havana-live-cohiba-behikeHAVANA, June 11 In an effort to protect forgery of the Cuban cigar brand known as Cohiba Behike, a new hologram will be incorporated to the ring of each cigar.

The new hologram will allow identifying the original brand around the world and will also provide additional information on the distributor, the bill number and other details. Since their presentation in 2010, the Cohiba Behike cigar rings have the head of an Indian and a security hologram on each of them. Cohiba, the most representative brand of Cuban Habano cigars, was established in 1966. The name Cohiba refers to the bunches of tobacco leaves that Cuban aborigines used to smoke on the island.
Cohiba Behike cigars are produced in limited amounts and it is characterized by its blend with exceptional scent and taste. Despite the world economic crisis and anti-tobacco campaigns, Cuba earned over 400 million dollars in terms of cigar exports in 2013. Major markets for the Cuban products are Spain, France, China, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, and the Arab Emirates.

havana-live-carmen-johnsHAVANA, 10 June The saucy and sexy Carmen Jones is getting a makeover in an old warehouse that sits abandoned along the port of Havana.
The American musical, based on the beloved opera Carmen, was brought to Broadway by Oscar Hammerstein in 1943 and adapted to the silver screen a decade later by the director Otto Preminger. Now the newest adaption will have an all-Cuban cast and an adapted script that sets the story in pre-Revolutionary Cuba.
Titled Carmen Jones—El Amor Cubano, the femme fatale in this latest version works in a cigar factory in a small town near Santiago, the place where Fidel Castro’s militantes were waging war against the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Carmen and her friends dream of leaving the squalor for the bright lights and glamour of the capital. Taking a page from the original story, Cuban Carmen has a fiery temper that gets her in trouble.
Like the original, she too becomes infatuated with the young soldier assigned to guard her while pursuing a second love interest. The Cuban musical brings together a creative team from various countries. Start with Music Director Alex Lacamoire, whose successes on- and off-Broadway include Wicked and High Fidelity.havana-live-carmen-johns He won a Tony Award in 2008 and a 2009 Grammy for his work on In The Heights. Mixing Broadway and opera with Cuban culture  and  the sounds of the sounds of salsa, mambo, rhumba and cha cha cha was an “absolutely brilliant idea”, said Lacamoire. “It’s a chance to try something new but also do something that was familiar.” British Theater director Christopher Renshaw, nominated for a Tony for The King and I, has directed all over the world.
“This is truly a first,” Renshaw explained, noting that musicals rarely come to the Cuban stage. And the musical draws on top Cuban talent. Renowned choreographer Rocian Chavez has a strong corps of dancers catapulting and leaping through varied dance styles while playwright Norge Espinosa used his poetic skills in writing a Spanish-language script and lyrics. 24 years old, hopes to perform Carmen from Havana to London to New York.
Performing the role of Carmen is Luna Manzanares, a 24 year old singer who has already made a name for herself on the island. Fifty performers are joining her on stage, most of them graduates of Cuba’s national art academies. After four performances in Havana later this month, the company wants to go beyond the Caribbean. They are hoping ‘Carmen Jones’ will play in London and New York.
(Photo Credit Roberto Leon, NBC News)



havana-live-los-van-vanHAVANA,  Jun 10  More than 15 thousand people enjoyed the concert given by the popular Cuban band Los Van Van in France, where they celebrated their 45th anniversary and at the same time paid tribute to its founder Juan Formell.
The audience that filled the lake surroundings of Enghien-les-Bains city, located north of Paris, sang and danced until dawn to the rhythm of the famous group for more than four hours. We really felt very happy with the job done tonight.
It’s amazing how the audience gathered here knows Van Van repertoire, Pedrito Calvo, ex-singer of the band, told Prensa Latina. When asked about Formell´s legacy, Calvo said that he was a very outstanding composer and arranger and an excellent person.
havana-live-van-van-franceHe was an authentic Cuban and so his music will transcend for a long time. Pedrito Calvo, Angel Bonne and Isaac Delgado were among the artists invited to the concert, co-produced by Dominique Roland, director of Enghien-les-Bains Arts Center, and Abdala studios from Cuba. My father left a great legacy. For over four decades the band has remained at the preference of Cubans, Samuel Formell, current director of the group, stated.
havana-live-juan-formell-y-los-van-van-Before the concert, recorded on a DVD, a meeting on business opportunities in Cuba took place in the town of Enghien-les-Bans. Hector Igarza, Cuban ambassador to France, highlighted the historical and cultural ties between Cuba and that European nation, and added that this celebration is an opportunity to strengthen bilateral bonds. http://www.cadenagramonte.cu/english/index.php/show/articles/18426:cuban-orchestra-van-van-enjoy-success-in-french-concert.

havana-live-dubai-scheich-muhammad-bin-rashid-al-maktoumHAVANA, 10 June  The UAE will open embassies in Havana, Angola and Mozambique, and a general consulate in Toronto city in Canada. This was decided at a Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Presidential Palace here on Monday.

growing-pains_12HAVANA,  June 9 Eight people are under arrest in connection with a scandal involving the illicit sale of university entrance exams, Cuban authorities said Monday, days after thousands of high school students were forced to retake the test.

