A few glimpses of the Book Fair in Havana

The International Book Fair, Cuba 2019, has concluded in Havana. As a unique epilogue, the annual event now begins its journey to 15 other cities in the country, to culminate April 14 in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.

During this 28th edition, the ancient San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress, the fairgrounds for the last several editions, hosted dozens of book launches, colloquiums, conferences, awards, stands, and bookshops.

Granma International offers readers a few snapshots to give an idea of the happenings there.

- Eduardo Heras León: writer, journalist, editor, literary and ballet critic; 2014 National Prize for Literature winner, to whom the Fair is dedicated. Along with the colloquium in Nicolás Guillén Hall on the life and work of someone who is widely known as “Chino” Heras, readers were gratified to find new editions of a number of his most important works, including La guerra tuvo seis nombres and Los pasos en la hierba, as well as new titles like El libro de los elogios, El libro de las entrevistas, and El libro de las presentaciones.

- Mirta Yañez: The Fair honored this writer, philologist, teacher, and member of the Cuban Academy of Language with the 2018 National Prize for Literature.

Considered one of the most important intellectuals of her generation, Mirta Yañez (Havana, 1947) has excelled in practically all genres she cultivates: poetry, stories, novels, and essays. Among her narrative titles, outstanding are the novel Sangra por la herida; short story collections Todos los negros tomamos café, La Habana es una ciudad bien grande, and El diablo son las cosas; and poetry to be found in Un solo bosque negro, and Las visitas y otros poemas.

She is one of the principal investigators of the female voice in Cuban literature and the co-author of the anthology Estatuas de sal, with poet Marilyn Bobes.

- 500th Anniversary of Havana’s founding: The anniversary led to the publication of more than a dozen books with Havana themes, a program headed by the City Historian’s publisher Ediciones Boloña. The novel titles were presented in the Plaza de Las Armas, in the heart of city’s central historic district, a World Heritage Site.

Azzedine Mihouni, Algerian Minister of Culture, presented his novel El juramento de Atocha at the fair, which featured Algeria as the guest Country of Honor. Photo: Juvenal Balán

This is how readers got their hands on classic works like the novel Cecilia Valdés or La Loma del Ángel, by Cirilo Villaverde; the anthology Crónicas habaneras, by Alejo Carpentier, who Graziella Pogolotti, the title’s presenter noted “contributed to the construction of the Havana myth,” and Cuadernos de historia habanera, volumes IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX and X, by Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, Havana City Historian from 1935 until 1964. The first three volumes released in 2018 are now joined by seven more, bearing the notebooks numbered 11 through 36.

- Two publishing events: The re-issue by Letras Cubanas publishing house of Oppiano Licario, the unfinished novel by José Lezama Lima; and Rayuela, the uncommon work of Julio Cortázar, as part of the Casa de Las Américas’ Classics of Latin America collection.

Published for the first time in 1977, a year after Lezama death, the new edition of Oppiano Licario was presented, 40 years later, at the Dulce María Loynaz, Cultural Center, while Rayuela, with the study by Lezama Lima for the first edition, exactly half a century later, was celebrated at Casa de Las Américas headquarters.

- Algeria, Guest Country of Honor: Arriving with a delegation of 30 writers, the sister nation opened a beautiful pavilion displaying more than 200 works on their patrimony and history, plus children’s literature and novels.

Presented during the fair were 18 titles by Algerian authors in Spanish including the novels Tierra de mujeres, by Nassira Beyoula; El viento del sur, by Abdelhamid Benhadouga; Un mar sin gaviotas, by Djilali Kellas, and El juramento de Atocha by Azzedine Mihouni, now the country’s minister of Culture.

Mihouni’s book is a serious reflection on the phenomenon of collective violence, with episodes that continue to occur around the world, which the author hopes will be taken as a message “in favor of peace and the need to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples, since culture can build bridges.”

- The literary celebration in figures: 1,300 literary and artistic presentations; more than 80 lectures; some 50 panel discussions, 45 prizes and tributes; more than 100 poetry readings and 150 book launches, concerts, film screenings, and art exhibits.

During the Fair’s closing ceremony, February 17, Juan Rodríguez Cabrera, president of the Cuban Book Institute, reported that more than 4,000 titles and four million copies were made available to readers; the public purchased some

409,395 books, more than 5,000 more than were sold during last year’s edition.

