Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tower Theater Showcases Documentary on Cuban Painter Humberto Calzada

A documentary directed by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Presented by The Heritage Film Project, WPBT- Channel 2 and Miami Dade College

2009, 27 min. Digital projection. Not Rated.

This documentary, based on the life and works of Cuban-American artist Humberto Calzada, captures the extraordinary means by which human tragedy becomes the canvas of unique Caribbean experience.

Thursday, January 7, 6:00 p.m.
Reception with director Montes-Bradley and artist Humberto Calzada.
Traditional Cuban music will be performed by Gerardo Aguillón
and José Angel Navarro.

The screening will immediately follow reception.

R.S.V.P. at or call 305-666-6402

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Yorker Magazine Celebrates Aniversary of El Super

Ian Frazier, Dept. of Orientation, “El Super,” The New Yorker, December 21, 2009, p. 50
Read more:

(Click on article to see expanded image)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

McCaffrey: Cuban minister "slammed window shut" on dialogue

From PR Newswire:

Four Star Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret) Cancels Trip to Cuba Because of 'Shallow, Vitriolic' Comments and Actions by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey (Ret), former White House Drug Czar and SouthCom (Latin America) Commander, is canceling a scheduled January 3-6 trip to Cuba to discuss U.S.-Cuban future cooperation because of recent "shallow, vitriolic" comments and actions by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. In a prior trip to the island, McCaffrey met with top Cuban government, political, military, and academic leaders - including a seven hour meeting with Fidel Castro in Feb 2002.

McCaffrey's letter to Dr. Wayne Smith of the Center for International Policy, which was sponsoring McCaffrey's trip, follows:

22 December 2009

Dr Wayne Smith

Center for International Policy

1717 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC. 20036


Just got in last night to read the Reuters reports that Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez denounced President Obama at the Copenhagen Conference as an "imperial and arrogant liar" in the most vile and personal terms imaginable.

The Foreign Minister could not have borrowed talking points from Cuba's worst enemies to more effectively harm the country's future economic and political interests.

This type of shallow and vitriolic 1960's public diplomacy also makes Cuban leadership appear to be non-serious, polemical amateurs. President Obama is the most thoughtful and non-ideological US Chief Executive that the Cubans have seen in 50 years. This Foreign Minister Rodriguez speech probably slammed the window shut on US Congressional and Administration leaders being willing to support bringing Cuba back into the community of nations.

This situation makes me very sad for the Cuban people. I see little reason to visit Cuba and deal with leadership of this appalling lack of good judgment.

Please withdraw my name for the proposed visit to Cuba in January.

Barry McCaffrey

General USA (Ret)

Bruno Rodríguez

Gen. Barry McCaffrey (Ret.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Carta abierta de Claudia Cadelo de Nevi al viceministro de cultura

(Open letter from Cuban blogger Claudia Cadelo de Nevi to Cuba's vice minister of culture. Scroll down for translation.)

Fernando Rojas:

Me dirijo a usted con la intención de aconsejar. Digamos que con mis 26 años he decidido hoy servirle por unos instantes de madre o de conciencia, como se quiera interpretar. Así es que le escribo a Fernando Rojas el hombre y no el Viceministro de Cultura, aquel al que quizás más de una vez -durante la infancia- su madre le dijo: “Fernandito, a las niñas no se les da.”

Dicen –y usted sabe lo que pesa en la Habana esa tercera persona del plural- que durante la tristemente célebre reunión que tuvo usted con los artistas del grupo performático OmniZonaFranca, una de las justificaciones sostenidas para desterrar el Festival Poesía Sin Fin de las instituciones cubanas era que los muchachos se reunían con la blogger Yoani Sánchez. Las resoluciones y leyes que su ministerio se ha adjudicado para limitar la entrada de ciudadanos a sus establecimientos y actividades me son desconocidas, pero no es de leyes de lo que quiero hablar, porque en las aguas de la ley, Rojas, hace mucho tiempo que su ministerio no se baña.

Lo que me preocupa es su amenaza “Si Yoani Sánchez viene, yo mismo le doy con un palo”. Graves palabras, Fernando, para un hombre. Pero aun más graves para un Viceministro que –según comentarios de pasillos - aspira a quitar el prefijo vice de su cargo. Sin embargo esto no es un regaño, es más bien un llamado a la cordura, a la civilidad, a la inteligencia. Le recuerdo que para esos menesteres el gobierno cuenta con los paramilitares, las brigadas de respuesta rápida y en última instancia la CIM (Contrainteligencia Militar); no me parece aconsejable que un funcionario se tome esas tareas por su cuenta, y menos que las anuncie con antelación, pueden llegar a oídos inadecuados y filtrarse por Internet.

Diría que un ambiente de terror sobre su persona no conviene, a fin de cuentas todos saben que Yoani Sánchez es una escritora y usted el Viceministro de Cultura, la imagen del palazo resulta lamentable y desacertada.

Por otra parte puedo estarme yo equivocando y su vice no sea más que una coartada, entonces pertenecería usted a una de las organizaciones antes mencionadas que se ocupan de golpear civiles. En ese caso probablemente su pecado sea la indiscreción, porque después de amenazar públicamente con atentar contra la integridad física de una ciudadana, costará creer, Fernando, que usted no es más que un funcionario del Ministerio de Cultura.

