El Septeto Santiaguero, Sintesis bring vibrant sounds of Cuba to L.A. in August

Cuban son ensemble El Septeto Santiaguero can testify to the impact that recognition from the U.S. record industry can have on even a well-established non-U.S. act.

While having formed in 1995, and since releasing eight albums and finding fame in its native country, not to mention tours of Canada, Latin America and Europe, it took the group’s Latin Grammy Award in 2015 before the band was able to land its first gig in the States.

”We’ve received a lot of good reaction in other places, we’ve met a lot of good people and have been watching people at our shows dancing and being happy,” El Septeto Santiaguero founder Fernando Dewar said in an interview recently, for which the group’s producer and manager, Alden Gonzalez Diaz, served as translator.

“But we consider that the U.S. is the big market, the main market that we want to reach,” said Dewar, who is currently on a 20-city tour that arrives in Los Angeles on Friday for a free concert that’s part of the summer Grand Performances series downtown.

“The U.S. is very important for us, and we were trying for a long time for what we have now: the facility to play in the U.S.,” Diaz said.

That goal appears to be shared by many Cuban musicians who in recent years have found it a bit easier to land gigs in America.

One significant factor has been the easing of the longstanding U.S. political and cultural embargo of Cuba, which dates to the 1959 revolution that culminated in Fidel Castro’s takeover as president and his transformation of the country into a communist regime.

“Cuban musicians see the U.S. as a natural artistic environment, mainly for the musical connections that date back to the ’50s,” said Carlos Alfonso, director of the long-running Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble Sintesis, which will perform Aug. 25 at the Ford Amphitheatre on a bill with Cuban transplant-violinist Dayren Santamaria and her L.A.-based band, Made in Cuba.

El Septeto Santiaguero hails from Santiago de Cuba on the far eastern end of the island nation, more than 500 miles from Havana. The group scored its Latin Grammy in the traditional tropical Latin album category for its 2015 work “Tributo a Los Compadres: No Quiero Llanto.” The album is a tribute to Los Compadres, a duo that is one of Septeto Santiaguero’s predecessors in the trova tradition — loosely, the Cuban strain of troubadour music.

Still, the group might not have made it here if former President Barack Obama’s administration hadn’t moved to improve relations with the nation that sits 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

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Cuba’s President Hails Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly

Havana, Aug 10 (Prensa Latina) Cuba”s President Raul Castro has congratulated Venezuelans on behalf of the Cuban people for the victory in electing and establishing a National Constituent Assembly. In a letter to his Venezuelan peer, Nicolas Maduro, the Cuban Head of State stressed that ”with profound revolutionary joy I learnt about the outcome of the elections and the establishment of the National Constituent Assembly.”

‘Beyond any doubt, this political success is a valuable lesson that turns Venezuela into a meaningful symbol for our continent, as Fidel (Castro) said with his crystal clear vision,’ Raul Castro wrote.

‘The people spoke loud and clear that they remain true to the legacy of Liberator Simon Bolivar and President Hugo Chavez Frias,’ the President added.

Experience shows that any act of terror raises the moral of the people, any aggression makes them stronger, any blow strengthens unity, he continued.

Surely, days of hard fight, international harassment, blockade, shortages are ahead, ‘but they will be days of creation and work for the revolutionaries and all the Venezuelan people,’ underlined Raul Castro in his letter read at National Prime Time News Hour last night.

The Cuban leader reiterated that Venezuela, as it has been up to now, will not be along, and can count with the Cuban people on the first line of militant and committed solidarity with its cause.


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World’s 1st Skin Cancer Drug Available in Every Cuban Pharmacy

One of the most remarkable aspects of the drug is its ability to work around lesions, attacking the cancer cells at an organic level. | Photo: Reuters

Within months of its development, Heberferon has brought incredible results to over 400 patients around the island.

The world’s first skin cancer treatment, which targets basal cell carcinoma, has appeared in pharmacies across Cuba within only six months of its entry into the market.

Within months of its development, Heberferon has brought incredible results to over 400 patients around the island.

Researchers presented their findings at the First National Workshop of Coordinators of the National Extension Program for the Use of Heberferon a two-day convention held in conjunction with the Methodological Workshop of Skin Cancer Camaguey which analyzed the progress made by the innovative treatment.

Produced by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the drug is designed to treat skin cancer at the complex, multiple, and advanced stages and can actually inhibit the growth of tumors while reducing or completely eliminating lesions.

Dr. Priscila Torres, a representative from the National Program of Cancer Registries, stated at the convention that 60 percent of basal cell carcinoma patients responded positively to the drug and that even more could benefit from the use of Heberferon.

A program which will ensure that primary health care doctors around the country have access to the medical wonder-drug is underway, the CIGB project coordinator, Yutdelis Roben reassured convention attendees.

Possibly, one of the most remarkable aspects of the drug is its ability to work around lesions, attacking the cancer cells at an organic level. Additionally, since Heberferon’s arrival to the market, doctors have seen a drop in surgical procedures to highly sensitive areas, particularly to the eyes, nose, mouth, scalp, and ears as well as larger tumors.

