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havana-live-descemer-buenoHavana, August 9 (EFE)  Descemer Bueno, composer of the hit “Bailando,” which topped the charts in several countries this summer, announced his new projects with Colombian singer Juanes and the Spanish duo Estopa. Descember Bueno singer-songwriter and disc producer was referring to the number “La Maleta,” in which he accompanies Juanes, and the artistic project with Estopa, the rock/rumba duo with whom he recorded the song “Pastillas para Dormir,” the official Prensa Latina news agency reported.
Bueno also spoke about his plan to invite the famous rapper and reggaeton star of Jamaican origin, Sean Paul, to give concerts in Cuba this September. Nor could he fail to mention the tremendous international reception that the music video of “Bailando” has enjoyed in the version he did with Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, members of the Cuban reggaeton group Gente de Zona, and dancers of the Lizt Alfonso troupe.
He also said that his next performances abroad will be in Panama and the Dominican Republic. Descemer Bueno, currently one of the most popular figures of Cuban music both on the island and internationally, recently gave his first concerts in Santiago de Cuba, where he took part in the 23rd anniversary of the Tropicana Santiago cabaret of that city, some 940 kilometers (584 miles) east of Havana.

havana-live-Teatro-MellaHAVANA, 8 August  (EFE)  Havana joined in the celebration of the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth with the first visit of the famed London theater group The Globe and its performance of “Hamlet.” The Globe twice presented “Hamlet” on Thursday at the downtown Mella Theater as part of the world tour that began last April in London to mark the 450 years since Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born.

Cuba is the first Spanish-speaking country chosen for a performance by the company, which in Thursday’s “Hamlet” helped the audience understand the actors with subtitles shown on a screen. “It’s quite an occasion that they’re here. Shakespeare is an author kept continually alive in Cuba. All our great directors have produced their own versions of his works,” Carlos Celdran, a leading figure of Cuban theater, told Efe.
Cuban playwright and critic Norge Espinosa noted that The Globe is Shakespeare’s ambassador to the world – it uses actors of all ages and ethnicities and shows how the English continue to “maintain a dialogue” with the author.
Cuban theater’s chief tribute to the English author will be staged at the 24th International Ballet Festival of Havana in October, which will present a dance version of “Romeo and Juliet” produced by one-time ballerina and current director of the company, Alicia Alonso.
Before arriving in Cuba from the Bahamas, the English company had appeared in Norway, Russia, Finland, Ukraine, Croatia and the United States. From Cuba it will continue on to the Yucatan in Mexico, followed by such Caribbean nations as Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, as well as countries of Central America.
The original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed was built in 1599 on the banks of the River Thames. 

havana-live-Bronx-MuseumHAVANA, 7 August   Havana is in talks with the Bronx Museum to organise the first major exhibition by a US museum in the country, according to local reports.

The show would be part of the 12th edition of the Havana Biennial next year, and could be followed by an exhibition in New York in 2016 that would feature work by Cuban artists. The Bronx Museum was not available for comment. The director of the National Fine Arts Museum in Havana, Ana Cristina Perera, announced the cultural exchange during the 1 August opening of “African American Artists and Abstraction”, an exhibition in Cuba that includes work by nine American artists.
During her opening remarks, Perera emphasised the role of culture in “breaking barriers imposed by governments that have nothing to do with the will of the artists”, the EFE news agency reports. The long-standing US trade embargo against Cuba does not include art and it has become easier for American art professionals to visit the Caribbean country since 2009, when the Obama administration softened travel restrictions. Around 80 curators, artists and intellectuals from the US attended the opening for the exhibition in Havana last Friday.
The potential participation of an American museum in the Havana Biennial indicates a slow but steady shift in the exhibition’s identity. The first Bienal de la Habana opened in 1984 and only included artists from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The next editions expanded to include artists from Africa and Asia and the biennial became known for showcasing “non-Western” artists. But throughout the 1990s, it slowly began to include artists from Europe and North America.  By the 2012 edition, it included artists from 45 countries, however only one was from the US. The 12th edition of the Havana Biennial will take place from 22 May to 22 June 2015.

havana-live-circuba 2014HAVANA, August 7 (acn) The Russian Spirin duo won the Grand Prize of the 13th Summer Circus International Festival, Circuba 2014, after the presentation of its act Shadows, which was full of control, strength and balance.

Julian Gonzalez Toledo, Cuban Minister of Culture, granted them the most significant laurel of contest, which is to date considered one of the most important in the Americas. Similarly, one of the protagonists of this pair, the young Vyacheslav Spirin, belonging to Rosgoscirck Russian Circus, was recognized for his outstanding scenic performance.
The gold, silver and bronze stars went to several acts by Havana Company, group that highlighted by the freshness of its artists and the complexity of their performances with the scale, the Russian bar and the flying trapeze. Also the cheered act of Run or German wheel, only seen at the opening night starring Canadian Francis Perreault, finished second sharing the prize with the Cuban group, which was also the most popular of the event.
The also Russians Maxim Helmut with his risky domain of aerial rope and Sychev infant duet were included in the list of prizes obtained by the world’s largest circus, by winning the awards in image and revelation, respectively.
Similarly, in the closing ceremony of Circuba 2014, artists from Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Germany got special mentions and awards from various institutions and personalities of circus art. Finally, it was announced that Havana Company will represent Cuba in the 8th Albacete International Circus Festival, Spain, in 2015.

havana-live-rumbaHavana, August  6 (Prensa Latina)   Artists, dancers and researchers of Mexico, Italy and Cuba will attend the 6th International Rumba Event Timbalaye, from August 17 to 24th in four Cuban provinces, informed today the organizers.

