Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Aniplant Project helping cuban animals

Thinkstock-Street-dog-465915751-573px-resizedHAVANA, 31 October   Ask any professional in the animal protection field how to reduce the population of homeless animals in a city, and you’ll likely get the same answer.
The only effective humane way to reduce the homeless animal population is through massive, long-term spay and neuter campaigns. Nothing else has permanent results.
Such sterilization campaigns are primarily what THE ANIPLANT PROJECT has been helping our friends in Havana to do. We got started early in 2006 after my first trip to Cuba, and we’ve been helping with anesthetics and medicines ever since.Each year Aniplant must report its progress in sterilizing animals to Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture. Now, with several years’ results, we can draw conclusions about Aniplant’s humane work and how many animal poisonings it has saved through low cost sterilizing programs.

IMG_2781THE CRUEL ALTERNATIVE
The Cuban Government has an old fashioned, inhumane way of dealing with homeless animals—they poison them. Work crews in trucks prowl the city in search of vagabond, sick, and injured animals.
They are taken to a killing center miles east of the city where they are kept without food for a few days to check for rabies. As soon as the rabies quarantine period has lapsed, the hungry animals are finally given a meal—lamentably, their last one. The food is laced with strychnine, and there begins a slow, painful decline and death for thousands of dogs and cats every year.

MEASURING OUR RESULTS
The killing center produces statistics to show how many animals they kill. After a year of asking we finally got some general information. We were told that in the 1990’s the average number of killings was 13,000 to 15,000 per year.
Today, that nUmber (the kill rate) has fallen to an average of 9600 per year. If we take 14,000 as the 1990’s rate, it is fair to credit Aniplant’s saving animals from cruel poisonings with a rate of 4400 animals a year—or a 31% reduction in killings. Those saved animals were never born, but result in a real reduction in animal suffering.

AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE
 havana-live-noria-garciaNora Garcia, Aniplant’s President, is talking with those who control the killing center to urge the use of humane euthanasia drugs in place of strychnine.
There are resistances to change and major cost issues. No one now Saving one dog 3 can know if that will happen, but it’s an effort worth making. Unless or until Cuba’s procedures are modernized and made humane, the best hope the animals have is continued high numbers of sterilizations.

WHERE YOU FIT IN
You, the friends and supporters of The Aniplant Project, can take a bow for the very real improvement we’ve made in the lives of Cuban animals. The sterilizations accomplished since 2006 are the central reason for this improvement. Those 4400 animals avoiding poisoning this year are repeated every year so long as we can continue our massive sterilization programs. This is real animal suffering stopped because of you.

269338_635154757714_128123297_nOUR ANNUAL FUNDRAISING APPEAL
Cuba 309 3 At this time of year we make our yearly appeal to you, our supporters, for donations. Your gift to TAP is one of the biggest humane bargains you’ll find.
In Cuba, they do the hard work—educating the public, advertising the campaigns, conducting the sterilizing sessions which move through Havana’s neighborhoods, doing the vet work, etc. Here, all we have to do is support them.
Won’t you please make a donation to TAP so we can continue helping Cuba’s animals? They deserve our efforts to give them decent lives and to militate against cruel extermination methods.

For Cuba’s animals,
Les Inglis, Founder

https://www.theaniplantproject.org/

Pontus Lidberg debut in International Ballet Festival of Havana

 havana-live-pontus-lidberg HAVANA, October 30 (acn) Pontus Lidberg Dance Company, from USA, will debut today with a show scheduled for 5:00 pm at the National Theatre , as part of the 24th International Ballet Festival of Havana.

About eight artists are included in the delegation, headed by the Swedish dancer and choreographer Pontus Lidberg, who will lead the group in the interpretation of his choreography Faune, Within and Tactile, which have not been presented in Cuba. In addition, the public can see the world premiere of the play This was written on water, also by the Nordic creator, settled for some time in the North American country.
At the same time, but at Mella Theatre, there will be a concert program which will involve Cuba’s Camagüey Ballet, the Joburg Ballet, from South Africa, Hong Kong Ballet, Winter Guests Company, from Norway, and the National Ballet of Uruguay, with several premieres at Cuba.

Later, at nine o’clock in the evening, the show of the Sleeping Beauty, with Yanela Piñera and Arian Molina, prima ballerina and leading dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba, is scheduled. This festival will last until November 7, event that is included since two years in the calendar of many dance lovers who traditionally come to Havana to enjoy the best of this art.

Chinese company sells LED street lighting to Havana

 havana-live-LEDHAVANA, October 30 (acn)  China is exploring business opportunities in the Cuban electricity sector through sales of LED street and domestic lighting.

The sales director of China’s Zhejiang Yabao Limited corporation told reporters that the lamps may last up to 50 thousand hours as they are made out of materials appropriate to withstand the island’s high temperatures.

The Chinese company has already made contacts with several Cuban enterprises in the electricity sector, the executive said and added that the upcoming Havana International Trade Fair, opening November 2, will offer opportunities to make contacts and relations with Cuban companies and with foreign entities.

LED technology contributes a considerable energy and fuel saving, said Raul Yhebra, chief of the technical group with Havana provincial office for the rational use of energy. The new lamps have already been installed along Havana’s sea front drive and others will soon illuminate important Cuban thoroughfares.

Building at the corner of Galiano and Virtues collapsed after a heavy rain

havana-live-derrumbe HAVANA, 29 October The precarious situation of many constructive buildings in Havana was evident last Thursday when the second floor of the building at the corner of Galiano and Virtues in Central Havana collapsed after a heavy rain.
The three balconies and façade fell to Galiano Street. The collapse did not charge victims because the inhabitants of the building had been evacuated by firefighters shortly before the events.
Debris are still in the street, but is expected to be collected in a short time because Galiano is one of the busiest streets in Havana, both vehicles and pedestrians. Another similar event, but where people were not so lucky, was the one in the street corner 41 and 54, in Playa.
It was there five deaths and dozens of families were resettled in collective shelters after collapsing the building where they lived. Construction of the 30s had delayed collapse: bearing walls had been affected by the multiple divisions requiring the families that lived there. The humidity did the rest.
http://www.cubaheadlines.com/2014/10/29/p6/collapses-are-the-result-of-heavy-rains-in-havana.html

Inauguration ceremony of the Ballet Festival in the Karl Marx Theater

havana-live-ballet.festival.havanaHAVANA, 29 October  Today, when the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) celebrates its 66th birthday, the artistic presentations of this festival that runs until November 7, dedicated this time to the English playwright William Shakespeare start.

