Friday, October 31, 2014

Turquino Peak: Natural Paradise

Located in the heart of the Sierra Maestra, Cuba's highest mountain range, the Turquino Peak, rises to 1,974 meters above sea level, on a scenario of 17,540 acres of rivers, forests, valleys and peaks. There are two typical access to scale; one from the territory of the province of Santiago de Cuba and other relatively simple, from the province of Granma. At the top there is a bust of José Martí, the work of sculptor Jilma Madera, which was settled in the centenary year of his birth (1953), by Celia Sanchez and her father. / Taken from

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gold mining, an illegal practice in Holguin

Alberto Ochoa took days digging in the same place. His sense of smell told him that he was getting closer to the precious metal, and he was very close, but of digging his own grave. Luck and rapid assistance of a colleague saved him from death. Now, he complains about the heat that causes the bandage on his body, but is happy to be alive to tell the story. In Holguin, people like Alberto have digged holes wherever they think they might be able to find gold, in order to fill their pockets with money. But these ignorant persons are not aware of the damage they cause to the environment and their health. What initially became an intermittent practice in the old gold mine at the community of Aguas Claras, in the head municipality, has been extended to the towns of Moa, "Rafael Freyre" and Báguano. AFTERMATH OF A FEVER A tour of some mining areas shows an apocalyptic landscape. The community “Tres Fiebres”, located in the mountainous region of Moa, seems a crater within this natural paradise that is the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, World Heritage Site since 2001. Several gold seekers have arrived there, posing a threat to environment. Near the river Calentura, gold-seekers have indiscriminately cut trees to build temporary camps. There, they cook their food and sleep during the week stay. Not all of them are from Holguin, as there are "visitors" from Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba. Also, although it is cause for concern, there are women and children. When asked if they were sure that particles obtained were gold, they said that others were engaged in check, showing that behind these makeshift miners there are magnates with knowledge and experience in the field, who take the best part of the business without spending any work. Throughout the strip of land that runs alongside the river, there are several excavations showing morphological damage to the soil and sediment of the river. On the land, there are pieces of nylon, plastic bottles, cardboard and food waste. Rolber Reyes, acting head of the Environmental Unit at the Provincial Delegation of CITMA, said the illegal gold mining generates, in environmental terms, quite negative impacts, mainly for the effects on river banks, erosion soils, vegetation clearing and water pollution. "Gold is always found in very small amounts and its extraction becomes complicated. To separate gold fom other minerals dangerous substances are used, such as mercury and sodium cyanide, whose neglectful use near rivers can cause irreparable damages to the ecosystem and human health. Of course, such chemicals do not reach their hands by magic, but they are "managed" through state agencies. "In the case of cyanide death is quick, but poisoning with heavy metals such as mercury tends to lead to a long suffering, such is the case of umans who eat fish contaminated with mercury can be poisoned. Currently the CITMA delegation is carrying out a process of control and inventory of substances that can be used in the illegal mining. Thus, we will have a systematic information on their use and existence in each entity, " explained Reyes.
These people's desire of making some money, do not let them to consider the damages they cause to environment. According to Rafael, a young boy engaged in the activity: "In the world there are a lot of people doing worse things to the environment, and what I do is not so serious. Besides, I'm earning money by the sweat of my work, without stealing anytnhing to anyone. " Environment is heritage and main concern of the nation; as such, resources must be maximized, according to environmental and development policy. People are not allowed to dig, just like that. Legal procedures are needed, protected by laws, decree-laws and legal standards. The control and fight against this crime have help to reduce illegal gold mining in the territory, but authorities should not lower guard. The work needs to be systematic and tenants of the areas should effectively manage their assets. We can not allow the gold fever to become an epidemic. If we don't take the measures, damage to environment and human life can be irreversible. / Written by Luis Mario Rodríguez Suñol

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Virgin of Charity –Cuba’s Patron Saint