A quote from the great Jorge Luis Borges serves to celebrate Cuban readers

“Let others boast of the pages they have written, I am proud of those that have been read.”

- Other prizes: The Paper Door, for the best titles published by the country’s 22 regional houses, was awarded to Las memorias vacías de Solange Bañuelos, by Maité Hernández-Lorenzo (Ediciones Matanzas); the Readers’ Prize, for the best-selling book of 2018 went to Cien Horas con Fidel, by Ignacio Ramonet (Editorial Nuevo Milenio and the Council of State publishing house); and the Mirrored Door, awarded by the José Martí National Library’s reading program, went to writer and journalist Marta Rojas, for El equipaje amarillo, the most requested book of 2018.

Cuban intellectual Miguel Barnet, winner of the 1994 National Prize for Literature, made an interesting reflection during the 11th edition of the Fair in Havana, which was dedicated to his works: “I believe that book fairs are growing in Cuba and around the world, because books cannot be replaced by anything, they establish an intimate, strong, igneous, erotic, and sensual bond with people that cannot occur with a cold screen.”

Despite the influence of novel and varied digital technologies and doomsday announcements, books are still desired. The 409,395 copies sold in La Cabaña February 7-17 can allow us a certain smile.

  • Published in Culture

Liar Marco Rubio was in Cucuta, but he didn’t see the houses

The echo of the lies launched by US Senator Marco Rubio during his visit to Cucuta resounded almost at the same time of his brief stay in that Colombian city on the border with Venezuela.

Marco Rubio, who travelled to Cucuta to supervise the development of the humanitarian aid program mounted by U.S., through the USAID, against Venezuela, was in Cucuta, but as the old saying reads, he didn’t see the houses.

Although Rubio, one of the architects of Washington to use the alleged humanitarian assistance as a Trojan House to invade Venezuela, had a photograph taken upon his arrival to Cucuta surrounded by a few inhabitants, and apparently he never realized that he had arrived at the least appropriate place to offer humanitarian assistance to anyone.

The "beneficent" senator who affirmed that: "One thing is to see human suffering, another is to see it up close and personal, and to meet the people and hear their stories”, and apparently his imperial arrogance did not allow him to meet or talk to some of the inhabitants who backed him as puppets of his show of misinformed proconsul.

Otherwise, he would have found out that the Colombian city he had chosen as platform to lie about the crisis in Venezuela has one of the highest inequality rates among the cities in the American continent.

Also that 40 percent, almost 300,000 Cucuta locals live in poverty, 10 percent in extreme poverty.

That the city’s unemployment is close to 20 percent and that around 20,000 children work and live in the streets.

He would have also found out that nearly 30 percent of the hospitals in Cucuta are in technical shutdown and that a normal delivery in that city costs 500 dollars, therefore, Cucuta’s women in labor travel to Venezuela to be assisted by the Bolivarian government of Venezuela.

The previous figures, based on sources from the statistics department in Colombia, were made public by Venezuela’s Communication and Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez in a televised appearance, where he announced that next February 22 and 23, the Bolivarian government would stage two concerts and provide food and health aid for free to the neighboring people of Cucuta.

But by then, the senator for Florida had already arrived in Miami, where he continued to repeat, in another press conference, the same lies about Venezuela.

Of course, the also member of the anti-Cuban mafia has a recognized record as a mythomaniac.

In October 2011, Sen. Marco Rubio was publicly accused in U.S. as a liar for having decieved with political purposes about his Cuban parents’ arrival in Florida after Fidel Castro’s takeover. However, press reports revealed that the parents of the senator left Cuba for the United States in 1956, under the government of Batista.

Rubio’s father was a barman and travelled to the northern country for economic reasons. Fidel Castro was not even in Cuba when Rubio’s family left the country. The story was initially reported by the St.Petersburg Times daily.

Marco Rubio arrived in Cucuta, stirred up and fled. Apparently, he will not attend the “War without Borders” concert, due to take place in that city on Feb. 22. Whereas Colombia’s President Ivan Duque has announced his presence, maybe he cares about the problems in Cucuta that his superior in Washington didn’t see.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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My phrase of the day? We are Continuity (+ Photos and Video)

The phrase surrounds and inspires me. It comes to me full of that sense this Sunday in which we all, like a vegetable stew or rainbow, are continuity and say Yes for Cuba.

