Cuba clinches a berth in the semis after beating Venezuela

TIJUANA, México, August 14, 2014.- Cuba beat Venezuela and advanced to the semifinals after a five setter victory (23-25, 25-20, 25-26, 29-31, 15-6).

Javier Jimenez Scull, Rolando Cepeda and Osmani Uriarte, finished as top scorers for Cuba, as well as David Fiel and Isbel Mesa. Jiménez tallied 20 points, while Cepeda closed with 18. Fiel registered 15 and I Mesa 11.

For Venezuela, Kervin Pinerua leaded the attack with 23 points and also served four aces. Jesus Chourio closed  12 and a couple of aces, while Hector Salerno closed with 11.

Venezuela missed a service in the last set, while Cuba adjusted the blocking strategy.  However Cuba also missed one service and failed in a reception play that gave the advantage to the South American squad. “We suffered a lot in this match, but we won in the end. That was the most important thing. We have won matches in five sets with a young squad, with some mistakes, but I think as long as we move on, we can solve that,” Cuban coach Rodolfo Luis Sanchez, stated.

“It was a good match, we started pretty well in the first set, but in the second and third the ball was on one side and another. We made serving mistakes and in many fundamentals. We won the fourth set with the heart, but after that there was nothing else,” said Venezuela’s coach Vincenzo Nacci.

“I think we could not block enough, but Cuba is a very strong team on the attack, and defending the ball. After that, there were some good moments but we began to get tired and could not get into rhythm”, Venezuelan captain Kervin Pinerua indicated.

“It was a good match. Venezuela was very strong in first and fourth sets. We worked hard on attack and service power to close with a win. Now we are ready to achieve a new goal, that is to win the championship as well as we remain in the World League,” Cuban captain Rolando Cepeda concluded.

  • Published in Sports

Washington: Plans against Cuba lay bare

This policy is part of that old U.S. behavior of dethroning all governments opposed to their projects of resources plundering, political dominance, and impoverishment of people…

This policy emerges from laws attempting to destroy the Cuban Revolution. Among them, there is one regarding the blockade, which has been harshly toughened by Obama by increasing the amount of fines to foreign banks operating in Cuba. But this is also part of that old U.S. behavior of deposing all governments opposed to their projects of resources plundering, political dominance, and impoverishment of people by means of subversion or war.

From 2002 to date, we have witnessed coup d’états attempts in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Indeed, coup d’états in Honduras and Paraguay were successfully accomplished. Actions aiming at financial and media destabilization have been also carried out against Argentina and Brazil. U.S. plans to overthrow Venezuelan government, relaunched in February 2014 and defeated (only postponed) by the active actions of Chavez´s supporters, meet all the elements of the so-called Fourth-generation war, prevailing element in the destabilization strategy of U.S. all over the world.

The US offensive against Russia and the siege over China are examples of highly-complex, versatile subversive actions, embedded in the rising of their aggressiveness and eagerness to maintain an already weaken dominance.

The most recent leaks about Cuba reveal the hiring of young Costa Ricans, Peruvians, and Venezuelans whose goals were to recruit possible dissidents in Cuban universities. These activists would later play the role of organizers of a “velvet” revolution. The AP has released the names of their top agents. When this project is linked to the mission of USAID contractor Alan Gross, currently serving a prison sentence in Cuba, and the so-called Zunzuneo, and Piramideo —Twitter-like social networks to unite thousands of Cuban people to carry out destabilization actions— it takes shape a very-well orchestrated plan to boost up a future rebellion in Cuba.

The AP already showed us that Mr. Alan Gross is not that noble Jewish man praised by the State Department, who brought internet to such religious community in Cuba. Although the trial proved convincingly all the crimes, it is relevant that the AP — the most renowned news agency in the U.S. — confirmed the facts: Gross was in Cuba installing communication technologies used by the Pentagon and the CIA, such activities violated gravely our national law and sovereignty. By the way, it is clear that Washington is not worried about the luck of the contractor as hypocritically states since the U.S. government has increased the number of subversive actions against Cuba.

