havana-live-jacksonRev. Jesse Jackson is in Cuba and it’s not clear how long he may stay.
Jackson arrived in Havana Friday afternoon, but did not provide extensive details as to why he is visiting the country. Jackson flew to Havana on a charter flight from Miami. Gross was jailed in Cuba in December 2009 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011. Authorities said Gross installed internet networks for Jewish groups which the Cuban government considers subversive. The U.S. claimed Gross was trying to help as part of a democracy-building project. Jackson flew to Havana on a charter flight from Miami.
“We will hope for the day when the walls come down and bridges are built so families can reunite again and relate with each other on real mutually respectful, mutually beneficial ways,” he told the press on arrival at Havana flagship Hotel Nacional.
“We will hope for the day when the walls come down and bridges are built so families can reunite again and relate with each other on real mutually respectful, mutually beneficial ways, ” he told the press on arrival at Havana flagship Hotel Nacional.“We will hope for the day when the walls come down and bridges are built so families can reunite again and relate with each other on real mutually respectful, mutually beneficial ways,” he told the press on arrival at Havana flagship Hotel Nacional.
Jackson surrounded by officials of the Cuban National Council of Churches said, “We’re here as guests of the church and we’ll listen to the agenda of the church. They’re concerned about the poor and the needy. They’re concerned about peaceful relations. They’re concerned about state and governments having good relationships and hooking up relationships between Cuba, the U.S. and the rest of the Caribbean that will facilitate that relationship.”

Havana (CBS)

havana-live-harbour_havanaThe Council of State of Cuba, met on Thursday in the capital and passed a Decree/Law for the Mariel Special Development Zone, destined to become the main import/export gateway for Cuba’s foreign trade, said Granma newspaper. In addition to the law, the Official Gazette will publish in the coming days the port’s regulations with seven complimentary resolutions. The entire package will come into effect on November 1. The Mariel Zone,the first of its kind in Cuba, will have a “special policy” in order to “encuorage foreign and domestic investment, technological innovation and industrial concentration.” The Zone will be off-bounds to Cubans not involved in the production, commerce or the supplying of services.
The first of the facilities are expected to begin operations in January 2014, including the first 700 meters of quay, said the note.

HAVANA TIMES

jetHAVANA, Haitian startup carrier Sunrise Airways received permission to offer charter flights between Cuba and Haiti, Caribbean Journal reported. Sunrise will operate twice-a-week flights between Port-au-Prince and Holguín on a 19-seat Jetstream 32 aircraft. The airline was launched in November 2012 and “aims to establish a hub in Port-au-Prince,” the company says on its Website.
Philippe Bayard, president of Sunrise Airways, said that he is aiming a tourists and business travelers, according to Caribbean Journal. The company also offers all-inclusive tourism packages in Cuba, through Cubatur. Sunrise plans to expand to other Cuban destinations, beyond Holguín in eastern Cuba, he said. Thousands of Cuban medical personnel work in Haiti, and many Haitians study in Cuban universities.

