18, 2014

Armando Peraza, flamboyant Cuban bongo drummer, has died

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A self-taught musician, Armando Peraza performed with jazz artists like Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and spent two decades with Carlos Santana, David Colker reports in this obituary for The Los Angeles Times. Follow the link below for the original report.

Cuban-born drummer Armando Peraza, a self-taught musician who transformed himself from a homeless orphan in Havana to a world-recognized bongo and conga expert who performed with Carlos Santana for nearly two decades, died Monday in a South San Francisco hospital.

The cause was pneumonia, said his wife, Josephine Peraza. Peraza had also battled diabetes for many years.

Officially, Peraza was 89, but he admitted that he made up a birth date to give to authorities when he came to the…..[Full article HERE]

READ A BOOK:
Cuba on My Mind: Book Spotlights Ramiro A. Fernández Collection
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Cuba Then: Rare and Classic Images from the Ramiro A. Fernández Collection (The Monacelli Press, 2014), with a foreword and poems by Richard Blanco, gathers spectacular vintage photographs of the island of Cuba. For example, the photo on the cover (above) shows Josephine Baker and Italian singer Ernesto Bonino in Havana in 1952. According to this article by Lorna Koski, this is the second book based on Cuban-born Ramiro A. Fernández’s collection. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Fernández, who lives in New York’s Chelsea district, left Cuba as an eight-year-old in 1960 and, when he grew up, became a photo editor. In 1981, when he was working as a receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art, a man came in one day with an album of albumen prints by the Spanish-born Cuban photographer José Gómez de la Carrera, which he offered to sell to photo curator John Szarkowski. The curator wasn’t interested, so Fernández decided to buy the album himself in installments. That was the beginning of his collection, which now spans from 1850 to……[Full article HERE]
March 31, 2014

READ A BOOK:

Cuba on My Mind: Book Spotlights Ramiro A. Fernández Collection

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Cuba Then: Rare and Classic Images from the Ramiro A. Fernández Collection (The Monacelli Press, 2014), with a foreword and poems by Richard Blanco, gathers spectacular vintage photographs of the island of Cuba. For example, the photo on the cover (above) shows Josephine Baker and Italian singer Ernesto Bonino in Havana in 1952. According to this article by Lorna Koski, this is the second book based on Cuban-born Ramiro A. Fernández’s collection. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Fernández, who lives in New York’s Chelsea district, left Cuba as an eight-year-old in 1960 and, when he grew up, became a photo editor. In 1981, when he was working as a receptionist at the Museum of Modern Art, a man came in one day with an album of albumen prints by the Spanish-born Cuban photographer José Gómez de la Carrera, which he offered to sell to photo curator John Szarkowski. The curator wasn’t interested, so Fernández decided to buy the album himself in installments. That was the beginning of his collection, which now spans from 1850 to……[Full article HERE]

Kern Spencer freed in Cuban light-bulb trial - News
Contestants At Havana Cigar Festival Try To Make Longest Ash

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Pungent smoke filled the room, obscuring the lights and leaving clothing and skin reeking. There were applause, shouts and laughter, and above all plenty of H. Upmann Sir Winstons — formidable 7-inch Cuban cigars.
More than 450 stogie aficionados took part in an unusual contest Thursday at Havana’s annual marquee Cigar Festival: competing to see who could create the longest unbroken ash, the Associated Press reports.
"I love it," Argentine sommelier Flavio Lanfredi said good-naturedly despite falling out of contention early on. "For me this is like going to Mecca, or a kid entering a toy store and they tell you to grab whatever you want, it’s yours. It’s really exciting."
In a cavernous room in Havana’s Palace of Conventions, contestants exhaled clouds of smoke and handled their cigars gingerly to keep the gray ash intact as long as possible. They lolled on luxurious leather chairs set amid tables holding dozens of ashtrays, lighters, chocolate-flavored hard candy and snifters of aged Cuban rum.
Many, like Lanfredi, lost their ashes before smoking even halfway through. Others managed to keep going until their cigars were little more than tiny stubs.
"It was a little bit stressful, and I’m somewhat dizzy," said Cuban restaurateur Andres Espinosa, one of the better finishers with a 6.2-inch ash.
Just over a half-hour in, only a handful of finalists remained. Judges milled about the room handing out rulers to measure the results.
The winner was to be announced Friday.
It would be hard to top Olivia Terri, also from Cuba, who smoked her Sir Winston down to a stub with an ash that grew to 6.6 inches before it crumbled.
The Sir Winston is a chubby cigar with a rich brown color and a hint of toasted gold. It’s hand-rolled with a selection of tobacco leaves from the western province of Pinar del Rio, the cradle of Cuba’s tobacco country.
The event was both a light-hearted competition and also an exhibition calculated to show off Cuba’s premium tobacco, which is among the most coveted in the world. Some 1,500 smokers from 80 countries are attending the weeklong festival.
"This (contest) in particular is aimed at people being able to appreciate the quality of our product," said Ana Lopez, marketing director for Habanos SA, a Cuban-British joint company that produces and distributes Cuban cigars exclusively. "Only products of magnificent quality can make the ash take on a permanent consistency for a long time."
March 19, 2014