The Karl Marx Theater serves as headquarters for the first time this type of encounter, during which it will host the opening and closing galas, in addition to other proposals such as the magic of dance, an anthology in which the public can appreciate scenes of classic main attraction.
At half past eight p.m. will be the opening of this meeting, which is held every two years and includes the traditional parade with all generations of dancers trained in the Cuban School of Ballet and opening remarks.

To close the play Shakespeare and his masks, choreography by Alicia Alonso with orchestral adaptations of Juan Piñera and libretto by Jose Ramon Neyra, inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet is announced. In the lead roles are the first figures of the Cuban company Anette Delgado and Dani Hernandez.
During these days, dance lovers will enjoy the action of first figures of five dance companies and soloists joint US and other from Belgium, Hong Kong, Uruguay, France, China, Denmark, South Africa, Chile and Santiago Italy.

Also performing dancers from Puerto Rico, Portugal, Betraña, Germany and Norway and the host country, represented by members of the BNC and Camaguey. The foreign guests pass through the Mella Theater and the two chambers of the National cede its space to the combined and concert programs and the entire Lake swans.

Graying Cuba approves plan to boost birth rate

havana-live- peopleonbench Havana, 28 October  (AFP) Cuba is encouraging its rapidly aging population to have more babies, state-run media reported Monday. The daily Granma newspaper reported that President Raul Castro called the communist island’s graying population “one of the greatest challenges facing the nation because of its impact on social, economic and family life.” Castro’s cabinet has adopted a slate of policies to boost the fertility rate, including financial incentives, the daily reported. The government also announced plans to increase care for the elderly, Granma wrote. By 2027, the number of deaths in Cuba could surpass births, and overall population will not only get older, but also smaller, a state official said at the meeting. Lower birth rates and a steady stream of migrants leaving the island has caused the population to drop 11.2 to 11.1 million in the last decade, according to census data. Around 45,000 Cubans have left the island every year in the last decade, official statistics show. Cuba currently has 2.4 million people over the age of 60, a demographic, which, by 2045, is expected to make up more than a third of the island’s population, posing serious economic challenges. Officials said limited access to housing, the high costs of child care and a lack of family support services have contributed to the low fertility rate.  View Comments (100)

Havana and New York cities are united by art

 havana-live-exhibitionHAVANA, 28 October (Cubarte)  An innovative artistic approach to the city of New York and Havana is the proposal of the exhibition NYC 1950: bitácora de La Habana by photographer Juan Manuel Cruz, which will be displayed until November 1st at the Gallery Julio Larramendi of the Conde de Villanueva guesthouse, in Old Havana.

This exhibition includes 29 works in black and white that refer to buildings and landmarks of the New York City, through the visual representation of the Havana space. These pictures include references to iconic places of the northern metropolis such as Times Square or Central Park City.
“The main goal of this series was, starting from important referents of New York city, searching its counterpart here in Havana and transport people to the American city through these images “, explained the author of this creative proposal.

According to Julienne López Hernández, curator of this exhibition, NYC 1950 helps us to get close to a cultural space par excellence, in which Juan Manuel Cruz clearly shows his desire to make visible Cuban environment on the basis of the American referent.

Cuba builds first new church in 55 years

groene_montserrat450HAVANA, 27  October The Catholic Church says Cuba has allowed construction of the country’s first new Catholic church in 55 years.

Experts say it’s a sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba’s government. The church is being funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, and will be built in the town of Sandino in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
The church publication “Christian Life” says it will have space for 200 people. The Cuban Catholic Church had tense relations with the government for many years after the 1959 revolution, but relations have been slowly improving in recent years.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the island, the government recognized a Christmas holiday and began allowing masses or homilies to be broadcast on official media.

Cubans in the United States, Figures and Facts

 cuba_usa-flag HAVANA, Oct 25 (acn) The number of Cubans living The United States and their descendants has been calculated at 1.8 million, standing for 3.6 percent of all Latin Americans in that country, according recent demographic statistics.

Statistics from reports and studies by the US Census Bureau and the Pew Hispanic Center, cited by journalist Andres Gomez, editor of the Miami-based Areito Digital magazine, say that out of the 1.8 million persons, 1.044 million(58 percent) were born on the island and 756 thousand (42 percent) were born in the States.
An estimated 1.2 million Cubans (70 percent of the total) and their descendants are living in the US state of Florida, whose population reached 19 million in 2012. And 75 percent of those Cubans are located in Dade County. Some 80 or 90 thousand live in the states of New Jersey, New York and California, and little over 50 thousand live in the state of Texas.

The annual growth of the Cuban immigration between 2000 and 2010 was estimated at 17,300 people. The average age of the Cuban population in the U.S. is 40 years of age, while that of other Latin Americans there is 27 years, while the average age of the general US population is 37 years.
According to the statistics, 25 percent of the Cubans and their descendants have got a university diploma, compared to only 13 percent all other Latin Americans in that country. Their average annual salary was calculated at 24 thousand dollars, against 20 thousand dollars for other Latin Americans, while the general annual average salary has been estimated at 29 thousand.

As to poverty levels, 19 percent of the Cubans live under the poverty line, compared to 26 percent of the rest of the Latino population and 16 percent of the general US population. According to estimates, 60 percent of all Cuban born on the island now living in the States are US citizens, with 90 percent of them having arrived in the country before 1980.
Pew Research Center says that 47 percent of the Cuban-origin voters in 2013 favored the Republican Party and 44 percent took sides with the Democrats.

In 2012, the Latin American population and descendants was calculated at 53 million out of a total US population of 311 million. The largest Latin American population groups are the Mexicans, 34 million; Puerto Ricans, 5 million; Salvadorans, 1.9 million and the Cubans with 1.8 million.

Cuba and United States strengthen ties through dance

 havana-live-Paloma-HerreraHAVANA, 25 October  The next 24th International Ballet Festival will bring together for eleven days in the main theater stages of Havana an important representation of American ballet.

Some important figures of American ballet share the stage with talented Cuban dancers. Besides the joy of artistic quality, this event will strengthen ties through dance between Cuba and United States. 