havana-live-havana_harbour1Havana’s harbor has long been an unsightly jumble of piers left to crumble into piles of rusty, twisted rebar. Its dominant feature is a refinery smokestack across the bay that belches smoke and flame 24 hours a day. But lately demolition crews and towering cranes have been working double-time to finally tear down the ruined docks. Gentrification is already evident in the lovingly restored bayside plazas of Old Havana, and now comes an ambitious plan to turn the polluted waterfront into a gleaming promenade with restaurants, cafes and public parks.
It has all been made possible because of a new port under construction west of the Cuban capital that promises to knock Havana from its perch as Cuba’s No. 1 shipping hub. Where some might bemoan the economic loss, city authorities instead see an opportunity to transform this seedy industrial zone and revitalize the depressed, densely packed Spanish colonial core.
“The bay is symbolic. It is what gave birth to the city and it is part of what we are today,” said Orlando Inclan, an architect with the Havana City Historian’s Office, which is overseeing the project. “Now it’s time to redefine it.” Inclan envisions in the space of just a few years pelicans, gulls and sailboats replacing tankers, freighters and mothballed navy vessels as the main inhabitants of the harbor of Havana.
Workers milled about on a recent afternoon putting finishing touches on the woodwork of the former tobacco warehouse in anticipation of the brewery’s opening in a month or so. Artists’ renderings depict a rescued ferry terminal, a modern, floating wooden boardwalk and open-air plazas that will connect the already existing cruise ship terminal and a huge arts and crafts market hall that opened several years ago. The project not only covers the abandoned docks, about half of which have already been razed, but also stretches kilometers (miles) south to shipyards that will be decommissioned, cleaned up and repurposed.
havana-live-aerial-view-of-old-havana“It’s a chance to reverse the deterioration of the entire southern part (of the bay), where public space, infrastructure and environmental values are lacking,” Inclan said.Havana Harbor’s industrial days have been numbered since 2009. Back then authorities determined that the purse-shaped bay, with a narrow, shallow entrance made even shallower by an automobile tunnel that traverses the mouth, could not be expanded. With Brazilian help, work began on a new $900 million port at Mariel, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) west of Havana. The city is best known for the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, when more than 100,000 Cubans fled the island by sea in the space of just six months. Designed to accommodate bigger, deeper-drafting vessels that will begin passing through an expanded Panama Canal in 2015, the Mariel port is set to open to traffic around the end of the year. The City Historian’s Office, run by powerful and well-connected Eusebio Leal, would not divulge timetables or cost figures for the Havana Harbor makeover. Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban economist who lectures at the University of Denver, estimated that such a project could easily top $100 million factoring in things such as environmental cleanup and the cost of moving industrial activity. Cuba has a spotty record of following through on its grand ambitions, and money is always tight.
However Leal’s office can point to a long list of accomplishments since the 1990s, when it began restoring hundreds of historic buildings and converting them into bustling hotels and restaurants, breathing life into Old Havana and making it a major attraction.Havana is planning for both its current reality — millions of Canadian and European travelers visiting each year and freighters full of Chinese goods arriving on its shores and also a day when the 51-year U.S. economic embargo is no more. When that might happen is anyone’s guess, but observers say the “forbidden island” would likely be flooded with anywhere from 1 million to 5 million American travelers a year, not to mention U.S. exporters jostling to stake a claim in a market less than 150 kilometers (100 miles) from Florida.
In addition to Old Havana, Cuba has also spent millions developing beach resorts like Varadero and Cayo Coco. A beautified waterfront would add yet another lucrative attraction, said Julio Cesar Perez, a Cuban urban planner and visiting scholar at Harvard.
“You have to understand that by doing this you can generate wealth, value,” said Perez, who, independent of the Historian’s Office, drew up a similar master revitalization plan for Havana with the harbor as its crux. “At the same time … you need to deal with the housing problem” afflicting ordinary Cubans.
havana-live-Old-Havana-old-MapHousing is chronically short across the island, nowhere more so than in cramped Old Havana. When the Historian’s Office restores old buildings, it’s always a headache figuring out how and where to rehouse families. Leal’s employees say the harbor makeover will dramatically improve life for locals especially in the seediest part of the harbor, the predominantly industrial southern bay.”Just as has happened with many cities that have transformed their waterfront, Havana has this opportunity, and right in the very center of the city,” said Claudia Castillo, another architect in Leal’s office.Authorities also have been working since 2006 on cleaning up the water itself, sealing off industrial drains and installing a treatment plant on the Luyano River that feeds into the bay. Fishermen say the improvement is significant and avian and aquatic life has notably increased, even if plastic bags and tires still lap against the seawall.
Neighbors said many in the area who initially thought about selling their homes after President Raul Castro legalized the real estate market in 2011 decided to stay put upon hearing about the makeover — or significantly raised their asking prices.
“I see a bright future for the port zone,” said Runero Pena, a 64-year-old who lives near the waterfront. “We are very happy. We know this is a long-term program that won’t happen overnight, but this area is going to see great development.”