Claudia Cadelo De Nevi

This is an open letter by Cuban blogger Claudia Cadelo de Nevi to Cuba's vice minister of culture. Here's a translation:

Fernando Rojas:

I am writing to you with the intent to offer advice. Let us say that from my 26 years, I have decided today to serve for a few moments as your mother, or your conscience, however you would like to interpret it. So I write this to Fernando Rojas, the man, and not the Vice Minister of Culture, to whom, perhaps, more than once in your childhood, your mother said, "Fernandito, to the girls, it is not done."

They say--and you know what weight is given to the third person plural in Havana--that during the infamous meeting that you had with the artists of the performance group, OmniZonaFranca, one of the justifications offered for banishing the Festival of Poetry Without End from Cuban institutions, was that the boys were meeting with the blogger Yoani Sanchez. The resolutions and laws that your ministry has promulgated to limit the entry of citizens to establishments and activities are not known to me, but it is not about the laws that I wish to speak, because in the waters of the law, Rojas, your ministry has not bathed for a very long time.

What worries me is your threat, "If Yoani Sanchez comes, I myself will meet her with a stick." Serious words, Fernando, for a man. But even more serious for a Vice Minister who--according to comments from the "cultured" corridors--aspires to lose the prefix "vice". However, this is not a reprimand, rather it is a call to sanity, civility, intelligence. I remember that, for these duties, the government has the paramilitaries, the rapid response brigades, and as a last resort, the CIM (Military Counterintelligence); it does not seem advisable to me that a staff member take these tasks on himself, much less announce it in advance as, leaked through the Internet, it might reach inappropriate ears. Considering that everyone knows Yoani Sanchez is a writer and you are the Vice Minister of Culture, I would say that an atmosphere of terror doesn't agree with you, and that the image of your delivering a beating is regrettable and unfortunate.

On the other hand, I could be mistaken and your vice may be nothing more than an alibi, in which case you would belong to one of the above mentioned organizations whose job it is to beat civilians. In that case your sin would probably be the indiscretion, because after publicly threatening to attack the physical integrity of a citizen, it is hard to believe, Fernando, that you are only an official in the Ministry of Culture.

Claudia Cadelo De Nevi

Monday, December 21, 2009

Valdés, Bejerano promoted to VPs of Council of State

From the Associated Press:
Cuba makes Valdes, Bejerano Council of State VPs

HAVANA — Cuba has promoted revolutionary commander Ramiro Valdes and comptroller Gladys Bejerano to vice presidents of its supreme governing body, the Council of State.

Valdes is a former leader of the rebels who brought Fidel Castro to power and an ex-interior minister. He is also communications minister and a Cabinet vice president.

This summer, Bejerano became head of a new office overseeing state spending.

Parliament approved the appointments Sunday. They replace revolutionary hero Juan Almeida, who died in September, and Carlos Lage, the de-facto economics czar who resigned in March during a leadership shake-up.

The Council of State features President Raul Castro, his first vice president, five other VPs, a secretary, and 23 others.

Intervención en la ONU

Sin comentario...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Artist Luis Cruz Azaceta at the New Orleans Museum of Art

Azeceta is a Cuban artists working in New Orleans who explores the dichotomy of Cuban life both on the island and in exile. He sees the "90 miles of shark-infested ocean between the United States and his native Cuba as a watery Berlin Wall." In the video below the artist himself describes the inspiration for his art and the meaning behind some of he's pieces.

Click here for more information on the exhibit.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Playboy will apparently be talking Cuba travel

Here's what is supposed to be the cover of an upcoming issue of Playboy. Wonder what their "forbidden travel" agenda will look like...

Friday, December 11, 2009

U.S., Cuban artists stage a collaboration

The Miami Herald reported early this month about a ground breaking multimedia event being made in collaboration with American and Cuban Artists. According to the Article:

La Entrañable Lejania (The Closest Farthest Away) is part of the Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, commonly called the Havana Film Festival, one of the island's biggest cultural events. It will have its U.S. debut at Miami Beach's Byron-Carlyle Theater in March.

The complex story of an American man in love with a Cuban woman, The Closest Farthest Away breaks ground artistically, politically and technologically. American actors perform onstage while Cuban cast members are seen on large video screens, embodying the political separation between the two countries.

The clip that accompanies the article shows a rather impressive technological and artistic endeavor. It will be interesting to see how the content of the piece pairs with the presentation. In any case it is interesting, as the article notes, to note the increasing notoriety that cultural initiatives are getting in the Cuba conversation.

Click here for the rest of the full story

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Damas de Blanco harassed... again

From The Washington Post:

Pro-government crowd pursues Cuban rights marchers

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 9, 2009; 10:39 PM

HAVANA -- Hundreds of government supporters shouted insults and pro-Castro slogans at about 50 wives, mothers and other female relatives of Cuban political prisoners as they marched Wednesday through a crowded Havana neighborhood in the name of human rights.


A crowd followed behind yelling "Fidel! Fidel!" and "Down with worms!" - the latter a common slang for Cubans who head into exile in the United States.

After the women returned to Pollan's home, which is filmed day and night by a government camera mounted nearby and also often watched by state agents in plainclothes stationed on nearby street corners, the government supporters continued to shout insults while the women cowered inside.