Given the resounding failure to have created in the island an opposing force against the Revolution, the United States seems to have instead pushed forcefully for a rebellion led by young people. As they still have in prison three Cubans unfairly, they avoid risking their agents in Cuba and recrui young subcontractors from Latin America, who can deny their involvement in the future.

Victim of their irreversible inability to analyze the complex Cuban society, Washington behaves as if most of Cuban young people were not supporting the revolutionary process; as if they were not patriotic, determined to face any imperialist subversion plan even though the vision of some aspects of Cuban daily life can be regarded as critical.

The U.S. indecency reaches the limit when they even organized a workshop for the prevention of VIH/AIDS as a façade in their attempts to recruit young people in the University of Santa Clara. Cuba is the Caribbean country with less illness rate, much less than the U.S. themselves and Canada!

Cubasi Translation Staff

Carlos Acosta hopes to start Cuban ballet company

Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta says he aspires to open a dance company on the island after retiring from The Royal Ballet of London.

Acosta told the Communist Party newspaper Granma for a Monday article that he'd like to form a small company along neoclassical and contemporary lines.

The 41-year-old is among the world's top ballet dancers. He was one of 11 children born to a poor Havana family and studied with the National Ballet of Cuba.

Acosta joined The Royal Ballet in 1998 and has been a principal guest artist since 2003. He is retiring from classical dance after the 2015-2016 season.

The dancer earlier toyed with the idea of rescuing the ruins of Havana's crumbling dance school and turning it into an international center for culture and dance.

  • Published in Culture

Let’s Hope Trova doesn't Fade Suddenly

Though there are several spaces dedicated to the trova movement, the musical likes of most youths today put growing distance today from those roots.

The Nueva Trova movement, born in the early years of the Cuban Revolution, transformed the aesthetics of song at world level. However, although there are several places dedicated to the trova movement, the musical likes of most youths today put growing distance today from those roots.

The reasons for the distancing can be many, although experts on the subject assure this is mainly to the influence of the products of a globalized music industry or the scarce promotion of author's song in the media.

Chronology of a random song

By mid XIX century, the trova appears in Cuba as an irregular phenomenon a byproduct of improvised song and other attempts of the popular music from the nineteenth century. After several periods, the genre acquires a tendency for the poetic creation and musicalized literature, represented in the voices of Sindo Garay, Manuel Corona, Alberto Villalón and other important singers.

Nowadays, the children of the nueva trova movement, the very new and contemporary, live within a single category of the song. However, it seems that so much diversity is not enough, because the young public feels less and less identified with the genre.

This is manifested in the results of a survey applied to a sample of fifty students at the University of Havana, where it was verified that most of interviewed are identified with pop music, hip-hop, and reggaeton, and they limit the spectrum of trova to the images of Silvio Rodríguez, and Pablo Milanes.

Same results were reflected for twenty students at Saúl Delgado High School, in Vedado neighborhood, and other ten youths from Rubén Martínez Villena secondary school. They expressed their preference for dance music like reggaeton, and they associated trova as something out of fashion or that only a minority of university students or intellectuals like.

The root of the phenomenon could be found in the insufficient popularization troubadours have in the media, as well as the nonexistence of a cultural strategy that prioritizes, without imposing likes, the presence of this genre.

The trova without criticism is not moving forward

Several press professionals take critical positions on this matter and they expose overtly the deficiencies of the process of cultural promotion.

Joaquín Borges Triana, journalist of El Caiman Barbudo, expressed that the media establishes a link of this type of songs with solemn moments and mournful dates, discarding works of excellent quality from their systematic musical programming.

In that sense, Michel Hernández, reporter for Granma Newspaper, affirmed that lately the application of domestic political-cultural strategy is not in correspondence with obligations of the artistic projects that, instead of presenting questions on reality and social dynamics, they offer the public musical products lacking a measuring and critical look.

«The objective of the communicators must be, in this environment, to have the media interested in a more alternative culture, authentic, inquiring more in our reality, supporting it and condition its recognition in the population, in an attempt to keep vital area of the Cuban creation», he added.

«It is not to censor reggaeton or any other genre, it is known the damage created by censorship in Cuba. It doesn’t mean either that everything within trova is good, there are also mediocre stuff everywhere, but if the media made known these projects more, perhaps many younger would attend to the sessions of troubadours, hence trova and these non-commercial spaces would not be practically a ghetto», affirmed Hernández.