The unnamed suspects include five teachers, a methodologist, an employee at the Ministry of Higher Education’s printer’s office and a person not linked to the education sector. There was no word on possible criminal charges, but prosecutors were collecting evidence to present to the courts. “It has been confirmed … that the leaked materials were unscrupulously commercialized by the five teachers implicated, some of whom sold the exams while others reviewed the content with the students, charging for the service,” Monday’s announcement said. The investigation into the scandal has been a fixture in state media for weeks, and the announcement called it a “matter of great sensitivity.”
In a signal of how seriously officials are taking the case, the message was signed by three Cabinet ministries including Interior — the arm of government that oversees policing and state security. Education, which is universal and free including the university level, is considered sacrosanct as one of the “pillars” of Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. However stories of teachers selling grades to augment their meager salaries are relatively common, if not widely publicized. There have also been past incidents of final exams leaking out prior to the test day. But this is the first time authorities have made such a fuss about it — apparently in hopes of discouraging others by making an object lesson of the suspects.
“The final results of (the investigation) will be made public in a timely manner, since such acts, which attack the prestige of our educational system, will never go unpunished and will always be repudiated by our teachers, parents and students,” the ministries’ note said. Current President Raul Castro’s government has waged a wider crackdown on corruption that has swept up dozens of government officials and executives, as well as a number of foreign businesspeople. News of the leaked test materials first surfaced last month.
The math, language and history exams were all compromised, and islanders say they have heard the going rate was around $60 per subject. Students took the replacement test May 26. Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez in Havana contributed to this report. http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/06/09/3968814/cuba-8-arrested-in-school-exam.html —  

havana-live-hemingway-fishingHAVANA, June 9   Some 20 crews will try from today to become champions in the 64 Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament, one of the oldest events in the world.

The event, promoted in the 1950s by the famous American writer, will begin in the Marina Residential, of this city, with the traditional captains’ meeting where the organizers provide details about the event and the weather conditions expected during the days of fishing.
According to statements of the Marlin SA Nautical and marine Business Group, this edition emphasizes the participation of France, with six ships confirmed to date; as well as Canada, USA, Mexico, England and Cuba. Until the 14th, the teams will try to capture the best specimen of species in competition (Dorado, Marlin), through the method of marking and release, promoted since the beginning of the tournament to contribute to the preservation of Cuban marine habitat. To that end, it also encourages the use of circle hooks to minimize damage, and the introduction of satellite tagging, that reveal behaviors of fish, said Francisco Diaz, director of Development, Quality and Business of that entity. 5551-fotografia-gAccording to the event program, fishing trips will take place on the 10, 11 and 13, while the 12 will be to rest and the closing ceremony will be on the 14. Because of its location, the island is highly attractive for sport fishing; the deep basins and pits of the Caribbean Sea, and the Straits of Florida and the Bahamas serve as ecological barriers, while the great ocean currents connect it with the routes of pelagic species. Preceded only by the Tuna World Cup in Nova Scotia, and Tarpon Tournament in Mexico, the Hemingway certainly becomes a bridge to bring Cuba to the international sailing community, as the Nobel Prize for Literature (The Old Man and the Sea, 1954) craved

o-OIL-DRILLING-ROYALTIES-facebookHAVANA, Juin 7  Canada’s Sherritt International Corporation announced in Ottawa the extension of its oil and gas Production Sharing Contract with Cuba for 10 years, thus expanding agreements that would expire in 2018.

The general director of Cuba’s Cupet Oil Company, Juan Torres, said that the alliance between his entity and Sherritt International will continue till March 2008, according to PL news agency. The initiative would also include other joined oil exploration contracts, still pending for approval by the corresponding authorities. The modified accord will foster drilling operations in the areas known as Puerto Escondido-Yumuri, on the eastern coast of Havana. Sherritt will drill a minimum of seven additional wells in the two first years after the accord gets in force. Sherritt International president David Pathe expressed satisfaction in announcing the extension of the contract with Cuba, by describing it as important milestone in the long-term oil production in Cuba. The Canadian corporation is the largest independent oil producer in Cuba currently operating three commercial areas, which contributed an average 20 thousand 42 barrels to the country’s daily oil production in 2013. Sherritt International began operations in Cuba in the field of nickel in 1991 and at present it also offers services in other economic areas, such as electric power, oil and gas, agriculture, tourism, transportation, communications and real estate.
 Sherritt prorrogan contrato de producción por 10 añoshttp://www.cubanews.ain.cu/economy/825-sherritt-international-extends-oil-contract-with-cuba

havana-live-frank-fernandezHAVANA,   Juin 7   Cuban pianist Frankhavana-live-silvio-rodriguez Fernandez and the singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez will share the stage today to pay an old debt. The union of these giants of the composition is not surprising as they have played together in more than one occasion, but playing in their hometowns was a longing that they planned to fulfill together, as good friends. For this impluse of solidarity and affection, they will perform the upcoming June 7 in the town of Mayari, north zone in the eastern province of Holguin, where the virtuous concert pianist later trained at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, Russia was born. The musicians will also give a concert in Nicaro, cradle of Cuban nickel, located within the municipality of Mayari, on June 10. The clarinetist and flutist Niurka González will join the talents of Fernandez and Rodriguez, who has been honored with awards inside and outside Cuba. The guitarist and poet will continue the tour in other parts of the province, while the pianist will travel to the capital of Holguin in order to give a concert on June 14 to celebrate his 70 years, 55 of artistic life and 75 after the creation of Eddy Suñol Theatre.
Fernandez and Rodriguez agreed to perform soon in San Antonio de los Baños, a city of the current province of Artemisa, located southwest of Havana, as it is the place where the guitarist, a great exponent of the Cuban Nueva Trova movement, was born.

hasana-live-HillaryClinton-HardChoicesHAVANA, 6 Juin  In her new book, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she pushed President Barack Obama to lift or ease the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba because it was no longer useful to American interests or promoting change on the island.