Click here for the rest of the story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CALL TO ACTION: Help Raices raise $25,000 with the click of a button!

Help Raices raise $25,000 (that's right, $25,000!) simply by spending a few "extra" minutes on Facebook!

JPMorgan Chase is giving out $25,000 to the 100 organizations who collect the most votes on their Facebook Fan Page and we need everyone's help! So, vote for us, and get your friends to vote too!

Follow these easy steps:

2. Once you're a Fan, go to the "Chase Giving" Tab and type in "Raices de Esperanza." Don't worry, it'll pop up before you finish typing.

3. Click to vote for Raices,

4. Get 10+ other people to vote for Raices, too! Invite people to the Facebook event, suggest they become a fan on Facebook (with a message to vote Raices), or send them a message with the details.

The only catch is that you have to do it by FRIDAY, December 11th!

Juventud Rebelde accuses Google of keeping Cuba in the dark

From the Latin American Herald Tribune:
Havana Says Google Disabling Apps for Cuban Users

HAVANA – Cuba’s official Juventud Rebelde newspaper on Thursday criticized Google for blocking access to certain applications, including the Zeitgeist search trends tool, for users on the island.
Juventud Rebelde accused Washington of “blocking and increasing the cost of purchases of technological equipment” needed to develop the Internet in Cuba, and of “orchestrating campaigns to damage the prestige” of the island and “creating cyber mercenaries,” a reference to dissident bloggers like Yoani Sanchez.

State media regularly criticize U.S. Internet firms, without ever mentioning that Cubans cannot have Internet access at home and service providers must block access to hundreds of Web sites that the authorities do not like.
Click here for the rest of the story.

Officials in Washington, Havana point fingers at each other over delay in dialog

From the Associated Press:
Cuba-US migration talks pushed back until February

HAVANA — Highly anticipated immigration talks between Cuba and the United States have been pushed back because of scheduling concerns that each side blames on the other, another hint that reconciliation may be more difficult than it once appeared.


They agreed that the postponement had nothing to do with politics, but it was another sign of fraying in what months ago seemed like a golden opportunity to end a half-century of discord.


Click here for the rest of the story.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Independent press struggle novel

From the Latin American Herald Tribune:
Online Novel Details Struggle for Press Freedom in Cuba
By Ana Mendoza
MADRID – Exiled Cuban author and journalist Julio San Francisco documents the struggle for press freedom in his homeland in “Prensa Gulag,” an online novel that the co-founder of an independent news agency on the island has been working on for much of his life.
Click here for the whole story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Movimiento Independiente Opción Alternativa realiza primer taller de periodismo independiente

Segun el Directorio Democratico Cubano:

Este primer taller de periodismo independiente se prolongará durante cuatro domingos sucesivos, y en el mismo se impartirán nociones fundamentales del periodismo que incluyen fundamentos, ética, objetividad, transparencia e inmediatez, según explicara el periodista independiente Jesús Galván Fernández, quien funge como profesor de los activistas que asisten al mencionado taller. En este sentido el comunicador agregó que los graduados de este taller conformarán el futuro Centro de Información del MIOA a la vez que proseguirán profundizando materia informativa hasta convertirse en periodistas independientes. Según palabras textuales Jesús Galván expresó, “este taller es una necesidad, pues el pueblo cubano tiene derecho a una información objetiva y es por ellos que los egresados trabajarán bajo el precepto Martiano de que la palabra se ha hecho para decir la verdad y no para encubrirla.”

Para mas información haz clic aqui

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Toilet paper is running out in Cuba, but there is no shortage of penises

Prosthetic penises, that is.

No word yet on how or whether the fake phalluses will be rationed.

From AFP (via the Independent Online):
Penis implants for the sexually challenged

Cuba's government has offered its first free penis implants, part of a program set to be expanded across the communist island, an official newspaper has reported.

It is likely not what Karl Marx had in mind when he imagined a society transformed "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs," but Juventud Rebelde reported on Friday that the silicon and silver penis implants are set to become more common.

Men in seven Cuban provinces will be eligible for the procedure, which urologist Juan Carlos Yip boasted was normally "exclusive to first world countries and at a high cost.

"It will be carried out in patients whose sexual suffering does not respond positively to traditional treatments."

Those over 40s and those with diabetes or circulation problems are set to be first in line the paper reported.

Click here for the story.

Now, we all know that Cuba's government has a knack for catchy slogans. So let's offer suggestions. Call it an "exchange" of sorts. What slogans should the Cuban government consider using to promote this revolutionary new program?

Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

UPDATE: I have been come to understand that these are not actually prosthetic penises... but they are... something?... that is implanted in the penis to aid with erections. I'm not a doctor, and that doesn't make this any less ridiculous if you ask me.

It should be noted that any views on penile implants are their author's and do not reflect any penile implant-related views of Raíces de Esperanza, Inc.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Willy Chirino's exchange proposal

From the Miami Herald:

Cultural exchange a one-way policy

Willy Chirino, Pedro Pan kid turned Cuban-American salsero, has an offer for Raúl. Yeah, that Raúl, Fidel Castro's little brother now running that prison paradise across the Florida Straits.