On top of this appears the music critic which according to Borges Triana, undergoes its worst moments, just when there is a greater diversity of publications, either printed as digital. The cause falls into two fundamental questions: the absence of specialized magazines in music and the lack of specialized methodologies at the universities that could help to this opinion genre.

«The solution would be to design an educational system in which, maybe at graduate level, trains professionals with the elementary tools to make critic because journalists, a group I’m proud to belong to, doesn't usually masters the technical tools to carry it out, and the musicologists ignore the journalistic techniques to write it down», added the specialist.  

Another strong point to keep in mind is the likes of young audiences. Unfortunately trova is not near the top of the list, largely because of the cultural blending which takes place worldwide and it’s also felt in our country.

For Triana, nowadays with the boost of new technologies, the shaping of likes aims rather at the mp3, the flash memory, the exchange of information in digital support which in the long run become cultural and musical expressions with low aesthetic quality, regrettably those are the ones with greater consumption level by the large audiences.

«In most cases, these digital preferences drag youth to cognitive voids that can be found in other supports like books, and limits the enjoyment of good poetry because of the absence of a previous preparation for it», he concluded.  

Another explanation given by the journalist and director of Caiman Barbudo magazine, he affirmed that «most of the media have used simplistic and misleading media concepts of what art is, even how to assimilate music as art. The first thing to do is teaching people the melodic richness and how to appreciate it, then rebuild the promotion mechanisms of trova».

He says trova has never had a mechanism for making the video clips, and it’s incredible that the trova movement doesn't have a foundation like that of rock, rap, and hip hop.

Promotion strategies

Promotion strategies are arranged among the artists, the Company they are member of, the Cuban Institute of Music (CIM), and the media.

Natasha Vázquez, head specialist of Communication at the CIM, alleged that despite the prioritized treatment to troubadours, promotion projects don't usually bring the desired effect. The blame can be put to a bad administration of the musical companies, the indifference of artists toward these issues or the lack of intent in the way of disclosing certain artistic manifestations in the media.

Vázquez stressed the last option, expressing that the very few times the media repeat the information, that regarding trova, are presented in the press conferences given by the CIM at the end of every month.

«On the other hand, domestic newspapers give little space to cultural matters, and music is not always the most mentioned. Radio stations are more receptive with the singer and songwriters, but themselves minimizes the used of 99 existent radio stations in Cuba. Artists prefer instead the screen, without realizing that proposals broadcasted there are lower in number, air time and weekly frequency in comparison with other options», added the specialist.

Yet for the freshly graduate Paola Cabrera there’s another angle to the existing problem: «Troubadours like those “trova-addicts” many times lack the will or the tools to be noticed. I know many troubadours with interesting musical proposals, with chances of getting inside the market (the music market is not just disk selling, but the capacity to summon the public) and they don't take advantage of it since they don't understand that their work is not just the creation but also the promotion of their work».

«Maybe, the problem lies in the troubadour’s philosophy, he is a musician of the so-called counterculture that seeks an art far from the demands of the market, but it must be re-evaluated. Well staying away from the market means losing the possibility of increasing the amount of people that approach this kind of music», asserted.

On the other hand, Michel Hernández considers that troubadours need to look for popularization strategies using new technologies and experiment sometimes with other trends that use not only the guitar, seeking a catch without quitting the song.  

In an article written by Bladimir Zamora, troubadour Tony Ávila reveals that his generation is afraid of taking risks, it needs to rescue itself from isolation and act in self-defense, since nobody will do it for us.

The music critic Joaquín Borges Triana says that to solve this situation that trova and troubadours live today doesn't depend on a single institution, but on a systemic work where all sides work together: the media (the radio, the TV), the presentation spaces where culture is made live and the very musicians.

An image is worth more than a thousand songs

The disadvantage of troubadours on TV in contrast with other creators is demonstrated in a couple of figures presented by Maricela Lastra, Musical Programs of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television.