In excerpts of the book “Hard Choices” obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its release next week, Clinton writes that the embargo has given communist leaders Fidel and Raul Castro an excuse not to enact democratic reforms. And she says opposition from some in Congress to normalizing relations — “to keep Cuba in a deep freeze” — has hurt both the United States and the Cuban people. She says the 2009 arrest by Cuba of USAID contractor Alan Gross and Havana’s refusal to release him on humanitarian grounds is a “tragedy” for improving ties. “Since 1960, the United States had maintained an embargo against the island in hopes of squeezing Castro from power, but it only succeeded in giving him a foil to blame for Cuba’s economic woes,” she writes.
She says her husband, former President Bill Clinton, tried to improve relations with Cuba in the 1990s, but the Castro government did not respond to the easing in some sanctions. Nonetheless, Obama was determined to continue the effort, she writes. She says that late in her term in office she urged Obama to reconsider the U.S. embargo. “It wasn’t achieving its goals,” she writes, “and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.
… I thought we should shift the onus onto the Castros to explain why they remained undemocratic and abusive.” Clinton writes that in the face of “a stone wall” from the Castro regime, she and Obama decided to engage directly with the Cuban people.
“We believed that the best way to bring change to Cuba would be to expose its people to the values, information and material comforts of the outside world,” she says. The steps that Obama took, including allowing more travel to the island and increasing the amount of money Cuban-Americans can send back to the island, have had a positive effect, she writes. However, Clinton notes with disappointment that Cuba arrested and imprisoned Gross, a contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, who the U.S. says was trying to help Cuba’s small Jewish community communicate with the rest of the world.
Gross was convicted of trying to subvert the Cuban state and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Despite repeated appeals from the U.S., Gross remains in prison in Cuba. In the book, Clinton says she spoke out frequently about Gross’ imprisonment and was disappointed that “the Castros created new problems by arresting” him.
She said Cuba has refused to consider Gross’ release until the U.S. frees all of the “Cuban Five” spies who have been imprisoned in the United States. The U.S. has rejected Cuba’s demands to link the cases. Clinton said she suspected that some in Cuba are using the Gross case “as an opportunity to put the brakes on any possible rapprochement with the United States and the domestic reforms that would require.”
“If so,” she writes, “it is a double tragedy, consigning millions of Cubans to a kind of continued imprisonment as well.

havana-live-sea-level-havanaHAVANA , June 6  The sea level rose an average of 10 centimeters in Cuba over the past five decades, due to global warming, said Dr. Marcelino Hernandez, a Doctor in Meteorological Sciences Thursday.

Hernandez, a member of the Institute of Oceanology of Cuba, said that the maximum rate is reaching the size of the sea medium level on the island, which, as a result of climate change caused by the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, is at about two millimetres per year.
According to Hernandez, this is a medium level on which the tide of astronomical origin oscillates, caused by the influence of the Sun and the Moon mainly, the occurrence of extreme events such as cyclones and cold fronts, as well as monthly anomalies.
He warned that there is evidence of experts from around the world that a collapse or acceleration in the melting of the polar ice caps of the Arctic and Antarctic might occur, and of the own glaciers in the mountains, that would cause the greater acceleration even more, at planetary scale. In Cuba, he said, all low-caost areas in both coasts are threatened, but mostly on the Southern coast. In statements to Prensa Latina, he added that the keys and islets of the archipelago have a natural ability to adapt to those changes.
The Institute of Oceanology carries out a project on the estimate of the rate of rise of the sea level from national recording network data, in coordination with other Cuban entities, as part of the study on vulnerability and risks associated with the rise of the level of the sea in the country. Currently – Hernandez said – the development of this network is carried out with the provision of new tide verification instruments with a very high resolution using pressure sensors in the background for real-time data transmission and radar technologies.
The goal is to have tools and reliable data for planning long-term socio-economic development of the coastal areas in Cuba, as well as to minimize the impact of this negative effect of the climate change caused by human beings in the industrial era, he said.

havana-live-young-pianistHAVANA, June 5 (acn)  The 2nd Meeting of Young Pianists will bring together, as of Thursday, 23 prize-winning soloists of 10 countries, in a meeting in which the power of music as an expression for understanding between the peoples will become evident.
Under the artistic direction of Cuban professor Salomon Gadles and co-sponsored by the City Historian Office and the Cuban Music Institute, the festival, which will run until June 29, will have the Marti Theater, the Minor Basilica of San Francis of Assisi and the Ignacio Cervantes Hall as venues, and will have the contributions of interpreters from China, Russia, Germany, Australia, Cyprus, South Korea, the United States, Belarus, Egypt and Cuba, the Granma newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The opening gala will take place at 7:00 p.m. precisely at the recently restored Marti Theater, starred by Byelorussian Alexandra Beliakovich (Concert in F Major, by Gershwin) and Chinese Xiayin Wang (Concert Number 2, by Rachmaninov), with the accompaniment of the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by maestro Enrique Perez. week, the festival will continue on Friday, June 6, at the Cervantes Hall (second floor of the Palacio de los Matrimonios, on Prado and Animas streets), and on Saturday at the Basilica, always at 7:00 p.m., with recitals by Russian Alexander Mu­tuzkin and Cuban Gabriel Urgell, respectively; while on Sunday Cypriot Kyriakos Sourollas (Concert Number 24, by Mozart) and Russian Mutuzkin (Concierto Number 1, Chaikovski) will perform at the Marti Theater.

yellow-pages-dragon-oHAVANA, Jun 5 (acn) With a wide and renewed information for users of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA ) it was presented today  the new edition of Yellow Pages, the Phone Book of Cuba.
The publication of this useful tool, which contains emergency services and public Internet access and international operators, among others, is framed within the 20th anniversary of this institution. Speaking to the press, Luis A. Iglesias Reyes, ETECSA Fixed Services Central Division Director, stressed that the main mission of the company is to support the requirements of the defense of the country and meet the demands of its customers.
He said that this time the document shows the updating of all telecommunication services, and the white and blue pages include new institutional structures, which will continue happening as a result of Cuban society changing process. In this regard he added that the inclusion of 23 entities in the green pages makes this section the second most consulted with the addition of new non-state forms of management.
The Yellow Pages have among their objectives meeting the information need of users, a more effective search, facilitate internal trade and optimize the use of phone. From its correct use the user does not need knowing the names of the companies providing services or products, it saves time in your efforts and makes your work more effective. http://www.cubanews.ain.cu/headlines/814-new-edition-of-cuban-yellow-pages

havana-live-wendy-garciaWendy Garcia of the Obiní Batá orchestra of women percussionists plays the drums in Old Havana, Cuba, Thursday, May 29, 2014. It wasn’t that long ago that Cuba’s rich percussion scene was essentially a boys’ club, dominated by men due to macho attitudes and religious tradition. Perceived as too weak for the physical demands of drumming, and unsuitable for an instrument considered a means of communicating with the gods, women were shut out of rehearsal spaces and barred from using “bata” drums belonging to the National Folkloric Ensemble. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