Nominated by Dance Magazine in 1999 as one of ten dancers of the century, the ABT figure star Paloma Herrera will dance on November 6th at the Mella Theater in Havana, next to NYCB Principal Dancer Gonzalo García. Together, they will dance for the public Chaikovsky pas de deux, a piece to be included in the concert program that will take place that day.

It is not the first time for Herrera in the Festival of Havana, in editions of 1996 and 2010 she was also invited and in 2012 she served as a member of the set named “José Manuel Carreño and American ballet stars”. At age 15 she joined to the ABT in New York and when she was 20 years old she holds the rank of Principal Dancer.
It was not a surprise that she quickly ascended in that company; the teachings of the prestigious figure from Argentina ballet Olga Ferri and her elegant technique led her to major venues in the United States, Europe, Asia and America. Her repertoire includes major awards: Gino Tani,Italy Award; Ion Platinum Award andMaría Ruanova,Prize of Argentina; and Gold Medal of Arts, awarded in 2008 by the Center for Artistic Submissions John F. Kennedy, Washington, United States.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Gonzalo García was promoted to Principal Dancer of the NYCB in 2002. With that company he has taken the starring roles in the works of classical-romantic tradition as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, among others. He has also starred in contemporary works of Balanchine, William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon and Mario Bigonzetti creators. Among his most notable awards include the Gold Medal which won at the Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the most prestigious events in the world.

Also appearing on this 24 Ballet Festival the Cuban dancer Xiomara Reyes, who dances with ABT of New York since 2001. Like Herrera, Reyes in 2012 acted as a member of the set “José Manuel Carreño and American ballet stars”. In this edition of the Festival will star a number from ballet Coppélia, and Great Galloping Gottschald with the First Spanish Dancer Carlos López.
The First Dancers Joaquín de Luz and Ashley Bouder, from the NYCB, also traveled to Cuba. Luz, from Spain like García, holds the rank of NYCB principal figure since 2005 and for top honors is considered one of the most brilliant exponents of the current male dance. American Ashley Bouder, meanwhile, is a creditor of important awards such as the Mae L. Waimn Award for Most Outstanding Promise and Janice Levin to featured dancer in the year 2000-2003.

One of the most anticipated moments will be the piece Diana and Acteón, November 2nd, at the Covarrubias Hall of the National Theatre, which will be led by the renowned First Dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba Viegnsay Valdés and the first figure of the Washington Ballet Brooklyn Mack. Critics have high expectations about Mack’s performance for being selected as a Valdés’s dance partner, who does not lack merit from.
It will also be interesting the proposal of the Hispanic Ballet of New York. This Havana Festival will present Celeste on November the 1st at the National Theatre, a work of Annabelle López Ochoa, a Colombian-Belgian creator. They will also present Asuka, a piece of Cuban-American choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, director of the Hispanic Ballet. Asuka will be a tribute to the late Cuban salsa queen Celia Cruz.

The acts will be Yemaya, Tu Voz, Te Busco, Pa’ la Paloma, Agua Pa’ Mí, Guantanamera and Drume Negrita; this last one by the renowned Cuban musician Bola de Nieve. This company describes itself as the “leading dance company representative of Hispanic culture in the United States.”
Its choreography and the talent of its dancers have earned rave reviews in the New York Times. In addition to the ABT, the NYCB, the Washington Ballet and the Hispanic Ballet of New York, the companies Pontus Lidberg Dance and Cincinnati Ballet will be presented. No doubt this 24th Ballet Festival of Havana, although it coincides with other major international events, has brought together figures from the most prestigious companies in United States.

Photographer Gabriel Davalos presents his book Sensual Havana

 havana-live-gabriel-davalosHAVANA, 23 October (OnCuba)  The relationship between classical dance and Havana is the main theme that captures the photo book Sensual Havana, conducted by the Cuban journalist and photographer Gabriel Davalos.

The photographs exhibited some of the qualities that put the Cuban school of ballet in a prominent position globally. Sensual Havana will be presented on Saturday October 25 at the National Museum of Dance.
The artists display naturally and casually their talents, sometimes as never before have been seen on stages and is precisely what Dávalos’ lens captured. “This dance is about the traditions and lifestyle of the people. The Cuban ballet mirrors are the inhabitants of this city,” said the author.

The book will show 60 photographs about the skills of students from the National School of Ballet and soloists, principal dancers and leading figures of companies as the American Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba and other foreign companies where Cubans had worked.

Over 160 Cuban Companies at Havana International Trade Fair

 havana-live-fihav2014HAVANA, Cuba, Oct 22 (acn) More than 160 Cuban companies will bring their products and services to the 32nd Havana International Trade Fair to take place November 2-8 at the Expocuba exhibit ground.

Cuban Chamber of Commerce president Orlando Guillen told reporters that the local companies have already rented five thousand square meters in the central pavilion of the exhibit facility, though a total 360 Cuban entities will be represented at the event, which is aimed at promoting foreign investment on the island.
Main stands at the Cuban pavilion include those set up by the Special Development Zone of the Mariel harbor and its container terminal. As usual, the fair will include business forums with the attendance of delegations from Venezuela, China, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico and Hungary.

Also on the agenda are bilateral meetings between local and foreign representatives of trade promotion entities from around the world. Nearly 30 governmental delegations are expected to attend the trade fair.

America could be the main market for cuban Cigars

 havana-live-cuban-cigarsHAVANA,October 21 (acn) The vice-president of Habanos S.A. international corporation, Jorge Luis Fernandez, said in Havana that if the US trade restrictions were lifted, Americas could make up the main market for Cuban Habano cigars.

Speaking to Trabajadores newspaper, Fernandez said that from 1949 to 1958, just before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the US was a natural market for the Cuban product as Americans would buy 33 percent of the Cuban cigar production,
which translated into 35 percent of the total income of the sector. But the US trade restrictions imposed on Cuba in the 1960s not only deprived Cuba of a stable market, but also prevented US cigar smokers from having access to the Cuban product.

In normal conditions, Cuba could sell from 150 to 170 million Premium Cigars, those hand-rolled and weighing over three grams, which would translate into 380 million dollars a year.
At present Cuba sells its Premium Cigars in 25 European countries, meaning 58 percent of its production, disregarding the cost of the freight, and this compares to a previous commercialization of 33 percent of the production in only one country.

Spanish designer opens exhibition in Havana

 havana-live-Eulalia de Lucia HAVANA ,October 21 (acn)  The Spanish creator Eulalia de Lucia presented her fashion brand at the National Museum of Decorative Arts in Havana.