According to Lastra the number of musical programs reaches 16 at present distributed in the different channels of the Cuban Television, but only four show troubadours “Cuerda Viva”, coproduced wit Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS), “Piso 6”, “23 y M” and “Entre Amigos” the two latter have one-time guests.

«This limits the expansion platforms of the new voices of the trova movement that at times prefer to switch to other genres with more presence in the media», said the ICRT official.

Other experts proposed interesting angles. For example, Caridad Zayas, scriptwriter for Cuerda Viva show, affirmed that excessive segmentation of music is not advisable in a media as massive as television. She proposed, to create spaces with a balance capable of drawing the public’s attention and give a space to diversity of the Cuban song in the entire TV listing.

«That’s where the media would play the role of communicative innovators that associate the artistic production with the current context and the stereotypes of youth», assured Zayas.

Troubadours like Charly Salgado when asked about the spaces that promote the song in the media, he warned that «programs should not be made to meet a goal of amount of hours and broadcast it on a channel but with the objective of showing with an interesting and novel view the song, the trova and its creators. To do it otherwise would unleash a negative promoting effect ».

Subsidize the trova movement?

Borges Triana says «today the ups and downs of life lead us to the fact that the culture to be preserved has to be negotiated, independent, to be subsidized by itself. That means that certain things that had more affordable prices, even things that were free today are not anymore and I think this will increase in coming times».

«It is part of a process we are living that is called the upgrade of the economic model. Although I think the State will preserve certain cultural expressions and will favor the traditional art, the symphonic and chamber world which are expressions bound to the law of offer/demand of the market or else they’d die, but other manifestations must find a way of contributing to its survival from the material point of view; that is what is happening to the trova», he said.

However, the also cultural promoter, Fidel Díaz Castro, sustains that the poetry, with this phenomenon of reggaeton should not be charged until a like for the genre is created in the public. «What is happening at present is that instead of promoting cultural mechanisms that help troubadours against this competition the Ministry of Culture facilitates spaces where every day the access to poetry and trova is more expensive ».  

«It is necessary on the contrary to make a deep investment in the ideology in the broader sense of the word, to invest in the best of the authentic culture because a pseudo-culture has been internationalized that sells itself», asserted Díaz Castro.

Michel Contreras says that with the new economic design many projects of trova have been reduced to night clubs with quite expensive prices like the Bertolt Brecht, El Sauce, where popular troubadours perform like Tony Ávila, Ray Fernandez, among others, but people cannot see them because they can’t afford it. On the other hand, the large outdoor gigs are lost, those of Casa de las Americas and at theaters, he pointed out.

Likewise, Iroel Sanchez, one of the directors of the cultural space La Pupila Asombrada, believes necessary the existence of politics that connect the aesthetic vanguards with the people and with important sectors of society. «We have the inverted pyramid model in society and regrettably creation is being subordinated to those who can pay, whom in the end impose their likes».

«Hence, the space La Pupila Asombrada that takes place the last Friday of every month is free. It is a cultural project of Fidel Díaz Castro, the Young Communist League, Journalism Institute that is not limited to trova, but to the music that is not subordinated to the market. Troubadours like Raúl Torres, Gerardo Alfonso, Diego Gutiérrez have participated».

«This space is an effort to demonstrate that those values. Trova can be seductive if promoted appropriately and that people are not enemy of committed contents, but rather we have to present them in an attractive way», said Sánchez.

From the positions of the different specialists it shows the concern to attain a successful promotion of trova and its members. There are several matters to solve if this and other worth manifestations of art are to be salvaged. But it’s pointless to identify the possible problems if not act accordingly. Our country promoter of the best culture should reassess priorities and to counterattack the foreign options with projects of rediscovery of our roots and potentialities.

So that the trova movement doesn't fade suddenly it’s mandatory to create affordable spaces for everyone, where the one and true culture is proposed, the culture of the people. The other fact, the commercial issue created in making-money labs, not only affects the artistic capacity of creators, but the youth that is at risk of getting used to live without poetry.

  • Published in Culture

U.S. Painter: "In my Soul I am Cuban"

Visiting Cuba to inaugurate a collective exhibition of abstract paintings of nine Afro-American artists, the outstanding painter Ben Jones talked exclusively with Cubasí...  