``Let them pick and choose a bunch of their artists, the ones that represent the revolution the most . . . and come here to this city in the place they choose for a concert in which they express exactly what it is they want to express. Freedom for the five spies or whatever,'' Chirino tells me, taking a dramatic pause for effect.

In exchange, he notes ``let us Cuban artists who live outside the island, Gloria Estefan, my wife Lissette [Alvarez], Marisela Verena, Amaury Gutierrez, Albita [Rodriguez], just to mention a few'' hold a concert in Cuba with Cuban punk rockers like Gorki Aguila, rappers like Silvito El Libre and other artists who ``really have the courage inside the island to be able to use their music as a way of communicating the real struggle.''

Wouldn't you start a riot? I ask him.


Click here for the whole story and a video of the interview.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reinaldo's invitation to dialog answered with an act of repudiation

In this video, Reinaldo Escobar, husband of Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez, is harassed by a mob carrying out an act of repudiation simply because he wanted to exchange peacefully with the people responsible for the beating of his wife.

"These figures can look at you but cannot speak..."

From NPR:

Cuba Was A Canvas For Artist Belkis Ayon

Ten years ago, one of Cuba's leading young artists took her own life, with no warning to family or friends. Her name was Belkis Ayon, and a major exhibit of her work is now under way in Havana. The event has revived an enduring mystery in Cuba — about art, African myths and the shadowy, all-male secret society known as Abakua.
Belkis Ayon

The Abakua world Ayon depicted is of sharply contrasting black and white tones. Many of her characters appear with intense, even fearful expressions in their eyes. They lack mouths, which art historian Cristina Figueroa says is a commentary on the oral tradition's secrecy.
Click here for the whole story and a slide show featuring some of Ayon's work.

"Ningún estado puede dar lo que no tiene"

De Diario Las Américas:
Prensa vende intento de Raúl de desmontar el “paternalismo” de Fidel

Por Antonio Martínez

La prensa oficial cubana intenta vender en estos días el proyecto del general Raúl Castro de desmantelar el “paternalismo” y los subsidios generalizados que caracterizaron el medio siglo de Gobierno de su hermano y antecesor Fidel.

“Ningún Estado puede dar lo que no tiene”, titula hoy en lo alto de su primera plana el diario Granma, portavoz del gobernante Partido Comunista, del que aún es primer secretario Fidel Castro a pesar de que lleva más de tres años sin aparecer en público por una enfermedad que le obligó a dejar la Presidencia.


Haz click aquí para el artículo completo.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 18: Dr. Julia E. Sweig Presents Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know

In collaboration with The Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, Books & Books will host Julia E. Sweig on Nov. 18, as she comes to Miami to present her latest book, Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. Dr. Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies and the Director of Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a leading expert on Cuba, Latin America, and US policy toward the region.

In her latest book, published in June 2009, Dr. Sweig makes use of two decades of research to shed light on the complexities of Cuban reality and its politics.

If you're in Miami, mark your calendars!
Wednesday, Nov 18, 2009 at 8:00 PM
Books & Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL

For additional information about Dr. Sweig and her work, please visit her homepage.

Mensaje de solidaridad para el pueblo cubano

Joan Fernández de República Dominicana

Monday, November 9, 2009

Music that Helped Bring Down the Wall

From the New York Times:
Musicians Who Poked at the Iron Curtain
Guitars, keyboards and drums did not topple the Berlin Wall. But for the young people who helped bring down Communist regimes across Eastern Europe in the fall of 1989, pop music was a profoundly subversive force, inspiration and vital tool of protest for challenging and undermining a totalitarian state stricter than any parent.
They saw themselves as rebels with a cause, punks whose lyrics railing against the status quo often carried a heavy cost, including surveillance and the danger of being labeled social parasites because their music could not be legally recorded, played or broadcast.
Click here for the full article.

As more and more Cuban musicians stand up against the status quo it is great to know that what they are doing has been proven to make a difference.

Mensaje de solidaridad para el pueblo cubano

Ricardo Salas de Costa Rica

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Google Celebrates Freedom of Expression

For the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall Google is asking users to share their thoughts on freedom of expression. See video below:

It is incredible that 20 years later so many are still denied this basic human right but it is great to see that important companies like Google are helping to give people a voice. It is also an incredible example of the new opportunities made possible by new technologies.

Please share your thoughts on Freedom of Expression with us in the comments section and the links to your youtube videos should you participate in this campaign.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Raíces at the Alliance of outh Movements Summit

Watch live now via this link.

Roots' own Veronica Nur Valdes is on a panel about 21st Century women leaders.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

East of Havana - Now on iTunes and

The much anticipated release of the documentary East of Havana is finally here.

East of Havana is a blunt, unflinching close-up on the lives of three young rappers compelled to address their generation's future from the confines of a Cuban ghetto. Soandry, Magyori, and Mikki are the defacto leaders of Cuba's rebellious underground hip hop movement. Possessing the undeniable talent and charisma of pop icons, these fearless performers push self-expression to its sharpest, riskiest, and most triumphant point. Directed and Written by: Jauretsi Saizarbitoria & Emilia Menoca.

The film premiered in 2006 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas and was screened as part of the 2007 Raices Evolution Tour at New York University.