Every September 8th Cubans pay tribute to La Virgen de la Caridad or the Virgen of Charity of El Cobre, the most cherished religious image in Cuba. Located in the town of El Cobre, few kilometers away from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the Virgin’s sanctuary is visited by thousands of people from all over the world to pay promises and carry small copper rocks from a nearby mine, which, according to devout believers, give people good luck. The legend has it that at the end of the 16th century three fishermen –Juan Esclavo, Juan Indio and Juan Pescador (John, the slave, John, the Indian, and John, the fisherman)- found the image of the virgin in the middle of a storm in the immense Nipe Bay in what is today known as the eastern province of Holguín. At the time of the finding, the piece of wood holding the image, which had a rare beauty and a copper-colored skin, read: “I AM THE VIRGIN OF CHARITY”. It is said that it appeared in the large bay to save the fishermen, symbolizing the birth of a people and a nation, made up of Spanish, African and Indian ancestors. On September 24th, 1915, high ranking officers and members of the former Liberation or “Mambí” Army, who had fought on the island’s second independence war against Spain, asked Pope Benedict XV to proclaim the Virgin of Charity of “El Cobre” as Cuba’s Patron Saint. In a mass held the same day, the “mambises”, or former independence fighters, packed the old Sanctuary in the small town of El Cobre to request the canonical declaration from the Catholic Church. They also offered the Virgin a Cuban flag and promised to support the building of a new Sanctuary. The canonical proclamation was approved by Papal decree on May 10th, 1916, less than a year after the Cuban patriots had requested it. The new Sanctuary opened on September 8th, 1927, 11 years after the proclamation. Years later, Pope Pious XI authorized the canonical coronation of the sacred image, but it was not until the morning of December 20, 1936 that the coronation ceremony was held and celebrated by Santiago de Cuba’s Bishop Monsignor Valentín Zubizarreta. Much later, the Virgin of Charity of “El Cobre” –Cuba’s Patron Saint- was personally crowned by Pope John Paul II in a public mass at Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo Square during his historical visit to Cuba in 1998. The Sanctuary of the Virgin of Charity of “El Cobre” is a neoclassical style construction built in 1927 on the summit of a hill on the island’s oldest copper mine which began to be exploited in the late 16th century. The current sanctuary, where mass is given every morning, has a silver altar and other highly valuable ornamental objects. Under the virgin, you can find the so called Chapel of Miracles, a small room where believers pay promises and deposit different offerings, including gold and precious stone jewels, clutches and other objects. The Chapel of Miracles treasures the gold medal awarded to US writer Ernest Hemingway when he was proclaimed a Nobel Literature Prize laureate in 1954, donating it to the people of Cuba and offering it to the Virgin. The Virgin of Charity is also known as “Virgen Mambisa” or “Mambí” Virgin due to the devotion of fighters for the island’s independence wars against Spain, who were better known as “mambises”. The Virgin is also worshipped by Afro-Cuban religious believers. In the Yoruba religion, the Virgin of Charity of “El Cobre” is known as “Ochún,” the deity of love and money and the owner of running water. Her festivities are linked to those of her sister “Yemayá” or “Yemanyá”, the Goddess of the Ocean, or the Virgin of Regla in the Catholic Pantheon, to whom believers pay tribute on September 7th. The Virgin of Charity of “El Cobre” is part of the Cuban people’s spirit and culture and the virgin, the sanctuary and its surroundings have been declared by the Cuban National Heritage Commission as a Heritage of the Cuban nation. / With information from radio Havana Cuba

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spanish Priest Created Techno Music 80 Years Ago

More than 80 years ago, a Spanish priest created a device to produce electronic music and broadcast it using a telegraph, a method similar to some used nowadays, said researcher Miguel Angel Delgado. The forgotten inventor was the priest Juan Garcia Castillejo, who created a so-called musical electro-composer device in 1933, long before the traditionally recognized origins of techno music during the 1980's in the United States. According to the research published in the book "Inventar en el Desierto" (Inventing in the Desert) the device was a programmable machine, capable of creating musical patterns using a sound and time selector, an engine to combine notes and mechanical vibrators. In statements to the specialized journal Materia, Miguel Molina, professor of Sound Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Valencia, said that this was a precedent for applications like Podcast or Spotify. Molina pointed out that in 1944 the priest published the book "La telegrafia rapida, el triteclado" (The swift telegraphy, the tri-keyboard), which dealt with the possibility of combining telegraphy, teletypewriter and typewriter keyboards with electronic music. All the inventions disappeared with the 1985 death of Garcia, considered by Molina to be a priest who created techno music in the 1940's. A relative of the priest told the Materia journal that his uncle kept an audio tape with instructions for manufacturing the electro-composer device under key, but it disappeared and the genius of the inventor, who died impoverished, was never officially recognized. / With information from Prensa Latina