He was born and lives in the United States, but he carries a small island in the heart and he dedicates part of his amazing energy to give the best of him: art. Ben Jones is a creator well aware of his origin, committed with his time and authentic as only possible under those norms.

I arrived at the National Museum of Fine Arts to meet one of the most outstanding Afro-American artists and I found a simple man who with extraordinary modesty spoke in Spanish more about the other rather than of himself.

The purpose of this visit to Cuba was to inaugurate a collective exhibition where nine of his Afro-American colleagues who work abstraction participate:

"For many years I have had the idea of bringing an exhibition of Afro-American artists with great careers in the United States and the world. I wanted those artists to be working in abstraction. I don't think the fine Arts Museum has had an exhibition like this before. The exhibition is really small, but it’s got a lot of history because it’s the first one… besides, abstract art is a universal language, its color, its texture, its composition, images, it’s like when you are listening to music that has no theme, it’s universal."

Jones also lives art as a vehicle to share and multiply man’s ideas and purposes of the revolutionary man he is that’s why he traveled alone: There are many people in the United States who want to visit Cuba, I had more than a hundred of people from all over the U.S. who wanted to come with me for the exhibition, from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, different cities. Most of them are museum directors, curators, collectors, art professors, art critics, plastic art artists… two jazz musicians also came with us, and they gave a concert with Cuban jazz players".

Ben Jones travels to Cuba more than once every year and he appreciates of this land much more than its art: "I am very much in favor of the Cuban Revolution, I support the Cuban Revolution, many of the people who came with me are interested in Cuba, in their people, in their culture… "

In fact, he works to strengthen a relationship he considers essential: "I think it’s very important the exchange between the people of the United States and Cuba, as I was telling you, in my country there are a lot of people who want to know Cuba, but U.S. laws don’t allow all North Americans to visit Cuba, then people working at cultural institutions, art museums, universities have the possibility to come, but only for these sort of activities, but am I trying for all North Americans, because when I tell people “I’m leaving for the Dominican Republic", they tell me "oh, have a nice trip", if I say “I’m leaving for Puerto Rico", they tell me "have a nice trip", but when I say “I’m leaving for Cuba", people ask me at once "how is it possible for me to go with you, because I want to go to Cuba? And I think it’s because the Cuban culture is very strong, when Cuban musicians, painters, artists visit the United States the whole public is really interested for them."

The attempt is a two-way exchange: "right now we are organizing things to invite artists who work the Afro-Cuban theme to the U.S., to the galleries, universities and different cultural institutions to expose their work there."

Jones tells with satisfaction the results of this visit whose programme was lively and advantageous: "We had many activities with my group, we went to the Folkloric Assemble, the House of Africa, the Yoruba Cultural Society and all learned a lot about the Afro-Cuban culture here. We visited museums, galleries, artists' workshops, we had an encounter with film director Rigoberto Lopez, he has a place to show the movies about the Afro-Cuban culture. I can say on my behalf and on behalf of my group that all of them want to return, many people of my group want to organize their own groups to return, they found many artists, many charming Cubans, made friendships and are organizing groups to return."

They also visited the higher Institute of Art, San Alejandro Academy, schools of different teaching levels, an experimental art center, Belkys Ayon’s house, among others: "We came for ten days, but we need at least a month, because there’s a lot to see. Havana is not like New York, but it’s similar in that there’s a lot of energy in this city, a lot of culture, like in New York"

Issues and words that so many refuse to speak about, return over and over in the conversation of the artist who with more than 70 years old works tirelessly: " I am socialist in my thinking, then it’s very easy for me to have a relationship with Cuba, because I share its ideas, the fact that education is free, health is free, in my country those of kind of things don’t happen, in my country many cannot go to the doctor’s because they have no money, there are some programs for the poor, but it is not enough.

"I have come to Cuba 63 times and I have a great influence of the Cuban culture, of the Cuban Revolution in my art, I have made four exhibitions in Cuba and in the future I will have others. I always tell people I am Cuban, in my soul I am Cuban, in the past I said I’m leaving for Cuba, but now I say I’m leaving for my country, Cuba is my country."