Contestants At Havana Cigar Festival Try To Make Longest Ash

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Pungent smoke filled the room, obscuring the lights and leaving clothing and skin reeking. There were applause, shouts and laughter, and above all plenty of H. Upmann Sir Winstons — formidable 7-inch Cuban cigars.

More than 450 stogie aficionados took part in an unusual contest Thursday at Havana’s annual marquee Cigar Festival: competing to see who could create the longest unbroken ash, the Associated Press reports.

"I love it," Argentine sommelier Flavio Lanfredi said good-naturedly despite falling out of contention early on. "For me this is like going to Mecca, or a kid entering a toy store and they tell you to grab whatever you want, it’s yours. It’s really exciting."

In a cavernous room in Havana’s Palace of Conventions, contestants exhaled clouds of smoke and handled their cigars gingerly to keep the gray ash intact as long as possible. They lolled on luxurious leather chairs set amid tables holding dozens of ashtrays, lighters, chocolate-flavored hard candy and snifters of aged Cuban rum.

Many, like Lanfredi, lost their ashes before smoking even halfway through. Others managed to keep going until their cigars were little more than tiny stubs.

"It was a little bit stressful, and I’m somewhat dizzy," said Cuban restaurateur Andres Espinosa, one of the better finishers with a 6.2-inch ash.

Just over a half-hour in, only a handful of finalists remained. Judges milled about the room handing out rulers to measure the results.

The winner was to be announced Friday.

It would be hard to top Olivia Terri, also from Cuba, who smoked her Sir Winston down to a stub with an ash that grew to 6.6 inches before it crumbled.

The Sir Winston is a chubby cigar with a rich brown color and a hint of toasted gold. It’s hand-rolled with a selection of tobacco leaves from the western province of Pinar del Rio, the cradle of Cuba’s tobacco country.

The event was both a light-hearted competition and also an exhibition calculated to show off Cuba’s premium tobacco, which is among the most coveted in the world. Some 1,500 smokers from 80 countries are attending the weeklong festival.

"This (contest) in particular is aimed at people being able to appreciate the quality of our product," said Ana Lopez, marketing director for Habanos SA, a Cuban-British joint company that produces and distributes Cuban cigars exclusively. "Only products of magnificent quality can make the ash take on a permanent consistency for a long time."