This year we were not prepared to have greater foreign participation because we had the third edition of the International Rumba Forum in Rome, from May 8 to 11 said the presidejnt of Timbalaye, Ulises Mora, in a press conference. However, he added, thanks to the proposal made by Havana, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio and Cienfuegos provinces, we will celebrate this month our next event, dedicated to Benny More, on his 95th birthday.
‘Cuba is a country of dance, where all the children are born with dances, so this genre is part of their culture, the sould of Cubans, that is why we have to defend it, together with orality, said the also member of honor of the Hermanos Saiz Association. According to UNEAC Vicepresident Pedro de la Hoz, the rumba is connection to memory, tradition and also integration to audiovisual media, fine arts and research. Referring to the program, artistic director of Timbalaye, Irma Castillo, announced that among the groups to take part in the event, Afrocuba from Matanzas, the Kings of Drums, Columbia del Puerto and Yoruba Andabo.
Timbalaye 2014 is organized by the Uneac, the Hermanos Saiz Association, tbe National Heritage Council , the House of Africa and the Cultural Tourism Agency Paradiso.
AUG 17. 4:30PM Pabellón,Havana Rumba concert
AUG 19. 4:00PM Havana The Longest Ruma
AUG 20. 9:00PM America Theater, Havana Timbalaye 2014 Gala

havana-live-alina-fernandezHAVANA, 6 August   Alina Fernandez, the rebellious daughter of Cuban former ruler Fidel Castro, has gone from Miami to Havana to be with her seriously ill mother.

It’s her first trip back since 1993, when she escaped the island using a false passport and wig. A woman who answered the phone Tuesday at the home of the 88-year-old mother, Natalia “Naty” Revuelta Clews, said Fernandez was out of the house but would be back in the evening. She later said the family was focusing on Revuelta and would not make a comment. Max Lesnik, a Miamian who has friends high in the Cuban government and regularly travels to Cuba, reported in his El Duende column Tuesday that Fernandez, 58 and a Miami radio personality, has been spotted in Havana.
The visit by Fernandez, a regular and strident critic of Castro and his government, could mark another advance in the long-hostile relations between the Cuban government and Cubans abroad who oppose the communist system. Her visit was presumed to have been approved by the Cuban government, whose security services control all who enter and leave the nation.
Among other recent visitors have been wealthy exile businessmen Paul Cejas, Carlos Saladrigas, and Alfie Fanjul. In her 1998 autobiography, Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba, Fernandez criticized her father as a distant dictator and wrote that she was closer to his brother, current Cuba ruler Raúl Castro, describing him as a good family man.
“He was the person to whom you could go to and ask for help every time you had a practical problem,” she added in a 2008 interview with Foreign Policy magazine. On personal issues, she added, “Fidel was totally unhelpful.” Just six weeks ago, Fernandez told the EFE news agency in Miami that it was not the right time for her to return to Cuba, even though it was “very sad” that she could not see her 88-year-old mother and described her father as cruel.
“I don’t want problems” in Cuba, Fernandez said in the interview. “It makes me very sad, because my mother is old” and “to see your mother and to want to do something for her is a law of nature, something visceral.” Friends of Fernandez say Revuelta fell and broke a leg recently and has been in declining health for several months.
Fernandez was born in 1956 after Revuelta, a Havana beauty then married to Orlando Fernandez, had an affair with Fidel Castro, then a young revolutionary and lawyer divorced from Mirta Diaz-Balart. She was raised by her mother but knew from the age of 10 that Castro was her father and worked variously as a model in a combination clothing shop-nightclub in Havana and as public-relations director for a clothing line. Long known for her harsh croticisms of Fidel Castro, she fled Cuba for Spain in 1993 using false documents and a disguise arranged by Elena Díaz-Verson Amos, a Cuban-born woman married to a wealthy American and living in Georgia.
Asked in the EFE interview if she hated her father, she said, “No. Hate him, no. Hate is too strong a word. … I see him as having a pretty elevated level of cruelty, but I never reached the point of hating him. Never.” Fernandez moved to Miami with her daughter, Alina “Mumín” Salgado. Fernandez wrote columns for el Nuevo Herald from 2009-2010, and for many years hosted a program on WQBA radio called Simplemente Alina (Simply Alina). She now has a short segment weekdays during the 3-5 pm slot on WWFE-670 AM.
Juanita Castro, sister of Fidel and Raúl, won a $45,000 judgment against Fernández in a Spanish court, arguing that the autobiography’s portrayal of the Castros’ parents, Angel Castro and Lina Ruz, libeled the family. Two years ago, Fernandez filed suit to recover $100,000 she paid toward the purchase of a $1.6 million house in Kendall. Several Miami men have been arrested and charged with a real-estate scam. Asked by EFE if she would ever like to meet with Fidel Castro again, she said,
“That’s not a realistic possibility. … I believe that there’s an absolute lack of interest on both sides. I have nothing to say to him.” As for how her father will be regarded years down the road, she said, “For Cubans, the legacy of Castro is a country ruined and with part of its people in exile, an experience very hard and very difficult to cure.”

havana-live-customHAVANA, August 5  Cuban authorities warned today about some risks of taking packages for third parties, which generally in exchange of payment or compensation some passengers carry when entering the country, even at the risk of being involved in drug trafficking.