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cuba Sends to the World Great Musical Talent, says Descemer Bueno

One of the most important and popular musicians today is undoubtedly Descemer Bueno. Although his beginnings in music were not in fact as songwriter, it’s precisely his career as songwriter which has taken him to stardom. "I am very proud of being born in Cuba. I believe that the world needs the Cuban talent so music still lives on", said Descemer in exclusively for Cubasí. One of the most important and popular musicians today is undoubtedly Descemer Bueno. Although his beginnings in music were not in fact as songwriter, it’s precisely his career as songwriter which has taken him to stardom. He’s got a wide musical career; he was part of the group Estado de Animo later joining Yerba Buena. Composer of the Year at the Cubadisco Festival 2013 for his album Bueno. His work as a composer verges on the excellence, a good example of this is the Goya Award to the best Original Soundtrack in the film Havana Blues, a film by the Spanish director Benito Zambrano. He has collaborated with international artists, but his projects with singer Enrique Iglesias are the most recognized worldwide. Iglesias produced the song Bailando which he sings next to duet Gente de Zona. Many of Descemer’s song are really catchy and show a before and after in his career. He speaks about his career in an interview for Cubasí. - Descemer, you have a wide career as musician, however you are worldwide recognized for your talent as songwriter and composer. Which are your main sources of inspiration? - I am inspired by all the key facts, before I was really inspired by songwriters like Silvio, Pablo, and Santiago. Musically I have always loved Jazz and instrumental music. After I graduated as guitarist I began a career as bass player and I played for a lot of people like Santiago, Julio Fowler and troubadours like Vanito Brown and Kerwin Du Bois. - Of all their compositions, which one has meant more to you and which one launched you to the fame? - Fame is really fickle when you are a composer; we hardly ever see fame, although there are well-known composers within the world of composers. There are also people who are interested in the life of those who make music, but they are very few. In my particular case, I am very lucky because I have songs in my repertoire that people enjoy greatly. Many of my songs are in the voice of other artists like Luz Casal, and Ana Torroja from Spain. They are among the most outstanding voices of Spain. There’s also Enrique Iglesias a more international singer whose career is large in the English-speaking market, Thalía from Mexico, Marco Antonio Solís with the song El perdedor, and Cuando me enamoro with Juan Luis Guerra, but back then many people outside Cuba didn't know who was Descemer Bueno, I was only known in the ethnic migration and I truly believe the song Bailando is the one which has won me a place in the planet, so to speak, because people are looking at faces internationally unknown like Gente de Zona and me, this has been like a cross over for us. - Talk to me about the new disk you are preparing, what artists participate in it? - We are aiming at getting at the international market and to that purpose I am planning repeat the formula. It is not just the help of a nice voice singing next to you, but rather the person you approach to ask for a favor. They contribute with their followers, I have very good friends who have already made formal requests to join me in the disk like Ana Torrojas who is also a star, there’s also Reyli Barba, Julieta Venegas, and Enrique Iglesias. They are artists who work very well in Mexico. Mexico is an objective for me; it’s a country where music and songs are loved. I had a good experience there with Enrique opening shows at the Auditorium and I think it’s a perfect country to receive me. - You have collaborated with famous artists like Enrique Iglesias. - I have been very lucky with Enrique, in the album launched for Latin America I have a duet with him of the song Loco. After that came Bailando which I made popular here, starting with Havana and later spread throughout the whole island, it has reach number one in 23 countries and it may be the song of the summer. It’s probably one of the most important songs in Enrique's career and mine, no doubt about it. - Bailando is one of the most popular songs. What do you think that is? - I wrote this song thinking of Enrique and I took it to him when it was still premature. We both finished it and we wrote in a way that was comfortable for him to sing it. Afterwards Randy and Alexander gave it a finishing touch, I didn't think the song could be improve any further and yet, they put in the most interesting parts, though little, it was great. The success can be given to many things, for example, the strength of Cuba as promoter of not just sport and medicine, but also music capable of convincing the world, a very natural fusion of what we know as flamenco culture, urban music and good lyrics. I am very proud of being born in Cuba which has always shown to the world a lot of musical talent. There are truly artists that have heart to participate with us on what would be the Cuban music's phenomenon from the underground music until the most contemporary and custom music. - You have had the opportunity to travel and know new horizons, however, you have not given up your roots. - I feel very well in Barcelona, it is one of the cities I like the most in the world; New York, Guadalajara, Mexico DF. I have not visited as many countries as I wanted to; I know little of Latin America. What I find interesting of a nation is how I can interact with the most creative elements of that nation; it is very hard to break so many chains and so many closed doors that it is very difficult to open them all. In Cuba there are many artists who have been very important during their time and they approach me wondering the keys for a comeback, the only thing that is necessary is to keep working hard and I believe I have done. Working is one of the things that bring me near the roots of my country, I have a family of musicians who supports me and a wonderful team that I would love to have in other places. / With information from