And it can’t be another for someone who has already received the warning of her 7-year-old son since Saturday: mom, there’s no school the day we have to vote Yes for Cuba, but wake me up early to accompany you. And the news from her daughter aged 9: mom, I must be ready at 6 o’clock, because Liani and I will go to guard the ballot boxes. That is, in my house, it is very clear: We are continuity.

But then I arrived at the Polling Station to exercise my right to vote and the first thing I found there was this couple. He was holding her arm with such candor that I only thought of one possibility: he’s her grandson. But he wasn’t, he was a neighbor and the fact is that solidarity is a daily thing in Cuba and emotions await you in any corner, so when I listed to the spontaneous words of Carmen on Fidel, the Revolution and our President Diaz Canel, I looked at her and my chest swelled up.

“I vote for my Revolution”, says Carmen and José Manuel assures: “As Cuban it is my duty to ratify the Fundamental Law of the Republic, which is a necessary document to ratify the continuity of the Revolution”. The Revolution of Carmen and José Miguel (who could be her grandson) is the same. In other words, in my neighborhood: We are continuity.

The phrase surrounds and inspires me. The phrase comes to me full of that meaning this Sunday in which we all, like a vegetable stew or rainbow, are continuity and say Yes for the will to progress, grow, evolve always embracing essences, loyal to the Revolution with all and for the good of all.



Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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REFERENDUM FOR THE CONSTITUTION: The Strength is in the Neighborhood

This polling place in one of the neighborhoods of Cojímar is one of thousands across the country; it might seem insignificant to the national panorama, but in fact its lack of great singularities can give a perfect idea on the nation’s mood.

«There hasn’t been the slightest of problems here, Mr. journalist. Everything has gone as expected. At this hour, noon, almost everybody has already voted. We’ll count the votes in the afternoon. I am sure the Constitution will be approved here», comments one of the members at the board.

The urn, as it’s already tradition, is escorted by pioneers. «When I was a little girl, in capitalism, at the very few elections I witnessed, it was the military who decided. Polling places seemed barracks. I believe it was Fidel who had this wonderful idea: that children, as a symbol of purity, watch over the urns. My husband is physically impaired, these same pioneers will shortly go to the house so that he can vote», says Rosa Pereira who just moved in to Havana and for the first time exercises her right in this city.

For Esnaida Moncada, neighbor of this area for over thirty years, this is a unique moment: «I was very young when the other Constitution was approved, coming to vote more than forty years later for a new constitution is a privilege that I don't know if I’ll ever have again. Do you know why I am here? For three reasons: because I have civic responsibility, because I am a follower of Martí and Fidel, and because I want to support our new president. Did you watch the message passed in television yesterday? Very pretty, very heartfelt, speaking to people with simplicity and respect. This president is in the streets! We must support him in these complex times.

Exiting the polling place, one of the children who waited his time to salute next to the urn asked his mother:

—Why I cannot vote?

—Because you are very small yet, you will have your chance one day. But don't worry, I vote for you and for me.

—At least please allow me to put the ballot in the box for you.

And so they did.

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Raul Castro Votes in Cuban Referendum

The First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raul Castro, voted this Sunday in the referendum on the new Constitution of the Republic.

The Army general went to an electoral college in Playa municipality in Havana to endorse the constitution approved in December by the National Assembly of Popular Power.

After depositing his ballot, the leader spoke with the pioneers (primary and middle school students) who guarded the polls and with the members of the polling station.

Raul Castro headed the parliamentary commission responsible for drafting the Constitution, which is the result of the contribution of the population, expressed in more than 780,000 proposals, many of them incorporated into the text, which came out of a consultation in which nearly nine million people participated.

  • Published in Cuba

An Auction of Havana Cigars in Cuba Surpasses One Million Euros

Havana, Feb 23 (Prensa Latina) An auction of Premium Cuban cigars collected one million 505 thousand euros this Saturday during the closure of the XXI Habano Festival, which was attended by 2,200 people from 70 countries.

The event closed in the early hours of the morning, and the participants had the opportunity to bid for seven lots of beautiful humidors made of cedar, loaded with the best high royalty tobaccos of the moment, an event that took place at the Pabexpo fairgrounds.