Ramon Espinosa, AP

Tracy Reese showed her 2014 Spring collection yesterday at Lincoln Center.
There was lively Latin-flavored music, packets of plantains on the seats, and even live conga players in a playful runway presentation.
In an interview backstage before the show she told me the African-Cuban theme is one she returns to again and again. There was a strong masculine/feminine aesthetic. Take a look at the model pairing she started the show with. She said of the collection, “There’s a spirit of tribalism.” She also said there were themes of athleticism and romanticism. An especially pretty look Reese wanted viewers to note was the floral print in a glowing blue and red.mode1mode2

Posted by Clint Henderson Fox News

Havana, Sep 11 (Prensa Latina) In order to promote destination Cuba, the island has welcomed 350 travel agents from 20 countries for a program organized by the Cuban travel company HAVANATOUR.
havana-live--vinialesWith its strategy of continued growth, HAVANATOUR is one of the largest companies of its type, announced that it was celebrating 35 years of service by bringing together specialists from the world’s leisure industry.
The one-week program gives travel agents and tour operators an opportunity to learn about a variety of travel and recreation offers.
MEGAFAN 35th Anniversary, as the event is called, runs from Sept. 8 to 13 and includes seminars and exhibits on various Cuban tourism scenarios for the coming winter season.Visitors will tour the northern coast of the central province of Villa Clara and the Varadero beach resort, 140 km east of the capital, Cuba’s most important recreation destination.

Mat_Cowen_action_Azores_3webCuba is eagerly preparing to host a stage of the 2014 World High Diving Series, the newest and most exciting competition in the world of aquatic sports. “It’s going to be a very important show,” said Ruiz Pedreguera, a former diver in the 70s and 80s who hopes to see Cuban athletes competing in the event, tentatively scheduled to take place April 12 at Castillo del Morro, the historic fort overlooking Havana Bay.
havana-live-cliff-diver-orlando-duque-dives-from-25m-at-the-statue-of-libertyOrganizers are considering building a seven-meter-high steel-and-aluminum platform, extending eight meters out over the sea, at the fort, which already has a height of 20 meters. The waters in this part of the bay have a depth of more than five meters.
The event is expected to gather a dozen or more of the world’s top high divers, whose death-defying leaps, turns and aerial somersaults will be visible to spectators along the port city’s seafront promenade. In the men’s division, divers are expected to make five dives from a height of 27 meters; in the women’s division, divers make three dives from an elevation of 20 meters. Both are expected to remain suspended in air for three seconds and to dive, feet first, at nearly 100 kilometers per hour.Competitive high diving is spectacular to watch and considered extremely risky. Since the series debuted in 2009, some 20 countries have hosted the event at least once. To help oversee the preparations for the event, and offer workshops, the current high diving world champion and director of the sport, Colombian-born Orlando Duque, will be traveling to Cuba this month. Cuban diver Yurisbel Caignet, 26 and a former champion, has expressed an interest in competing in the event. The sport’s record holders include Switzerland’s Oliver Favre, with a 54-meter dive, and the U.S.’ Lucy Wardle, with a 37-meter dive. Next year’s edition of the diving series will see Havana host the second stage of the 10-stage competition held in exotic locations around the world, such as Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Hawaii.

havana-live-ferryPort Manatee Executive Director Carlos Buqueras wants to be ready if and when the United States approves travel to Cuba by boat. Speaking at a Manatee Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Thursday, Buqueras said the cruise industry is waiting for approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury for waterway travel, but when that comes, he wants Port Manatee to be on the list of departure locations, according to the Bradenton Herald.The ferry ride from Port Manatee to Havana, Cuba would take about 10 hours. Buqueras has spoken with ferry operators who can take about 2,000 passengers and as many as 1,000 automobiles back and forth, the Herald reported.

Tampa Bay Business Journal

havana-live-AerogaviotaPassengers disembark the first scheduled Aerogaviota flight from Havana to the Norman Manley Intern. Airport in Kingston, yesterday.
THE options for travel from Cuba to Jamaica each year have been boosted with yesterday’s official launch of Aerogaviota’s scheduled air service between Havana and Kingston. The airline has been operating chartered Water and Housing Dr. Morais Guy said that, under the partnership, the Havana-based airline will make three weekly trips between Cuba and Jamaica — flying Mondays and Fridays between Havana and Kingston and on Wednesdays between Havana and Montego Bay, St James.

PHOTO: KARL MCLARTY