Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Characters - In the Time of the Butterflies

The Mirabel Sisters
Patria Mercedes – Eldest
Dedé – Second oldest
Minerva – Third oldest
Maria-Teresa – Youngest

Dona Mercedes,  Mother
Don Enrique Mirabel, Father

Pedrito Gonzalez– Patria’s Husband
Nelson & Norris – Patria & Pedrito’s Children in order of oldest to youngest
Sinitta– Friend of Minerva
Sor Milagros– Religious official in charge of the school, Nun
Sor Asuncion – Nun at school with Milagros
Jaimito – Friend of the sisters
Léo – Friend of the sisters
Horacio – Meeting organizer that Sinitta goes to
Carmen - Enrique's mistress
Margarita = Carmen's daughter
Manuel de Moya = secretary of state
tio Chiche = Trujillo's  old friend, and part of the Mirabal family
Manolo - Minerva's husband
Fela - 

WP: "Cuba’s hint it may reverse home-cinema ban seen as unusual, sign of entrepreneurs’ influence"

By Associated Press, Published: November 12

HAVANA — Something unusual appears to be happening in Havana.

The Communist government may be backing off an unpopular economic crackdown barely a week after it was announced — a feat of political dexterity that islanders say they are not used to seeing from a leadership in power since the 1950s.

The brouhaha centers on a ban announced Nov. 2 on the dozens of private home cinemas and video game salons that have mushroomed in recent months, becoming a popular diversion for entertainment-starved residents.

The government denounced the cinemas as spreading uncultured drivel to the young, and ordered them closed for stretching the boundaries on the kinds of private businesses allowed under reforms instituted by President Raul Castro.

Then came the backlash, with entrepreneurs bemoaning thousands of dollars in lost investment and moviegoers saying they were exasperated by heavy-handedness toward a harmless diversion. The official reaction was swift, and unprecedented.

An article in the Communist Party newspaper Granma on Monday acknowledged there was wide disapproval of the ban, and hinted it was being rethought.

Analysts said the reversal could signal a greater willingness by the government to heed the desires of private entrepreneurs and their customers, as well as their growing influence in a country where the government still controls as much as about 80 percent of the economy.

“It’s extraordinary because the government made a very clear decision, and now it seems it’s being walked back,” said Philip Peters, a longtime Cuba analyst and president of the Cuba Research Center. “That’s not something that happens every day.”

The article in Granma said the paper had gathered more than 150 opinions on the ban and surveyed the backlash on social media. It acknowledged there was wide disapproval and said some considered it to be “a step back” for President Raul Castro’s program of limited economic liberalization.

Islanders interviewed by The Associated Press have repeatedly defended the salons as healthy entertainment options for teenagers. It’s commonly held that they should be reopened, regulated and taxed just like the thousands of other private businesses launched since Castro’s reforms began in earnest in 2010.

In Cuba, decision-making tends to happen from the top down, even if authorities stress that popular input is sought again and again in public gatherings. Official opinion polls are essentially nonexistent here, and it was surprising that authorities would take the temperature of the masses in such a public way.

“I think they realized how much people were bothered,” said Rolando Orejuela, a 52-year-old government worker who previously enjoyed treating his grandson to 3-D movies. “It’s good that they study and reconsider such a radical decision.”

Others cautioned not to read too much into the about-face. The same Granma article also offered a full-throated defense of another recently announced ban, this one on the reselling of imported hardware and clothes. Many Cubans depend on the small clothing boutiques to keep fashionable, and lamented their demise.

But Peters said the article is still a reflection of the increasingly powerful role of the 436,000 private-sector workers operating today, about triple the number that existed before the reforms.

“It could mean that this is a constituency that the government wants to take into account,” Peters said. “Raul Castro’s government does not view these entrepreneurs as a necessary evil ... They’re viewed as necessary to the economy.”

In recent years Cuba has rolled back other unpopular rules that once barred most islanders from having cellphones or staying in tourist hotels. Both decisions were made under Raul Castro after he took over from ailing elder brother Fidel in 2006, and after years of complaints.

Today there are 1.8 million mobile phones for a population of around 11 million. And it’s common to see Cubans lazing at plush beach resorts like Varadero, at least for the small percentage with the financial means to afford it.

“It’s not just about doing the reforms, but walking hand-in-hand with the political rhythm of society,” Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban economist at the University of Denver, said of the government’s apparent change of heart on home cinemas.

“It gives a bit of a measure of how the Communist Party is changing its prior arrogance, where (authorities) dictate what’s best and there’s no other choice but to accept it.”

Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez contributed to this report.


Pictures of Jake's senior recital

Habitat For Humanity Winter Break Trip!!

Here's everything you'll need to know before coming to sign ups.

$210 for every trip. This includes all transportation, housing, and food for the entire week. The one exception is that you will be responsible for paying for food on travel days. Checks can be made out to Ithaca College. 

