Thursday, June 30, 2011

US Policy against Cuba: War without Bullets

A media war against Cuba? It is as real as the economic blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for more than 50 years. They have tried to distort a situation that can be easily understood with a serene analysis.

A quick glance at the international media or social networks is enough to see how the enemy weaves a "web" in its attempt to discredit, in a shameless way, the Cuban process towards socialism, and Cuba’s outstanding leaders and press.

The first conclusion that can be made is that the large media corporations conceal the internal achievements of Cuba, while manipulating the facts about the transformation process underway to develop a more suitable social and economic model given the...


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chorro de Maíta museum of Holguin, an interesting place

On the occasion of the International Event on Archeology recently held in the city parks, one of the sites that most attracted the attention of foreign participants in the meeting was the aboriginal cemetery Chorro de Maita, located east of Cuba, in the municipality of Banes, Holguin.

This site is considered the first native farmers-potters cemetery found in Cuba with more than a hundred skeletons, dating back at least 500 years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

Chorro de Maita, takes its name from a spring located near its present location, in an area traditionally inhabited by indigenous groups before the Spanish arrived, favored by climate and soil fertility.

Trans-culturation is made clear in this historical place with the presence of vases, ornaments, fragments of brass and Spanish bells, in addition to Christian burial: extremities extended, arms crossed over the chest and skulls, mostly not deformed.

Chorro de Maita should be a place of contact with other cultures. It was found there a copper medallion -only if its type in Cuba- typical of Venezuelans, who used it to the height of the kneecap and shoulders.

Coincidentally, there appeared an skeleton of a man whose stature rest one meter and seventy-six centimeters, exceeding the Aborigines average height. Even today, there are many misteries to work out in Chorro de Maita.

Perpetuating the Aboriginal memory, Holguin authorities instituted a symbolic idol made of sea shell, which recreates a woman with gifts and that is given to distinguished personalities who visit the territory.

Today, the Museum Chorro de Maita rises, as witnesses of the time, a cemetery and a Taino Indian village to recreate life of aboriginals from the the ancient island.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

International workshop on Archeobiology in Holguin

From June 20 to 22, the city of the parks is the venue for the Second International Workshop on Archeobiology that this time focuses on research, preservation, conservation and analysis of these resources.

The event, sponsored by the Archeology Department of the Provincial Research Center and the universities of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, in the United States, gathers here about 30 Cuban and U.S. specialists, including Ph.D. Russell Graham, Jim Knight and Lee Newson, who affirmed that Cuba plays an important role within the Caribbean system of islands for the development of biological archaeology.

Participants have also debated on global assessment of the Caribbean regarding archaeobotany and archaeozoology, the importance of organic preservation in archaeological contexts, and the recovery and sampling of biological remains, which offer valuable data to get to know life as it was in ancient times.

Specialist Roberto Valcárcel, director of the archaeological project Chorro de Maita (a cemetery of Cuban aboriginals), in the municipality of Banes, said that the meeting is an opportunity to deepen knowledge, evaluate achievements in this field and strengthen scientific collaboration, among other benefits for the specialty in Cuba.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Haiti: The World's Garbage Dump?

By Mildred Legrá

The richest in the world like to call the small island of Haiti "the garbage dump of the world,” as a derogatory way to describe the extreme poverty of the people living in this region.

The Haitian population is estimated at 6.7 million with close to 74 percent of the population living in rural areas. Ninety-five percent of Haitians are the descendants of black slaves and the remaining five percent are a mixture of African and French. The rivalry between these two communities has long marked the political life of Haiti since its independence.

Most of the population is illiterate and only those with good fortune have been able to attend higher studies and at great sacrifice. The rich people, only a handful, go to universities in the United States, Canada or France; they constitute a social class that exploits the poor and dispossessed majority.

Visiting Haiti is like arriving in a country that is not country. It's like a huge piece of land ruled by unspoiled nature and garbage. The lands have been embraced by a natural environment, which many Haitians look at with indifference. They do not work the lands. They prefer illegal trade, such as prostitution and drugs.

But that attitude to take the “easy” route is not their fault. It is due to centuries of extreme poverty and little attention. Despite being the first country in Latin America to win their independence, it was forgotten in time. And although the different governments have made some genuine efforts to improve things, they have not managed to save a society polluted by the world's great scourges.

And to make matters worse are the hurricanes that ravage the island leaving destruction and death, since Haitians are not prepared for such contingencies. It becomes a "save yourselves if you can" and nothing else. Nobody cares. The same happened during the last earthquake, which left an estimated 50,000 people dead. It is true that various global organizations and governments provided aid, but several countries promised funding which never materialized.

The destruction brought by the earthquake was followed by a cholera epidemic. It is as if "evil" persecuted these people allowing not a single second of respite. The consequences, in a country with no health infrastructure, poor environmental conditions and millions of people in need, were dramatic,

Today, no one speaks of Haiti; Cuba is the only country that continues to offer support. The Cuban doctors are still there, in the midst of very difficult conditions and under constant threat of disease.