HAVANA, 2 June   It wasn’t that long ago that Cuba’s rich percussion scene was essentially a boys’ club, dominated by men due to macho attitudes and religious tradition. Perceived as too weak for the physical demands of drumming, and unsuitable for an instrument considered a means of communicating with the gods, women were shut out of rehearsal spaces and barred from using “bata” drums belonging to the National Folkloric Ensemble.881cd8b9817145908f7041a4639582ab-a5f8681518d14eb684cdb9aaa1b2b6d9-2
Instructors were warned that if they taught women, it could cost them a place in a traveling tour or a major performance. Over the years, doors slowly began opening for female drummers — just as women gradually took on greater roles in politics, academics and other areas of Cuban society. Today, experts say, the island is seeing a boom in women percussionists as the generation that first started playing in the 1990s comes into its own and inspires younger talent to follow. “I threw myself into the unknown,” said Eva Despaigne, the 60-year-old director of Obini Bata, Cuba’s first all-female bata orchestra, which takes its name from the Yoruban word for woman.havana-live-obini-bata
“I have suffered many headaches.” Under Afro-Cuban beliefs, the two-sided bata (pronounced ba-TAH’) are sacred, used for connecting with Santeria spirits. Tradition dictates the drums be made only from the hides of male goats. Players must undergo a lengthy consecration ritual. And, above all, the sacred bata are to be played only by men. Despaigne, however, was determined to fight convention. As an Afro-Cuban folkloric dancer, Despaigne saw the drum as a means to experience her art at a deeper level. “It is the fundamental instrument of the genre.
I figured by playing it, I could broaden my development as an artist and have greater expressiveness,” she said. Despaigne patiently worked to persuade male batistas that her desire to play was not for religion, but for art. Little by little, she began to win them over. After breaking off from the National Folkloric Ensemble in 1994, Obini Bata spent years on the margins of acceptance. With time, however, more women took up the hourglass-shaped drum and also became percussionists in other genres such as jazz and big band. “From the 1990s to today, the girls have begun studying percussion (more) and the number of those who have graduated is great,” said Mercedes Lay, a percussionist and musicologist who works with the governmental Center for Research of Cuban Music. havana-live obini-bata
At a recent show in Havana, the six women who make up Obini Bata pounded infectious beats on leather-skinned drums with their carefully manicured hands and danced in colorful blouses and headscarves. The performance was part of the government-organized musical festival Cubadisco, underscoring Obini Bata’s firm arrival in the musical mainstream. Female batistas are still banned by traditional Afro-Cuban priests, who see their drumming as sacrilegious.
But women drummers’ growing acceptance is evidenced by their inclusion in rumba and rock groups, as teachers and in bands touring overseas. Acclaimed players include Yissy Garcia, a jazz percussionist who comes from an accomplished musical family, and Naile Sosa, an energetic rock ‘n’ roll drummer who has collaborated with local stars such as David Blanco. Yaimi Karell, a 33-year-old who plays with the popular island Afro-pop fusion group “Sintesis” and also teaches percussion, said women drummers have proven themselves and gained the respect of their male peers. “There has been a very big opening for women,” she said. havana-live-wendy-garcia1
Part of breaking down the barriers has entailed overcoming the perception that women were physically unsuited for the drums.”In percussion it’s not, as people sometimes think, all about strength and speed. It’s a matter of technique and taste,” said Raul Fernandez, a social scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who researches Cuban music. “Even among male percussionists, often one who plays with lots of vigor and speed doesn’t play as well as one with better technique and taste.

100213-global-cuba-farmers-market-farmer-2.jpgHAVANA, 1 June Havana opened its first wholesale market for farmers in decades on Sunday, an experiment limited to agricultural supplies in one area and the latest market-oriented reform for the communist-run island.

While Cuba has allowed nearly 500,000 small business owners and their employees to operate privately and hundreds of thousands of farmers to grow their own crops, it has been slow to give them access to wholesale markets. Even though the farming sector has been the most liberalized, Cuba continues to import more than 60 percent of its food, in part because farmers still depend on state-run allocation and distribution of subsidized supplies.
Official output has not significantly increased since the reforms began six years ago. But as of Sunday, farmers on the Isle of Youth, home to 60,000 people off the southwest coast of the main Caribbean island, can purchase unsubsidized supplies on demand. Since President Raul Castro took over from ailing brother Fidel in 2008, fallow state lands have been leased, and farmers are freer to sell directly to consumers.
The reforms have also gained the attention of business leaders in the United States, even though US companies are largely banned from trading with Cuba. A delegation from the US Chamber of Commerce visited Cuba last week, calling for an end to the US trade embargo and urging the government to deepen and accelerate the reforms. Cuban economist Armando Nova has argued for years that farmers need to be allowed to buy their own supplies and sell on an open market. “Agriculture is cyclical. You need to close the cycle for reforms to work and now that means the inputs,” Nova said. Life-long farmer Ibrain Vibes, 43, who inherited his land in Artemisa province just west of Havana, was skeptical.
“The reforms are one thing and all the regulations are another. It feels like the earth keeps moving under our feet. Nothing works like they say it will,” he said. Vibes complained a government crackdown on black market fuel was forcing him to buy it at the retail price of $4.50 per gallon. Otherwise he would lose the acres of malanga, a tuber staple of the Cuban diet, he had been cultivating for months. farmers marketAnother Artemisa farmer, who asked to be identified only as Carlos, looked down the pages of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and other products now on sale on the Isle of Youth as he sat in his brand new house, the largest by far in the neighborhood, a vintage Ford truck with a rebuilt motor outside.
He said that thanks to reforms he was earning more money transporting food for fellow farmers than from his farm, but was at home because he could not find reasonably priced fuel. “This list looks good, but let’s see what’s really available in three months and what happens when the experiment goes nationwide,” he said. “Besides, they didn’t include the most important agricultural input, diesel fuel.” — Reuters