About the issue, officials from the General Custom House of the Republic of Cuba informed that about 69 cases of travelers were detected from January to May 2014. They brought package for third parties from South and North America, 19 of them were identified as drug trafficking.
According to article 11 of the Resolution 24 of 2007, where regulations for clearance and customs passengers’ control are established, individuals, as travelers, are not authorized to carry packages for other individuals or legal entities. If they do not comply with this regulation, the individual should assume the corresponding administrative or legal responsibility.
According to Granma newspaper, the main inspector of the Department of Analysis and a drug expert of the Customs, Daniel Noa, in some detected cases, the packages were received from acquaintances or acquaintances of relatives. Those individuals were attracted for messages posted in public places, where a sum of money offered to bring a certain amount of kilograms of luggage to Cuba.
Those people sometimes ignore the real content of what they carry, they are very naive, and are later involved in a legal process, Noa said. According to experts, the joint work with the Ministry of Interior and some grass-roots organizations have allowed the phenomenon does not flourish.

havana-live-AviancaHAVANA, 5 August   Colombia-based air carrier Avianca has expanded its service to Havana, the carrier announced. Avianca will be increasing the number of flights between Colombia’s capital, Bogota and Havana from four to five flights each week. The expansion means more than 200 new seats each week between Colombia and Cuba. Avianca now operates around 50 flights each week to the Caribbean, including direct flights to Aruba, Cancun, Curacao, Punta Cana, San Juan and Santo Domingo. Avianca will be operating the service on Airbus A318 planes, with capacity for 100 passengers. Avianca also operates direct flights five days per week between Lima, Peru and Havana and six-times weekly service between San Salvador and Havana. The new service launched late last month.

havana-live-cuba-pesosHavana, August 5   Advisor of the President of the Cuban Association of Economists, Joaquin Infante said in an interview published today by the newspaper Granma that to have one currency and one exchange rate in this country is pressing.

In October, 2013, the same newspaper published an official press release, in which the Government announced the implementation of measures aimed at unification of currencies and having one currency and one exchange rate. The newspaper insisted that they clarified in the most recent parliamentary sessions that the mentioned process has the intention of reestablishing the value of the Cuban peso, although that measure alone would not solve all problems of the Cuban economy.
He said the measure would allow having an exact dimension of the profitability and competitiveness of productions, as well as measuring with greater objectivity all the macroeconomic indicators. Infante said that although the phenomenon could be due to structural or circumstantial reasons, both coincide in Cuba.
Among the former reasons, he mentioned extreme dependence on foreign trade and little foreign-currency reserves in the country, and among the latter, the US economic and trade blockade of Cuba and fluctuation of the prices for imports and exports of products in the international market. He said it was a more complex situation, due to the appreciation of one CUP (Cuban peso) equivalent to one CUC (Cuban convertible currency) for the State’s economic-financial relations; and 25 CUP equivalent to one CUC for the population.
He said these factors do not contribute to have a clear vision of the cost of the productions, distort the information to carry out feasibility studies and economic assessment of investments, and among other consequences, make imports and exports to be underrated. Asked why this moment was chosen to implement having one currency and one exchange rate, the expert did not hesitate to say there was a pressing need for this process, which should have been enforced long time ago, he said.
The best strategy is eliminating the two exchange rates in the State operations. He also drew attention on the existence of a third currency in that sector, the so-called Liquidity Chart (CLC), which identify the value of CUC in foreign currency. According to him, that has happened due to the issuing of more CUCs (convertible pesos) that their value in foreign currencies.
Despite the so-complex panorama, the economist considered that the effects of having one currency and one exchange rate for the State operations will be seen soon. However, its impact on the population will be gradual.
He explained that elimination of the two currencies alone would not increase the people’s purchasing power. Appreciation of the Cuban peso is tightly related to increasing productions, work efficiency, competitiveness and profitability of productions.

havana-live-copaHAVANA, 5 August  Panama-based Copa Airlines is adding a new flight to Cuba, the company announced. The company will be adding twice-weekly direct flight from Panama City to Cayo Santa Maria.

Cayo Santa Maria will be Copa’s second destination in Cuba, with service set to begin in December. Copa already offers service to Havana. “Through the years, Copa Airlines has demonstrated its dedication to world-class service, providing passengers the most efficient connectivity on travel to and from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean,” said Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa.hotel_melia_cayo_santa_maria_home1
The news comes after Copa added four new Boeing Next Generation 737-800 aircraft in the first half of 2014, bringing its total to 94 aircraft. Copa is one of the major hubs for South American travelers heading to the Caribbean.
By the end of 2014, the carrier will offer 69 flights to destinations in 30 countries in the region. http://www.caribjournal.com/2014/08/04/copa-airlines-adding-new-cuba-market/

havana-live-steam-locomotivHAVANA, 5 August (EFE) Havana’s workshop for steam locomotives, an open-air curiosity that in recent years has attracted a stream of tourists and experts, will disappear in a few months after reaching its goal of restoring 40 engines, constructed between 1878 and 1925, as a tribute to the history of Cuba and its unique heritage.

