Cubans compete in global race for health

Cuban police officer Jorge Luis Suarez has chased and captured a fair few criminals in his 26 years on the force. But it's his participation in the country's marathons that really showcases his enviable running skills and physical condition.

A police captain on the verge of turning 48, Suarez is a four-time winner of the Marabana, Cuba's top international marathon.

On Sunday, he competed in Run 24:1, a global race organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to celebrate the upcoming Global Running Day - held annually on the first Wednesday in June - and champion healthy habits.

The race spans the globe, featuring one-mile runs in 24 cities across different time zones in a 24-hour period.

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This year's edition covered 16 different time zones, starting in Fiji and continuing through Beijing, Delhi, Gaza, Copenhagen, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Bogota, Mexico City, Havana and Atlanta, among other cities.

Olympic and world champions were among the several hundred people gathered at the starting line along Havana's emblematic Paseo del Prado promenade, in the city's historic downtown area.

"This is Cuba's total support for this effort by the IAAF - to move, to walk for quality of life and, above all, for people's health," two-time Olympic champion Alberto Juantorena told Xinhua.

Juantorena, who won the 400- and 800-meter races at the 1976 Montreal Games, organized the local leg of 24:1 as president of the Cuban Athletics Federation.

More than a race, the event encourages running or walking one mile, equal to 1,609 meters, to help promote an active lifestyle, according to high jump world record holder and Olympic silver medalist Javier Sotomayor, who served as captain of the event.

"Cuba was chosen as a venue for the second time, mostly because of the results and massive participation we had last year," said Sotomayor.

Olympic champion in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Dayron Robles expressed Cuba's belief that "sport is health and that is a principle."

"Running has become an ideology and I think it is important, because it is a way to seek peace or tranquility after the stress of work," said Robles.

On Wednesday, the IAAF convened the ministries of sports and education, as well as all its member federations, to celebrate Global Running Day by organizing a one-mile race for children in elementary schools and local sports clubs.

Friday will see the closing event, with a symbolic race in the Principality of Monaco, with the participation of local sports authorities, along with IAAF council and staff members and several sporting figures.

In 2018, more than 120,000 people participated in the first edition of Run 24:1, starting at the Silverdale Elementary School in Auckland, New Zealand, and ending in Vancouver, on Canada's west coast.

  • Published in Sports

Cruise line Carnival seeks dismissal of U.S. lawsuits over Cuba docks

Cruise line Carnival Corp is asking a U.S. court to dismiss lawsuits that claim the company profited from confiscated Cuban property, the first such cases brought since the Trump administration made them possible this month.

Two U.S. citizens who claim to hold titles to the Havana and Santiago de Cuba ports that were nationalized by Cuba after Fidel Castro’s 1959 leftist revolution filed suits against Carnival in U.S. District Court in Florida in early May for docking there.

That came after the Trump administration announced a long dormant and controversial section of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act would take effect on May 2, allowing U.S. citizens to sue Cuban entities and foreign firms over confiscated Cuban property.

The law is part of a broader attempt by the United States to pressure Cuba over its support for Venezuela’s embattled government by taking aim at Havana’s beleaguered economy.

Cuba sought to reassure foreign investors at an event in Havana on Friday, saying only four lawsuits had been filed so far, despite the United States saying there could be hundreds of thousands. The European Union and Canada have said they will use blocking legislation to protect their companies.

“Helms-Burton has no application here,” according to a filing in the case by Carnival on Thursday. “First, by its own terms, trafficking under Helms-Burton does not include uses of property ‘incident to lawful travel to Cuba’.”

These cases could set a precedent, especially in the travel industry. Some lawyers like Carnival’s say the travel exemption should shield U.S. cruise lines and airlines doing business with Cuba under licenses granted by former President Barack Obama during the two countries’ brief 2014-2016 detente.

But U.S. courts could determine the travel they facilitate is tourism and violates the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

“The fulcrum for determining the outcome of all travel-related lawsuits will be whether there has been tourism,” said John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council Inc.

Carnival also disputed the ownership of the two U.S. citizens who are descendants of original owners. Their lawyers did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Increased U.S. hostility, more than Helms-Burton, is affecting foreign companies operating in Cuba, said Xulio Fontecha, head of the Association of Spanish Businesses in Cuba (AEEC), at the event in Havana.

Banks in Panama and Costa Rica had closed the accounts of some customers in recent months and courier services were declining to send documents to Cuba, he said.

“The problem goes far beyond Title III, which we condemn of course,” he said, referring to the section of the Helms-Burton Act that permits the lawsuits.

Some Spanish companies also received a letter from a group in Florida warning them of potentially being complicit in violations of human and labour rights, he said.

The ambassador of the European Union, Alberto Navarro, said the bloc would continue to seek to expand business with Cuba, defying the U.S. hostility.

He encouraged Cuban reforms to make the island more attractive to foreign investors and offset disincentives created by the Trump administration policy.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba makes history with its first Little League champion, takes first step toward making World Series

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT-Cuba has its first Little League Baseball champion.