jiu-jitsu-wallpaper-1920x1080HAVANA,  May 30  Athletes from nine countries, plus Cuba, will participate from today until Sunday in the Havana 2014 Ju Jitsu Pan American Championships, with venue at the Manuel Fajardo Higher Institute of Physical Culture.
The visiting nations are Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Uruguay and Paraguay, according to Ariel Ramirez, who chairs the organizing committee. Cuba is represented by 35 adults, including seven women, and 11 juniors, including three girls. The contest start today at 2:30 pm in the under-18 category, unprecedented event in previous championships because according to Ramirez the continental ju-jitsu junior and cadet tourneys have never been made and the intention is to promote them for their inclusion in future competitions.
The tournament includes the categories of fighting, ne-waza and duo-system. Cuba joined the Ju-jitsu Pan American Union two years ago, and its athletes have taken part in international events such as the World Championships in Cali, and the 2012Pan American Championships in Uruguay, where they won one gold and two silver medals. http://www.cadenagramonte.cu/english/index.php/show/articles/18282:cuba-hosts-ju-jitsu-pan-american-championships

fishing-tournament-64HAVANA, May 28   France, with six boats confirmed, leads the group of countries that will participate from June 9 to 14 at the 64 th Ernest Hemingway Marlin Fishing International Tournament. Executives of the Marlin S.A. Nautical and Marinas Business Group told the press that to date 17 crews of several nations, including the United States (5) and Canada (4), have already confirmed their participation. This edition of one of the oldest events of its kind in the world will also be attended by teams from Mexico and England, and the total enrollment almost double that reached in 2013, when nine only ships were involved.
According to Mario Ramos, Marlin S.A. business manager, the program will start on June 9 with the traditional skippers meeting at Hemingway Marina Residential, where the sport fishing lovers will receive details on the competition.
For contributing to the preservation of these species, it will be promoted the use of circle hooks to minimize possible damage to marlins or Dorados, and the introduction of satellite tagging systems, which allow knowing the behaviors of such fishes, Francisco Diaz, Director of Development, Business and Quality of the entity, noted. It is expected next year’s edition to be attended by at least 50 ships because Cuba will also host the 35th International Tourism Fair, which will be specifically devoted to the nautical modality.
The Ernest Hemingway Marlin Fishing International Tournament, boosted at the beginning of the 1950s by the famous American writer, Nobel Prize for Literature (1954), stands out as one of the first in the world, only surpassed by the Tuna World Cup tuna, in Nova Scotia, and the Tarpon Tournament in Mexico.hemingway-pesca2

Puente BacunayaguaHAVANA, May 28   The complex process of restoration of concrete blocks of Bacunayagua Bridge, one of the most important steps in its repair, is nearing completion.

Miguel Figueredo, brigade leader of the Construction and Specialized Assembly Company (ECME by its Spanish acronym), organization that runs this work, said that there is only one block to repair and paint of the 11 of the bridge. Then they will start working with the arch, last phase of the task that they intend to complete before closing this year. Galeria_Puente_Bacunayagua_10
The specialist praised the invention of equipment that helps ensuring safety and protection of personnel in the repair work. The device is the result of the creative genius of Carlos Valdes, who works at ECME. One member of the brigade, Yoandri Doural recognized the complexity of the work due to the topographic characteristics of the area and the considerable height of the bridge.
Bacunayagua Bridge, 114 meters high and with over 50 years of operation, is considered a relic of Cuban engineering. Upon completion of repair, of great economic importance to the country, the aforementioned brigade will be in charge of similar arrangements to Canímar bridge, link over the river of the same name and also with economic, architectural and construction attributes.Bacunayagua-bridge

fototapete_fussball_52a897e6de5cbHAVANA, 28 May  As Roy Hodgson’s team prepare for Friday’s friendly against Peru, Tim Cole, the UK Ambassador to Cuba, has implored fans on the island to get behind England – saying “we’re really not that good”.