Since 2007, the old-time locomotives had been filling up a plot of land at the back of the National Capitol, where a small team has worked at restoring them without publicity, so that many believed the workshop was just a railroad “cemetery” or “Jurassic park.” “They were brought from many corners of Cuba, where there is a sentimental relationship with these trains.
 havana-live-steam-locomotiv4Their history is entwined with the history of sugar, which in turn is the history of the Cuban people,” Ariel Causa, one of the leaders of the project, told Efe. Causa works for the Havana Historian’s Office, the agency that decided to restore, with a view to exhibiting them publicly as a tourist attraction, a total of 40 steam locomotives from among the more than 200 on the island, which have been considered a national heritage since 2004.
 havana-live-steam-locomotiv3Now, if all goes as planned, reparations to complete this particular collection will be finished by the end of the year. At least seven of the engines date back to the 19th century and one of them, the oldest, began operating in 1878 and kept rolling down the line for 127 years.
Two of the trains were made in Germany while the rest were built in the 19th century by American manufacturers such as Baldwin Locomotives and Rogers Locomotives Works, and were used by the sugar industry or for public transport during the railroad’s years of glory in Cuba. In 1837, the island became the first Ibero-American country to have a railroad. havana-live-steam-locomotiv2 havana-live-steam-locomotiv5havana-live-stem-locomotiv havana-live-steam-locomotiv1

3_cuban_school HAVANA, 1 August  (By Maia Booker)  In Cuba, ballet is a matter of national pride—not simply one of the higher art forms for an elite few.

Tickets are affordable, and ballet is popular and accessible. In a 2011 interview with The New York Times, famed Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov said about Cuba, “there, every taxi driver knows the names of the dancers.
This is unheard of. Try it in New York.” In 2012, photographer Rebekah Bowman managed to get rare access to the birthplace of the top male ballet dancers and prima ballerinas of Cuba, the famed National Ballet School in Havana.An article about Cuba first ignited her interest in the country. “I think of borders as places of longing, and nowhere is an ideological border more strikingly pronounced than between the U.S. and Cuba.” She decided to explore this idea within the context of dance, a central element of Cuba’s cultural identity.
havana-live-_cuban_schoolThe National Ballet School in Havana was originally founded in 1931, but grew into the prestigious institution it is now in the 1960s, after Fidel Castro came to power and declared that art and education were for the people. Talented children from all over the island could get free ballet training; the school is open to every child.
havana-live-cuban_school6Typically, children are accepted when they are ten-years-old for five years of intense training; they then do a couple more years of training at a professional level. Only a handful of graduating students are selected for the country’s premier company, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Maturity and intense dedication is required, but, Bowman said, “even the most stern teachers balance severity with a healthy dose of humor and a lot of nurture. Hallmark qualities, I believe, of Cuban culture.”
2_cuban_schoolThe school trains around 3,000 dancers at any one time.Since the ’60s, the Cuban ballet style has been chiefly formed by exceptional dancer and prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, now 93, and her husband Fernando Alonso. Alongside its rigorous attention to classical form and technical precision, “the Cuban style borrowed elements from the then-dominant European schools, was influenced by aspects of Cuba’s Spanish and Afro-Cuban cultural heritage, and adapted to the Cuban dancer’s physiology to express a Latin sensibility and aesthetic,” Bowman said.
havana-live-cuban_school5According to experts, their training is world-class and recognizable. Alonso has taught many of today’s notable dancers, who are dispersed all over the globe in prestigious companies such as the San Francisco Ballet, the Royal Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. This wave of dancers has given the tropical island of 11 million people a cultural importance and influence incommensurate to its size.
havana-live-_cuban_school2Though conditions at the school are often wanting, and many dancers defect to other countries due to the lack of freedom and economic opportunity in Cuba, Bowman explains that for her, “the take-away [with this series] is invariably a reaction to the raw beauty of the place, the unabashed sensuality, a palpable energy, creative ingenuity and generosity of spirit,” that also permeates Cuban culture.
All photographs by Rebekah Bowman. Her Portrait of the Cuban School of Ballet series will be exhibited this year as part of the International Ballet Festival in Havana from October 27 through November 11.

havana-live-bertha1HAVANA, 1 August  Tropical Storm Bertha entered the radar early Friday as it churns in the Atlantic some 240 kilometers (150 miles) east of Barbados reported the Cuban Weather Service (INSMET) at 6:00 a.m. on Friday.

At this point it is not expected to pose a danger to Cuba. The initial projection cone for the storm from the National Hurricane Center in Miami shows it taking a northwest path that could bring a possible landing in several eastern Caribbean islands and then Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic by late Saturday or early Sunday.
The NHC has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Barbardos, St. Lucia, Dominica, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, US. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands as well as a Tropical Storm Watch for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area…in this case within the next 24 hours, notes the NHC.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area…generally within 48 hours. At the time of the INSMET report, Bertha was packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour (45 mph).
It is moving west-northwest at a speed of 32 kilometers per hour (20 mph).

havana-live-circuba 2014HAVANA, August 31 Cuba’s 13th International Summer Circus Festival (Circuba) kicked off Thursday in Havana, with the participation of more than 80 performers from 14 countries and regions.

Following Thursday night’s inauguration at the Karl Marx Theater, the competitive phase of the festival is set to begin on Friday. The five-day event will conclude on Aug. 5. This year’s Circuba for the first time features the Spanish company “Made in Jabon” with its show “Bubbles”, and the Russian state circus Rosgoscirk, which will mark its 95th anniversary at the festival.
The Circuba program also includes a series of films under the banner “Circus and Cinema,” with screenings of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus” and Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth,” as well as “Trapeze” by Carol Reed and “Circus of Horrors” by Sidney Hayers. China’s Fuyong Acrobatics Art Troupe, from Shenzhen city, won the jury’s Grand Prize in the past three festivals.

havana-live--quality-management (1)HAVANA, July 30   Cuban entrepreneurs must constantly improve their skills in order to make Cuban economy more dynamic, particularly amidst current transformations in the sector, said a specialist in Havana, who announced a series of training courses for next month.