De Lucia told ACN that her relationship and attraction for Cuba date back many years when her father established his business here and since then she always dreamed of making a production of top quality fashion clothing and accessories with Cuban designers and craftsmen.

She praised the designs line which is characterized by simplicity and by having bright pastel colors as its emblem, with patterned fabrics that make reference to Cuba’s nature and its various manifestations.
The collection is made up by female attire for daily use and top dressing, complemented with fine jewelry and accessories such as leather wallets and belts.

Elegant cuts and apparent simplicity of the clothing, the harmony of the colors of the prints, some bold by their contrasts or designs that make allusions to Cuban flora and fauna, also distinguish these garments.
The dressmaker is confident of success of her line of products by their beauty, simplicity and utilitarian nature of each piece, based on the requirements of today’s woman, her dynamic life and the need to always be with an appropriate and appealing image.

As a guarantee to achieve these purposes, she trusts in the talent and creativity of her designers, craftsmen and artisans, whose works remain on display all this month at one of the transitional rooms of the National Museum of Decorative Arts in El Vedado neighborhood.

Florida Aquarium leaders visit Cuba

havana-live-tampa_aquariumHAVANA, 21 October (by Paul Guzzo) Leaders from Tampa’s Florida Aquarium visited Cuba over the weekend to discuss a possible partnership with the island nation’s National Aquarium in Havana.

No official agreement was signed but those representing The Florida Aquarium on the trip believe that day is coming. It would mark the first time such a deal is struck between Cuban and U.S. aquariums since the U.S. travel and trade embargo was imposed over five decades ago. “The trips and the talks exceeded my expectations,” said Margo McKnight, vice president of biological resources at the Florida Aquarium.
“We spent a lot of time sharing information with their aquarium’s officials and agreed that working together makes sense. Now we need to talk it over with the overall leadership at The Florida Aquarium and move from there.” A return trip to Cuba has not been planned.

Nor has bringing officials from the National Aquarium of Cuba to Tampa. While the two sides discussed a variety of ways they could collaborate, McKnight said, the primary focus was on coral reef restoration research. Scientists predict that by 2050, all the world’s coral reefs will be threatened by pollution and changes in water temperature.
Florida’s coral reefs already are dying at an alarming rate, McKnight said. Coral reefs protect coasts by reducing wave energy from storms and hurricanes. And as home to more than 4,000 species of fish and countless species of plants, some support up to 25 percent of all known marine life.

The Florida Aquarium, McKnight said, is actively searching for ways to reverse the decline. Cuba, she added, has the most pristine coral reef in the world — one yet to feel the effects of the changing marine environment. Called “Gardens of the Queen,” the reef is in southern waters off the provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila.
“Just 90 miles off Florida’s coast is a look back into time at what a reef should be like,” McKnight said. “We want to study it to understand why its ecosystem is so healthy and learn if we can extract any lessons from it that we can apply.” Under the preliminary talks, the Florida Aquarium would get access to the Gardens of the Queen. In return, the Florida Aquarium would keep the National Aquarium of Cuba up-to-date in its research on restoring coral reefs.

“This would be their way of proactively protecting their reefs,” McKnight said. “They don’t have a problem now but they want to be prepared in case it is threatened in the future.” McKnight was unsure if this would be the first collaboration between a U.S. and Cuban aquarium since the embargo was put in place.
But last week, Jeffrey Boutwell, board member with the Latin America Working Group Education Fund in Washington, D.C., told the Tribune it would be. Boutwell’s organization carries on the work of author Ernest Hemingway on a shared U.S.-Cuba approach to maritime resources. He recently met with the National Aquarium of Cuba to discuss such collaboration with the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

He has no connection to The Florida Aquarium or the delegation that traveled to Cuba. Tampa has been part of a historic maritime alliance between the U.S. and Cuba before. In March, an international oil spill agreement was signed by five nations with Caribbean shorelines — Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the United States and Cuba.

The agreement circumvents the U.S. travel and trade embargo, which would have slowed the process of sharing resources to clean up a spill in Cuban waters that could reach Florida shores. Albert A. Fox Jr., founder of the Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, introduced U.S. oil and environmental leaders from the private sector to members of the Cuban government in 2010.
These people later successfully lobbied the U.S. government to work with Cuba on the cleanup and containment protocol. In a similar way, David Guggenheim, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Cuba Conservatory, said he believes a partnership between the two aquariums could help persuade the U.S. government to support collaborative research on coral reefs between U.S. and Cuban scientists.

“If enough research partnerships are happening between private U.S. organizations and the Cuban government, the U.S. government may take notice and get involved sooner,” Guggenheim said. Guggenheim helped establish the Tri-National Workshops — meetings between researchers from the U.S., Cuba and Mexico on issues affecting turtles, sharks, dolphins, fisheries, coral reefs and protected marine areas.
Sarasota-based Mote Marine Laboratory is among the private research institutes that regularly attends the annual meetings, held since 2007. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has sent representatives to observe the meetings, Guggenheim said, while Mexico and Cuba send government representatives who actively participate.

Guggenheim said he is talking to members of the U.S. State Department about increasing federal involvement. He welcomed news of talks between the two aquariums. “Collaborations like that one could kick what we are doing to a new level.” The future of the marine ecosystem shared by Cuba and Florida depends upon college students from both nations studying the waters without concern for politics, Guggenheim said.

“Marine life does not know borders,” he said. “The students need to be trained as leaders who work together. Ultimately, they will inherit this issue.” The Florida Aquarium has an internship program, but it is too early to discuss sending those students to Cuba, McKnight said. If that day does arrive, it may be the only opportunity for students from the University of South Florida to study Cuban waters.
Under Florida law, money that flows through a state university cannot be used for travel to a nation on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba is on that list. “I realize nothing is ever easy to do between these two countries,” McKnight said.
“But ultimately I think everyone will agree this is not about politics but about doing what is best for the environment. Cuba offers us an amazing opportunity for our research her.
http://tbo.com/news/business/aquarium-leaders-visit-cuba-20141020/

German Theater Festival in Havana

 havana-live-german-teaterHAVANA, October 18 (acn)  The 9th edition of Havana’s German Theater Festival will bring three world premieres and two revivals, in addition to a cycle of lectures and panels, on October 18-26.