To purchase or rent the film please visit:
(when shopping through these links a portion of your purchase will go to support Raices de Esperanza)

Las Damas de Blanco, as seen by a blogger and rocker

Ciro Díaz and Claudia Cadelo de Nevi are a dynamic duo of unhindered expression in Cuba. He's the guitarist for Porno Para Ricardo, arguably Cuba's most famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) dissident rock group. She's an up-and-coming blogger with a fast-growing following on her blog, Octavo Cerco, which recently won the Una Isla Virtual (A Virtual Island) awards for best blog and most popular blog.

Here, the two of them document one of the regular demonstrations of Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White), which is an organization made up of family members of political prisoners — especially those who were locked up in Cuba's "Black Spring" in 2003.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Blog — Dave Sandoval on exchanging ideas

Going outside your comfort zone and staying true to yourself
by David Sandoval

Recently, I was asked to perform in a concert in support of "CubaGO," a movement that seeks to inspire U.S. citizens to ask their congressmen and congresswomen to lift the travel restrictions on Cuba. The event is being sponsored by some NGOs whose ideals I don't necessarily agree with. However, it did seem like an interesting opportunity, so I asked some trusted friends for advice.

Ultimately, in this Cuba issue, we're all going to be faced with some decisions that challenge our most closely held beliefs. For me, I could take the opportunity for exposure and publicity for my band, Delexilio, or I could exclude myself from this event because of its association with groups that appear more sympathetic to the Cuban regime than I care to be. After all, the name of my band is Delexilio, and the whole point is to represent the Cuban exile point of view. I had to be true to my core philosophy and my beliefs and represent the people that I care about — my family, my friends, my people.

I decided to participate. And despite the risks of being associated in the wrong way (I've already gotten a few emails), I looked within and I thought that my core mission was to spread the stories of my community through music, and to share our experience to the outside world. "Preaching to the choir" only gets us so far. We need to tell our stories to those who may not have great affinity for the Cuba issue, especially from a Cuban-American point of view. We should be going out and changing minds, instead of growing increasingly isolated in our Cuban-American microcosms.

A good friend of mine said, "I'm always willing to talk to anyone, so long as my position is clear." It was good advice. I won't shy away from making my position known. So I'm diving in. I'm going to tell our stories through music, and regardless of your view on the issue of U.S. law, there is a much larger issue of travel restrictions in Cuba. And I want to highlight the greater issue of Cuban citizens having almost no right to travel outside their country whatsoever.

These are our stories and they need to get told. Not just to ourselves, but to the rest of the world. So I encourage all of you to reach out to a non-Cuban friend, or maybe someone who doesn't share your point of view. Go outside your comfort zones. Use your passion -- but use it smartly -- and tell your stories. Maybe we can win over a heart and mind, or if not, at least a little understanding.

David Sandoval was born in northern New Jersey. In addition to his work with Raíces and day job at a biotech firm, by night he is the frontman of Delexilio, a Cuban-American rock band blending elements of both cultures in a funky Cuban fashion.

East of Havana screening at Northwestern University

If you're in or near downtown Chicago, you won't want to miss this. Tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 6:00 p.m. at the Northwestern University School of Law, in room RB 140, there will be a screening of East of Havana, the acclaimed documentary about Cuban youth, rap, censorship, and pushing the limits of poetry in one of the most restrictive environments in the world.

Miki Flow, one of the rappers featured in the documentary who has since made his way to this side of the straits, will be there to discuss the film, his art, and Cuban realities.

Check out the film's trailer:

Miami Filmmaker highlights Raices in Miami Herald editorial

From The Miami Herald:

Keep our eyes on the prize

By: Joe Cardona

I participated in multiple debates before, during and after the concert and I was pleased and honored to exchange my ideas with equally creditable, integral individuals who happened to disagree with my opinions on the concert. At no point did I feel the need to question the motives of those who presented a counterpoint to mine. I was enlightened by viewpoints on both sides and I was particularly inspired to witness a group of young activists, Raices de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), who stepped to the forefront of this issue and presented their positions eloquently and effectively.

Click here for the full article.

Joe Cardona is best known for directing the documentaries Cafe con Leche I and II (1997/2003) and Celia: the Queen (2008).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Raíces featured in Key Club International's online video magazine

Key Club International has recognized Raíces and its Chairman Felice Gorordo (who is also a former Key Club International Vice President) by featuring him and the work Raíces does in its online video magazine.

Click here to check out the video.

Guest Blog — Carlos Centurion sobre Paz Sin Fronteras

Si fuera un concierto libre
por Carlos Centurion

Después de haber escuchado a Juanes mencionar el nombre de Silvito y Aldeanos, me quede reflexionando el ¿por qué? ¿Qué tienen que ver ellos en este concierto, si ni pudieron poner un pie en la tarima? Quizás Juanes los invitó y le negaron su petición. Quizás Juanes respeta su trabajo y su lucha contra la tiranía. ¿Qué habrá pasado?

Creo que nadie tiene una respuesta para eso, pero lo más importante: ¿Qué hubiera pasado si el concierto fuera libre? ¿Qué hubiera sucedido si esas dos palomas abstractas hubieran podido volar en libertad y no estar pegadas a un mural, atadas a lo convencional, a lo habitual, a lo no contestatario?