  • Published in Culture

Cuba, Gold Medal in World Baseball U15 Tournament

The USA Baseball 15U National Team fell to Cuba, 6-3, in the gold medal game of the WBSC 'AA' 15U World Cup Sunday night in a heartbreaking conclusion to an otherwise outstanding tournament for Team USA.

In its first 15U World Cup, the U.S. showed the world powerful pitching and dominant hitting, while also giving the fans in Mazatlán two of the tourney's most exciting contests - a 5-4, 10-inning walk-off win over Chinese Taipei and a 10-9, 10-inning walk-off win over Mexico.

The U.S. concluded the tournament with the best record (9-1) and outscored its opponents 107-29. However, Cuba (8-2) had the better team Sunday night as it trailed 3-1 entering the sixth inning, but rallied to score the game's final five runs to claim victory.

With the neutral crowd squarely in Cuba's corner, the talented squad put the finishing touches on the comeback with a three-run eighth inning that was highlighted by an RBI single from Miguel Vargas and an RBI groundout from Adrian Morejon.

That would be all the runs starting pitcher Morejon would need as he turned in a brilliant effort to lead Cuba to gold. Morejon, who threw an inning in relief in Cuba's 2-1 victory over Panama Saturday, went the distance against the U.S. Sunday as he hurled 124 pitches. He struck out 12 U.S. batters, and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk.   

At the plate for Team USA, Brice Turang (Corona, Calif.) finished off a remarkable tournament with two more hits and two runs scored. Turang, who was honored by the IBAF (International Baseball Federation) in a post-game ceremony, batted .553 for the tourney and played in every inning of every game for the U.S. He led the squad in hits (21), runs (19) and RBI (13), while posting a .684 slugging percentage and a .617 on-base percentage.

Also honored postgame were Alejandro Toral (Davie, Fla.) and Thomas Burbank (Beaumont, Texas). Toral batted .385 for the tournament and had a homer, six RBI and team highs in walks (9) and hit by pitch (7). Burbank, meanwhile, didn't allow an earned run in 7.1 innings of relief while striking out 11 batters. His most impressive outing was against Chinese Taipei, where he went four innings in relief to pick up the win. His maneuvering of the international tiebreaker inning kept Chinese Taipei from scoring a run in the top half of the 10th frame and set the stage for a thrilling walk-off from Austin Martin (Orange Park, Fla.) in the bottom half.

After dozens of practices, several scrimmages and 10 games in Mazatlan, the 2014 version of the USA Baseball 15U National Team is set to go its separate ways Monday morning. However, the memories of three weeks in July and August 2014, the ups and downs and the smiles and the tears, will last a lifetime.

USA - Cuba Scoring Recap  

Cuba jumped on top early as a single by Ariel Diaz with one out gave Cuba a base runner for Ernesto Martinez. Martinez knocked an RBI single to left field with two outs to give his squad the early 1-0 advantage.

The U.S. responded in the bottom half of the first with two runs to jump in front. Turang and Noah Campbell (Durham, N.C.) both reached base to start the frame before Royce Lewis (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) bunted them over. Raymond Gil (Miami, Fla.), one of the heroes from the win over Mexico Saturday night, plated the first run as he grounded out to the shortstop to easily score Turang. One batter later, Steven Williams (Albany, Ga.) cracked a single up the middle to score Campbell and give the U.S. its 35th and 36th two-out RBI of the tournament.

Lewis added to Team USA's lead in the fifth inning as his RBI single to right field scored Turang to up the score to 3-1. Turang reached base on his second infield single of the night.

Cuba wouldn't go away, however, as a monster two-run double from Martinez in the top of the sixth inning tied the contest at three and ultimately set it on a path to victory. Martinez couldn't be stopped at the plate all day as he finished with three hits, including two doubles, two RBI and a run scored.

  • Published in Sports

How one Cuba scoop led to another

While the so-called Cuban dissidents, like Yoani Sanchez make hundreds of thousands of dollars to repeat the editorial policy of the media campaigns from the U.S. government against Cuba, the AP staff of journalists who revealed the USAID’s conspiracy to send young people as missionaries of subversion to Cuba only earned a reward of 500 dollars.

  • Published in Cuba
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