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.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hungry? Have a Cuban.

From The Daily Beast:
How Havana Perfected the Sandwich

By Ana Sofia Pelaez

While its ingredients may (or may not) be up for debate, one thing’s certain: The Cuban is one of the tastiest creations since sliced flautas.
Click here for the whole piece, including recipes for the sandwich and Cuban bread.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Repaying faith with diligence

From The Miami Herald:

Pianist, 13, leaves Cuba to follow dream

A 13-year-old Cuban boy comes to Miami with dreams of becoming a pianist.

Special to The Miami Herald

Alejandro Veiga, 13, left friends and family behind in Cuba for a dream of becoming a pianist.

Never mind that Alejandro is still learning English.

He boarded a plane with his parents several months ago for a new life -- and music instruction -- in Miami.

Click here for the whole story.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sometimes, expanding your horizons is "an unacceptable ideological inconsistency"

From The Miami Herald:
Print This Article

U.S. scholarships get Cuban college students expelled

The Cuban government has denied exit permits to about 30 Cuban college students who had been offered U.S. government-funded scholarships for academic programs at American academic institutions.

Not only did the students lose the chance to attend classes for free in the United States, but some were accused of ideologically losing their way and were expelled from their colleges in Cuba. Those who were members of the Communist Youth Union were booted out, several students said.

``I've been told that I have been expelled from the university and that I have a hearing pending with the Communist Youth, where I am to receive a temporary sanction due to the fact that, in self-criticism, I acknowledged having applied for the scholarship,'' wrote a student selected for a leadership program in the United States.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said there is deep frustration among the selected students.

``Our state of mind couldn't be worse. We feel unprotected. Nobody will defend us nor challenge the Cuban government to claim our right to exercise the option any university student in the world has,'' the young woman said from Havana.


This was the first year that Cuban students were included in the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program, which provides scholarships for students throughout the world to attend American universities.

When word of the scholarships got out in Cuba, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana was deluged with more 750 applications.

``We were disappointed in the government of Cuba not allowing Cuban students to participate in our education programs,'' a U.S. State Department official said, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the incident. ``We had gotten the word out about the programs through pamphlets and word of mouth . . . and the candidates were selected based on merit. When we tried to explain that, they said, `No, we don't know who these kids are, and so we're saying no to all of them.

``It was a real opportunity to try something different. It was a missed opportunity.''

Bisa Williams, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, said it was an unfortunate turn of events.

``It would be unfortunate if students suffered retaliation simply for seeking to take advantage of educational exchange opportunities,'' she said.

The U.S. State Deparment noted, however, that the Cuban government did not rule out participation in the future.

The students could have attended a one-year community college program in fields such as agricultural science, business management, information technology, communications and journalism. The program also includes a summer course on public leadership.

The universities were located in Arizona, Tennessee and Idaho, but none in Florida.

Seventeen were selected for the first program and 11 for the second one.

But Cuban authorities denied their visa requests to travel to the United States and began an evaluation program at their university centers.


A few months ago, officials from the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, members of the Communist Party and leaders of the Communist Youth Union opened an evaluation process as part of ``restructuring the political-ideological work'' at higher education institutions.

Among the evaluation-session topics: ``the courageous ideological combat'' among students, such as applying for U.S. scholarships.

``A sample of the actions taken by the current U.S. administration in its efforts to ideologically permeate university students is to offer them scholarships through the Interests Section to train them in the area of leadership,'' reads an internal document of the Ministry of Higher Education obtained by El Nuevo Herald.

``Applying for such scholarships reveals, at least, an unacceptable ideological inconsistency. More serious yet is the case of students selected by the Interests Section who upheld their decisions even after a political discussion with them.''

The document, released in July, acknowledges that students and professors longed ``to obtain personal benefits'' and suffered ``a confusion and poor understanding of the basic pillars that sustain the ideology of our revolution.''

Sources in Cuba said the shift followed a shake-up at the Ministry of Education, and the replacement of minister Juan Vela Valdés.

``We are involved in a new process of control and ideological purges that resembles the worst moments and stages of the past,'' said a University of Havana professor who spoke with El Nuevo Herald on the condition of not revealing his name for fear of retaliation. The Cuban government rejection comes at a moment in which the Obama Administration has encouraged cultural and academic exchanges with the island. The Cuban government, U.S. officials acknowledge, has done little in return.

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington did not respond to an El Nuevo Herald message on the topic.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Raíces featured in The Economist

We've been featured in yet another major news outlet: The Economist. One more sign that Roots of Hope is coming to be seen as a leader and an authority on issues facing Cuban youth.

From The Economist:

The Juanes row in Miami

If music be the food of love...

Sep 3rd 2009 | MIAMI
From The Economist print edition

Arguments for, and against, a Colombian rock star playing in Havana

HE IS young, dark and handsome, with a lilting light tenor, and he swept the Latin Grammys last year. But should Juan Esteban Aristizábal, better known as Juanes, perform his songs at a “peace concert” in Havana? The debate over the Colombian rock star, who is based in Miami, has now been raging for a month or more on the city’s Spanish-language radio and TV shows.

“For many of our generation, it’s just not an issue,” says Felice Gorordo. Mr Gorordo, who is 26, is the co-founder of Roots of Hope, a 3,000-strong Miami-based youth movement that seeks to bring Cubans on both sides of the Florida Strait closer together. “A lot of our members say, ‘Let him go and we’ll judge when he comes back. It’s worth a shot’.”

Click here for the whole story.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Speeding up snail mail

From the Miami Herald:

U.S., Cuba will discuss return of direct mail

Washington and Havana are going to take a crack at speeding up snail mail by negotiating direct correspondence, underscoring the stepped-up dialogue between the two nations, U.S. officials say.

Direct mail to Cuba ended in 1963, at the height of the Cold War.

Now diplomats have agreed to meet in Havana to discuss renewing direct mail, ending the rerouting through Canada or Mexico.

It's an issue that has stymied presidents from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, as the Cuban government stalled previous measures. The decision comes on the heels of migration talks this summer in New York, and experts say it is not only a big step for divided families but is a politically critical move.

Click here for the whole story.

Cuban Baptist pastor faces consecuences of dissent

From the Miami Herald and Cubanet

Pastor threatened because of association with dissidents

HAVANA, Cuba, August 31 (Leafar Pérez / – Baptist pastor José Carlos Pérez says he has been warned not to preach against the government.

Pérez, who graduated from the Baptist Seminary of Cuba in 1991, said he was forced by the Baptist hierarchy to leave the Cárdenas parish church in Matanzas province after criticizing several protestant denominations for remaining silent about human rights violations in Cuba.

“For that reason,” he said in an interview, “I had to leave the church in Cárdenas, and for publicly condemning the rapprochement of the Baptist hierarchy with Raúl Castro, I was separated from the Convention.”

He said there’s a campaign to disaccredit him and that he constantly receives anonymous telephone calls that he should distance himself from dissidents.

Click here for this and other stories from the Miami Herald and Cubanet.