Dayron Wants to Reach Tokyo-2020

The news from Cuban athletics these days is the comeback to the tracks of hurdler Dayron Robles.

Still unable to recover the shape that led him to become Olympic champion and world-record holder, the runner from Guantanamo has remained competing interchangeably abroad in recent years, but last weekend he wanted to offer his public a good performance at the Pan American Stadium, in Havana.

Firstly, he specified that he’s just finished a stage of general preparation, and started the special one, so he should not make an outstanding mark. "Our aim is to achieve the best results for the summer, adding technical elements to improve my times little by little. The required mark to attend the world championship is 13.48 seconds. It’s not complicated to achieve it. I’m in good physical conditions, and I will take every competition as a step towards the next one. I feel with the same desires and mentality to win everything. Injuries have been my main rival, but I hope to reach Tokyo-2020, should the physical shape accompanies me”.

In this regard, I also talked to his new coach, Manuel Mayor, who showed optimism too.

"We started working together on November 21, 2016, and so far he’s behaving well, without injury problems, which is our main concern.

I’ve been working in the grassroots for 30 years and based on my experience, we’ve focused on what we consider his weak points, and I am demanding him to the maximum physically".

Do you think you can return to star levels?

"The race pace we have developed so far go as planned, and according to his current moment of preparation. He is a world-class athlete and by July he should be around 13.21 seconds, which is not a superelite mark, but it is according to his age and what we hope in this first year".

How has your relationship been?

"He’s more motivated, because there’s good chemistry with me and the rest of the boys of the specialty. We do not know each other completely, but when we were together in Germany (January) we closed ranks in personal and work terms, and families support quite a lot, both his and mine".

I only have to wish them good luck in this new stage, and hopefully injuries will respect him so he can reach the Japanese summer event.

Translation Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuban National Assembly Calls Special Session

The Cuban Council of State provided the holding of an special session of the National Assembly on Thursday, June 1st, Granma newspaper reports today.

The objective is to analyze the documents: Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development and Guidelines of the Policy of the Party and the Revolution for the 2016-2021 period.

The Bases of the Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030: Vision of the Nation, Axes and Strategic Sectors, will be also informed, the report concluded.

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A necessary debate: Can the flag be “used”?

Lots of people wear clothes inspired in the American flag, and some would like to wear the Cuban flag. Why not? How to do it?

-I was given the whole packet —said the girl dressed in the stars and the stripes of the American flag—. I see it pretty. It is a very good material. Why shouldn’t I wear it? This is not politics. It is fashion.

-When you are wearing the flag of your country, you are doing politics, said an old man who is in line to buy a newspaper.

-If I had my lycra with the Cuban flag, I would use it as well, but do you know where I can buy it?

-Wearing a Cuban flag in a lycra would be an unacceptable disrespect to our national symbols, answered the old man.

This opinion exchange took place in the corner of O and Infanta Streets, but for sure, it has been target of discussions in many other places.

The truth is that it is increasingly noticed the number of people wearing pullovers, shirts, jerseys, short pants, and lycras with a crystal-clear promotion of the American, and other countries’ flags.

Many overlook this fact and believe it is just fashionable. To others, it raises concerns.

It may happen that many wear other countries’ flags with no ulterior motives. It may be possible that these people believe wearing the symbol of other countries does not mean a statement of principles to them. The truth is that wearing (use, hoist, or carry) a symbol has certain implications that go beyond beauty and functionality.

It may be sound exaggerated: nowadays, the most effective war is not won by means of cannons, but symbols.

And it seems quite logical the equation: before one symbol, other symbol.

Probably the girl with the lycra is right. But the old man is right, too. A symbol is not only a design over a fabric. A symbol means reference, history, ideas.

A lycra is too “earthly” to print it with the national flag.

Is it not legit the desire of wearing our flag in a pullover? We wear Marti and Che, why not the flag?

The debate of wearing national symbols on clothes or accessories is not simple. And the legal framework leaves room for doubts. I agree, we cannot manufacture clothes with our flag, but to what extent are unwise the usage of our flag in clothes and accessories?

It is tough to generalize.

Looking at it closely, the flag should not be gotten dirty, squeezed, or gotten wet. But can we deny an athlete to carry it on his/her shoulders?

But who is the one in charge of setting the rules?

We should set the differences between object and symbols (although symbols, of course, are represented through the object).