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hotel Pernik, in the memory of visitors

The Pernik hotel of Holguin, remains in the memory of visitors who have arrived to this eastern city of Cuba. The facility was built on the Jorge Dimitrov avenue as result of the relationship between Cuba and Bulgaria. Already there and at first glance, the lobby shows a view rich in art, in shades to define, not with words but with graphics, as it looks like an art gallery exhibit inviting visitors to interpret the world of art. Also the artistic design of rooms looks like a ritual, where nine of them were turned into art galleries linked to different personalities of Cuban culture. Opened on December 31, 1980, the Pernik was the first facility to be awarded the Biarin '90 plate, with the architecture prize in the First Biennial of Architecture and Engineering in the contest of works and accomplishments. It has several spaces inside carrying recognized names of Bulgaria, as the Pliska bar, the pool-bar Danube and the Sofia and Varna restaurants, which show the excellence of this hotel that stands out within the ISLAZUL hotel chain. / With information from / photos by Elder Leyva

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Four Terrorists Settled in Miami Detained in Cuba

Forces from the Cuban Interior Ministry detained four Cuban-born citizens settling in Miami, when planned to execute terrorist actions. A note from the Interior Ministry says the detention took place on April 26, and the detainees are named Jose Ortega Amador, Obdulio Rodriguez Gonzalez, Raibel Pacheco Santos and Felix Monzon Alvarez. According to reports, the detainees recognized they pretended to attack military facilities with the objective of promoting violence. For such purposes, three of them had travelled many times to the island since 2013 to study and model the execution. They also said those plans have been led by terrorists Santiago Alvarez Fernandez Magriña, Osvaldo Mitat, and Manuel Alzugaray, who also live in Miami and maintain a close relation with infamous terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. The Cuban Interior Ministry stated that the country is carrying out the necessary arrangements with U.S. authorities to investigate the facts and timely avoid that the performance of terrorist elements and organizations settled in that northern nation endanger the life of people and security of both nations. / Taken from Prensa Latina

Friday, May 2, 2014

Deepest sorrow over the passing of Juan Formell

With deep sorrow, cultural authorities of Cuba's announced the death of Juan Formell, founder and director of the popular band Los Van Van, who for his career received the National Music Prize and the Latino Granmy for Musical Excellence. The death of renowned arranger, composer, singer and record producer leaves a void in popular dance music, to which he contributed with the creation of “songo” and the rhythm of " buey cansao”, remembered by generations of Cubans. Formell was born in Havana on August 2, 1942 and received his early education from his father Francisco Formell. But later he continued his music studies by self-taught. His artistic career was marked by his entry into the Revé Orchestra, led by Elio Reve, who in his own words, taught Formell much of what he would later apply in the group he formed and named Los Van Van. During his more than five decades of professional life, Formell recorded more than 20 albums and received several laurels, including the Grammy Award for his CD "Llegó... Van Van" (Van Van is here). In 1999 and 2010 he received an honorary doctorate from the Higher Institute of Arts in recognition of his contributions to Cuban culture.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Poza Fria of Caletones Beach, Gibara