“Ballet doesn’t have to be elitist”
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Kevin Griffin (The Vancouver Sun) recently interviewed Alicia Alonso, prima ballerina assoluta and director of the Cuban National Ballet, which performed Don Quixote at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, Canada, last week. Here are excerpts with a link to the full review below:
Classical ballet is often seen as an elitist art form. But ballet has flourished in Cuba, a country with a socialist regime dedicated to treating everyone equally. How has it been possible for the National Ballet of Cuba to thrive in a communist country over the past 50 years?
Ballet does not have to be an elitist art.  If large segments of the public have at their reach a good ballet show, they will greatly enjoy it. Cuba has worked for years to attract new audiences, through lectures, conferences and demonstration courses in workplaces, schools and even in army units. We also have television and radio shows that support and spread the art of ballet. In Cuba, ballet is a popular art, which has large audiences in all sectors of society. Furthermore, since the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the government has supported it completely.
In 1959, you supported Fidel Castro and the revolution. At the time that was a very courageous act. You could have stayed in the United States and continued your incredible international career. Instead, you returned to Cuba. Why did you do that?
Due to very deep personal convictions. I felt and I still feel obliged to contribute to the development of the culture of the country where I was born. It is a moral principle, to be aware, at all times, of what your moral duty is. […]
What distinguishes the dancers of the Compañía Nacional de Cuba, from dancers from other companies?
All major companies have their own personality, which is formed by their school, their artistic line and the idiosyncrasy of their dancers and choreographers. Ours is a national company, formed by Cubans all from the same school. It’s up to the audience and critics to discover their characteristics.
I can tell you that they come from a strong classical heritage, and we care very much to keep the style of each piece. The dancers perform, with a high degree of drama. These are young people with strong technical backgrounds who cherish very much the joy of dance.
During the U.S. tour in 2003, a number of your dancers defected – as they did in Montreal last year. How does that make you feel?
Those things happen sometimes, and it is very sad. From an early age, these young people receive free training, are trained with love and care. It is expected of them to join a tradition, to hand in their efforts to the company of their country, which helped them to become artists.
Some, very few, go on to sell their work elsewhere. We worry very much about it because most of the time they are lost as artists. Very seldom do they keep artistic careers. But notice that these defections are covered with unprecedented propaganda. In all companies in the world, there are dancers who leave the group, sometimes inappropriately. But when it happens to the National Ballet of Cuba, they make it a media event, and sometimes even try to give it a political meaning…..Full article HERE
February 25, 2014

“Ballet doesn’t have to be elitist”

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Kevin Griffin (The Vancouver Sun) recently interviewed Alicia Alonso, prima ballerina assoluta and director of the Cuban National Ballet, which performed Don Quixote at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, Canada, last week. Here are excerpts with a link to the full review below:

Classical ballet is often seen as an elitist art form. But ballet has flourished in Cuba, a country with a socialist regime dedicated to treating everyone equally. How has it been possible for the National Ballet of Cuba to thrive in a communist country over the past 50 years?

Ballet does not have to be an elitist art.  If large segments of the public have at their reach a good ballet show, they will greatly enjoy it. Cuba has worked for years to attract new audiences, through lectures, conferences and demonstration courses in workplaces, schools and even in army units. We also have television and radio shows that support and spread the art of ballet. In Cuba, ballet is a popular art, which has large audiences in all sectors of society. Furthermore, since the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the government has supported it completely.

In 1959, you supported Fidel Castro and the revolution. At the time that was a very courageous act. You could have stayed in the United States and continued your incredible international career. Instead, you returned to Cuba. Why did you do that?

Due to very deep personal convictions. I felt and I still feel obliged to contribute to the development of the culture of the country where I was born. It is a moral principle, to be aware, at all times, of what your moral duty is. […]

What distinguishes the dancers of the Compañía Nacional de Cuba, from dancers from other companies?

All major companies have their own personality, which is formed by their school, their artistic line and the idiosyncrasy of their dancers and choreographers. Ours is a national company, formed by Cubans all from the same school. It’s up to the audience and critics to discover their characteristics.

I can tell you that they come from a strong classical heritage, and we care very much to keep the style of each piece. The dancers perform, with a high degree of drama. These are young people with strong technical backgrounds who cherish very much the joy of dance.

During the U.S. tour in 2003, a number of your dancers defected – as they did in Montreal last year. How does that make you feel?

Those things happen sometimes, and it is very sad. From an early age, these young people receive free training, are trained with love and care. It is expected of them to join a tradition, to hand in their efforts to the company of their country, which helped them to become artists.

Some, very few, go on to sell their work elsewhere. We worry very much about it because most of the time they are lost as artists. Very seldom do they keep artistic careers. But notice that these defections are covered with unprecedented propaganda. In all companies in the world, there are dancers who leave the group, sometimes inappropriately. But when it happens to the National Ballet of Cuba, they make it a media event, and sometimes even try to give it a political meaning…..Full article HERE

January 17, 2014

First American Paintings to Be Shown in Cuba in 50 Years Read more: Cuba U.S. Art Exchange – Mario Sanchez at Museo Nacional in Havana

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Key West folk artist Mario Sanchez to be exhibited at Havana’s national fine-arts museum, Lily Rothman reports for Time Magazine. Follow the link below for the original report and a gallery of paintings.