Mavel Hinojosa, an expert with the Havana-based Quality Development and Management Center (CGDC) called on Cuban entrepreneurs, foreign businesspeople based on the island and self-employees and cooperative members to take courses and workshops organized by her entity this year.
The courses, which open in August, include a workshop aimed at executives, market specialists, technical personnel involved in the design and launching of new products; another course on the use of management tools for entrepreneurial competitiveness, which improves organization and labor environment, along with other training actions quality management according to the Cuban ISO- standards.
Also included is a workshop on the training of quality auditors, which provides basic tools for internal control on entrepreneurial management systems. The specialist explained that these courses have an entry fee and those interested may get more information at www.inin.cubaindustria.cu. the website of the Cuban industry or by sending email messages with requests at alicia@cgdc.cu, mileny@cgdc.cu y mhinojosa@cgdc.cu; or contact the numbers 8633282 or 8610863.
Tomado de Cubanews

havana-live-havana-botanical-gardenHAVANA,  29 jULY  Greenhouses at Cuba’s Jardin Botanica Nacional are designed to keep plants shaded and catching breezes, unlike those in our own more northerly latitudes.

I was delighted to have a visit there on our group’s itinerary because I wanted to know more about the unusual flowers and plants I’d been seeing. The garden was en route to Hemingway’s Finca Vigia, which is now restored and welcomes visitors. Follow my newspaper series on Cuba and you’ll find out more about Hemingway soon.
A guide is included for touring the 1,400 acre botanical gardens which is laced with more than 20 miles of roads. Our guide came aboard the small bus which transported us everywhere except on our walking tours of Havana. His English was quite good and his botanical knowledge was impressive, but I still needed to turn to my friends at the Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden to identify many of the plants I saw there and photographed.
That’s probably because our guide’s heavy Cuban accent on plants’ Latin names totally befuddled me and the plants themselves were quite unlike those seen at home. The botanical garden not only showcases Cuban ecosytems and their plants but also has areas of other plants found in tropical countries.
Its center has palm trees from around the world and I had no idea there were so many varieties of them., including the rare cork palm, otherwise found only in western Cuba. Our guide showed us how palm leaves have many uses, such as thatch for roofs and even for fashioning into easy biodegradable trash cans. The botanical garden was established in 1968 and opened to the public in 1984. A highlight is the Japanese garden which is laid out with tiered cascades and a small lake filled with koi fish. koipondThe huge greenhouse has areas for ferns, cactuses, epiphytes and tropical mountain plants. Just like our own Cleveland Botanical Garden it has an area dedicated to the plants of Madagascar, which includes a baobob tree — which looks like it has its roots in the air which, there as here, inspires the nickname “upside down tree”.Other nicknames names are easy to guess, such as the sausage tree, native to South Africa and identified by the Holden Arboretum as genus Kigelia.havana-live-greenhouse
In South Africa its large oblong sausage shaped gourds are used to make containers. Cuba’s national flower is the lovely white bloom Cubans call the mariposa — Spanish for butterfly. This sweetly fragrant bloom became a symbol of rebellion and purity in Cuba. Ann McCulloh Curator of plant collections for the Cleveland Botanical Garden identifies it as Hedychium coronarium or Butterfly Ginger . We saw begonias, bougainvillea, anthuriums, and poinsettia beyond number and I was proud to be able to identify the purple flowered jacaranda.havana-live-mariposa



Butflower I loved the best was the large brilliant orange bloom with strangely shaped almost tenacle-like blossoms. I sent my photo to McCulloh who identified it as a Brownea grandiceps also known as a Rose of Venezuela, or Scarlet Flame Bean. She said its’s a small tropical tree from South America, that will not take temperatures below 55 degrees.havana-live-scarlett-flowerAlthough she said the Butterfly Ginger can sometimes be grown as a houseplant, I guess there’s no large orange Scarlet Flame Bean flower in my future.

havana-live-terry-fox-marathonNEW ROCHELLE-HAVANA, July 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/   Is Cuba on your bucket list of places you’ve wanted to visit? What if you could get up close and personal with its capital city, Havana, or at least 26.2 miles of it?

For only the second time, American marathoners will get the chance to run in the Havana Marathon, thanks to a new amateur sports license received by Insight Cuba. But act soon, only 156 American runners are authorized to go.
Insight Cuba, the leading provider of people-to-people trips to the island, is offering three Marathon-centered tours—plus the chance to win a free Havana Marathon 4-Day Tour. To participate, users are invited to ‘like’ the Insight Cuba Havana Marathon Facebook page and enter via the “Win a Trip” tab at the top.
The winner will be selected at random on October 1, 2014.
Full sweepstakes terms and conditions are listed on the Facebook page.
The Havana Marathon 4-Day tour grand prize includes the flight package (round-trip charter air from Miami to Cuba, priority check-in at Miami International Airport, and baggage fee); superior accommodations at the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana; exclusive guided excursions; private visits and lectures with Cuba’s renowned experts; experienced Insight Cuba tour leader; all meals while in Cuba, except for one paladar evening dining experience; special pre-marathon lunch; US Department of the Treasury license and Insight Cuba letter of authorization; expert Cuban guide; fresh bottled water while touring; Marabana Havana Marathon and half-marathon entry fee and bib; medical checkup; all entrance fees to scheduled activities and events; travel health insurance, emergency medical evacuation and trip-cancellation coverage (up to $1,000); gratuities for luggage handling, restaurant service, and programmed activities throughout tour;* and more. For more information on Insight Cuba’s tours, visit www.insightcuba.com or call 1-800-450-CUBA. To stay connected with Insight Cuba, follow @insightcuba or ‘like’ Insight Cuba on Facebook: www.facebook.com/havanamarathon

havana-live-maleconHAVANA, 28 July   CNPC have announced the signing last week of a major oil deal with Cuba’s state-owned oil company Union Cuba Petroleo (Cupet), to help the Latin American country exploit its offshore reservoirs in exchange for increased crude exports to China. 