timmmmmmmmmcoleeeeeeeeeMr Cole writes a regular blog on the Foreign Office website, in both Spanish and English. His latest is headlined “Cuba, England needs you!”. He reminds Cubans that on the only occasion when their team made it to the finals, in France in 1938, “They beat Romania in the first round and then lost heavily to Sweden (8-0 – ouch!) in the second round”. While Cuba excels in many sports, punching well above its weight on the international stage, football is a minority interest. Cubans’ first love is baseball, closely followed by volleyball. The island’s football team lost the first five of their qualifying matches for the World Cup, scraping a 1-1 draw at home to Panama in the final game. Cuba is ranked 90th in the world by FIFA, six places below Northern Ireland and 79 behind England. The ambassador’s appeal is based on fraternal interests, with a nod towards the Castro regime: “Like Cuba today, the England team is racially diverse with an emphasis on youth.
Also, just as in Cuba, the manager has years of experience and the team is built around a strong defence.” But Mr Cole then confesses: “England really needs all the help we can get. We’ve got a tough group with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. We’re perennial underachievers in the World Cup, having won it only once in 1966. And we’re really not that good.
So, please Cuba, support us!” In his blog, the ambassador runs through the other possible contenders for the support of neutral Cubans, dismissing the prospect that the USA might benefit: “I’m not sure many Cubans, even those living in Florida, will support the United States team – they’ve got a tough group with matches against Germany, Portugal and Ghana so I suspect they’ll be going home early.” Cole begs Cubans to support England in World Cup The Football Association declined to comment on the ambassador’s appeal.
Annerys Hockley, a London-based Cuban who works for the specialist travel firm, Journey Latin America, said: “Sadly the majority of Cubans are unlikely to support England during the World Cup. I expect most Cubans will back one of the big Latin American teams such as Mexico or Brazil because of their Latino similarities.” So why should Cubans support England? “The only team it really makes sense for Cubans to support is England.
Here’s why. The first very good reason is that the British introduced football to Cuba. Not in 1762 when we occupied Havana for 11 months but in the early 1900s when Brits with names like Forrester and Campbell were living here.
The first two Cuban teams set up were SC Hatuey and Rovers AC and the first official match between them took place on 11 December 1911 at the Campo de Palatino in Cerro. Rovers won 1-0 with a very British-sounding Jack Orrs scoring the winning goal.
“The year before, according to Cuban football historians, SC Hatuey played a match against sailors from a visiting British boat. The sailors lost rather badly – also 8-0 – so I suspect they had already had a chance to sample some good Cuban rum. “A second reason for Cubans to support us is that football was invented in England.
At least that’s what we English like to think. Actually football-type games were played in Ancient Greece, Rome, China, Japan and probably by the Tainos long before we English started playing it. But the codification of the game – the rules etc – were established in England in the middle of the 19th century so I think we can lay claim to being the inventors of the modern game as we know it.”

2944547HAVANA,  May 28   The 14th Chinese Culture Festival 2014 will be held here on June 7 and 8 in order to bring Chinese culture to Cuba, the organizers of the event said today. For two days the Expocuba fairgrounds, in the outskirts of Havana, will host the festival which this year is dedicated to the 167th anniversary of the arrival of Chinese immigrants to Cuba and the 65th anniversary of the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China.
In statements to Prensa Latina, Armando Perón, artistic director of the event, explained that on this occasion they will seek to interact with the public more actively than in previous years since the best way to attract it is making it part of the activities planned.
The cultural counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Cuba, Gan Ping, recalled the immense geographical distance between the two countries, which will not obstruct the willingness of the institution to increase the presence of Chinese artists in future events. The cultural program includes the participation of the Cuban School of Wu Shu (Martial Arts), led by Cuban master Roberto Vargas Lee, as well as a violin solo by Milagros Lo, member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, among others.
http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2727371&Itemid=1 sgl/ef/isa/mgt/deg

AirbusA380EtihadHAVANA, May 27 (Bernama) The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had signed an open skies agreement with Cuba, which allowed the national airlines of both countries to operate an unlimited number of flights and plan flights to any points between the points of origin and destination.
According to Emirates News Agency (WAM), under the agreement, which was signed during a recent trip by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) to Cuba, the UAE designated all of its national airlines to conduct international air transportation with Cuba. The visit to Cuba, part of the GCAA strategy to expand the base of air services agreements, will serve the national airlines, increase trade exchange with other countries as well as boost people-to-people interaction, said GCAA Director-General, Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi. Suwaidi had led the delegation of officials and representatives of national airlines during the two-day visit to Cuba.
“GCAA, in collaboration with airlines and local governments, seeks to sign and continuously upgrade more agreements with other countries as UAE now enjoys economic openness to the rest of the world, ” he saod. To-date, UAE had signed more than 116 bilateral air services agreements with other countries, of which 114 were open skies agreements, WAM reported.

carbonera-clubHAVANA, 27 May  The government published long-awaited regulations, granting temporary residence to foreigners who own or rent residential property in Cuba.
Providing immigration status to potential home buyers in dozens of planned golf and marina luxury communities, Interior Ministry Resolution No. 4/2014, published in an extraordinary edition of the Gaceta Oficial on May 20, establishes a one-year, renewable visa for foreigners “who are owners or lessees of real estate, as well as their foreign relatives who may require it.”
The visa regulation comes as a new foreign investment law, effective June 28, grants foreigners the right to buy or rent real estate in Cuba. Dozens of luxury golf and marina communities have been in the planning stage; the most advanced project, the Carbonera golf club near Varadero by Britain’s Esencia Group, received a green light from the government last year. photo_12 Foreign real estate buyers applying for a visa with the immigration office of the Interior Ministry must first get a referral from the administrators of their real estate project and the Tourism Ministry. Real estate visa holders “may carry out activities related to tourism and business duly authorized by the existing legislation,” the resolution says, adding that other activities will require authorization first. The visa, which sets no limit to one-year renewals, expires if its holder is no longer an owner or lessee of real estate in Cuba, if the holder is outside of Cuba for more than one year, or due to “behavior that violates the constitution, other laws or the conditions” of the visa. Real estate owners may apply for an extension to the one-year absence rule with Cuban consulates or embassies abroad.carbonera-cuba
In 2012, the government published a resolution regulating how foreign property owners may import, export or sell their personal belongings. http://www.cubastandard.com/2014/05/26/cuba-grants-real-estate-owners-one-year-visas/

flag cuba-mexicoHAVANA, May 26 Cuban and Mexican officials expressed today here their interest in strengthening the commercial relations between the two countries. With such purpose it was inaugurated the ProMexico office in Cuba, so that that entity and the Cuban Center of Foreign Trade Promotion and Foreign Investment from Cuba (CEPEC) signed a cooperation agreement. Roberto Verrier, Director of the CEPEC, stated there is a relaunch of the trade relations between the two nations boosted by the official visit of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to Havana last January. Both agencies are willing to collaborate for the pursuit of business opportunities, he said. In the coming years, said Verrier, the trade cooperation must grow taking into account the cooperation agreements.
http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2721871&Itemid=1 sgl/ef/ycf/rc/mfb