Beaufort, SC, Lexington, KY, and Tucker, GA

January 11-18th
(Some trips will be leaving Saturday, and others will be leaving Sunday. If your trip is leaving Saturday, you'll need to be in Ithaca on Friday the 10th)

What to bring with you on sign up day: 
- A check or cash for $210 (checks preferably). If you will not have the cash tomorrow, please email us and let us know.
- Know your email address and phone number :)
- There will be forms that you will be emailed, so for that you will need insurance information and an emergency contact, but you do not need to bring that with you.

Picking a trip:

It is going to be first come, first serve in terms of what trip you will be able to pick. Each trip has 14 spots, so there's a good chance you'll get your trip. But know that if the trip fills up before you get there, you have to pick another trip. 

Please don't hesitate to email us at if you have any questions at all about these break trips or anything else!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jake's Recital


Virtual tour of the Main Square in Dajabón

Dajabón «Main Square Cathedral»

Popular Song "Compadre Pedro Juan"

Dominican National Anthem


Song "¡Qué viva el jefe!"glorifying dictator Trujillo and comments by supporters:

NBC: "Dominican Republic to end citizenship for Haitian-descended residents"

by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Danica Coto, Associated Press
9:06 am on 09/28/2013

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Experts warned Friday that a Dominican court decision to strip citizenship from children of Haitian migrants could cause a human rights crisis, potentially leaving tens of thousands of people stateless, facing mass deportation and discrimination.

Officials promised to create a path to Dominican citizenship, but gave no details about how it would work or who would be covered.

The ruling by the Constitutional Court is final and gives the electoral commission one year to produce a list of people to be excluded from citizenship.

The decision applies to those born after 1929 – a category that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians brought in to work on farms. It appears to affect even their grandchildren, said Wade McMullen, a New York-based attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

A U.N.-backed study released this year estimated that there are nearly 210,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent and roughly another 34,000 born to parents of another nationality.

Many of those “are now effectively stateless,” McMullen said. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen to those people … Based on what the Dominican government is saying, these people are not Dominican citizens and will have to leave and effectively go to Haiti, where they are also not citizens. It creates an extremely complicated situation.”

The majority of them don’t have Haitian citizenship, have little or no ties to Haiti and likely don’t speak Creole, he said. Getting Haitian citizenship can be complicated too because it is difficult to comply with requirements to prove descent from a Haitian national.

Roberto Rosario, president of the electoral commission, insisted that the government is not denying anyone the right to a nationality, saying people would be able “to legalize themselves through the national legalization plan.”

However, that plan has not yet been created, despite a 2004 immigration law that called for it, and it was not clear who would be covered.

Once the plan is created and the electoral commission turns in its list, it will take no more than two years for legalization, said Immigration Director Jose Ricardo Taveras, member of a nationalist party that has long complained about the “Haitianization” of the Dominican Republic.

“Far from remaining in limbo like some critics are arguing, (they) will for the first time benefit from a defined status and identity without having to violate the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, the military announced that it had deported 47,700 Haitians caught entering the country in the past year, more than double the nearly 21,000 deported in the previous year.

Roxanna Altholz, associate director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said she was concerned about how the Dominican Republic has very deep roots of violent racism against Dominican-Haitians and Haitians.

“Are they going to do summary expulsions? Is the Dominican Republic going to conduct raids? I don’t know how they’re going to implement this decision,” she said.

The Dominican government is currently analyzing the birth certificates of more than 16,000 people, while electoral authorities have refused to issue identity documents to 40,000 people of Haitian descent.

“To all of a sudden be told no, you’re not Dominican, it’s very frustrating,” said Elmo Bida Joseph, a 21-year-old student who said he was denied his ID and a copy of his birth certificate because he was born to Haitian migrants.

“All my dreams have been broken,” said Bida, a baseball player who needed those documents to enroll in a baseball academy.

Now he worries he’ll be deported.

“I feel that’s around the corner. That in any moment I’ll be detained and they’ll send me to Haiti,” he said.

Spanish-speaking Dominicans and Creole-speaking Haitians share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and have a long history of conflict and tense relations.

Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat said it was “appalling” that the Dominican court has “chosen to commemorate the upcoming 76th anniversary of the October 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic by stripping Dominican-born men, women, and children of Haitian descent of their citizenship, rendering them not only stateless but unable to attend school or make a living while becoming even more vulnerable to all kinds of hostilities including, increasingly, physical violence.”

The office of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declined to comment about the ruling. The Dominican government estimates that some 500,000 people born in Haiti live in the Dominican Republic.

Until 2010, the Dominican Republic automatically bestowed citizenship to anyone born on its soil. But that year, the government approved a new constitution stating that citizenship will be granted only to those born on its soil to at least one parent of Dominican blood or whose foreign parents are legal residents.

“The impact could be truly catastrophic,” said Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at Florida International University who has studied the migration of Dominicans in the Caribbean. “They are stigmatizing an entire Haitian population.”

Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writer Trenton Daniel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, contributed to this report.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Citadel

General Trujillo - Images

General Trujillo

Urayoán Noel

Noel's poem "Death and Taxes"

Noel's poem "What It's All About" 

Cuba bans private cinemas and the sale of imported goods

Movies shown in Havana will return to two dimensions per government order. Businesses offering imported goods also have their days numbered. This Saturday the Council of Ministers announced an immediate ban on "cinematographic projections including 3D theaters and computer games," offered by independent businesses. These projections are said to ratify "the illegality of minority businesses that sell imported goods and resell those acquired through the state's commercial apparatus." The authorities deny that these measures represent a step back in economic modernization and argue that, on the contrary, these laws are "necessary corrections" to protect independent workers.

Films in 3D were first shown in small private theaters in the capital. Many of them doubled as coffee shops. Prices ranged from one to four pesos convertibles, (Cuba's second official currency that is used to convert foreign money for use on the island where it is equivalent to the US dollar.) The entrance ticket buys the spectator a drink or a bag of popcorn.

The Cuban Communist Party youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, published a story on October 26 that denounced the proliferation of venues that operate without license and give priority to American films. "More and more Cubans are discreetly - and some not so discreetly - setting up new and small theaters to show these kinds of films without first getting a proper license," the article said. "Our journalists have confirmed that many of these venues are actually in homes, garages, or renovated terraces offering air conditioning, HD screens and projectors, and chairs, sofas or old fashioned stalls depending on the space, budget and initiative of the owner," the paper said.

The next day, Cuban Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas said the principles of cultural politics that came out of the Cuban Revolution ruled over both state institutions and independent ventures. Consequently, he continued, the government would start regulating these venues.

On November 2 the state's main newspaper, Granma, published an announcement signed by the Council of Ministers. It read, "cinematographic projections, including 3D venues and group computer games, were never sanctioned." They should cease immediately, the note warned.

The government also set a date for the elimination of private businesses that have been offering imported goods. Since a considerable number a workers have asked for some time to sell off and liquidate their stocks, the Council of Ministers "has approved their doing so until December 31st of this year."

Independent businesses was first legalized in October 2010. Since then Raúl Castro's government determines which commercial activities may be undertaken and their corresponding tax responsibilities. According to official records the number of registered independent workers rose from 157.000 to 442.000 in the last three years.

The Cuban government denied that these last measures would lead to a regression in the agenda for economic modernization that Castro's government had taken on in the last few years due to financial difficulties, social pressure and political instability in Venezuela, its most important commercial partner and political ally. "These measures are corrections necessary for this kind of work to be done in an orderly manner, fight impunity, insist on obedience to the law and protect independent workers, most of whom follow the regulations," the announcement said. "This is in no way a step back. On the contrary, we will keep advancing decidedly toward modernizing Cuban's economic model."

Translation: Dyane Jean François


Hispanic New York: Tato Laviera, Prominent Nuyorican Poet, Died on Friday

Hispanic New York: Tato Laviera, Prominent Nuyorican Poet, Died on Friday: By Claudio Iván Remeseira

Poet, musician, dramatist and songwriter Jesús Abraham "Tato" Laviera, one of the most important and beloved representatives of the Nuyorican movement, died on November 1 (Día de los Muertos in the Catholic calendar) at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital, his family announced. Mr. Laviera, who had been bed-ridden an unconscious for most of this year, suffered from advanced diabetes.

Services will be held on Thursday, Saint Peters Church, 54th and Lexington Avenue from 1 to 4pm. Burial Friday morning at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1951, nine years later he came to New York City with his mother. They first established in the Lower East Side (la Loisaida), a hotspot of the Puerto Rican post-WWII Great Migration. The young Tato —as everybody called him in his family— studied at local Catholic schools and went on to attend Cornell University and Brooklyn College, but never graduated. Instead, he took over as director of the "University of the Streets," an initiative aimed at helping young inner-city Puerto Ricans and other minorities attend college. He also taught writing at Rutgers University and was active in various forms of community service.

His first collection of poems, La Carreta Made a U-Turn (1979) is a self-assuring response to the play La Carreta (The Oxcart, 1953), by Puerto Rican author René Marqués, a play that offers a dispirited perspective on the immigrant journey from the Caribbean island's impoverished countryside to New York City's slums. Laviera's third poetry collection,AmeRícan (1986), is a much-celebrated tribute to the multiethnic, multiracial Puerto Rican heritage. Both books, as the rest of Laviera's production, was published by the pioneering Hispanic imprint Arte Público Press.

A livelong supporter of Puerto Rican independence, Laviera was an artist deeply rooted in his Afro-Latino heritage. Harold Augenbraum and Margarite Fernández Olmos, authors of the anthology The Latino Reader, said that "the influence of music, particularly African rhythms, combined with a keen ear for street talk, double talk, and barrio dialect” make his poems particularly apt for live performance. Indeed, he was a fixture in spoken-word poetry venues across the country.

Last May, Hostos Community College organized a tribute to the poet [WATCH VIDEOHERE]

His immediate survivors include a sister, Ruth (a former hairdresser for Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, and other Latino show-business celebrities), his daugther Ella, and Ella’s grandmother, Jenny Benítez, who along her husband Víctor took the young Tato under their wing fresh out of the plane who brought him to New York City in 1960. Tato Laviera’s admirers have also set up a prayer page in Facebook.