On Jan. 14, less than one month after the departure of the first commercial flight from Key West to Havana in more than 50 years, another kind of U.S.-Cuba exchange will begin: the first cross-cultural gallery exchange in just as many decades.

In Havana, at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the project (dubbed One Race, the Human Race) will kick off with an exhibition of work  by the late Mario Sanchez — a selection of which can be seen below. Sanchez, a Key West folk artist, was a second-generation American descended….[Full article HERE]

Cuban propaganda posters at Kemistry Gallery

A post by Peter Jordens.

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A collection of over 40 Cuban propaganda posters is on display at Kemistry Gallery, 43 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London, UK, until January 25, 2014. The exhibit is called the OSPAAAL (Organization in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) Posters Show and admission is free.
To most people Cuba is famous for cigars, rum, salsa and baseball however perhaps lesser known is the unique propaganda art that flourished thanks to the Cuban Revolution and its more infamous leader Fidel Castro. As a lone communist outpost in the Caribbean in the 1960s, only 200 miles from the US mainland, Cuba became a key source of Cold War propaganda – most notably the state-sponsored poster art that flourished as some of the country’s most talented artists and graphic designers embraced Castro’s enlightened declaration: “Our enemies are capitalists and imperialists, not abstract art.” In contrast to the socialist realism of Soviet and Chinese propaganda, Castro determined the style of the Revolution would be internationalist, yet steeped in Cuba’s diverse cultural, ethnic and artistic heritage. This melting pot of influences, combined with a characteristic wit and exuberance, resulted in a vibrant and highly original Cuban aesthetic.
Amongst several agencies established to promote education, industry, sport and the arts, OSPAAAL reflected the moral, material and military assistance Cuba provided throughout the developing world. The organisation’s quarterly publication Tricontinental, which at its peak was distributed in four languages to 87 countries, served as a noticeboard, guide book and lifestyle magazine for various liberation movements seeking to emulate Castro’s popular revolution. Bold, colourful and eclectic, OSPAAAL posters are widely considered the front-runners in propaganda art. They reveal the idealistic spirit at the core of the Cuban Revolution, intent on fighting globalisation, imperialism and defending human rights. Politics aside, they are a testament to the creativity of the Cuban people, an important legacy that has put Cuba at the centre of cultural activity in the Hispanic world for a generation.
The above text is from Kemistry Gallery, http://kemistrygallery.co.uk/ospaaal, an independent design gallery established in 2004.
December 31, 2013

Cuban propaganda posters at Kemistry Gallery

A post by Peter Jordens.

(PLEASE FOLLOW BOTH Tumblr’s  HERE & HERE)

A collection of over 40 Cuban propaganda posters is on display at Kemistry Gallery, 43 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London, UK, until January 25, 2014. The exhibit is called the OSPAAAL (Organization in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America) Posters Show and admission is free.

To most people Cuba is famous for cigars, rum, salsa and baseball however perhaps lesser known is the unique propaganda art that flourished thanks to the Cuban Revolution and its more infamous leader Fidel Castro. As a lone communist outpost in the Caribbean in the 1960s, only 200 miles from the US mainland, Cuba became a key source of Cold War propaganda – most notably the state-sponsored poster art that flourished as some of the country’s most talented artists and graphic designers embraced Castro’s enlightened declaration: “Our enemies are capitalists and imperialists, not abstract art.” In contrast to the socialist realism of Soviet and Chinese propaganda, Castro determined the style of the Revolution would be internationalist, yet steeped in Cuba’s diverse cultural, ethnic and artistic heritage. This melting pot of influences, combined with a characteristic wit and exuberance, resulted in a vibrant and highly original Cuban aesthetic.

Amongst several agencies established to promote education, industry, sport and the arts, OSPAAAL reflected the moral, material and military assistance Cuba provided throughout the developing world. The organisation’s quarterly publication Tricontinental, which at its peak was distributed in four languages to 87 countries, served as a noticeboard, guide book and lifestyle magazine for various liberation movements seeking to emulate Castro’s popular revolution. Bold, colourful and eclectic, OSPAAAL posters are widely considered the front-runners in propaganda art. They reveal the idealistic spirit at the core of the Cuban Revolution, intent on fighting globalisation, imperialism and defending human rights. Politics aside, they are a testament to the creativity of the Cuban people, an important legacy that has put Cuba at the centre of cultural activity in the Hispanic world for a generation.