marlinHAVANA, May 26  Scuba diving, fishing, life on board, beach activities, adventure and docking at safe ports are some of the offerings promoted by Marlin Nautical and Marinas Entrepreneurial Group.
The group provides high quality services and professionalism in eight nautical bases and five marinas located along Cuban archipelago to enjoy an island blessed by nature,say’s Domingo Cisneros, Marlin acting chairman.
Beautiful beaches, seabed treasuring a wide variety of species, amazing cays and welcoming facilities are just some of the scenarios to live a marine adventure in Cuba, he said. On the scuba diving modality, Cisneros explained that in Cuban insular shelf can be found reef crests, where biodiversity and beauty attract professionals and lovers of this activity.
For this they own 21 International Diving Centers, including ¨La Aguja¨ at Hemingway Residential Marina (Havana), Barracuda (Varadero), the Shark’s Friends (Santa Lucia, Camaguey) and Cayo Largo (Canarreos archipelago).

In these facilities, customers can take introductory and specialties courses with the technical content regulated in the world, the manager noted. Sport fishing is another of the most preferred activities between national and foreign tourists, for which Marlin offers different modalities such as fly fishing to catch species such as tarpon, bonefish and palometa; deep sea and bottom fishing. The Jardines del Rey and Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing tournaments are ideal occasions to show the potential of Cuba in this activity.
With life on board modality, the visitor can choose the route for seven days or more that will allow him to enjoy the nautical nature of the island in comfortable boats with experienced crews. Meanwhile, the seafaris (boat trips) include shores tours, recreational activities on beaches, mariner lunch on keys and snorkeling practices.
Among the projections of the group, Cisneros announced that all naval technical conditions are ready to promote the boat-adventure (tours in boats driven by the customer himself), mainly at Varadero and Cayo Coco poles.(acn) 

JH-grand-prixHAVANA,  May 26 (Xinhua) China’s Hao Jialu won the biggest title of her career by claiming the gold medal in the Epee Grand Prix that attracted about 100 fencers from 30 countries and regions. Hao, 27, won the final 15-14 on Friday night against the U.S. Courtney Hurley.
Hao, ranked 79th in the world, had overcome Italian Rossella Fiamingo (15-12) and Giulia Rizzi (15-9), German Beate Christmann (15-9) and Russian Tatiana Gudkova (8-7 per time). Hao came from 8-10 down to win 15-11 in the semifinal against Romanian Simona Gherman, 2012 European champion.
China’s French head coach Daniel Levavasseu told reporters that Hao was recently selected for the national team due to her talent and technical skills. (Photo trabajadores.cu)  http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140524/chinise-hao-wins-epee-grand-prix-cuba

Putin-St.-Petersburg-summit-oilPresident Putin was looking on during the signing of oil agreements. Photo: Kremlin, Presidential Press and Information Office

HAVANA, 25 Mai  Amid rising tensions between Russia on one side and the United States and the European Union on the other, President Vladimir Putin and Cuban Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Rubén Cid on Saturday watched over the signing of two oil cooperation agreements with Cuba at a business summit in Russia.
The agreements of state companies Rosneft and Zarubezhneft with CubaPetróleo, signed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, include cooperation over more exploration, as well as construction of an oil logistics base at the Mariel Economic Development Zone (ZEDM), according to Prensa Latina.
The Cuba agreements were part of several agreements signed by Russian and foreign oil industry executives after they met with Putin. No details were immediately available. Rosneft, Russia’s second-largest energy company, has little recent history in Cuba; Zarubezhneft, in summer 2013 pulled out from near-shore exploratory drilling earlier than expected, saying it may return in 2014. Rosneft is reviving interest in a key project within the Mariel Zone that doesn’t seem to have any obvious use since the pullout of an offshore oil platform from Cuba in 2012, after drilling dry holes.
Without providing details, Rosneft said in a press release that it signed a memorandum of cooperation with Cupet, and that the partners “created a working group composed of field-oriented representatives.” Rosneft President Igor Sechin, and Zarubezhneft President Sergei Kudriachov signed the respective agreements for the Russian side; General Director Juan Torres Naranjo signed for Cupet.
On a discussion panel at the St. Petersburg Forum on Thursday, the Cuban ambassador to Moscow, Emilio Lozada, said Russia should not only be interested in economic relations, but in political relations as well with Cuba and the ALBA bloc. He also condemned western efforts to isolate Russia with sanctions. One of the men Washington recently added to a list of “designated persons” is Rosneft President Igor Sechin.
Sechin was in Havana in November, to meet with President Raúl Castro. The meeting, in part to prod Russian companies to open shop at the Mariel export development zone, included Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas, Cuba’s point man for strategic economic relationships, Energy and Mining Minister Alfredo López Valdés, and Antonio Carricarte Corona, deputy minister of foreign trade and investment. In other Cuba news from the Economic Forum, the governor of St. Petersburg urged Cuba to reopen a permanent office in the Russian city, and proposed to create a working group to identify cooperation opportunities.
The oil agreements came a week after Cuba and Russia signed an agreement on security cooperation.

elefantes-bienal-claudiacampsHAVANA, May 24  Three decades after its arrival on the international stage, the Havana Biennial remains today the voice of the Third World art and one of the leading events of its kind in the world.