On July 22 in Havana in the presence of Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and Cuban president, Raul Castro, CNPC vice president, Wang Dongjin, and general director of Cupet, Juan Torres Naranjo, signed a framework agreement on increasing crude output and production sharing, and a cooperation agreement on drilling services.
Under the agreements, CNPC will help Cupet to lower operation cost of some existing oilfields and enhance the crude production and recovery, and meanwhile provide 9,000-metre drilling rigs and supporting services to facilitate the exploration and development of Cuba’s offshore oilfields.
CUPET is a Cuban state-owned oil company. Its priorities include exploration and development of new oil fields in the Cuban shelf area, production increase at producing fields, reworking of suspended wells, and increase in refining capacity. http://www.oilandgastechnology.net/upstream-news/china-targets-cuba%E2%80%99s-oil-cnpc-cupet-trade-agreement

havana-live-wine-tasting-californiarJuan Manuel Betancor Tejera, left, president of Balcon del Habano Varadero takes in the aroma of a Gloria Ferrer pinot noir while Sommelier Joel Francisco Chacon Valdes of Casa Del Habano writes down notes of the wines during a tasting at Gloria Ferrer Winery with the Cuban Sommelier Summit in Sonoma on July 22, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

HAVANA, 24 July  While “cigar-box” is a common characteristic used to describe certain robust red wines, it’s generally rare to smell the actual aroma of cigar smoke at a wine tasting. Then came a group of 22, mostly sommeliers, from Cuba, visiting Sonoma and Napa for a weeklong Cuban Sommelier Summit.
“Napa and Sonoma are the most important wines of the world,” declared Fernando Fernandez, a sommelier professor from Havana who helped organize and was leading the summit. “Not America, the world.” He added that almost all of the summit participants have earned the highest level of sommelier training in Cuba, and understand how to pair wine with cigars, single malt scotches, rum, coffee, chocolate and tea.
After enjoying an hourlong overview Monday by the Wine Institute’s Lindsay Gallagher, who conducted the session in proficient Spanish at Ramekins Culinary Center in Sonoma, the sommeliers stepped outside to taste through three sets of wines from three burgeoning areas of California with which they might not have been as familiar. havana- live-wine-tasting
They included Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Lodi, each of which had representatives on hand to go through the wines. The wines served from Lodi were a 2013 Bokisch Albarino, 2011 Upstream Malbec and 2012 Old Ghost Zinfandel. The zinfandel in particular piqued the interest of Leticia Cabrera Alonso, a sommelier who presides over a cigar shop. Though she thought the young zinfandel needed “to oxygenate,” she liked its smoky, oaky character. “We have a culture of trying things and of good-tasting things,” she said in English. “We try wines to pair with cigars, with tobacco. The zinfandel would pair well with a cigar; it’s smoky.” Cabrera Alonso explained that she and many of her peers in Cuba get the occasional chance to try California wines when friends visit and through classes sometimes held via the French embassy. havana-live-wine-tasting1The albarino also drew much interest.  Many of the sommeliers favorably compared the wine to versions from Spain, with which they were more familiar. “In Cuba, the weather is very hot. Many customers prefer white wine,” said Fernandez, after tasting the Bokisch Albarino. “Not only sauvignon blanc and chardonnay but viognier, roussanne, marsanne and many Rhone whites.” From Paso Robles, the three wines were a 2013 Cotes de Tablas Blanc from Tablas Creek, a 2012 Justification Bordeaux-style red blend from Justin Vineyards and Winery and a 2012 Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel, also a hit with the group. From Santa Barbara, wines poured included a 2010 Qupé Roussanne, 2012 Presque’ile Winery Pinot Noir and 2012 Melville Estate Pinot Noir, all interesting to the tasters if not quite as robust as some of the other red wines being poured that day.

havana-live-SolomonIslandsHAVANA, July 24 Prime Minister of Solomon Island, Gordon Darcy Lilo, will preside over today the opening of his country`s embassy in this capital, in the context of the official visit to Cuba until July 27.

The opening of that legation will contribute to expand and strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation both nations have maintained since the formal establishment of diplomatic bonds on December 19, 2002. At present, both countries are developing collaboration projects, particularly in medical and educational cooperation.
During his stay in the island, Darcy Lilo will pay tribute to Cuban National Hero Jose Marti at this capital`s Revolution Square, and also hold official talks with President Raul Castro, among other activities. Darcy Lilo arrived in Havana yesterday night, and was welcomed by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra. In statements to the press, the prime minister of Solomon Island highlighted his government and people interest to strengthen relations with Cuba.

havana-live-Cuervo-y-Sobrinos-Hitoriador-Retrogrado1HAVANA, 22 July  From the end of the 19th century to the late 50s, time of the revolution, Havana was the place to be for the world’s elite. Time has always had another dimension there.