A team from Havana defeated Pinar-del-Rio, 18-1, to advance to the Caribbean regional tournament in Curacao July 13-20. This is the first year Cuba has had chartered Little Leagues.

Havana won out over 16 teams in the Cuban national tournament that was held following the conclusion of the regular season in that country.

Little League President and DEP Stephen D. Keener tweeted: “Congratulations to the Havana kids and coaches…history made today.

“First Cuban champions to earn a mid-July trip to Curacao for the Caribbean Regional tournament with dreams of Williamsport and the Little League World Series.”

The tournament was held now to give Little League time to make the needed preparations to get the Cubans to Curacao, spokesman Kevin Fountain said.

  • Published in Sports

NEWSPAPER OF THE BIENNIAL: Rachel Valdés Sinks us in Blue

Immersion, the work that the artist placed in Havana Malecon Avenue is one of the most popular proposals in the project Behind the Wall.

Rachel Valdés returns to this XIII Biennial of Havana with another mirrors game, another recreation of dreamlike ambience that reshape what we call “the reality.”

Her piece Immersion, seating in the Havana Malecon Avenue as part of the project Behind the Wall, proposes the spectator another revealing game: looking at the context (our context) through a glass that becomes a metaphor in itself.

The angle, the light, the color… shapes our vision of the world; they can, in fact, get to establish other parallel realities: the realm of virtuality.

The idea is to distort the landscape, but not to overwhelm the spectator, but to enlarge his perspectives: the goal of Immersion is in the end the goal of all art; there is something else, unspeakable that enriches existence, another dimension that exists because we dream of it and make real… Life is the sum of all things and the way of thinking them.

People need to escape from their circumstances once in a while… or at least “adorn them”: therefore Rachel Valdes’s work has gone so popular. The well-known landscape that occupies, to which we must add the living landscape that surrounds it —from inside this minimalist structure, also if you look at it from outside—sunk in a blue dream.

Rachel cares about beauty, but an essential beauty, unaware to sterile baroque styles.

After the Biennial is over the work will integrate the art collection of Havana, paying homage to the 500th years of the city: it will rest at the Real Fuerza Castle, so that it serves as wonderful passageway between environments and conceptions.  

Blessed be Havana

His first novel “Mantilla?: After La Palma” caused furor and it was literally razed from the book stores, in such a way that Extramuros editions already presented a second edition, which can be found nowhere neither.

Antonio Arroyo gave to us “Blessed Havana” (Cuban editions, Artex), which fits perfectly with the next 500 anniversary of our metropolis.

This author, actor, theater director and TV presenter continued his researches that took him to direct the documental dedicated to the Bishop of Espada, in order to go deeper even more in the Cuban capital of the XIX Century, where for this novel, he quote the mentioned Bishop and the doctor Tomás Romay, both in parallel stories with people from Havana at the present time, showing their dreams and difficulties.

Tony Arroyo, as we his friends call him, is remembered due to his participation in films such as “El Brigadista” (1977) and “Border Guards” (1988), to which he was called by Octavio Cortázar, the director.

The discovery of a gold chain, with a crucifix set in sapphires and diamonds, hidden for more than one hundred years, in Guanabacoa and auctioned in New York, unties the conflict of this appetizing presentation of the successful writer.

Lola Alegría, Alejandro, Sandra, Marina y Leonid are from the capital’s everydayness, giving life to the stories that happens while we read (with avidity I ensure it you) this volume.
Good reading!

  • Published in Culture

40th Havana Film Festival Came to An End

The 40th Havana International Film Festival concluded on Sunday with the screening in this capital of several of the award-winning films.

The present edition, held from December 6 to 16, exhibited in Cuba 373 films from 40 countries and awarded a Coral of Honor to Mexican producer Bertha Navarro and a Special Coral to the Sundance Institute of the United States.

The list of personalities of the seventh art in Havana included Serbian director Emir Kusturica; North Americans Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Moore, Matt Dillon, Spanish Iciar Bollain and Scot Paul Laverty.

Moore showed in Cuba his new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9, in which he accuses the president of his country, Donald Trump, of destroying the American dream.

While Dillon presented the most current creation of Danish director Lars von Trier, The House That Jack Built, about a serial killer embodied by the actor himself.

Argentinean director Tristan Bauer brought here an urgent work: El camino de Santiago. Desaparición y muerte de Santiago Maldonado (The Way of Santiago. Disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado), a documentary that moved the jury of the 40th Havana Film Festival; because it granted the documentary a Special award.

This year 20 feature films, 18 raw operas, 25 documentaries, 22 shorts and medium-length films, 26 animated films, 19 unpublished scripts, 24 posters and seven films in post-production competed for the Coral Prize.

Some of the winning pieces were Pájaros de verano (Summer Birds), by Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego (Colombia, Mexico, Denmark, France), opera prima Retablo (Peru, Germany and Norway), by Alvaro Delgado and Aparicio L; and Inocencia (Innocence), by Alejandro Gil (Cuba).