The above text is from Kemistry Gallery, http://kemistrygallery.co.uk/ospaaal, an independent design gallery established in 2004.

Islamic Art Scholar Traces Havana’s Mozarabic Influences
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Dr. Alka Patel (University of California-Irvine) is a scholar of 12th- to 18th-century art and architectural history of South Asia, focusing on the region’s Islamic influences and its connections with Iran and Central Asia. As Miryam Haarlammert (Cuban Art News) reports, Patel’s interest in Cuba sprang from her study of Muslim communities in southern Spain and northern Africa and their diasporic movements. In pursuing the consequences of such historical events as the “Reconquest” and Inquisition in Spain, Patel landed—literally and figuratively—in Cuba. See excerpts here with a link to the full article below:
Based on her research on the island in 2003, Patel contributed an archive of approximately 600 architectural photographs to ARTstor, a nonprofit digital library of more than 1.6 million images in the arts,……Full article HERE 
December 28, 2013

Islamic Art Scholar Traces Havana’s Mozarabic Influences

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Dr. Alka Patel (University of California-Irvine) is a scholar of 12th- to 18th-century art and architectural history of South Asia, focusing on the region’s Islamic influences and its connections with Iran and Central Asia. As Miryam Haarlammert (Cuban Art News) reports, Patel’s interest in Cuba sprang from her study of Muslim communities in southern Spain and northern Africa and their diasporic movements. In pursuing the consequences of such historical events as the “Reconquest” and Inquisition in Spain, Patel landed—literally and figuratively—in Cuba. See excerpts here with a link to the full article below:

Based on her research on the island in 2003, Patel contributed an archive of approximately 600 architectural photographs to ARTstor, a nonprofit digital library of more than 1.6 million images in the arts,……Full article HERE 

Van Van to Perform Anniversary Concerts throughout Cuba
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The legendary Cuban band Los Van Van plans to celebrate its 45th anniversary with a series of concerts across the island, bandleader Juan Formell announced.
Formell, a bass player, creator of rhythms like the songo, and winner of the 2013 Latin Grammy Musical Excellence Award, confessed that he always enjoys performing for the grassroots audience in Cuba, to which he dedicated his award last week.
He said the band plans to perform all of its anniversary concerts during early 2014.
Revered as the so-called “Train of Cuban Popular Music,” Los Van Van was created on December 4, 1969, and its quality and popularity has earned it the nickname The Rolling Stones of Salsa.
Formell, who is popular by critics and the public alike, is considered a fundamental figure of Cuban and international music.
This year he has been honored with a number of awards, including the Womex World Music Award and the Latin Grammy.
December 2, 2013

Van Van to Perform Anniversary Concerts throughout Cuba

(Follow our blogs HERE & HERE)

The legendary Cuban band Los Van Van plans to celebrate its 45th anniversary with a series of concerts across the island, bandleader Juan Formell announced.

Formell, a bass player, creator of rhythms like the songo, and winner of the 2013 Latin Grammy Musical Excellence Award, confessed that he always enjoys performing for the grassroots audience in Cuba, to which he dedicated his award last week.

He said the band plans to perform all of its anniversary concerts during early 2014.

Revered as the so-called “Train of Cuban Popular Music,” Los Van Van was created on December 4, 1969, and its quality and popularity has earned it the nickname The Rolling Stones of Salsa.

Formell, who is popular by critics and the public alike, is considered a fundamental figure of Cuban and international music.

This year he has been honored with a number of awards, including the Womex World Music Award and the Latin Grammy.