Armando Rio & Cuervo ran the jewelry and watchmaking business founded by their uncle Ramon.In 1882, the family opened its shop “La Casa” on Havana’s prestigious Avenida Quinto, where they sold Swiss pocket watches and cheaper American watches.
81449473As at the beginning of the XX century more and more tourists were arriving from the nearest coast of Florida, watches were in high demand. Soon Don Armando himself began to produce watches under the brand Cuervo y Sobrinos (“Cuervo and nephews”).
As shown by the photographs that recently came to the light, discovered in the basement rooms of La Casa, some of the most famous elegant people loved the unique taste of this manufacture.

havana-live-cuervo-y-sobrinosIn the Havana of the 40s, the international elite from the worlds of arts, science and politics, from Ernest Hemingway to Enrico Caruso, Clark Gable, Winston Churchill and even Albert Einstein,highly considered Cuervo y Sobrinos as the perfect expression of the Cuban lifestyle and made the La Casa shop a place to go ,when visiting the town’s casinos & cabarets.
Not only the famous people loved the brand’s heritage of “another time”: some of the most established Swiss manufactures like Rolex, Longines, Patek also craved the chance to be associated with the very popular and only latin timepieces.

But in the late 50s (1959) the revolution rised setting a new age: Castro came to power in Cuba, driving the Cuervo family into a European exile that de facto made the manufacture & the business slowly fell into oblivion. Tobacco and cigars – the two main economic product of the island are embodied in one of the main motives of watches Cuervo y Sobrinos.
havana-live-cuervo-y-sobrinosBy tradition, each purchaser of products Cuervo y Sobrinos receives a watch in humidor for cigars, and among other things, he can find a pack of handmade cards. One serie of Cuervo y Sobrinos watches was named after the traditional Cuban cigars. In 2001, Italian Marzio Villa re-launched the brand that had been hibernating for four decades .

Cuervo y Sobrinos opened a salon in Havana at the initiative of the Italian watch making enthusiasts Marzio Villa and a spanish businessman, watches Cuervo y Sobrinos were revived as a Swiss brand.
havana-live-Cuervo-y-Sobrinos-coverIn collaboration with the Swiss workshops the heirs of Don Armando have created new watches, which stand out with their unusual shapes of cases and details of dial, which evoke nostalgic memories of the 1940s and pre-revolutionary Cuba. Rapid success among European customers renewed the Havana watch brand Cuervo y Sobrinos, this has been achieved through a simple but effective trick: the ability to combine acceptable for an elite brand a high quality and versatile design with a clear imprint of vintage exotics in every element of watch design and even in its name. It is no coincidence that the motto of the brand Cuervo y Sobrinos sounds like “watches with Swiss heart and Caribbean soul“.
(Source Montre24)havana-live-cuervo

havana-live-xi-jinpingHavana, Julio 21 The President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, will arrive in Cuba today, on an official visit, in the last stop of his second tour of Latin America and the Caribbean that included Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela.

During his stay here, the Chinese statesman will hold official talks with Army General Raul Castro, President of the Council of State and Ministers, and develop other activities, Granma newspaper reports today.
Xi will arrive in Havana after complying with his first official visit to Venezuela, described as historic by the President of that South American country, Nicolas Maduro.
The first stop in the trip of the Chinese president was in Brazil, where he attended the Sixth Summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), held on July 15, 16, which ended with succesful results like the creation of a banking institution for the bloc and a fund for emergencies.
While in Brazil, Xi met with chiefs of state and government of the CELAC quartet (Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador and Antigua and Barbuda) and set foundations for a greater cooperation between the región and the Asian Giant.

0_bhavana-live-daliHAVANA, 20 July A selection of works by Salvador Dali (1904-1989) will be shown in Cuba for the first time in the “Memories of Surrealism” exhibition, which will open at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana on July 24.
The Universal Art building of the 100-year-old institution will show 95 works by Dali, the icon of international surrealism, whose work as a painter is well known in Cuba, but not his etchings, such as will be seen here, the National Museum’s specialist, Maximo Gomez Noda, said.
The works belong to the series “Fantastic Journey” (1965), “Dali Interprets Currier and Ives (1971), “The Twelve Tribes of Israel” (1973), “The Divine Comedy” (1960), “The Songs of Maldoror” (1934), and “Memories of Surrealism” (1971), the latter providing the name for the exhibition.
The curator of the exhibition, New York expert Alex Rosenberg, says in the catalogue that the mishaps and difficulties these works went through over the years reminded him that the series “The Twelve Tribes of Israel” was finished in record time by Dali, who said it took him 30 years to create it and “just five days to execute it from all I had learned.”

havana-live-Memorial-a-Jose-MartiHAVANA, July   20 A visual arts collection entitled “My Love for Arts, My Love for Cuba,” was inaugurated on Thursday in Havana as a donation by US collector Gilbert Brownstone in tribute to the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who were arrested in 1998 in the United States.