However, it is still shocking to see the amount of little paper flags on the tarmac after a massive rally, stamped down by people, dirty, broken. What can we do?

These days, symbols are increasingly linked to routines. And even though we see it without thinking too much, symbols’ transcendence should not be superficial.

It is not about worshipping a design. It is about the respect to what it represents, the identification with certain values.

When a teenager, a young (wo)man, any person…decides to wear a cloth decorated with the American flag, consciously or unconsciously, she/he is conveying a message, which is not only commercial. This message would also have historical and cultural background.

Perhaps some did not notice, but there is no innocence behind these “commercial” campaigns.

Is it casual that the American flag waves in most of films produced in that country?

This is not a war between “good” and “evil”. We are dealing with an authentic contrast between cultural schemes. It is necessary to be aware of the motives, strategies, and implications of such war.

Our symbols are not mere imagination. They are not commercial brands. They mean lots of things. And obviously, they confirm our identity in times of globalization.

We must reconsider rules

It hurts (and we should be worried) that it is hard for a common citizen to buy a good flag. Having a flag at home, to show it off in special times, or keep it like a treasure, is still a dream, a need for many Cubans.

It has to do with national pride, the respect for those who died defending it.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Rapper Talib Kweli Rocks the Mic in Cuba

Cuban Rap Agency reports that local bands Mano Armada, Brebaje Man, Invaxion and Kilometro 969 will share the stage with Kweli.

Hip-Hop rapper, social activist and entrepreneur Talib Kweli is on the eve of making his debut performance in Cuba. The concert will take place at the Rhumba Palace on Friday.

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Cuban Rap Agency reported that local bands Mano Armada, Brebaje Man, Invaxion and Kilometro 969 will share the stage with Talib.

Renowned for uncompromising lyrics that address social and political issues, Kweli's career ascended the hip-hop radar in 1998 when he and fellow hip-hop artist, Mos Def (currently Yasiin Bey), released their debut studio album, Black Star. The title of the album alluded to the Black Star Line, a shipping line established by Pan-Africanist revolutionary Marcus Garvey.

Talib, having called U.S. politics an illusion, refuses to vote. He also speaks out about political prisoners incarcerated in the U.S. such as Mumia Abu Jamal and is an active supporter of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

Cuban hip-hop has as its matriarch, Nehanda Abiodun. A graduate of Columbia University, Abiodun would soon join ranks with the National Black Human Rights Coalition and the Republic of New Afrika. She received political asylum in Cuba in the 1990s after the US government charged her with aiding in the escape of Assata Shakur and a series of other revolutionary actions.

Since living in Cuba Abiodun has frequently spoken to Cuban youth about the social and political vitality of hip-hop music. She stressed that rap music is the “voice of protest” located throughout the world.

RELATED: Iconic Cuban Rumba Group 'Los Muñequitos' Celebrates 65 Years

She added that “once you step out of the U.S., a large part of the global community of hip hoppers are progressive” because it's produced by the Indigenous people of that place.

As a testament to its power of resistance to the forces of imperialism and oppression, hip-hop has also been co-opted in favor of U.S. hegemony.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, had secretly attempted and failed to infiltrate Cuba's underground hip-hop movement for over two years.

The Guardian reported that the objective of the operation was “to break the information blockade” and “spark a youth movement against the government.”

But, rest assured, you shouldn't expect a weak, imperialist performance when Kweli rocks the mic Friday night.

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Cuban Artists to Pay Tribute to The Beatles

Havana, May 26 (Prensa Latina) With a concert next Thursday, Cuban artists will pay tribute to legendary British band The Beatles on the 50th anniversary of the recording of the LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, considered one of the best and mostly sold in history.

The concert will be at 18:00 local time at Havana's John Lennon Park, with the participation of 7 national bands.

The tribute to the young guys from Liverpool is organized by Cuban musician and composer X Alfonso, musicologist Guille Vilar and the Ministry of Culture.

Formed originally by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, The Beatles is one of the most acclaimed bands of all times, with many followers around the world.

Released on 1 June 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is their eighth album, with which they won four Grammy Awards in 1968.

The LP sold 32 million and drew favorable reviews from the critics and the public.

For its quality and innovation, specialized Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one on its list of the 500 best albums.

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Young Singers from Teatro Lirico de Cuba to Perform

Havana, May 25 (Prensa Latina) Young singers from the Teatro Lirico Nacional de Cuba (National Lyric Theater of Cuba) will perform on Friday a program that highlights their vocal skills.