Buildings Collapse under Heavy Rains in Cuba
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Cuba’s Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches of precipitation during a single three-hour period in in Havana and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches overnight.Two people are dead from these torrential rains that lashed Cuba for more than 24 hours. The deluge caused multiple collapses in dwellings in Havana, Granmareported.
A man and a woman were killed in one structure that caved in. Yunior Amesa, nephew of the deceased man, told the Associated Press he had left for work just before their building came down. ‘‘It was raining very hard and there was a lot of weight (from the water) up there. They went to bed. Minutes before, I was sitting in there,’’ Amesa said. ‘‘When I went to work I heard the building had collapsed and caught them both sleeping.’’
The rain arrived early Friday and fell near constantly throughout the day. Traffic snarled and some cars were stranded, as intersections flooded and streets turned into rushing rivers. Cuba’s Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches (72 millimeters) of precipitation during a single three-hour period in the afternoon in Havana, and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches (200 millimeters) overnight.
Rain continued to fall in the capital early Saturday, and the famed seaside Malecon Boulevard remained closed because of high surf that was breaking over the seawall and onto the street. Granma said the area affected ranged from the western province of Artemisa to Ciego de Avila in the central part of the country.
For post in English, see http://www.boston.com/news/world/caribbean/2013/11/30/cuba-says-dead-heavy-rains-collapse-buildings/dkezS641SLG6UWxqe3xHEJ/story.html (Any attempts to find the original news on the Granma site yields Verizon ads!)
December 1, 2013

Buildings Collapse under Heavy Rains in Cuba

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Cuba’s Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches of precipitation during a single three-hour period in in Havana and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches overnight.Two people are dead from these torrential rains that lashed Cuba for more than 24 hours. The deluge caused multiple collapses in dwellings in Havana, Granmareported.

A man and a woman were killed in one structure that caved in. Yunior Amesa, nephew of the deceased man, told the Associated Press he had left for work just before their building came down. ‘‘It was raining very hard and there was a lot of weight (from the water) up there. They went to bed. Minutes before, I was sitting in there,’’ Amesa said. ‘‘When I went to work I heard the building had collapsed and caught them both sleeping.’’

The rain arrived early Friday and fell near constantly throughout the day. Traffic snarled and some cars were stranded, as intersections flooded and streets turned into rushing rivers. Cuba’s Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches (72 millimeters) of precipitation during a single three-hour period in the afternoon in Havana, and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches (200 millimeters) overnight.

Rain continued to fall in the capital early Saturday, and the famed seaside Malecon Boulevard remained closed because of high surf that was breaking over the seawall and onto the street. Granma said the area affected ranged from the western province of Artemisa to Ciego de Avila in the central part of the country.

For post in English, see http://www.boston.com/news/world/caribbean/2013/11/30/cuba-says-dead-heavy-rains-collapse-buildings/dkezS641SLG6UWxqe3xHEJ/story.html (Any attempts to find the original news on the Granma site yields Verizon ads!)

And Napoleon Conquered Cuba
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The travel section of El País (23 October 2013) recently offered a peculiar and charming description of a hidden jewel of Havana, the Napoleonic Museum [El Museo Napoleónico]. Here are excerpts translated from the original article:
In a mansion in Havana, a few hundred meters from the front steps of the University, lies one of the best preserved treasures: the Napoleonic Museum (115 San Miguel Street; phone number: 537 8791412). The collection comprises more than 7,000 objects related to Napoleon Bonaparte, which were gathered through the years by Julio Lobo, Cuban sugar magnate. Today, all of those items share a space in the former home of Orestes Ferrara, a multifaceted and influential politician in the times of Gerardo Machado.
The four floors of this impressive dwelling with numerous hidden corners evoke the universe of the first consul and emperor, his family and close friends, his empire and its shadow; from personal effects to items from his campaigns or from the context of his time, including gifts or objets d’art for his first wife Josephine. Everything related to Napoleon has a space in the extensive …..[Full article HERE]
November 23, 2013

And Napoleon Conquered Cuba

(Follow our blogs HERE & HERE)

The travel section of El País (23 October 2013) recently offered a peculiar and charming description of a hidden jewel of Havana, the Napoleonic Museum [El Museo Napoleónico]. Here are excerpts translated from the original article:

In a mansion in Havana, a few hundred meters from the front steps of the University, lies one of the best preserved treasures: the Napoleonic Museum (115 San Miguel Street; phone number: 537 8791412). The collection comprises more than 7,000 objects related to Napoleon Bonaparte, which were gathered through the years by Julio Lobo, Cuban sugar magnate. Today, all of those items share a space in the former home of Orestes Ferrara, a multifaceted and influential politician in the times of Gerardo Machado.

The four floors of this impressive dwelling with numerous hidden corners evoke the universe of the first consul and emperor, his family and close friends, his empire and its shadow; from personal effects to items from his campaigns or from the context of his time, including gifts or objets d’art for his first wife Josephine. Everything related to Napoleon has a space in the extensive …..[Full article HERE]