The Poza Fria of Caletones is one of the flooded-caves of Laguna Blanca-Caletones Caves System that most attract attention of vacationers. It's a natural pool located among summer houses, just a few meters from the road entering Caletones beach. Caletones is an isolated beach in the coastal town of Gibara with Beatiful landscapes which were devastated after the passage of Hurricane Ike through the territory. Most vacationers coming here are from then same province of Holguin and Gibara. The poza fria is characterized by a large dolina with easy access to two galleries, one facing east and the other one to the south. The one directing to the east is of difficult morphology due to the number of landslides, which makes exploration quite dangerous, as there is a strong current that leads to that direction. The dolina running to the south is parallel to a large crack in the many existing in the area, a landslide near a restriction stops exploration. The total distance in this cavity reaches 85 m. / Photo by Juan Pablo Carreras

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Banes becomes tourist destination for cruise ships

Banes has become a place of interest for cruises. Every Wednesday one of these huge ships arrives at Antilla Bay. According to guidebooks, Banes is a destination for its archaeological values. It has been of great interest to visitors to explore the historic city center and the Catholic church of this city. However this tourist option leads to other new interests, as it happen with tourists from the Caribbean such as Jamaicans who want to meet ancestors living in the neighborhood of Mariana Grajales and have been guided there to establish contact with friends and families there. "This model of tourism brings people from Denmark, Norway, Canada and Italy. They come with some specific cultural and humanitarian interests, for example, knowing of the Jamaican community residing over Banes”, said Luis Quinones, a guide at the Bani Indocubano Museum of Banes. According to Quiñones with the arrival of cruises, the city of Banes, better known as the Archaeological Capital of Cuba, will also become a place of great tourist interest. “Now we have to improve our work and make the city more attractive to visitors”.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Injured, but with a Lot of Optimism  

It is always nice to talk with Holguin's star decathlete Leonel Suárez Fajardo. So hearing about his stay in this city, JIT magazine decided to meet him.   Double Olympic bronze medallist took the optimistic dialogue with eloquence and wisdom that enhance his admirable simplicity.   November 2013 and January 2014 brought joy and motivations to you. Why?   “On November 16, 2013 my daughter was born and the in early days of 2014 the authorities in the province gave me a comfortable home, two highly rewarding things.”   I can assure you that even if the property has been delivered to me due to my outstanding sporting career, I committed myself to increased efforts as sportsman.   I will not disappoint all those who trusted and still trust me. That's the biggest commitment after this recognition, which helps a lot to give myself fully to training, despite being injured now.   How did you get the injury?    After jumping in London 2012 Olympics, I got a little pain in the right knee, which worsened in the 2013 World Championships.   Doctors diagnosed an insersionitis in the kneecap, which causes acute discomfort that prevents me from training hard.   What is the medical treatment?    Specialists at the Frank País orthopaedic hospital in Havana will determine whether I need stem cell treatment or arthroscopy surgery, which promotes the regeneration of damaged tissue.    But I'm ready for the decision made, because the discomfort is unbearable and for me the most important thing is to achieve full recovery as quickly as possible.   So you're resting?    None of that. I train to strengthen the upper body, as I cannot jump or run fast, hence I cannot ensure that I'm training properly, so I can't compete for now.   Not even this year?    Everything is depending on how the injury is assessed in terms of severity and course of treatment response. However I would like to be in good shape for the Central American and Caribbean Games of Veracruz, Mexico, in November.   I'm optimistic, but the future is uncertain for now. It's hard to give an answer.   Wishes?    Back on the podium in world events, which is the same as saying to stay in the top three in the world, I'll never give up on that. / Photo: Rodriguez.Otmaro with information from JIT / Jose Antonio Chapman