Tenors Luis Javier Oropesa, Andres Sanchez and soprano Zoylin Ibarra will perform at the hall Gonzalo Roig, in Habana Vieja, singing a repertoire by Cuban and Latin American composers.

The concert 'Pensado para tres' (Intended for Three), directed by Helson Hernandez, gathers for the first time the three singers that have different musical experiences.

The program will be dedicated to the 55th anniversary of the company, which has a repertoire of more than 40 operas and 25 operettas, Spanish and Cuban.

Teatro Lirico Nacional de Cuba was founded on September 11th, 1962, although the first lyric performances in Cuba were held in 1776, in which the work 'Diddone abbandonata', written by Metastasiowas, was premiered.

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Cuban vice-president lays a wreath in honor to Jose Marti in Ecuador

The First Vice-president of the Council of States and Ministers, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, laid a wreath at the monument of Cuba´s National Hero Jose Marti.

This is my third visit to this land and we have experienced the same emotions thanks to the friendships of our people, said the Cuban vice-president while greeting those who attended the ceremony in Pichincha.

Diaz-Canel Bermudez arrived in Ecuador yesterday morning accompanied by deputy minister of Foreign Affairs Ana Teresita Gonzalez in order to attend the presidential inauguration of Lenin Moreno.

I want to salute Lenin Moreno and the Alianza Pais Movement. Both are the leading figures of a victory that transcends Ecuador to become a triumph for Latin America.

The also member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba confirmed Cuba´s support to the Ecuadorian people and their Citizens’ Revolution, their achievements, “in the spirit of moving forward in our relationship.”

He also recalled patriot Eloy Alfaro and his relation with Cuba. He fondly addressed to that great man, son of Ecuador.

Likewise, Miguel Diaz-Canel recalled how the province of Pichincha was the first in Ecuador to declare itself free of illiteracy thanks to the Cuban educational method Yo, si Puedo.

In that sense, he affirmed that it was paramount “that our people learn how to read and write to understand the possibility of a better world,” as our historical leader, Fidel, noted.

On the other hand, Gustavo Baroja, prefect of Pichincha, said that Marti, along with Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin, is one of the main figures in the emancipation process of America.

Baroja also stated that Ecuador is influenced by Marti since the country, in its educational system, has lots of Marti’s thoughts.

“Today, 122 years after his death, Marti’s fundamentals, ethic and human principles are still valid.”

Cuban ambassador in Ecuador Rafael Dausa, as well as officials from the Cuban embassy, attended the ceremony.

After the end of the activity, Diaz-Canel and the accompanying delegation toured the Equatorial and Ethnography Museum of the Middle of the World City where specialists answered all of his questions.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Nineteen Films Confirmed for European Festival in Cuba

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) The 2nd edition of the European Movie Festival in Cuba will exhibit 19 films coming from 16 nations from June 1st to 11 in this capital, announced organizers of the event here.

Petra Rohler, representative of the cultural section of the German Embassy in Cuba, was happy when she knew that the film 'Fukushima Mon Amour', the most recent one by director Doris Dörrie, was chosen for the opening ceremony.

Rohler said the film is a very human one, artistically well elaborated, reflecting the pain for the loss suffered after the nuclear accident occured in March 2011 in Japan.

The film presents a friendship between a mature Japanese geisha, a survivor of the accident, and a young German woman who reaches the place of the tragedy, as part of a company of clowns, trying to give back the joy to the affected people, in the middle of the catastrophe.

This film received awards in the Movie Festival of Berlin last year and director Doris Dorrie obtained the Heiner Carow Award, while actress Rosalie Thomass won one of the awards at the Bavarian Movie Festival and was nominated to win another at the German Movie Festival.

For his part, the programmer of Cinemateca de Cuba, Antonio Mazón, noted at a press conference the humanism of the 14 feature films and five documentaries selected for the second edition of the event, most of them, premieres in Cuba.

The films come from 16 member countries of the European Union: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Sweden.

The 23 and 12 Theater, Havana's Palacio del Segundo Cabo, center for the interpretation of the Cuban-European cultural relations, and the Infanta Movie Complex, will be the hosts of the second European Movie Festival in Cuba.

As part of this event, the Orchestra of the Lyceum of Havana will be coming on June 5 at the Oratorio San Felipe Neri for performing a concert titled 'Classical Music in European Cinema', in which musical pieces from various nationalities.

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