Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nova Scotian musical Tour: Los Primos

Cuban-Nova Scotian musical Maritime Tour
(Dartmouth, NS) – A group of 11 Cuban music students and four Cuban musicians, under the direction of Nova Scotia jazz artists Jeff Goodspeed and Paul Barrett, will tour the region from June 26 to July 24 giving performances, workshops, and sharing musical culture with local student and professional musicians in Los Primos 2012.

Los Primos Project is well known to the local Latin and Jazz community through events like the Dance for All Ages and Havana Nights and Satellite Primos bands. Latin Vibe Entertainment is partnering with Los Primos to create the premier event of this month-long cultural exchange: a dance!

When and Where: Thursday, June 28 at the Pacifico Dance Bar. Maritime Centre,1505 Barrington Street, B3 level.

Seventeen musicians – Cuban and Canadian -- will take to the stage to delight in this hot mix of Latin music and Cuban salsa that will delight the growing fans of salsa dancing in the region. Leading will be Augusto Enriquez, one of Cuba's best-known singers and international star tenor with performances all over the world. Augusto has shared the stage many times with his good friend Luciano Pavarotti. Joining Augusto, his wife,Yami Casanueva, a well known Havana professional singer.

Watch for the special performances throughout the region during the month, showcasing the evolution of Cuban music at the Halifax Jazz Festival and Canada Day celebrations, among others.

Tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The performance begins at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased in person at Stayner’s Wharf and Niche Lounge or by phone at 902-403-8572 (call after 5 p.m.).

Los Primos is a registered not-for-profit organization promoting music education and excellence in performance through inter-generational learning and cultural exchange with music schools in Cuba. For more information go to  its web site:

To arrange an interview with a visiting musician (many speak excellent English) or for more information, contact: Jeff Goodspeed,


Cuban ‘exiles’ get a bitter taste of capitalist free market in Spain
by Helen Yaffe

Published on Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!  (journal of the UK Revolutionary Communist Group), June-July 2012 

When Cuba's tiny opposition protests against the socialist government it is reported in the international media. In April 2012, however, when members of this same opposition, in `exile' in Spain, protested against the Spanish government's decision to stop subsidising them, they barely received mention. The move has given them a taste of the capitalist free market, where accommodation, health care and education are bought and not provided, and where labour is sold as a commodity.
The complainants were among the 115 Cubans released from prison and taken to Spain since July 2010 under an amnesty agreed between Raul Castro, the Spanish church and the then Spanish president Zapatero. Among them are 52 of the 75 `dissidents' imprisoned in spring 2003 for breaking Cuban laws in receiving money from US-based agencies as part of a programme to destroy the Cuban Revolution. However, they also include petty and violent criminals who aligned themselves with the opposition once in prison to claim the status of `political prisoners'.

The ex-prisoners were joined in Spain by 647 family members. The Spanish government guaranteed to provide the Cubans monthly with up to €700 for accommodation, €180 maintenance for each family member, medical cover and transport costs, for up to one and a half years. By April 2012, this support had been stopped for 83 of the ex-prisoners and their families (32 ex-prisoners had left Spain for the United States). On 12 April, around 30 Cubans set up a camp outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the centre of Madrid. The following day ten ex-prisoners declared a hunger strike. Four of the protesters were arrested at the end of May.

Prior to that, on 4 April, ex-prisoner Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández committed suicide. As a so-called `independent' journalist, Du Bouchet had been well rewarded in Cuba by US-based agencies. In exile, however, he was unable even to pay his rent.

In Cuba `the "dissidents" were supported materially and politically, welcomed as important personalities by diplomats who invited them to dinners and receptions, even though most of them were known to have previous convictions for common crimes and to lack ideology, but have more than enough interest in the money they received from Miami and from some European allies' (Arthur Gonzalez Tomado, Heraldo Cubano blog).

Within a few months in Spain they learned the real value of Cuba's socialist welfare provision. One of them posted an appeal for help on a blog: `I can't find work, I have health problems... I don't have medicines nor food for me or my son... I only wish there was a way for me to return to my country which I should never have left...' Most of the ex-prisoners and their families are unemployed. Not surprising in a country where the unemployment rate is nearly 25% and 50% among the youth.

Their stay in Spain has been full of confrontation and conflict. The Cubans have complained about being treated `like mere immigrants' and being put up in hotels in working class areas, about shared accommodation, collective toilets, no air-conditioning and low quality food. They have repeated the mantra that their human rights were being violated – a slogan which earned them privileges when levied against the Cuban government.

One group was expelled from their residence for violence and possessing alcohol and weapons. When such anti-social behaviour got them into trouble in Cuba, the mainstream media claimed they were being persecuted by the Cuban government.

In early May, the secretary of international relations for Spain's Partido Popular told the Cuban `dissidents' not to give up the struggle for democracy and respect for human rights on the island. At the same time, the Spanish government rejected a request for €2.5 million for the Cuban ex-prisoners – who are now seeing that they are merely pawns of the imperialist attack on the socialist revolution.