Among world premieres to be enjoyed by theater lovers are El camino de las hormigas, by Roland Schimmelpfennig, in charge of the Cuartel Company, at the Adolfo Llaurado Hall on October 25.
El mal gusto, by Rogelio Orizondo and Marcos Diaz, directed by Moritz Schonecker, at the Tito Junco Hall of the Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center on October 18.
Idomeneo, by Schimmelpfenmig, directed by William Ruiz, at the Cafe del Bertolt Brecht on October 22.
In the case of revivals, we find Palabras y cuerpos, by Martin Heckmanns, directed by Eric Morales, by the Escambray Theater Group at the Raquel Revuelta Hall on October 21-23.
La mision, by Heiner Muller, directed by Mario Guerra, also at the Raquel Revuelta on October 24-26.
The cycle of lectures, by H. T. Lehmann, will focus on post-dramatic theater, on October 20-22
and there will be a workshop on docudrama, by Sarah Israel, on October 21-24 at the Festival Center of the New Latin American Cinema.
Panels are entitled on Cuban-German production and Where is theater heading? on October 20 and 25, respectively, at Cuba’s Ludwig Foundation.

Prestigious companies to attend Havana’s intl. Ballet Festival

havana-live-hispanic-balletHAVANA, Oct 20 (acn) Prestigious companies of the world will perform in the 24th edition of Havana’s International Ballet Festival, to be held from October 28 to November 7.

The Hispanic Ballet of New York, based in Manhattan, in the United States, founded by Venezuelan-American ballerina and choreographer Tina Ramirez and currently directed by Eduardo Vilaro, will be among these companies.
The Hispanic Ballet of New York will perform at the capital’s Mella Theater on November 1st and 2nd, at 5:00 p.m., with a program that includes two pieces that will be presented on the island for the first time: Asuka, by Eduardo Vilaro; and Sortijas, by Cayetano Soto.

Completing the artistic suggestion are the works Sombrerisimo, by Annabelle López; and El beso, by Gustavo Ramirez. Another important company to perform at the Festival will be the Linga Company from Switzerland.
This group was founded in 1992 when Katarzyna Gdaniec, main ballerina of the Bejart Ballet of Lausanne; and Marco Cantalupo, a choreographer and a dancer of the aforementioned company, joined to materialize their dreams of independence and creativity.

Linga creates one or two pieces a year and in its repertoire we find Concert-O, choreographed by Katarzyna Gdaniec and Marco Cantalupo, which will be presented at the Covarrubias Hall of Havana’s national Theater on November 2nd, 5:00 p.m.

Cuba to introduce modern, more secure ID cards

havana-live-id-cardHAVANA, 17 October (EFE) Cuba will gradually introduce a more modern, durable and secure ID card starting Oct. 29, the island’s media reported, citing government officials.

The new ID cards, which are to be made of polycarbonate, a plastic-like material, will be similar to a magnetic stripe card and their dimensions will be in keeping with international standards, Interior Ministry authorities said.
The new cards will be more durable and reduce the possibility of identity theft, while also allowing “administrative processes to be conducted with greater integration and speed as the country progresses toward an information society,” Communist Party daily Granma said.

The new cards will leverage the latest technologies and feature, among other elements, biometric data, a hologram overlay, a digital signature and photograph, security patterns and a machine readable zone.
The Interior Ministry said that in the coming years the ID card may contain voice prints, iris scans and DNA data, “all of which will result in an ID document that is more reliable and difficult to falsify,” the official daily Juventud Rebelde reported.
The cost of the new cards will be 25 Cuban ordinary pesos (approximately $1). Current Cuban ID documents, which will not have to be renewed immediately if they are in good condition, are handwritten and in the form of a booklet or laminated card. 

Havana’s violinmakers battle instrument shortage

  havana-live-violine-maker7HAVANA,15 October  (AP Michael Weissenstein ,Andrea Rodríguez )  In a light-filled workshop cluttered with tools and pieces of old string instruments, three men carve strips of imported wood and silently measure the angles of violin pegs and viola necks bent out of tune by years of use.

Here in the heart of old Havana, Andres Martinez and his two apprentices wage a daily battle against one of Cuba’s lesser-known economic problems: A country famous for its music is running low on musical instruments.
Cuba’s dozens of free music schools turn out thousands of skilled young musicians each year, many of whom play imported instruments that can only be repaired and maintained with hard-to-find materials from abroad. havana-live-violine-maker

Delicate and complex, string instruments are among the hardest to keep in tune. Before Cuba’s 1959 revolution, many students played violins, violas, cellos and bass from European workshops. After it, the Soviet Union provided violins and cellos, along with many other goods.
Now, as Cuba struggles to revive its stagnant centrally planned economy, students must make do with violins from China that too easily pop strings and lose their tone. Sponsored by Cuba’s city historian and a Belgian nonprofit group called Fiddlemakers Without Frontiers, Martinez and his apprentices repair dozens of instruments a year, make a handful from scratch and train aspiring young violin makers in an attempt to create an indigenous Cuban violin industry.  havana-live-violine-maker4

“We do everything here from minor repairs to major renovations,” said Martinez, 41. “It’s a profession that requires a lot of dedication.” Martinez began as a furniture repairman for the historian’s office, a city agency in charge of caring for Havana’s cultural heritage, most importantly restoring the historic heart of the colonial city.
Since the opening of the workshop three years ago, he has overseen the repair of more than 400 violins, violas, cellos and bass violins, the restringing of some 200 bows and the manufacture of a dozen high-quality violins for professional musicians.

  havana-live-violine-maker8Using high-end imported tools and varnishes, Martinez takes pride in a quality of work that he says can’t be found among amateur repairmen who use hammers to fix violins. “Fiddle-making isn’t carpentry,” he said. The workshop lends instruments to musicians who need them for concerts or competitions, and has come to fill a gap left by the death or emigration of Cuba’s handful of world-class violin repairmen in recent decades, musicologist Miriam Escudero, said. “This workshop fills a great need,” she said.  havana-live-violine-maker9
Cuba opened a violin factory in the eastern province of Camaguey in the 1970s but the native cedar didn’t have the quality and resonance approaching that of European rosewood and maple. Martinez and his apprentices say their next challenge will be converting the workshop into a financially self-sustaining operation. They are considering applying to be a worker-run cooperative, a new form of business that the Cuban government hopes can be more efficient than many faltering state industries.

  havana-live-violine-maker5The future of Cuban music may depend, in a small way, on their success or failure. “It’s like with people,” said workman Juan Carlos Prado, 25. “If you feel bad, you need a doctor. The same thing happens with a musical instrument. If it isn’t working well, you can hear it in the music.”  havana-live-violine-maker1  havana-live-violine-maker3

  havana-live-violine-maker2

Japanese Artist Eitetsu Hayashi to Perform at Mella Theater

  havana-live-Eitetsu HayashiHAVANA, October 14 (acn) Eitetsu Hayashi, a virtuoso of the traditional Japanese drum –wadaiko, considered to be a cultural jewel of his country, will perform in Cuba on October 15 at the capital’s Mella Theater.