Yo soñaba ver a Aldo por primera vez cantar ante tantas personas, por ver a un pueblo disfrutando a un artista que no canta lo mismo, por que el mundo conociera cuál es la música alternativa cubana, la música que no es subyugada al régimen, la música que en libertad, vuela como paloma. Yo lo conozco, y sé que hubiera abierto el concierto con algo como:
“Hay que darle más partición al corazón y menos al dinero primero esta la razón, en mi nación todo sigue marchando mal… en la cual llorar es un lujo espiritual”.
Me imagino al pueblo coreando las canciones, asombrados de escuchar la verdad que viven, pues esta no es cantada por ningún artista del régimen.

Sé que todo se quedó en un sueño o en imaginaciones, nada llego a concretarse y aún me tengo que conformar escuchando a Aldo en un disco pirata diciéndome:
“Pueden privarme de la radio, de los escenarios, pero no me podrán quitar el apoyo de los barrios. Mientras más me censuras, más te odio… que ni te pase por la mente que cambiaré el repertorio.”
Aquí les dejo dos canciones que, para mí, hubieran sido las escogidas por Aldeanos para cantar en el concierto. Lástima que nunca sabremos lo que es un concierto libre en Cuba, al menos hasta que las cosas cambien y la libertad pueda volar y no estar pegada a una mural, que para mí no significa nada mientras los niños cubanos no puedan crecer sin poder expresar lo que piensan.

Carlos Centurion, o Carli C4, es un poeta. Nació en Cuba y, actualmente, vive en los Estados Unidos.

Guest blog — Carmen Peláez on Paz Sin Fronteras

Let freedom rain
by Carmen Peláez

Cubans have always seemed disproportionately afraid of the rain. Growing up in Miami the slightest April shower was reason enough to cancel all plans. Throw in a thunderstorm and it was nap time for everybody with all household appliances unplugged for the duration and don’t even think about using the phone because it means instant electrocution. So it didn’t surprise me when people reacted the same way to the elements on a trip to Havana. But it didn’t stop me from commenting on it.

Caballero, it’s only water. We aren’t actually made of sugar.” I offered trying to neutralize their collective terror. They weren’t only staying out of the rain, they were obsessed with it. How long would it last? Would it get stronger, lighter… would there be flooding? I figured it was just something to talk about. In Cuba, people will talk for three days about the most insignificant occurrence only because it has occurred.

But then Nena, an older friend of mine said, “No ‘chacha-you don’t understand. Every time it rains in Havana buildings collapse. People never know if their building is next.” Because people have to wait on lists for the government to fix their homes, Cuba is in a general state of disrepair. Even the lightest rain shower, especially the lightest rain shower, seeps into the walls and when baked by the sun, weakens the structure bringing seemingly solid building crumbling to the ground.

This month’s Paz Sin Fronteras concert made me think of those rainy days in Havana. From a month beforehand the storm was brewing in Miami. A few old school “patriots” headed out to the streets to do things that would ironically warm a dictator’s heart like burning effigies and breaking apart CD's. But most Cuban Americans didn’t take the bait and it wasn’t as divided down generational lines as reports would lead us to believe. It seemed to be divided more down common sense lines-as many in my grandparent’s "historic exiles" generation, whether or not they liked the idea of the concert, refused to engage in such sensationalistic and misguided displays.

Moreover, many of us passionately defended Juanes’ freedom of expression, without knowing if we’d be sorry for extending our jugular for a Latin American rocker not particularly known for his politics. But inaction was not an option no matter how heated the debate got. It was time for courage and risk, on our terms but it didn’t make it any less frightening. As the clouds rolled in and the concert began, I was afraid to answer my phone not knowing if I’d get electrocuted.

I was as emotional as the next exile seeing the million plus Cubans fill the Plaza on their own volition. But overall, I didn’t find the concert particularly entertaining or moving and even though some very strong statements were sprinkled throughout the concert, I was left a little empty. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized what happened.

I found myself thinking about the actual audience reactions to the concert. They didn’t applaud or even pay much attention to the regime supported/supporting artists. Young Cubans cheered wildly for the foreign acts most of whose songs they’d never heard before, not because they had to but because they represented something different. They looked happy and loose and free, something that, on my trips to Cuba, I had never seen in person.

I thought of all the exiles updating their Facebook profiles and calling each other to confirm what was said and what wasn’t said and whether they were able to see the concert on TV or on their computers.

And it hit me. Cubans on the island and Cubans in exile spent an afternoon together without fear, repercussions or any visible limitations on how they could take it all in — a wonderful moment in our painful and divided modern history.

That’s when I realized that the Cuban government has taken on the qualities of those old Havana buildings fighting to stay standing. Tired and hopeless they give some semblance of shelter, of the devil you know, of what you’ve grown up with but little else. Our momentary unity showed us that we can be the rain that makes its way deep into those thick but compromised walls. Slowly, we can trickle over Cuba; an evolved exile community and a resolved Cuban populace determined to close the book on the boorish revolution. And together we will watch the sun bring a new day forward in a unified Cuba libre.

Carmen Peláez was born in Miami to Cuban parents. She is a playwright and actor currently residing in Brooklyn, New York.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Handcuffed poetry

Penúltimos Días is reporting that, according to Claudia Cadelo de Nevi of Octavo Cerco, a member of the famous underground rap group Los Aldeanos (whose album Poesía Esposada or "Handcuffed Poetry" is available on iTunes) has been detained by Cuban authorities for the illegal possession of a computer(s).