With direct sunlight beating down on island residents every day of the year, skin cancer is one of the most common carcinomas affecting the Cuban population with more than 10,200 cases reported. Although the mortality rate from cancer does not at all reflect these figures, the scars left from surgeries bring its own set of difficulties for the island’s people.

CIGB researcher, Dr. Iraldo Bello who directs the Heberferon project, stated the short time the drug has been available, the lives of patients with a wide variety of common skin cancers have improved significantly.

Caribbean News Now- Ciber Cuba

by teleSUR/mrs-RT

teleSUR, August 9, 2017

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The people of Caracas reaffirm support for Constituent Assembly

Photo: AVN

Venezuela is attacked because it has oil, gold, water, and gas… but also because it has a dignified people, said ANC deputy Diosdado Cabello speaking to a massive demonstration of support for the Constituent Assembly August 7

CARACAS.— Diverse political and social movements, and organized popular power bodies, marched on August 7 from Caracas’ Plaza Morelos to the Federal Legislative Palace, to reaffirm their support for the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), installed on August 4.

Speaking before the crowds of men and women who mobilized in a demonstration of support for President Nicolás Maduro and the Assembly, ANC deputy Diosdado Cabello affirmed that since the very emergence of the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999, Venezuela has become the target of imperialist attacks and of governments responding to the interests of those powers.

Cabello explained that the excessive onslaught of the U.S. and its supporters in the region, together with the actions of the domestic right wing, are an attempt to return to the past and rob Venezuelans of their dignity, in order to seize the country’s wealth.

“Venezuela is attacked because it has oil, gold, water, and gas, because of its natural resources. But that is just one aspect, they also attack it because it has a dignified people, because it has a dignified President, who does not surrender, who does not respond to their orders,” Cabello stressed in the act broadcast by Venezolana de Televisión.

“This August 7, we loudly and proudly state that we don’t care if they threaten us, because we have decided to be free, to be sovereign and to be independent,” he added.

Hundreds of activists participated in the march “to reaffirm once again the support for the ANC for which a large majority of Venezuelans voted,” stated Rubén Iriarte, a Caracas resident who participated in the mobilization.

In addition to the desire to reconfirm their support for this democratic mechanism, and the ANC members elected through the secret and direct vote of more than eight million Venezuelans, “We came to support the decisions made by our Assembly, necessary to guarantee the nation’s peace,” he added.

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UNESCO Official to Cuba Highlights Importance of Rumba

Havana, Aug 9 (Prensa Latina) The director-general of the UNESCO Cultural Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Catherine Muller, highlighted today here the importance of Cuban rumba for being an expression of resistance and national identity.

This music-dance expression is a proof of shared pride and cultural heritage in Cuba, the international authority representative told the news agency Prensa Latina.

Muller’s statements were made on the opening ceremony of the 19th International La Ruta de la Rumba (The Route of Rumba) Festival, an initiative led by the Timbalaye Cultural Integration Project, which will be carried out throughout the country from August 18 to September 1.

About the event, organizers announced in a media conference that it would be a great celebration, after UNESCO declared rumba as World Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.


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Elections: Questions and answers (Part I)

Interview with Dr. José Luis Toledo Santander focused on the origins of the Cuba’s current institutional system

Numerous international media outlets are currently describing the future of Cuba as unknown, given the upcoming 2017-2018 general elections. While many people, both within and outside of the country, have doubts, questions, and apprehensions about the Cuban electoral system.

Participation and representation are key pillars supporting the right to vote, the conscious exercise of nominating and electing those with the best qualifications and values.

Today Razones de Cuba (Cuba’s Reasons) addresses this issue in an interview with the President of the National Assembly of People’s Power Commission on Constitutional and Judicial Affairs, also a tenured professor at the University of Havana, Dr. José Luis Toledo Santander. In this first approach, basically historical, the institutional foundation of the Cuban state is explained.

What are the basic elements of the Cuban state’s organizational/institutional system?

The first element that characterizes the system of institutional organization is that it is a very young institutional organization, in operation for only 41 years. If it is compared with any other system anywhere in the world, it is very new, put into place in 1976. In addition to being a very young system, it has no references anywhere in the world; ours is a sui generis system. We, the nation and the Cuban people, have created it in a sovereign act on our own. This implies that we learn from our correct decisions and from our errors.

Another element that distinguishes us is the principle of unity. Not the unity viewed as a slogan or a mobilizing element, but unity as a substantive, essential element to maintain our independence and sovereignty.

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Cuba to celebrate International Youth Day

With demonstrations of the art and work of young Cubans, the island will celebrate International Youth Day on August 12, which this year will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the assassination of the Saíz brothers

With demonstrations of the art and work of young Cubans, the island will celebrate International Youth Day on August 12, which this year will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the assassination of the Saíz brothers.