A performer and a composer of this instrument, the most well known of its kind and valued very highly in the world, Hayashi will offer a concert entitled Ritmo de la naturaleza, with his group Fu Un, which will also perform on the 17th at the Miramar Theater,
also in this capital. The Agency of Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, appointed him this year as Cultural Representative of his country to show a style created by him, which combines the attraction of genuine traditional drums –wadaikos- with his original and contemporary way of playing them.

Irish company becomes number one mobile top-up provider in Cuba

dingHAVANA, 14 October  A Dublin-based firm has become on the of world’s largest mobile phone top up providers after a major deal in Cuba.

The company, ding*, has acquired www.RecargasaCuba.com, a website specialising in mobile top-up exclusively to Cuba. Chief executive Mark Roden – who will appear on on RTEs The Entrepreneurs tonight – said the expertise of RecargasaCuba in the Cuban market “brings an invaluable insight that will help us grow our business in the region”.
Headquartered in Dublin, with regional offices in Miami, Dubai, San Salvador, Bucharest and Dhaka, ding* employs 200 people. The firm sends mobile top-up, instantly, to any phone, anytime, anywhere and is directly connected to 300 mobile operators in over 130 countries with a reach of over 3.5 billion phones. Luis Flores, of RecargasaCuba.com, said the union with ding* shows the commitment of both companies to help Cubans abroad to stay in contact with and send support to their loved ones back in Cuba.

Florida Aquarium visits Havana`s Aquarium

havana-live-tampa_aquariumHAVANA-TAMPA,11 October  (Paul Guzzo) Members of The Florida Aquarium’s fundraising arm will travel to Havana next week for meetings with the National Aquarium of Cuba just as the Cuban institution is expressing interest in a research partnership with a U.S. aquarium.

The Florida Aquarium Foundation in Tampa isn’t saying whether it hopes to be that partner or who will be traveling. “This is an educational mission,” said Tom Hall, foundation chairman, who will be on the Tuesday-to-Sunday trip.
“We want to talk about what we do, hear what they do, and then compare notes. I’ll know more when we get back.” There is no collaboration now by aquariums in the two countries. The National Aquarium of Cuba hopes to change that, said Jeffrey Boutwell, board member with the Latin America Working Group Education Fund in Washington, D.C. The nonprofit fund carries on the work of author Ernest Hemingway on a shared U.S.-Cuba approach to maritime resources.

Boutwell was part of a group that visited Cuba in September to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Hemingway’s first trip from Key West to Havana aboard his cabin cruiser. Boutwell met then with representatives from the National Aquarium to learn what’s being done to protect the marlin, tuna and other game fish with which Hemingway is identified.
He asked Julio Baisre, vice director of the aquarium, if he’d consider partnering with U.S. aquariums. “He was definitely interested,” Boutwell said. “I told him I’d reach out to the National Aquarium in Baltimore since I am from that city. I have not yet done so and did not know about Tampa’s trip, but I hope something positive comes from it.”

The aquariums in Tampa and Havana both focus on research as well as public exhibits. A partnership would help protect the two nations’ shared marine resources, he said. “Water does not know national borders or politics,” Boutwell said. “We can provide them information they need and vice versa.” Currents, for example, could wash oil spilled in Cuban waters into Florida waters in less than a week.
That concern prompted an international oil spill agreement signed in March by five nations with Caribbean shorelines — Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the United States and Cuba. The agreement circumvents the U.S. travel and trade embargo, which would have slowed the process of sharing resources to clean up a spill. In June, former Sen.

Bob Graham announced his intentions to lobby the federal government to take the next step in protecting Florida’s shores by providing Cuba access to top-of-the-line oil drilling equipment made in the U.S. but now banned from sale in the island nation. Without the equipment, Graham said, Cuba would be more vulnerable to an oil drilling accident.
Marine biologists from throughout the U.S. are already collaborating with their counterparts in Cuba on research that could reverse the deterioration of coral reefs, prevent overfishing and lead to better understanding of the gulf ecosystem.

Those working for state-funded Florida universities, however, are barred by state law from such work. Under Florida law, money that flows through a state university or institution — including grants from private foundations — cannot be used for travel to a nation on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba is on the list. “There always seems to be political barriers keeping the two countries from properly working together,” Boutwell said. “Aquariums are private institutions so they can help bring the two nations together on these important issues.
”http://tbo.com/news/politics/florida-aquarium-visits-cuba-amid-partnership-push-20141011/

Havana`s children train for circus, and a future

   havana-live-children-circus1 HAVANA, 10 October (Reuters Daniel Trotta)  Inside an abandoned movie theater on a noisy avenue in a working-class erea of Havana, some 70 Cuban children as young as nine pursue their dream of joining the circus.

Aspiring acrobats climb a rope while young jugglers toss pins back and forth, and others take turns on the trampoline or parallel bars. No one seems to mind the dilapidated conditions, at least as long as the weather is dry.
Several corrugated tin laminates are missing from the roof, exposing the sky. “Ever since I was little, I always said, ‘I want to join the circus,'” said 12-year-old Daniela Rodriguez, who likes training at heights. “At first I was a little scared, but not anymore.”

The circus is a lucrative career path and a rare opportunity for Cubans to make real money on the communist-led island. Cuban circus artists working abroad make a minimum of 800 euros (about $1,015) a month, and usually much more than that, a relative fortune compared to the meager salaries back home.
Odelmi Hernandez, 42, who once worked briefly as a circus clown, guides the students for three hours daily at the Havana school, where some students commute from as far as two hours away. “A lot of these children come from disadvantaged homes, have shown bad conduct, or come from family conflicts,” said Hernandez, whom everyone calls Kiko.