Its current director, Roberto Fernández, explained how during these 30 years the event has been a meeting point for artists that do not fit in other events such as the Venice Biennale or elitist museums. He also said that its exhibitions have gone beyond the display of works of art, to achieve a bond with the city and the people in general.
In this regard, one of its co-founders, Nelson Herrera, said the Havana Biennial opened a different space that allowed artists to cope with new experiences. Since its first edition in 1984 it was marked by organizing meetings and workshops on the streets, which has contributed to the interaction of creators and to establish a relationship with the Cuban public different to the one they have with the French or Italian, he said. The also curator of the Contemporary Center of Art Wifredo Lam stressed to reporters how this event has managed to integrate the traditional with the modern technologies.
To commemorate three decades of cultural event today, more than 160 artists from all over the world will gather in the Cuban capital, many of them have marked the history of the 11 editions, Fernandez said. Besides the Wifredo Lam Center, other venues of the festival as the Center for the Development of Visual Arts, the Photo library of Cuba and the National Museum of Fine Arts will host the Havana Biennial exhibition: a living laboratory.
The exhibition includes works of various techniques and formats by artists participating in previous editions of the meeting that is held every three years and not biennially as the name suggests, the organizers clarified. For the occasion, the artists were chosen among those who have donated works in the three decades of life of this cultural event, and thus are part of the permanent collection of the Wilfredo Lam Center. 3,000 artists from a hundred countries have attended the Havana Biennial since its founding in 1984.(PL Sc/wmr/npg)

corallHAVANA,  May 23  Aimed at adventure and nature lovers, Cubanacan Travel Agency proposes various programs for scuba diving in its quest to diversify tourism product at Cuba destination.

The agency, leader in sales for the domestic market and main cruises recipient in Cuba, designed circuits through the West and East of the country for diving modality, including sites of priceless beauty and value. cayo-levisa
Cayo Levisa
The first of these circuits allows the client to discover the charms of Cayo Levisa (Pinar del Río), the Havana coastline and the Zapata Swamp (Matanzas),resting then in comfortable facilities of Cubanacan hotel group. cienaga-zapata-cubaZampata swamp
While the East part of the country invites to dive into the depths of the beaches Covarrubias (Las Tunas), Santa Lucia (Camaguey)santa lucia CamagueySanta Lucia Camaguey
and Marea del Portillo (Granma), ideal opportunity to appreciate the seabed and coral reefs that characterize that region.marea de portilloMarea de Portillo
From 9 to 10 days -duration time of both tours, the lovers of this modality can make dives into vertical walls and explore ships sunken during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries still lying in Cuban seabed. According to information of these programs, they are only designed for adults, who must show the appropriate international qualification and they will have guaranteed all the necessary equipment for diving.
Also it is strictly prohibited removing any flora and fauna species, in order to preserve a very sensitive and valuable ecosystem for Cuba. Cuban diving centers have experienced instructors in underwater rescue, first aid, oxygenation and evacuation in case of accidents, including hyperbaric chambers.
The Cuban archipelago is made up of two major islands, other smaller ones and about 4 100 cays that make up the emerged lands of seamounts, which platform extends for 70,000 square kilometers. In the recently concluded 34th International Tourism Fair, Cubanacan Travel Agency presented these and other offerings aimed at showing the products diversity that visitors can find on an island rich in history, culture and nature.

fechterHAVANA,  May 22  The Ville de Havana Women’s Epee Grand Prix and Men’s Foil Cup kicked off Thursday in Cuba’s capital, with the world’s leading fencers.

Some 117 fencers from 27 countries are competing in the event, which concludes Monday, including 10 Cuban women in the epee and 10 Cuban men in the foil.
Star fencers at the competition include Rumania’s Ana Maria Branza, the world leader and defending champion of the Cuban classic, Hungary’s Emese Szasz, world runner up, and China’s Xu Anqi, ranked in third place globally. Cuba’s men’s squad is led by national champion Yosniel Alvarez and runner up Jesus Riano, and includes Leandro Ramos, Jesus Delgado, Michel Carty, Karol Rivero, Michel Tejeda, Enmanuel Mojena, Riuben Jay and Redys Prades.
Both the epee and the foil competitions are considered by Cuban fencing authorities as part of preparations for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, to be held in Veracruz, Mexico in November.(Photo internet)

cooperativa_noagroHAVANA,  May 22  Some 246 cooperatives are already operating in Cuba, with a total of 498 approved to kick off activities, though many of them are still at different stages before being officially registered.
Cuban official Grisel Trista, in charge of the Department attending to the development of entities at the Permanent Commission on the Implementation of the economic guidelines, said that those cooperatives already approved to operate are in the areas of domestic trade, gastronomy and other services like cargo and passenger transportation, construction, food processing, energy and accounting.
Experts say that the development of the non-state collective modality faces obstacles such as the lack control measures that can be applied to their function, while other control systems in force are not appropriate. The lack of access to wholesale markets and limited relations with state enterprises are also considered hurdles in the new economic sector.
The solution to many of the current problems identified in the current experimental operations of cooperatives on the island is still being addressed by state bodies and the Commission to implement the new transformations, said the Cuban official.  (acn)

hector-igarzaParis – HAVANA, May 22 Cuban ambassador in France, Héctor Igarza, presented to 70 members of the Maxim Business Club (MBC) open investment opportunities in several priority sectors of the Cuban economy.

During a forum with French business men, Igarza carefully explained all the facilities offered by the Special Development Area Mariel, opened at the beginning of 2014. This zone, located in the port with the same name 60 kilometers west of Havana, is thought to be the main entrance and exit door of the Cuban foreign trade.
Related to this project, the sectors of renewable energy, biotechnology, property line, pharmaceutical and agri-food industries, and tourism. In addition, there will be installed one of the largest and more modern container terminal in that region.
At the event, the diplomat also talked about the new Foreign Investment Law, which stimulates the development of different types of partnerships with the Caribbean nation. Introducing the debate, Prince Jean Poniatowski, one of the founders of the club in 1968, mentioned three recent visits to Havana by the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, and Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and Tourism, Fleur Pellerin.
The Maxim Business Club gathers 850 members based in Paris and Geneva, Switzerland.(Prensa Latina)