If you find more information on this case please email us at or leave the information in the comments section of this post.

El blog Penúltimos Días reporta que (según Claudia Cadelo de Nevi del blog Octavo Cerco) Aldo, el miembro del grupo de rap cubano subterráneo Los Aldeanos, "está detenido bajo los cargos de tenencia ilegal de computadoras en la estación de Zapata y C, desde hoy a las 11 de la mañana."

Si usted tiene mas información acerca de este caso, por favor mándenoslo por e-mail ( o deje la información como comentario bajo este post.

UPDATE (6:57 p.m.):
Via Twitter from @yoanisanchez
Aldo no estaba en la estación de policía de 21 y C. Había sido detenido en la de Zapata y C. Allí nos dijeron que habría sido liberado
y que le habrían devuelto las computadoras. Vamos a su casa para verificar estas informaciones.
Will keep you up to date on this as new information becomes available.

UPDATE (7:23 p.m.)
Via Twitter from @yoanisanchez
Vimos a Aldo en su casa. Fue liberado hace un par de horas y le devolvieron la computadora.
Un elemento importanbte de su liberación, según Aldo, fue el testimonio de Silvio Rodríguez.

So in conclusion... Aldo was detained from 11 a.m. to about 5:30 p.m. ... for having a computer ... and as released thanks to testimony from Cuban singer Silvio Rodríguez.

Feel free to discuss in the comments section.

¿Qué opinan?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Raíces on Mega TV

Raíces spokesperson Veronica Nur Valdes is about to appear on MEGA TV's Maria Elvira Live. The topic is Juanes' concert in Havana. Tune in now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

UM CAUSA/Raíces watch party featured on CBS 4

CBS 4's Gio Benitez was at the Paz Sin Fronteras concert watch party we hosted with UM CAUSA for our management team and leaders from affiliate organizations. Two of those leaders — UM CAUSA's Raul Moas and the FIU Free Cuba Foundation's Julio Menache — were interviewed for the report.

Click here for the video.

Watch the Paz Sin Fronteras Concert!

A note from the RDE Team:

Dear Roots,

A couple hours ago, the “Paz Sin Fronteras” Concert began in Havana. We encourage you to watch and share any thoughts you may have on our blog (

There have are many thoughts about today's concert, reflective of the diversity of our community. During this time, Raices de Esperanza has maintained a message of optimism towards the opportunity of speaking directly to our brothers and sisters to spread a message of peace, hope and love. We dream of a bright future for our brothers and sisters in Cuba. If changes are to come, then they must know that this dream is alive and possible; and believe it with all certainty. If change is to come we need to do our part to shake them from their apathy and hoplesness by speaking to them in a way they might listen. For these reasons, we have maintained that music can speak to their hearts and minds to awaken them to take ownership of their lives.

At the same time, we have present in our minds the plight of those whose voices have been muted on the Island. Most recently, Yoani Sanchez's sites have been blocked and she has lost all form of communication as she is being monitored by the authorities. El Nuevo Herald also reported that some youth in Havana have been threatened with imprisonment if they attendthe concert ( Some exile organizations are reporting still other detentions, as well.
Take this opportunity to discuss your opinions with your friends and family. Update your Facebook and Twitter statuses throughout the day and start a discussion on our blog (

We look forward to hearing from you!

Blog your thoughts right here!

Issues with Herald coverage of Juanes' concert and Raíces de Esperanza

The Miami Herald recently ran a story about Juanes' concert in Havana. In it, reporter Jordan Levin references Raíces de Esperanza and writes things about us that we feel are inaccurate and misleading about our organization's stance on the concert.

First, we'll give you a bit from the article, including the paragraph we took issue with. At the end of this post, we'll explain the issue and clear up confusion.

From the Miami Herald:

Juanes concert supporters show changing paradigm

Hugo Landa, director of, a website that publishes stories by independent journalists on the island (including articles both supporting and criticizing the concert), believes that while the discussion has been emotional and divided, it has been fair. "Everyone has had the opportunity to express what he or she feels,'' Landa says. "If you want to go with the flow and not be disagreeable, that's your personality. But the fact that a large amount of people disagree with you doesn't mean you are threatened.''
Yet there are signs that the Cuban paradigm has changed. Older exile leaders like Carlos Saladrigas, co-founder of the Cuba Study Group, and younger ones like Miguel Arguelles, who graduated from Harvard with the support of the Cuban-American community, have supported the concert -- as has the group Raices de Esperanza, an organization of young Cuban-Americans who favor dialogue. A small demonstration by the group Vigilia Mambisa, in which they destroyed Juanes cd's and T-shirts, broadcast on TV and widely cited in stories on exile reaction to the concert, was rejected three to one as an embarrassment in a poll of Cuban Americans.
Click here for the whole piece.

Throughout the long and heated debate, we've struggled to make sure that our stance is clear and not misinterpreted. Still, it seems difficult for people to keep themselves from placing us on one side or the other of a this-side-versus-that-side paradigm.

Issue 1: Support of the Peace Without Borders concert

The fact is that our network and management team are diverse , and as such people within our team felt and still feel lots of different ways about the concert. We don't have consensus on supporting or denouncing this concert.