Helen Yaffe


Building Self-Reliance from the Ground Up:
Oxfam’s Experience in Cuba

Built by sugar cane and battered by hurricanes, Jesus Menendez is a Cuban town that
reinvented itself and, in the process, ignited a local food and gender revolution.

Cuba is more than a vacation destination! Join us in welcoming Oxfam’s Cuba Program officer
to NS and learn more about this and other transformative work taking place in Cuba.

When: Friday, July 6, 2012
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Where: The Hub, 1673 Barrington St (2nd floor) Halifax, NS

Who: This is a free public event; donations are welcome!

To RSVP contact Kayla Turpin:

Janet Rhymes
Oxfam Canada, Maritimes
Cell: 902-483-8584
Get our updates on Facebook:
Oxfam in Halifax
Oxfam in the Maritimes

Sign on to GROW!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CNN -Josefina Vidal on CNN

Alan Gross and the Free Press

Do Reporters Read?

Less than 3 years ago, Cuban authorities arrested Alan Gross, who had an almost $600,000 contract with DIA.Inc., to carry out a USAID program in Cuba.
At his Havana trial, Gross heard Cuban authorities present his trip reports in which he revealed how he supplied a pre-selected group of mostly Jewish Cubans with sophisticated and illegal technology.
Gross smuggled the parts into Cuba “piece by piece, in backpacks and carry-on bags.” These included “laptops, smartphones, hard drives and networking equipment,” wrote Desmond Butler. “The most sensitive item, according to official trip reports, was… a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.”
With Gross’ sophisticated SIM card the group could also defuse signal tracking. His secrecy was not intended to keep Cuban officials from learning Jewish matzo ball recipes.
The U.S. Agency for International Development funded the operation as part of its “democracy promotion” plan “to provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. Gross, however, identified himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, not a representative of the U.S. government.”
On May 11, 2012, some three months after Butler’s article appeared, State Department Press Briefing officer Victoria Nuland fielded a question.
“Yesterday, Josefina Vidal, a Cuban official …said [on CNN] that they’ve conveyed some kind of offer to the U.S. Government on the release of Alan Gross.  Is there any possibility at all of negotiation on that front?
NULAND: “Go back to an interview Secretary Clinton gave to CNN….  There is no equivalence between …convicted spies — [in the 1990s, Cuban agents infiltrated exile terrorist groups in Miami to stop their terrorism in Cuba. The agents fed their information via Havana to the FBI who after years of using their data arrested them. In 2001, a jury convicted and a judge sentenced them to draconian terms] — in the United States, and… an assistance worker who should never have been locked up in the first place.”
Did she not read Butler’s piece?
“So we are not contemplating any release of the Cuban Five, and we are not contemplating any trade.  The continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross is deplorable, it is wrong, and it’s an affront to human decency.  And the Cuban Government needs to do the right thing.”
QUESTION: “Why is it okay to talk about trading with the Taliban but not with the Cubans for a U.S. person that’s been in jail and is in poor health?”
MS. NULAND: “There’s no equivalency in these situations, and the Cuban Government knows that.  This is a matter of a sitting government [the Taliban governed Afghanistan before US troops invaded in 2001] having locked up an assistance worker on no basis whatsoever. …I mean, our view is he did nothing wrong.”
Ignoring facts in Butler’s AP story. the State Department insists Gross “was distributing laptops and standard computer equipment to help the Jewish community access the Internet.”
In fact, however, as La Alborada reported, Gross was establishing an infrastructure for an encrypted satellite-communications system to spread unrest in Cuba and permit US supervisors to build democracy. “Gross as its expert operator, was only a cover-up based on Gross’ being Jewish and an active supporter, in the US, of B’nai B’rith, presentable as a kind of Jewish Santa Claus for Internet-deprived Cubans of his religion.”
Cuba did not arrest Gross for “trying to help fellow Jews share religious and cultural information; he is in jail for being an agent of a foreign country in a program intended to destabilize …the government of Cuba.”
Why do we have a press if government officials don’t read or refer to it? Even reporters ignore it. Wolf Blitzer either faked ignorance or was uninformed when he interviewed Hilary Clinton and Alan Gross.
But Desmond Butler read Gross’ trip reports as did “USAID officials [who] received regular briefings on his progress, according to DAI spokesman Steven O’Connor.”
Butler shows how, in order “to avoid airport scrutiny, Gross enlisted the help of other American Jews to bring in electronic equipment a piece at a time. He instructed his helpers [Jews on religious trips to Cuba] to pack items, some of them banned in Cuba, in carry-on luggage, not checked bags.”
In her May 11 press briefing Nuland “categorically reject[ed] the charges against him, and the fact that he’s been locked up …with no cause” She also forgot to read, Judy Gross’ — his wife  — statement to a TV reporter. “We know now that he [Alan] did break Cuban law. He did not know that until he got to Cuba and was arrested.
Dear Judy,
Please send a copy of your interview to Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama and their press officers. Then, in front of the White House and State Department, hold up the key “Alan-did-break-Cuban-law” sentence on the off chance someone might notice.
Lots of luck. Saul.
Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens at NCORE in NYC June 1 at the Marquis Marriott, 1535 Broadway. Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.