The Five represent social justice for Cuba and the world; they have been deprived of their freedom because they fought terrorism in the entrails of the monster,” said Brownstone as he recalled a statement by Cuban National Hero Jose Marti about his exile in the United States which said “I have lived in the monster and I have known its entrails.”
In the presence of Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, the only two of the five men who have returned to Cuba after they served their unfair sentences in US jails, the collector said that he was privileged to have met the relatives of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.
The remaining three: Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are still held in US prisons despite a huge international campaign for their release. During the inauguration of the exhibit at the Jose Marti Memorial, the president of the National Council of Visual Arts, Ruben del Valle, said that the collection of so many works of art will be displayed until August 17.
The collection includes works by Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Andre Masson and other outstanding artists, which Gilbert donated to Cuba.

havana-live-mrniqueHAVANA, July 19  Cuban  filmmaker Ernesto Padron, director of 3D cartoon film ” Meñique” assured today that he would repeat the experience if he could.

Few days away from the world premiere of the first 3D cartoon flim made in Cuba in the history of national movie, Padron said that he never gave up his dream to make such a work. As the hero in his cartoon film, he has excelled hard tests and deeds, beating powerful giants.
But now, he awaits for the confrontation with the most terrible contender: the audience. The premiere will be on Sunday, the Children’s Day, with a simoultaneous exhibit in the main movie theaters in Cuba, while spectators are waiting to see a film that took almost 10 years to become true.
It is already said, that ” Meñique” will make a revolution in the movie in Cuba, just like another flim called “Vampiros en La Habana” (Vampires in Havana) did some years ago, directed by his brother Juan Padron. Esther Hirzel, director of the Cuban cartoon studies, stated there are enough human and technical resources to start other projects.
Among those new projects, there are a version of a work by Jose Marti of an European fable, “The Mountain and the Squirrel”. “Meñique” is a film co-produced with Gaelicia, Spain, and already commercialized, in countries such as South Korea, France and Germany. The film is dedicated to Tulio Raggi, a Cuban cartoon filmmaker, already deceased, a few months ago. (Prensa Latina)

havana-live-weissensteinHAVANA – NEW YORK  18 July   Michael Weissenstein has been appointed The Associated Press chief of bureau in Havana, the third bureau chief the news cooperative has had in Cuba since it reopened an office on the island in 1999.

The AP also announced that senior producer Christopher Gillette has been named to head AP television operations in the country. The appointments were announced jointly on Thursday by John Daniszewski, senior managing editor for international news, and Sandy MacIntyre, director of global video news.
“Cuba is important for the Americas and the world. AP continues to deploy top-notch journalists to tell the story of Cuba’s people, culture and government with accuracy, fairness and insight,” said Daniszewski. “AP’s customers will be well served by this move,” MacIntyre said. “Cuba remains a nation whose story fascinates and Chris brings the knowledge, experience and diplomacy to tell it well.”
The AP office in Havana was closed for decades following the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution. It reopened in 1999 and is one of the few American media organizations that operate permanently on the island. The 39-year-old Weissenstein has been a correspondent in Mexico City for the last two years, reporting throughout Latin America and helping coordinate coverage of Mexico and Central America.
He will report to Marjorie Miller, editor for Latin America and the Caribbean, and lead a bureau situated in the historic quarter of Old Havana with a multi-national staff producing news in English and Spanish in print, photos and video.

havana-live-galeria-habanaHAVANA, 18 July Congratulations to Villa Manuela Gallery, which just opened a group exhibition celebrating its 10th anniversary. With close to 20 artists on view, the show includes work by Belkis Ayón, Abel Barroso, René Francisco, Choco, Sandra Ramos, and Mabel Poblet.

Also in Havana
From July 11 to August 22 will be presented at the Havana Gallery solo exhibition My two islands of Carlos Alberto García de la Nuez. The exhibition are a group of paintings on canvas and paper of medium and large format. It brings together a group of ideas in which the artist has worked in recent years. Title My two islands, a reflection on his time as a painter in Cuba and Mexico, talking from different geographies trying to differentiate insular and continental sensibilities.

havana-live-VequerosHAVANA, July 16 New designs and cigar bands of the Vequeros brand will soon be on the market as part of strategies of the Habanos S.A. Corporation, in charge of its commercialization in the world.

The brand incorporates new bands and innovative metal containers, which changes the image introduced in 1996 to pay tribute to all the agriculture workers who, generation after generation, have cultivated tobacco in western Pinar del Rio province.
Mañanitas, Entretiempos and Tapados, its three cigar bands, offer formats that are very appreciated by smokers and will reach a wider spectrum of consumers. Vegueros is made at the Francisco Donatien cigar factory in Pinar del Rio, along with other renowned brands, like Trinidad, Montecristo, Vegas de Robaina, Hoyo de Monterrey and Romeo y Julieta.
All cigar bands of this brand are hand-made.

havana-live-Adriatic-Odyssey-VESSEL-DETAILS-8HAVANA, 16 July (By Phil Marty) Since the U.S. government has somewhat loosened restrictions on visits to Cuba by Americans, the island nation has been turning up on a lot of people’s bucket lists.

Group IST has a new Havana-to-Cienfuegos tour that’s unique in that it’s a cruise by 49-passenger mega-yacht, rather than a strictly land-based venture. Because the U.S. doesn’t allow travel to Cuba by sea, the package includes round-trip air from Miami. The eight-day/seven-night cruise spends the first two nights in Havana before moving on to Cabo San Antonio, Cayo Largo, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. (On alternate weeks the itinerary operates in reverse.) Time spent ashore will concentrate on people-to-people interaction and cultural immersion, as required on all trips to Cuba by U.S. citizens. The trip is priced as low as $4,490 per person double occupancy, depending on cabin class and travel date. Port taxes of $375 are extra. All meals and tours are included, as well as Cuban visa and mandatory Cuban medical insurance. Info: 800-833-2111, groupist.com/cuba.