U.S. Neuroscientists Want to Connect with Cuban Colleagues

U.S. Neuroscientists Want to Connect with Cuban Colleagues

American neuroscientists urged government officials to make room for scientific cooperation in the new framework of relations that is being shaped between Cuba and the United States.

“There is more to this new openness than simply enabling American owned businesses to establish themselves along Havana’s seaside Malecon esplanade, or allowing United States tourists to once again enjoy the beautiful Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena,” wrote the group of scientists, headed by Mark Steven Cohen, from the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience of the University of California.

The opinion article was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), one of the most important scientific journals in the world.

Interviewed by OnCuba via email, Mr. Mark Cohen, said that the article started as a letter that was initially sent to President Obama, before anyone could have imagined that the United States and Cuba would come to an agreement to start talks to normalize relations.

“We wrote the letter before Mr. Obama’s historic announcement, with a different slant,” he said, “suggesting that we could improve scientific exchange even if the rest of the policy was in place. When Obama moved to open relations, just a few days later, we re-framed the letter.”

READ MORE: http://oncubamagazine.com/science/u-s-neuroscientists-want-to-connect-with-cuban-colleagues/

L.A. and U.S. Academicians to Focus in Havana on Regional Economic Development

L.A. and U.S. Academicians to Focus in Havana on Regional Economic Development

Academicians of Latin America and the United States will attend the 1st International Seminar of Opportunities and Challenges for the Economic Development of Latin America and Cuba, to be held on April 28 and 29 in this capital, organized by the University of Havana (UH).

Speakers from organizations like the World Bank, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), co-sponsor of the meeting, will focus on ways for the international integration of the region that are more in keeping with their objectives for development.
The meeting will be an opportunity for university professors of the country to strengthen links with the CAF and assess the participation of Cuba in that institution, which has become one of the main sources of funding for infrastructure projects in Latin American and Caribbean nations.
The Vice-rector for Research and Graduate Studies at the UH, Vilma Hidalgo, told reporters that one of the topics under debate will be the impact on the area of the crisis of developed countries, which have an impact on the strategies to attract external financing and on those for regional integration.
Another issue under analysis will be updating of the island’s economic model, the development of which will be presented by a group of Cuban academicians, who will also tackle the prospects offered to trade by the new stage of relations with the U.S., she underlined.
Addressing participants in the Seminar will be prominent international speakers, such as Enrique Garcia, president of the CAF; Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC; and Mario Bergara, President of the Central Bank of Uruguay.

Over 300 Thousand Health Workers will March on May Day

Over 300 Thousand Health Workers will March on May Day

HAVANA, Cuba, Apr 27 (acn) Encouraged by the return to Cuba of the five anti-terrorists who were imprisoned for years in US jails and of the health professionals who fought Ebola in western Africa, nearly 60 thousand health workers will join the May Day march next Friday at Havana´s Revolution Square.

The general secretary of the Health Workers Union, Doctor Santiago Badia said that the sector will be represented by over 300 thousand professionals in all activities throughout the island on May 1, International Workers Day.

In Havana, the health workers will be led by the 33 professionals with the medical brigade that fought Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, said the unionist.

Other workers include those who involved in national health campaigns and activities, while the block will close with 10 thousand nurses.

“We are highly motivated to celebrate May Day as we recalled the historic statement by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro on May 1, 2000 when he gave his concept of Revolution, which guides us to any part of the world to honor the name of Cuba,” said the doctor.

Classic Cuban films to be restored

Luciano Castillo, director of Cuba’s Cinemateca, announced on Sunday that the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will help restore the negatives of two films from the outstanding Cuban filmmaker Tomas “Titon” Gutierrez Alea.

Castillo told local newspaper Rebel Youth that the two films, “A Cuban Fight Against Demons” (1971) and “The Survivors” (1979), will be re-released once the restoration work is completed, which is expected to be during the Havana Festival in December.

“Titon” Gutierrez Alea (1928-1996) directed works such as the well-known “Strawberry and Chocolate” (1993), the comedies “Guantanamera” (1995) and the “Death of a Bureaucrat” (1966), and the world-famous “Memories of Underdevelopment” (1968), among others.

Castillo also mentioned another restoration project.

“We held talks with the Department of Film at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). They have launched a great project which encompasses the age of classic cinema between 1932 and 1960 from Argentina, Mexico and Cuba,” said Castillo.

For Cuba, UCLA will help restore the negatives of five films, including the “Chaste of Oak” (1954) directed by Manuel Alonso and “Cuba Dances” (1960) directed by Julio Garcia Espinosa.

Espinosa’s film was the first production after the Cuban Revolution and a copy of the film on 35 mm tape disappeared.

“We are looking into working with France on “The Other Christopher” (1963) by Armand Gatti. This was the first Cuban-French co-production,” mentioned Castillo about other plans in the pipeline.

Several years ago, Cuba’s Cinemateca asked for international help to recover the archives that were lost or damaged in Cuba’s turbulent past. However, it was not possible to save all the important tapes.

From: (Xinhua)

Back from Cuba, Douglas says Plattsburgh-Havana flights are coming soon

New York’s North Country travelers might be able to hop on a plane in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and get off in Havana, Cuba sometime soon, according to Garry Douglas, one of the region’s top economic development leaders. “It will happen,” Douglas said.