The world needs to be more sensitive to Haiti. There are very rich countries that should share what they have with this poor nation. Even a little bit to help to pave the path to a better standard of living. It is not a matter of designer clothes or shoes, but rather of sharing medicines, education and food.

If the most powerful countries would stop waging war and instead provide knowledge, medicine and a little bit of food to the Haitians, they would be undertaking a great charity. But it is more comfortable for them to look down on Haiti and imagine it as an eternal garbage dump, which no one has the responsibility to clean up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coming summer in Holguin, many options to enjoy

The coming months July and August, are the hottest in Cuba. This period coincides with the students and workers vacations, who look for recreational options for their enjoyment.
Some prefer to stay home and enjoy a good television program or film, as the sun is burning is this caribbean island; others, the bravest get ready to go camping and enjoy nature, a healthy way of recreation.

But these are not the only options, beaches and pools are ready to welcome swimmers, as well as leisure trips and tours to different destinations.

The province of Holguin is loaded with many activities for the enjoyment of everybody, including inhabitants of the most remote areas, with the presence of popular dance, theater groups and cultural projects for children.

This summer, recreational activities will take place in the 14 municipalities having squares and parks as main scenarios, with the performance of amateur artists, members of the Saiz Brothers Assocciation (AHS) and cultural institutions throughout the country.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Will my Morning Cup of Coffee Cost me More?

Those who can´t help having a cup of coffee in the morning, before starting their work routine, have now found a good reason to be worried.

The price of coffee beans has reached a peak over the past 34 years, while producers and analysts warn that such increase will be emptying the coffee consumers ´pockets for a long while.

This fact contrasts with the depression that faced the coffee market until just few years ago, when the coffee yield was below its production cost. In Latin America, the depression led to generalized bankruptcy of small producers in particular.

But the picture has changed. Javier Blas, an expert in raw materials with the Financial Times told BBC World that for the first time in nearly a whole generation of producers we can see happy faces, particularly small coffee cultivators in Latin America.

Last year, the prices of Arabica Coffee—the highest quality variety—increased to 125 percent, to reach top level in little over three months. And in the previous five years, this price kept between 1 and 1, 50 dollars a pound.


The current situation has led to a war, at least in terms of words, between coffee roasting plants like Starbucks, which blame speculation, and coffee trading companies that put the blame on the offer-and-demand dynamics.

Starbucks executive director Howard Schultz said that the price hike is the result of extreme speculation and not of market factors. However, analysts say that Starbucks may have contributed to the increase with its decision to buy all the coffee it needed for a whole year, thus inflicting strong pressures on the market.

Other big companies like Starbucks have done the same thing, Javier Blas told BBC World. He said coffee-roasting companies have noted existing structural problems and that these prices will remain for long, so they have made their purchase in the futures market. Their purchases are usually aimed at guaranteeing three-month coverage, but some have bought all they need at the futures exchange for a year, the expert said.

Blas noted that speculation has played its role anyway, but he thinks some more important reasons explain the price increase.


One of these reasons is the decrease in the availability of coffee at the market. The stock lists register their lowest levels in the past 50 years.

In the first place, several Latin American countries reported low harvests.

In Colombia, production fell particularly as a result of heavy rains.

Mexico and Central America also reported a decrease in their harvests, while Brazil did not reach expected production levels.

This fall takes place amidst an important market change, because consumption is rising in emerging countries like Russia, Brazil, China and others.

Brazil is expected to become the world’s main consumer of coffee next year, displacing the United States.


This consumption increase in emerging countries is spreading its influence due to the expansion of coffee culture promoted by coffee shops in the Starbucks style.

Colombia has lost some one million sacks of coffee due to the severe Winter. This means that a Colombia coffee cultivator, who used to produce 20 sacks of coffee, is now producing only 10 sack, though he is able to compensate this difference with the increasing prices, said Andres Valencia, marketing manager of Colombia’s Coffee Producers Federation.

Add to this the increasing consumption in countries where people would traditionally drink tea and they now begin to consume more coffee, he noted.

Valencia told BBC World that many of these new coffee consumers in Asia, the Middle East, or in Eastern Europe are now learning to drink coffee as they are consuming the highest-quality variety, Arabica, which is precisely selling at the highest prices.

Just ten years ago, the usual trend for new coffee consumers was quitting tea for low quality coffee first, and then they would go for the higher quality variety. But with the expansion of coffee shops, these countries are going directly for “express” or high quality coffee.


For Latin America, one of the largest coffee producing regions in the world, this situation could lead to a relative beneficial stage for producers.

Colombia, where coffee stands for 20 percent of the agricultural production, is one of the countries with more benefits because it is the second producer of Arabica coffee.

And this is of great help in a country where the Winter has largely affected the harvest, said Valencia, who noted that in a year’s term, a family of coffee cultivators has been benefitted with an extra 200 dollars for each 125 kilograms of the grain, not pealed.

Finally, while the increase of coffee prices comes as a factor of concern for coffee consumers in Europe and the United States, in times of economic adjustment, it could not have come in a better moment for Latin American producers.

Taken from Granma