Asael Alonso Tirado, head of the Communications section of the National Committee of the Young Communist League (UJC), told reporters that as part of the activities, young people will remember Sergio and Luis Saíz, killed on August 13, 1957, on the orders of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

This Friday, on the eve of International Youth Day, singer Paulo FG will play a concert in Havana’s José Martí Anti-imperialist Tribune, together with the finalists of the second season of the Sonando en Cuba project. The concert will mark the end of his summer 2017 national tour.

Among other activities, this weekend will see artistic and sporting events, as well as visits to historic sites.

The municipality of San Juan y Martínez, in Pinar del Río, will host the main national celebrations. “There, among other activities, a visit was organized to the house museum of the Saíz Montes de Oca brothers,” Asael Alonso Tirado explained.

The Hermanos Saíz Association will lead the commemoration and a group of representatives of the institution will climb, as is traditional every August 13, the emblematic Pico Turquino, the highest point of the island.

On Sunday, August 13, youth will “visit the birthplace of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz in Birán, and other historic sites in the province,” the UJC official added.

The day will also see the close of the provincial Youth and Students Festivals in the capital and the Special Municipality of the Isle of Youth, concluding the selection process of delegates to the 2017 World Festival of Youth and Students, to take place in Sochi, Russia, this October.

Alejandra García, Granma

August 9, 2017

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48th US Venceremos Brigade Defies Travel Ban to Cuba

Brigade members in Cuba from a past year. | Photo: Venceremos Brigade

Brigade members said traveling to Cuba allowed them to reflect on the differences between the two nations.

Members of the U.S. 48th Venceremos Brigade returned home after an eye-opening trip to Cuba allowed the group to study socialism in motion, experience the island’s culture and learn about its revolution.

The group, challenging the economic, commercial, and financial blockade enacted by the U.S. against Cuba, traveled to the island nation, visiting its historic sites, speaking to its residents, learning their customs and participating in the National Day of Rebellion celebrations which took place on July 26, honoring the  rebel attack on the Moncada Garrison.

According to members, the trip opened their eyes to the truth of Cuba’s reality, revealing the media’s heavy influence on the world and its misrepresentation of the island’s social and economic situations.

Brigade members told Granma International that traveling to Cuba allowed them to reflect on the differences between the two nations.

Frangy Pozo, a sociology student at the University of Pennsylvania whose parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic, explained that the U.S. is far from the paradise they expected, with a society continuously fighting racism and police brutality in order to create a better society for future generations.

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ALBA Defends Venezuela as Peru Meeting Steps Up Threats

Members of ALBA countries reiterate their support for the Venezuelan government. | Photo: Cancilleria Venezuela

ALBA countries have reiterated their support for Venezuela as Peru and its allies agreed to officially call Maduro a “dictator.”

Countries from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, have reiterated their support for the Venezuelan government at the “Sixth Extraordinary Meeting of the Political Council” in Venezuela.

The countries expressed their solidarity in a public declaration which congratulated Venezuela on the Constituent Assembly and rejected mounting international attacks against the country.

“We reiterate that the unilateral economic sanctions imposed against the Venezuelan people are a flagrant violation of international law and human rights, as well as an unacceptable interventionist implementation, whose only purpose is to directly hinder the Bolivarian people and government of Venezuela in order to change the regime,” the declaration stated.

ALBA Secretary-General David Choquehuanca said the declaration represents the wishes of the people of Latin America who want “peace and solidarity.”

“Our people seek harmony, integration and here we have a declaration of total unconditional support to Venezuela’s democracy that its democratically-elected president and to the people who have been valiantly defending their rights and sovereignty,” he told teleSUR.

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Sculptures of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba Attract Tourists

Havana, Aug 8 (Prensa Latina) Two sculptures of the U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway have a particular impact on tourists who visit Cuba from all over the world.

The first one is a bust is in the coastal town of Cojimar, east of the capital, after crossing the tunnel under the bay, where the author was very close to local humble people.

The writer is facing the sea, where he sailed several times, and the bust was built in the 1950s with bronze collected among his friends and fishermen from propellers and other parts of boats.

Magic, mystery and kindness are part of a personage who was well known to Cubans, the U.S. author Ernest Hemingway, who is part of the island’s cultural and tourist panorama.

It is a very strong link, and his friends, legends and meetings can inspire several film scripts.

However, his spirit is in the Bar-Restaurant Floridita, in Havana, where there is life-size bronze sculpture created by the Cuban artist Jose Villa. It is a statue of Hemingway leaning on the bar while drinking his favorite cocktail, a daiquiri.

Hemingway lived for more than 20 years in Havana since the 1930s, and established his headquarters in el Floridita, which was founded in 1817 and had a very special clientele.

The sculpture by the bar weighs about 300 kilograms, it is made of bronze and it has a book and reading glasses in front of it, also made of that metal, along with a real daiquiri, which is replaced every day as eternal tribute to the U.S. novelist. The two sculptures are visited by travelers who want to tour the main places where Hemingway lived and to learn about his relationship with Cubans.

Roberto F. Campos – jg/mem/rfc

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