Douglas is co-chair of the North Country’s Regional Economic Development Council and heads the North Country Chamber of Commerce. He was one of several officials who joined Andrew Cuomo last week, when he became the first state governor to visit Cuba in years. “It matters to be first. Economic development, international relationships are always in part a race. We won that race,” Douglas said.

Douglas helped create the Plattsburgh International Airport. He represented the air travel industry on the trip, along with Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways. Douglas said flights to Cuba could become a reality because there’s a high demand in Montreal. He said the demand could spill over the border. “More than 600,000 people fly from Trudeau airport every year now to Cuba. That’s a huge number. It’s almost half of the total for all of Canada going to Cuba,” he said. “That makes it an instant success when — not if, but when — somebody first opens up Cuba service from Montreal’s United States airport.”

It is early. The U.S. embargo still forbids regular tourism to Cuba, and the Plattsburgh International Airport is a tiny facility. The airport cannot send planes to Cuba until it finishes an ongoing expansion project that is expected to wrap up by 2017.

Douglas said he met the Cuban Director of International Air Travel, who supported the idea of a Plattsburgh-Cuba service. Douglas said she used to live in Montreal and was familiar with Plattsburgh. “When we need a contact in Havana, at whatever point we need that to help facilitate air service between here and there, we have one,” he said.

From: ncpr ( north country public radio)

Cardinal Stella: Papal visit to Cuba will be “beautiful”

(Vatican Radio) The recently announced visit by Pope Francis to Cuba will be “beautiful”, because “wherever the Pope goes, he always leaves traces of hope and love,” according to Cardinal Beniamino Stella, The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Cardinal Stella was speaking after Mass on Sunday in Havana, where he is making  a pastoral visit at the invitation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Cuba.

Cardinal Stella was the Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba from 1993-1999, and helped make preparations for the historic visit by Pope St. John Paul II in 1998.

He arrived in the country on Wednesday, and has also visited Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas, Bayamo and Camagüey.

His visit coincides with the announcement Pope Francis will visit Cuba in September, on his way to the United States.

“I think each visit by a Pope is an important moment, with much profoundness and much hope for those countries,” Cardinal Stella told the EFE news agency.

The Cardinal said he is “confident” the papal visit will help advance the relationship between Cuba and the United States.  Pope Francis is credited with contacting the leaders of both countries, encouraging them to improve relations.

Cardinal Stella’s visit also marks the upcoming 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Cuba.

“The Pope remembers and prays strongly for Cuba,” he said.

Musical envoy heads for Cuba

Brass Quintet Tours Cuba, May 1-8 2015

Making History
On May 1, 2015, Gustavo Camacho will travel to Cuba for 10 days to tour with a professional brass quintet comprised of music faculty from four different universities.

It will be the first time in 50 years that an outside professional brass quintet performs in Cuba. Decades of sanctions and poor relations between the United States and Cuba have severely limited the cultural exchanges between the two countries. The professional quintet will perform brass concert music for the Cuban people, while the quintet members immerse themselves in the Afro-Cuban musical society. The quintet’s feature performance is at a music festival in Santiago de Cuba called “Concierto Santiago 2015,”  along with other smaller performances and masterclasses with local Cuban musicians and conservatory students.  The tour will take the quintet to Havana, Sancti Spiriti, and end in Santiago de Cuba.

12 months in the making
With the new political talks between Obama and Castro, visits to Cuba have opened up to more groups – although it is still limited to educational, religious, or selective touring groups.  The brass players were able to gain approval from the Cuban government in their roles as educators at their respective Universities. They also received a personal written invitation to perform at the festival by Cuban host Daniel Guzman, who is associated with the music conservatory in Santiago.  After the official invitation had been approved by the Cuban government, a licensed U.S. Agency called “Marazul” was in charge of booking all travel and expenses. Since U.S. credit cards have not been accepted in Cuba in the past decades, any expenses in incurred in Cuba need to be arranged in advance, or paid in cash. The process takes months.

All-star cast
The quintet brings together an all-star cast of American musicians.  The quintet was brought together by Dr. Michael Davison, Professor of Trumpet at the University of Richmond.  He is a frequent visitor to Cuba as part of his decades long research on Afro-Cuban music. Afro-Cuban music is closely tied to American Jazz, which has become a rich staple and musical tradition in the United States.

Over the last two decades, Dr. Davison has visited Cuba 29 times, often taking documentarian Brian Ross to record the events with photography and film.  Brian Ross will also accompany the quintet on this historic Cuban tour to record the events.  The quintet includes renowned trumpet player and University of Wisconsin at Madison faculty John Aley, a former member of the famed American Brass Quintet.  The group is rounded out by distinguished Penn State University music faculty Mark Lusk on trombone and Velvet Brown on tuba.  Collaboration of this nature across four universities is almost without precedent.

Model for diplomacy?

Afro-Cuban music and American Jazz continue to be closely related.  They have influenced each other through the Miami-Havana route, despite the 50-year embargo. In the deep shadow of the Cold War legacy, music and culture prevailed, maintaining a meaningful link between the two countries.  Collaboration, evolution, progress.  Musical diplomacy.

The Quintet
Mike Davison, trumpet
Professor of Trumpet, University of Richmond


John Aley, trumpet
Professor of Trumpet, University of Wisconsin at Madison


Gustavo Camacho, horn
Professor of Horn, Western Washington University


Mark Lusk, trombone
Professor of Trombone, Penn State University


Velvet Brown, tuba
Professor of Tuba, Penn State University


(From: The Cuban Handshake)