What we do have consensus on is the notion that the concert has potential that will only be realized if it is executed in a responsible way. Since none of us can know all the details of Juanes' actions (Raíces doesn't quite have enough funding for a working crystal ball), we decided that the best thing we could do was attempt to affect the outcome and judge the event later.

We met with Juanes and thought his intentions were good. We believed that he was willing to listen, to learn, and to take our concerns and the concerns of the Cuban people — both in Cuba and elsewhere — into consideration in making decisions about his event.

SO... to be clear, our organization doesn't support or denounce Juanes' Havana concert. All we've said is that it could present a meaningful opportunity to the people of Cuba if it's one with them and the realities they live in mind.

Issue 2: "dialogue"

Raíces understands that "dialogue" has special connotations in the context of a discussion of Cuba — especially when it comes to media coverage.

We urged the Herald not to use this term because, traditionally, "dialogue" in the Cuban context means dialogue with the regime. We're not "in favor of" that, as the Herald article seems to suggest. We're certainly not an organization that intends to dialogue with that or any regime. As far as others dialoguing with the regime, we neither discourage nor advocate for that tactic (perhaps some people in our network think this is a good idea, but others do not, and our organization is built to reflect consensus points).

We hope that, in the future, press coverage of Raíces reflects the nuances of the issues we deal with and accurately reflects our statements, our positions, and our network — not just for accuracy's sake, but for Cuba's sake.

El régimen le sigue poniendo fronteras a la paz

Del Directorio Democrático Cubano:

Más represión y detenciones en Cuba en vísperas del concierto de Juanes
18/09/2009 | Directorio Democrático Cubano

Arrestan nuevamente a joven líder del Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia

Miami. 18 de septiembre de 2009. Directorio Democrático Cubano. Desde horas tempranas de la mañana de hoy viernes 18 de septiembre, dos días antes del concierto del cantante colombiano Juanes en La Habana, las autoridades del régimen castrista aumentan las medidas represivas y continúan encarcelando a jóvenes miembros de la resistencia en la isla.

Los opositores Julián Enrique Martínez Báez y Luis González Medina fueron arbitrariamente arrestados a las 8:20 a.m. y llevados para la Unidad de la Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR) en San José de las Lajas, Provincia Habana. Ambos son miembros del Partido Pro Derechos Humanos de Cuba afiliado a la Fundación Andrei Sajarov. González Medina fue excarcelado después de una hora y media de detención. Sin embargo, Martínez Baez continua encarcelado y según declaraciones de la activista Luz María Barceló Padrón, las autoridades informaron que “Julián no iba a participar en el concierto de Juanes”.

Asimismo, el activista y líder del Movimiento Cubano de Jóvenes por la Democracia (MCJD), Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina fue detenido, apenas 24 horas después de haber sido liberado, en la ciudad de Guantánamo bajo un operativo militar efectuado por la Seguridad del Estado en la noche del día 17 de septiembre. Rodríguez Lobaina se encontraba en los alrededores de la vivienda de su esposa Yanet Mosquera.

Rodríguez Lobaina había sido detenido días antes en la Ciudad de La Habana y deportado hacia Guantánamo bajo el supuesto delito de estar ilegal en La Habana. En el momento de redactar esta nota, ni su familia ni sus hermanos opositores conocen de su paradero.

Por otro lado, las autoridades del régimen en la ciudad de Baracoa, Guantánamo citaron al joven activista Keyber Rodríguez Fernández del Movimiento Juan Pablo II a la unidad del PNR de esta ciudad por “no estar trabajando con el estado”, y por esto lo amenazaron con ser detenido en cualquier momento, según declaraciones del mismo joven al Directorio Democrático Cubano.

Asimismo, las autoridades realizaron un operativo militar durante la actividad del “Día del opositor” en la vivienda del presidente del Movimiento Cívico Nacionalista “Máximo Gómez Báez”, Conrado Marrero Suárez. Según declaraciones del activista Raúl Risco Pérez al Directorio Democrático Cubano, se personaron alrededor de 20 policías vestidos de civil y otros con uniforme frente la vivienda de Conrado Marrero Suárez. Risco Pérez también informó que alrededor de 20 policías patrullaron la esquina en Avenida de los Castillos, y en la calle 6ta, otros 20 policías patrullaban la calle. “Hay varias motos patrullando toda la zona con el objetivo de impedir que se pueda realizar esta actividad donde nos íbamos a reunir el Movimiento Cívico Nacionalista “Máximo Gómez Báez” y el Comité Ciudadano Contra los Malos Tratos de Pinar del Río. En mi caso tengo tres autos patrulleros frente a mi vivienda, Conrado salió de su casa por la puerta de atrás en horas de la madrugada para no ser detenido,” declaró el activista.

En los últimos días las autoridades cubanas han tomado medidas represivas para impedir la movilidad de activistas y jóvenes cubanos a la Ciudad de La Habana, así como la estancia de líderes jóvenes en la capital del país, enviándolos al oriente de la Isla.

De El Nuevo Herald:

Un concierto desafinado por la política

El rockero colombiano Juanes se colgará su afinada guitarra a las 2 p.m. del domingo en la Plaza de la Revolución en La Habana, pero desde hace meses el concierto ha provocado una fuerte desafinación política.

Haz click aquí para el artículo entero.