“Through this project, we help them incorporate socially. They also learn values here.” On a recent day the program included physical exercise, from push-ups to chin-ups to running, with most of the students dressed in leotards. One teenager balanced on a board placed over a cylinder and started jumping rope, blind-folded, and with young Daniela on his shoulders. “My heart is up here,”
said Ivette Rivera, grabbing her throat as she watched her daughter participate in the stunt. Rivera said her daughter hopes to enter Cuba’s National Circus School and then perform professionally, even if that means long stretches overseas.

“It scares me but it’s what she likes to do,” Rivera said. “I’ll accompany her all the way to the airport if she makes it. She’s fighting for her dream.” Youth circus training is fairly common internationally, whether as pure recreation or career training.
“Circus education is on the rise all over the world,” said Amy Cohen, director of the U.S.-based American Youth Circus Organization. The Cuban National Circus tours as a company and also hires out its talent to companies such as Ringling Brothers and Cirque du Soleil. Even though the Cuban state takes a cut of their salaries, the circus gives students a clearly defined profession, said Jose Manuel Cordero, spokesman for the Cuban National Circus.
“They know that in the circus they have a future as a person, as an artist,” Cordero said. “They can triumph doing what they love.” www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/10/uk-cuba-circus-idUSKCN0HZ14920141010  havana-live-children-circus2  havana-live-children-circus   havana-live-children-circus3   havana-live-children-circus4CREDIT: REUTERS/ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI

Havana`s new rebels: emos, screamos, mikis and freaks

 havana-live-freaksHavana, 10 October  (AFP) Every weekend, a new generation of rebels converges on downtown Havana, their tattoos, piercings, and dyed hair a world apart from the “new man” the island`s revolutionary leaders dreamed of.

They claim membership in a disparate band of urban tribes — “emos,” “screamos,” “repas,” “mikis,” “punks” and “freaks” — but come together on G Street, one of the capital`s main avenues, to drink, smoke, flirt, gossip and listen to the music that defines their clans. Cuba`s government once considered them “ideological deviants,” but has recently begun allowing these globalized rebels a small space of freedom — though still under the watchful eye of the police.

Gathering at midnight beneath statues of Latin American independence fighter Simon Bolivar and leftist hero Salvador Allende, several hundred mostly teenage revellers gather each weekend sporting creative tattoos, multiple piercings and gauged ears. Others wear leather or metal wristbands, or exotic post-punk hairstyles. In their cross-cutting fashion philosophy, “black is the new khaki.”
Under the raw light of streetlamps or in the shadows of the tree-lined median, they gather around MP3 players or cell phones playing hard rock, hip-hop, emo and reggaeton. They bear little resemblance to Havana`s postcard image of crumbling colonial buildings, classic American cars and salsa musicians decked out in white.

They are also a far cry from the revolutionary ideal of the selfless communist citizen that Che Guevara and Fidel Castro hoped to make the model for Cuba and the world after toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and seizing power.But it is a well-behaved rebellion, with no fighting or loud music. This is still Cuba, after all, even if Fidel has relinquished power to his younger brother Raul and the island has started taking tentative steps toward reform.
A handful of police, both plainclothes and uniformed, keep an eye on the crowd. Nevertheless, the regime`s attitude has changed dramatically since the 1960s, when it persecuted young people who listened to the Beatles or Elvis — music labelled “counterrevolutionary”.

“There`s more tolerance now,” said Ruben Gutierrez, a self-described punk and G Street regular sporting six face piercings and several tattoos. The government has grown slowly more tolerant of “freaks,” or rock music fans, since the 1980s. In the early 2000s, police still chased fans of “enemy” (American) music away from G Street when they tried to gather there after the authorities closed their previous spot, a square near the Plaza de la Revolucion.

But in 2007, after carrying out a sociological study and deciding the young music lovers` worldview was compatible with communist ideology, the government began allowing them to stay on G Street. “This has been closely observed by the police and certain groups that carry out surveillance,” said Omar Padilla, a 30-year-old rocker with long hair. “There was a time when we couldn`t be here.”
But now, he said, “G is a kind of sanctuary for rockers. In reality it`s a bohemian life here, not just for rockers but for people from any urban tribe…. And yeah, you feel a little bit free.”The styles they embrace are the same ones that can be found on the streets of London, New York or Berlin.

Each tribe has its own space on G Street, but there are no signs of rivalry as they pass the night drinking rum and smoking cigarettes — plus a little pot — under the distant but constantly present gaze of the police. They include rockers, emos, punks, “repas” (hip-hop fans), “mikis” (pop fans) and “screamos” (a mix of punk and emo, according to adherents).
Their conversations range from music to literature to technology to fashion to love — but politics is absent. “They share the Cuban population`s disbelief and mistrust in political institutions, which they don`t consider spaces for mobilization or social transformation,” said psychologist Daybel Panellas of the University of Havana, who has studied the groups.

Pedro Luis Fernandez, a 17-year-old emo, described G Street as a place “to meet people who think like you, who like the same music and look the same.” Jorge Herrera, a 16-year-old “freak,” had more concrete goals: “We came to meet girls and get lucky if possible,” he said. “When you don`t have money to go to a club, you come to G,” said Pedro Tumbarell, a 21-year-old “screamo” by night and nursing student by day.

La Virgen de la caridad en el Alma del Pueblo Cubano

 havana-live-virgenHAVANA, 9 October  The New York City book launching of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre en el alma del pueblo cubano, the result of thorough, in-depth and decades-long research by Cuban historian Emilio Cueto, who brings to light the pervasive presence of Our Lady of Charity across the centuries and in the work of hundreds of artists from all genres.

Throughout, the author enhances his research with more than a thousand images that make for an exquisite visual journey. Emilio Cueto has put together a volume that is not only an invaluable reference tool, but also a source of inspiration for the faithful and for anyone interested in the Virgin’s multifaceted cultural dimension.
As the author points out, it is also the privilege of viewing Cachita, as Our Lady of Charity is affectionately called by the Cuban people, in all her splendor. Emilio researching Emilio Cueto is an indefatigable researcher on all things Cuban, and has produced extensive work on various aspects of Cuban culture, particularly music and colonial prints.