The humidor dedicated to the San Cristobal brand in Havana raised 175 thousand euros, followed by H.Upmann with 150 thousand. In the case of Romeo and Juliet, the bid ended at 200,000 euros, and that of Montecristo at 220,000.

The most attractive and high-priced were those of Trinidad and Cohiba, with 300,000 euros each. The closing night was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Trinidad brand.

This edition of the Festival had among its fundamental aspects the brand San Cristobal de La Habana, because this 2019 all the meetings here point to the 500 years of the capital, to be held next November 16.

During the night and closing dawn, the Habano of the Year Awards were also presented, which for this opportunity had a predominance of Cubans, when Justo Emilio Luis Rodriguez, Gabriel Estrada Business and Zoe Nocedo Communication achieved it in Production.

The final data of this smoke festival indicated that Cuban companies accumulated the greatest number of prizes delivered in the Convention Palace of this capital (hours before) during the closing of the XXI Trade Fair.

This was also the moment to recognize the winning team of the second World Challenger International contest, the team from Italy, a contest that proves knowledge about Premium Cuban cigars.

The Prize in the category of Modular Design Stand went to Tecnoazucar and the Mention to La Estancia S.A., in terms of Free Design Stand the primordial position was for Brascuba Cigarrillos S.A., and the mentions to Promocigar and Havana Club International.

In addition, the organizing committee recognized the company Arca, Empresa de Envases para el Tabaco (Tobacco Packaging Company) of this country.

As for the Most Visited Stand, the award was won by Comercial Iberoamericana and the Integral Communication Award went to the extra Cuban hotel company Palmares S.A.

During the words at the conclusion of the Fair, the co-president of the international corporation Habanos S.A., Inocente Nuñez, pointed out as a final fact that 260 exhibitors from 12 countries were present at the Commercial Fair of the Festival, a figure that surpasses previous editions.

The organizers qualified this meeting as the one with the highest attendance, and they hope that in the future the participation and interest of firms from all over the world will increase. The XXII edition of the Festival will take place from 24 to 28 February 2020 in this city as well.

Havana cigars are known by those who understand them as the best Premium cigar on the planet due to the triple condition of the soil, climate and experience of the producers.

  • Published in Cuba

Secretary of Council of State says Cubans see themselves reflected in new Constitution

Havana, February 23(RHC)-- Homero Acosta, Secretary of the Council of State, said the people see themselves reflected in the country’s new Constitution, which they helped to write.

More than eight million Cubans are called to the polls this Sunday, February 24th to either ratify or reject the country’s new Magna Carta, which was approved by the National Assembly of People’s Power in late December.

Acosta, who is also a Cuban deputy, insisted that if ratified by the people, the new Magna Carta would be enforced, replacing the one enacted since 1976.

Nearly nine million Cubans on the island -- those serving abroad and Cubans residing abroad participated in the public debates -- contributed more than 700 thousand proposals for modifications, additions or eliminations, most of which were later included in the final version that will be submitted to Sunday’s referendum.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares


  • Published in Cuba

What has Happened in Latin America? Understanding the Imperial Counteroffensive

With the essay "The imperial geopolitics of the development in Latin America: an overcome model?", Cuban researchers Yazmín Bárbara Vázquez Ortiz and Olga Rosa González Martínez, from the Center of Hemispheric Studies and the United States of Havana University have just won the International Prize of Essay Pensar a Contracorriente, in its XVI edition. With talked to them, to understand the imperial avalanche and reconquest in the region, as well as the chances for the left-wing to face this challenge. And we do this at a key moment: when threats of an armed intervention on behalf of the United States or of a fratricidal war, they are enraged with the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela.

Which are in bold strokes, the mechanisms that characterize the imperial geopolitical positioning in Latin America, from the perspective of the development?

Yazmín: To speak of the Model of Imperial Geopolitical of Development, we must specify, above all that it’s a group of mechanisms that work together, and have not just an economic nature. Although they include the Free Trade Treaties, the Aid Development Programs (with domestic scope like FORTAS and International like those of USAID), those mechanisms applied in the cultural dominance are also essential to understand the reach that have, in the field of dominance and political subversion, the model we are speaking about.

