Old Havana’s living statues

“Living” or “human statues” have become a veritable socio-cultural phenomenon in many cities around the world. In Havana, they have been a popular form of street-art for quite some time, particularly in the busier parts of the old town.

One of the chief merits of these performers is their ability to remain motionless for extended periods of time. This motionlessness is interrupted for brief instants, when a spectator offers the artist a coin for his performance or in order to take a photograph of them.

These talented makeup and performance artists gather at Old Havana’s Obispo pedestrian boulevard every day. Bronze workers, fairies, harlequins, a clay-person and even a pirate are some of the characters regularly seen on this street.

If we take a detour, heading down Mercaderes street towards Amargura, we will find Pepe River (alias “El Santiaguero”), one of the most renowned human statues in Havana. Not far, a talented black man competes with the charismatic man from Santiago de Cuba.

Some blocks away, in the vicinity of the Saint Francis of Asis Convent, the legendary Caballero de Paris (“Parisian Gentleman”) poses next to the actual bronze statue of this urban legend, a pioneer of these performances in Cuba and the most talented representative of this highly expressive street art. Occasionally, he is accompanied by a cellist and a woman dressed entirely in white who also attracts the curious with poems and jasmines.

Without a doubt, the streets of Old Havana would not be as charming without the magic of its living statues.



Cuban Health Care: Rutgers Students Witness a Different Way to Serve Patients

Monday, August 11, 2014

Students at a clinic in Cuba
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Amaya-Fernandez
Students in front of a health clinic they visited in Cuba.
‘Whether they think it is a great system or they think it is failing, I hope this spurs students to want to learn more and see how they can contribute to their communities here’
– Elizabeth Amaya-Fernandez

A group of Rutgers students spent four weeks this summer experiencing the complexities of life in Cuba – a country with an underdeveloped economy but highly effective health care system.

They went door to door with a doctor in Havana who checked Cuban residents for signs of dengue fever, and instructed them to eliminate any standing water – the breeding ground for mosquitos that spread the disease.

The students observed the country’s maternal care as they assisted a doctor who delivered medicine to patients who were pregnant and questioned them about their health. They participated in an exercise program for senior citizens and helped distribute condoms and literature to the transgender community in the most popular gay nightclub in Havana.

For the 10 mostly public health majors who explored a country that has been economically and diplomatically closed off from the United States for decades, traveling to Cuba gave them a chance to witness a dramatically different way of caring for people through a system of socialized medicine.

“It was a great opportunity to see a free system,’’ said Connie Villanueva, a fifth-year public health major from Burlington. “Money is such a big issue when you deal with your health care. Instead of focusing on the money I think we should focus on health and start from there.’’

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EEUU reconoce que infiltró a jóvenes en Cuba para desestabilizar al Gobierno

Miércoles, agosto 6, 2014

La portavoz del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos, Jen Psaki, reconoció este lunes que envió a jóvenes latinoamericanos a Cuba para desestabilizar al gobierno socialista de la isla.

La existencia de ese programa había sido revelada durante la jornada por un reportaje de la agencia de noticias estadounidense Associated Press (AP), que reforzaba el carácter reservado de la operación ya que serviría para impulsar la organización de grupos opositores al gobierno cubano.

Psaki afirmó en cambio que el objetivo era cooperar en temas de “interés social” en Cuba.

El programa fue financiado por la agencia del gobierno estadounidense para la asistencia internacional (USAID, en inglés), y operaba bajo la tapadera de la realización de actividades culturales, limpiezas en las comunidades y siembra de árboles, además de un taller sobre prevención del Sida.

Leer Más/LibreRed / AFP


  • August 1, 2014
  • Written by ACN
  • Published in Cuba
Hillary Clinton reiterates wish to advance relations with Cuba











Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who reportedly is the favourite to be the Democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential elections, reiterated her wish to advance relations with Cuba, according to excerpts of an interview cited by PL news agency.

Clinton defended the idea that the US embargo of Cuba has been a failure, as she expressed in her book Hard Choices, published earlier this year.

She referred to the Cuba travel ban imposed on US nationals by saying that she would like to see a final normalization of relations, as well as visits to Cuba by US citizens.

The US economic, commercial and financial embargo has been maintained by 11 successive US administrations against Cuba over the past 50 years, including the current Obama administration.

IFCO/Pastors for Peace: On the road to Cuba

By on July 29, 2014

Since 1992 the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment caravan has challenged the U.S. blockade of Cuba, casting a solidarity net to every corner of the United States and into Canada and Mexico. On July 23, caravanistas marched across the border to join their brightly painted vehicles. Without U.S. government permission or an export license, the 25th caravan successfully crossed the U.S.-Mexico border headed to Cuba.

Activists accompanied tons of humanitarian aid. They will see Cuba for themselves by asserting their right to travel and freely associating with the Cuban people. It is awesome.

The Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba is not doing what the old auto advertising jingle urged when it exhorted car buyers to “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” It’s no individualist escape. Caravanistas band together for a common purpose: They collect computers, medicine, medical supplies, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, tools, building supplies and diesel buses for Cuba.

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Movement that changed the world began in Cuba July 26, 1953

On July 26, 1953, exactly 61 years ago this Saturday, a small band of courageous and principled young Cubans stormed the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago, in Eastern Cuba. Though that uprising failed to dislodge the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, it was the beginning of a movement that has changed the world forever.

Batista had originally taken power in the “Sergeants’ Coup” of 1933. He ruled Cuba behind the scenes for a while, but made himself president in 1940. In his first term, Batista carried out relatively progressive pro-worker policies, and thus was supported by the Cuban Communist Party and the labor unions.

After leaving power in 1944 and living in the United States for a while, Batista returned to Cuba and ran for president again in 1952. When he saw he was going to lose, he organized an armed coup d’état. The second time around, Batista ditched his former relatively progressive policies and showed himself as the corrupt and violent instrument of the Cuban and U.S. wealthy classes, and an enthusiastic ally of the Meyer Lansky wing of the Mafia. Thousands of political opponents were murdered and Cuba was left wide open for every kind of exploitation and vice.

Many brave Cubans tried to stand up to this monstrous dictatorship. The bravest of the brave were the group of 135 young Cuban men and women who were recruited by Fidel Castro Ruz to carry out the Moncada Barracks assault. Their plan was to seize the military barracks and the arms it contained, and use this as an organizing center to rouse the entire Cuban population against the Batista regime, which at that point had only been in power for about 16 months. .

But everything imaginable went wrong, and the uprising was defeated. Batista’s henchmen murdered about 70 of those they captured at the scene or managed to round up later. Others were put on trial and sentenced to various prison terms (Fidel Castro and his brother Raul to 13 years each). Many were tortured.

At his own trial, Fidel drew upon his vast erudition, his sharp wit and his skills as a practicing lawyer to turn the tables on the regime. In what became known as his “History will Absolve Me” speech, Fidel laid bare the crimes of the Batista dictatorship, the illegitimacy of its legal procedures, and the responsibility of all people of conscience to oppose such a regime in Cuba and, by implication, anywhere.

Fidel closed his speech to the court: “I can not ask freedom for myself while my comrades are already suffering in the ignominious prison of the Isle of Pines. Send me there to join them and to share their fate. It is understandable that honest men should be dead or in prison in a Republic where the President is a criminal and thief…. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”

Sixty-one years later, the Isle of Pines is now the Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud), a center of high quality education for Cuban and international youth.

A public outcry led to an early release for Fidel and Raul. They went to Mexico and organized a new expedition to invade Cuba on the motor yacht Granma and start another movement to oust Batista. That too went seriously wrong, and only 12 men survived to keep on fighting. Their movement grew and took the name of the 26th of July Movement to honor the Moncada barracks event.

On New Year’s Day 1959, insurgent troops headed by Ernesto “Che” Guevara seized the city of Santa Clara in central Cuba, and Batista, seeing the writing on the wall, decamped with his cronies and loot, to go into exile in Portugal where he died in 1973.

Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the United States and some of its allies have done their level best to overturn it and restore the old regime to power. They have not succeeded. Cuba implemented socialist policies of great benefit to its workers and small farmers, and especially to its women and minorities. Beyond that, Cuba has carried out, and continues to carry, international solidarity projects that have improved the lives of millions in the poorest countries in the world

Lest we forget, Cuba played a mighty role in the defeat of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Many of the heroes of July 26 have passed on. Fidel and Raul are still with us, and have not budged a millimeter from the resolve they have always shown.

History has absolved! Now it is up to us to learn from the heroic story of the 26th of July, and never let it be forgotten by future generations.

Photo: Young students at a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers at the Angela Landa elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, April 4. The organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among Cuban children and adolescents. Franklin Reyes/AP

Obras de Salvador Dalí en Cuba

Muestra de obras de Salvador Dalí se exhibirá por primera vez en Cuba

Muestra de obras de Salvador Dalí se exhibirá por primera vez en Cuba

La Habana,18 jul (EFE).- Una selección de obras del pintor español Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) se exhibirá por primera vez en Cuba con la muestra “Memorias del Surrealismo” que será inaugurada en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana el 24 de este mes, informaron hoy medios locales.

El edificio de “Arte Universal” de la centenaria institución acogerá 95 piezas de Dalí, icono del surrealismo internacional, cuya obra como pintor es muy conocida en Cuba, no tanto el trabajo de grabador que ahora se verá, según explicó el especialista del Museo Nacional, Máximo gómez Noda.

Leer Original en MSN