The latter, won the Audience Award of the 40th edition, and among the distinguished films also stood out Joel, by Argentine director Carlos Sorin (Script Coral Award), and La noche de 12 años (A Twelve-Year Night), by Uruguayan Alvaro Brechner (Sound and Edition Coral Awards).

Both films obtained most of the Festival's Collateral Awards and, in addition, La noche de 12 años won the Glauber Rocha Prize awarded by Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina and the awards granted by Casa de las Américas and Radio Habana Cuba, the latter with the name of Roque Dalton.

Within the 40th edition of the event, several seminars took place, including one about its four decades of history, to reflect on the future of Latin American cinema, and another dedicated to outstanding Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea (1928-1996), aka Titon.

Likewise, the event paid tribute to one of its founders, Argentinean filmmaker Fernando Birri, who died in December 2017.

The section of Galas exhibited feature films already awarded at several international events such as Yuli, of Bollain, and Roma (Rome), by Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, the winner this year of the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival with this piece.

The cinemas were crowded every day, the public was not intimidated by the inclemency of the weather, nor by the long queues, and still, some were not able to enter certain sessions, due to the saturation of the room; normal, rather traditional scenes of this festival.

  • Published in Culture

Havana will be re-launched as a renewed tourist destination

The 500th anniversary of Havana will be the opportunity to relaunch the capital as a renewed and updated tourist destination, said Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.

Marrero said in recent statements to the weekly magazine Opciones that they take advantage of major events to update the tourism product and make new investments that contribute to development, and the half a millennium of the town of San Cristobal is no exception.

He said that in the country are averaged about five thousand new rooms for this year, and in the case of the capital, from this time until next year, must be put into operation 12 new accommodation facilities.

Marrero Cruz commented that most will be small and medium buildings, using houses with heritage values, such as Portales de Paseo and others with tourism prospects given to them by the Government.

Now we are going through a process of recovery and transformation to convert them into hotels of medium-high standard, and are promoted works in several locations in the Siboney neighborhood, Miramar, as well as the so-called Blue Vedado, in the Plaza de la Revolución.

The development program itself will also allow, before November 2019, the opening in Old Havana of the Prado y Malecón hotel, the Gran Hotel, and the Cueto.

He commented that in Havana there are more than 12 thousand rooms, but more than half of them have a three-star category, which is why the new investments are aimed precisely at incorporating a very competitive hotel plant such as the Kempinski Manzana and the Packard.

The change of image is one of the most important processes in cities that celebrate closed number anniversaries, in the case of the capital highlights, above all, the large investment that is made in the recovery of heritage, he said.

He said that in the extra-hotel network there are several facilities that in one way or another renew their product, an aspect in which the Palmares Group works.

It is planned to repair units such as La Cecilia, El Floridita, La Bodeguita del Medio, El Gato Tuerto and La Ferminia, a very nice restaurant but with a not very competitive product, he said.

The restaurant Don Cangrejo will be transformed into a club of high level, with gastronomic service of high category, it has a magnificent swimming pool next to the sea, however today it is limited to some nocturnal activities and to the gastronomy, he explained.

He added that the technically closed La Giraldilla recreational centre will become a family, recreation and leisure product.

For the 500th anniversary of the city, the Ministry also proposed to rehabilitate the old discotheque of the Comodoro Hotel, which has been closed for many years.

Hacienda Guanabito, located in Guanabo, will have a total restoration that will include peasant houses and a stable that will allow customers to enjoy a Creole atmosphere.

He announced that there is a plan to transform tourist shops such as Primera and B, in the Vedado, and the Palacio de Artesanía, in the Historic Center.

In the case of the Marina Hemingway will continue the work, while in the Marina Tarará there is an extensive program that will promote the change of image and products, he said.

He added that the Tourism Plan for Havana's anniversary has around 40 actions of broad magnitude and interaction, either in the construction of facilities or in total transformations.

More than 50 percent of the visitors that arrive to the Island do so through the capital; practically Havana defines the image of tourism in Cuba, commented the Minister of Tourism.

  • Published in Cuba

Greek Cinema Exhibition to Be Presented in Havana

Havana, Sep 19 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Cinemateca will exhibit from September 19 to 23 a Greek film exhibition to promote here some of the best works of that filmography, according to its organizers.

The Greek ambassador to Cuba, Stella Bezirtzoglou, the main promoter of the project, has assured that in her country the cinema of the island has authentic fans and Cuban audiovisuals are appreciated every year in different cities.

However, Greek films have not been presented in Cuba for years, said the official who, in order to change that reality, gathered the present exhibition with seven fiction feature films, a documentary and a short film.

The cycle will be inaugurated tomorrow with the screening in Cinema 23 and 12 of the film The Greek (2007), by director Yannis Smaragdis, a biographical approach to the life of the painter whose very personal style had a profound impact on people at the end of the Renaissance.

The work is the most expensive in the history of Greek cinema and used Vangelis' musical score.

The exhibition will also show the film that, according to specialists, represents the birth of a Golden Age of Greek cinema, Stella (1955), by Mihalis Kakogiannis, and the director Theo Angelopoulos Eternity and a Day, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

  • Published in Culture
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