For example, the articulation of messages issued from the media, international consultant, think tanks, and international institutions like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, with more or less technical level have in two impact directions. The first one, to discredit the programs, the politics generated from governments or left-wing forces, those who think of a future of human and social development from the socialization of the wealth and power, with transformations that must be done to this purpose, in every geographic levels and structural dimensions and of needed social actions that are transformed in essential processes. The second, aimed at socializing and building up approval about alternative proposals to these on-line with the interests at heart of transnational capital and the imperial project of the United States government.

What’s striking about these action guidelines, especially the second one is the way to build approval that uses conceptions (what to understand by development), values (how to guide the individual behavior to achieve it), ideals (what project should the family and society bet to progress) which has as essential objective the dispute of senses for the cultural change. A process that has won over the symbols, speech, and practices that from the left-wing have shown capacity to mobilize society for the political change. Olguita may speak further on how a model of political communication for the cultural change have taken shape from the action of the aforementioned mechanisms and others, more aggressive that are in motion today.

That same way of acting, I assume has been toward the entire region, but taking into account particularities and specific objectives in each country. How has it been expressed especially against the progressive and liberating processes of the region, and among them, against the Bolivarian Revolution?

Yazmín: The particularity that has had the application of these mechanisms in countries with progressive and liberating processes has been, on one side, the insert of a series of instruments that hinder the realization of the development programs, as well as of politics set with this end and on the other hand, the combination of all these with those politics aimed at guaranteeing “the necessary political changes to access development.”

In the first case, beyond the media offensive to damage the reputation of the programs, plans and politics for the development, boycott processes,—economic war (like in Venezuela), the blockade (like in Cuba)—, juridical instruments have been set, sanctions with international reach, manipulation of international institutions, as they did to lower oil prices with OPEC. All of which seeks to create certain lacks of materials and other elements from which later the uneasiness is worked, along with the “need” of change and ideas on how to do it. Very similar to Danny Glover’s statements on the U.S. position towards Venezuela today: I create the problem, I attack you and then I will come to save you. Only that this salvation is designed and conditioned on the needs of the great capital to enter our economies and the United States guarantees an area of geopolitical support against China, Russia and the challenges they impose to the perpetuation of the imperial hegemony.

To the mechanisms that are already articulated to those mentioned seeking to guarantee “the necessary political changes to access development”, have been added those that are included in the promotion of security, as condition of development from the Initiatives for security deployed in the continent. From these last mechanisms it has been worked the criminalization of the social protest, to eliminate those they cannot convince, those who fight against transnationals and their expropriation processes. Likewise, the processes of “institutional strengthening” have worked through actions of “independent” attorney’s offices, in processes of judicialization of politics that invalidates left leaders like Lula, with chances of recovering the government, or the case of Cristina, Correa that during their time in office limited the capacity to expropriate the natural resources in the countries they governed and they impacted in their rescue for the social progress, with nationalizations.

Today we have corporations meddling in government functions and in the mechanisms of alleged integration as the Initiative for Prosperity and Security of the Northern Triangle. The corporation of politics is part of what promotes the Model of Imperial Geopolitics of Development, together with civic and community empowering, but only in the economic area, as labor force or entrepreneurs subordinate to the chains of global value.

A proposal where many and dissimilar actors participate: ranging from agencies and foundations of the United States, think tanks, churches, corporations, among other that act at territorial, national and regional level.

This process promotes since 2017, as part of the actions of the South Command in Latin America, Internet, the coordination of the mechanisms aforementioned by North American military forces. It’s part of the scheme applied in Venezuela in an attempt to create approval to legitimate the intervention for the national political change.

After studying this phenomenon, what do you think the left-wing in Latin America can do to face and overcome this challenge?

Olguita: I don’t intend this to be a unique answer neither to offer a recipe, I believe the most important thing is that the left-wing comes together, that works in block that makes a balance of its mistakes and that elaborates projections in different areas. Latin America has proven in the last few years that it’s not just reaching the government via elections. It’s about once the Executive Power is attain a process of revolutionary radicalization must occur in the broadest sense of the word. Like Che Guevara said, “the enemy must not be given an inch”. There are spaces that cannot be given freely, it’s necessary to speak to people, to work with the lowest ranks, in the neighborhoods, to speak face to face. The media is important, social media are useful, but the space within the community cannot be lost, there is where the right-wing and the United States have been working hard. Everyone who is strategically thinking of its future should go beyond the debate of public policies and include all the actors who influence in the creation of approval and the mobilization.

  • Published in Specials
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