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Foundation of the city of San Isidoro de Holguín

For his feats in the conquest of Mexico the Spanish Crown granted Francisco García Holguín land in the northeastern part of the island from the Jigüe to the Marañon Rivers in 1545, prompting García Holguín, his wife Isabel Fernández de Sandoval, and some followers, to found the first village in the area. Historians say that García Holguín returned to Mexico where he had large extensions of land and died there. Throughout time the village was then surrounded by several other areas called Managuaco, Los Guazumas (Guasimas), Las Cuevas, Cayo Llano and others, and on April 3rd, 1720, on the eve of Saint Isidoro, a church was inaugurated in the urban area, dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1752 other churches were added: San Idelfonso and San Miguel which gave names to other streets (today known as Aricochea and Luz Caballero). Spanish King, Ferdinand VI, granted the Title of City to Holguin back on January 18th, 1752. This action resulted in the recognition of the social and commercial growth of the village set up in 1545 by Captain Garcia Holguin when he was granted the land and built the first houses. In 1752, according to historians, the city had a population of 1291 whites and 135 slaves, 211 rustic houses and one public school. The northern part of Holguín between Auras and Gibara was also attacked by the English Navy in the mid-18th century, but Holguineros defended it fiercely, causing more than 70 casualties among the English troops, resulting in the English Navy pullout. In 1863 there were already 76 sugar mills in the area, 753 tobacco plantations and hundreds of farms worked by slaves, evidence of the area’s economic and social growth. / With information from Radio Havana Cuba

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fher admires Cuba, its people and art

The singer of the Mexican band Maná, Fernando Olvera, expressed his admiration for Cuba and its people, because despite being a small country has an impressive art. Cuba is one of the most extraordinary countries in the world, whose greatness is shown not only by its music, dance, painting and poetry, but also in sports and medicine, said Fher in an interview with the Matanzas' radio broadcasting system, Radio 26. During the conversation, which took place at the Varadero beach, the lead singer of the popular rock band expressed his intention to present soon in Cuba, in a personal capacity. I would like to make it free for people. For me it is a dream to share with all these people who like Mana and do not have the possibility to go to another country to see a concert. Besides, we owe much to Cuban music, from trova to salsa, the artist said. The interpreter of popular themes such as “Vivir sin aire” and “Te lloré un río” said: we still live in the illusion of music, we are not and we were not even for money. ( ... ) We are because we love music and we like to share it with people . " Fher, who tries to go unnoticed in the crowd resting on the peninsula of Varadero, expressed his desire to return to Cuba because it is an amazing country, where despite the economic problems people always have a smile on their face. In message dedicated to the Cuban people, the Mexican artist said he is very pleased that Cubans like the band, in a country that is a seed-bed of artists and musicians as well. He also expressed satisfaction in knowing that on the largest island of the Antilles, the public is familiar with the work of the group as well. "They have sought and found Mana. That touches my heart. Cuba touches my heart ," he said. With information from

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

End of the year celebrations

Cubans plan our time and money to have a good new year celebration , but each with our own way to spend this time. Typical dishes consisting of roast pork, turkey or fried chicken, congrí criollo (rice and beans), yuca con mojo, a variety of desserts and of course, the cold beer, are dinner menu. Approaching the 12 hours, most families wait the official time in front of the TV, to celebrate a year of revolutionary triumph. Then comes the hug, congratulations, good wishes and a very common ritual of throwing water out doors. It has to do with the belief of cleaning the bad period left behind and bring feelings of hope for the coming year. Cubans also dress in their best clothes, and there are even those who light candles and place their hopes in the horoscope predictions and zodiac, following recommendations according to the letter. And there are those who decide to change the tradition. Country people coming to town for roasting a pig on a “Pua” and thus enjoy a year-end in the "civilization". Whatever the way Cuban families choose to celebrate the end of the year, we always have fun and joy coming together even more, asking good things for everyone.