An avid collector of Cuban memorabilia, he has exhibited portions of his private collection in Miami’s Historical Museum of Southern Florida and prepared the three catalogs accompanying those exhibitions, Mialhe´s Colonial Cuba (1994), Cuba in old maps (1999) and Illustrating Cuba’s flora and fauna (2002)). havana-live-virgen1He has organized five concerts of Cuba-related music at Florida International University in Miami (2008-2012), including music of American composers inspired by the Cuban Wars of Independence, also presented in a 2010 concert at Manhattan’s Merkin Hall under the auspices of the Cuban Cultural Center of New York.
http://www.cubanculturalcenter.org/events/2014/08/la-virgen-de-la-caridad-en-el-alma-del-pueblo-cubano/

Shortage of Cigarettes in Havana

33162391_11534044Havana, October 9   Partial shortage of cigars and cigarettes at Havana’s local shops is due to increasing consumption and hoarding and other reasons, according to local media.

The shortage has been made evident in shops that sell these products in Cuban pesos as residents from other provinces like Artemisa and Mayabeque, close to Havana, have purchased large amounts of cigarette package, add to this the increasing number of adolescents with smoking habit.
The vice-director of the Group of Wholesale Shops Francis Herrera explained about some cigarette brands largely affected by the shortage and added some of them are rapidly sold out from shop shelves despite a large local production.
Cigars undergo the same situation, however up to September nearly three million cigars were distributed to the commercial network and in order to revert the situation the Group of Wholesale Shops is considering a strategy to increase cigar production next year.(ACN)

Videoconference Havana – Washington

 havana-live-videoconferenceHAVANA, 7 October   Tomorrow 8th, a videoconference between Havana and Washington DC, will be held at 10:00am Havana time.

The damages caused by the blockade to the economic and financial spheres will be the main issue in the discussion. Experts from both sides will attend the exchange.
Internet users will now be able to submit comments or questions related to the issues to be discussed at Cubavsblockade website email:gbloqueo@minrex.gob.cu This videoconference will be broadcast live through Cubavision International and
http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu/es/transmision-en-vivo-de-la-videoconferencia-sobre-el-bloqueo-entre-la-habana-y-washington-8-de.

Servicupet Cotorro in East Havana sells faked Havana Club

havana-live-havana_clubHAVANA, 7 October Cuba’s CIMEX corporation recognized that one of its establishments was selling adulterated bottles of the popular Havana Club rum, CubaDebate reported.

The incident was first reported early last month, when it emerged that a user had been scammed by acquiring the product at the Servicupet Cotorro in East Havana, The rum inside the bottle was not Havana Club.
The measures taken by the company led to the “firing of the 7 workers involved, including 6 cashiers and one salesperson, as well as the corresponding charges filed by the prosecutor.”
Most people say that the Havana Club rum marketed domestically is different from that exported, and for which that mark is famous internationally. Moreover, it often happens that the content of this brand, as well as rum “Santiago de Cuba” are adulterated. (Havana Times)

Classical dance will characterize 24th Ballet Festival of Havana

havana-live-ballet.festival.havanaHAVANA, 7 October  The advertising spot upcoming International Ballet Festival of Havana shows that the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) is not intended to lose the classical genre in dance, and continues to opt for the elegance and tradition of this art form.

In recent times dance has faced major economic difficulties that hinder the multiplication of stagings and promote more realistic and concise scenic resources in contemporary art and clothing. In fact, most of the foreign participants in the event were enrolled with neoclassical and modern works, which ignore the tutus and pointe shoes.
The television spot highlights elegantly creed of the host company, in favor of the preservation of a centuries-old heritage. “This spot is a way to take the viewer through the magic and fantasy of the theater world from the clubhouse to the function,” said Cuban journalist and photographer Gabriel Davalos, producer of the material with the designer Raul Munoz.

The original idea of Dávalos broke with most promotional products of the BNC, mostly dedicated to perpetuating the image of the current director Alicia Alonso, 92 years old.
The approval of a project focusing on today youth who represents the prestige of the company deserves applause. This edition theme is “For Shakespeare, dance” in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of one who is considered the greatest writer in the English language. It will be held from October 28 to November 7 with the participation of companies from the United States, France, Switzerland, Argentina and Cuba.
Source: OnCuba

Marina industry group plans trip to Cuba

havana-livel-marinas-cuba-trip Patrick Hemingway, grandson of the late U.S. author Ernest Hemingway, waves from a yacht at the Marina Hemingway in Havana Sept. 8. Hemingway’s grandsons Patrick and John are in Cuba to mark the 60th anniversary of his Nobel Prize in Literature.

HAVANA, 7 October  (ENRIQUE DE LA OSA / REUTERS)  Richard Graves dreams of the day when South Floridians can take their yachts for a weekend in Cuba.
That’s why the Fort Lauderdale-based marina consultant is helping organize a trip to explore the island’s marine scene, hoping to prepare for a time of open U.S-Cuba travel as Cuba seeks to develop marinas. Graves aims to accompany more than a dozen U.S. marine industry specialists to Cuba from Feb. 18 to 22, just after Miami’s international boat show.

He hopes some participants at this month’s mammoth boat show in Fort Lauderdale may sign up for the trip. Number of U.S. travelers going to Cuba is on the rise, report says Mary Forgione, Daily Deal and Travel Blogger Washington’s 52-year-old embargo on Cuba restricts most U.S. business with the communist-led island, but the Obama administration allows people-to-people tours, such as the one Graves is developing with licensed travel group Other Cuban Journeys.

Their group aims to meet folks from the veteran Marina Hemingway and the expanding Marina Gaviota in Varadero, as well as Cubans in the arts, budding businesses and other fields.
lRelated Cuban doctors flee foreign missions to Florida BUSINESS Cuban doctors flee foreign missions to Florida SEE ALL RELATED 8 “The idea is to make contacts and get a visual. You have to start understanding the culture to do business there one day,” said Graves. “This is a long-term process.”

The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba now has just 15 marinas with roughly 800 slips, an inventory basically frozen for half a century. But the government has plans to add 23 marinas with more than 5,000 slips, working with foreign investors. Projects include expanding Gaviota Varadero marina to 1,200 slips to become one of the Caribbean’s largest, Cuban officials have said.
A University of Florida study has estimated 60,000 U.S. vessels over 25 feet long would visit Cuba the first year after Washington lifts restrictions on U.S. boat travel to the island.
“For boating and the marine industry, Cuba is a perfect gateway to the Caribbean, eastern and western,” said Graves, who has done studies to boost U.S. boating to the Caribbean overall.
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-marinas-cuba-trip-20141003-story.html