Friday, March 14, 2003

Found a couple of good quotes....

"When I came back to the Hotel, Governor and Mrs. Fish came to see me: they have just returned from an expedition into the interior. I am afraid I shall not have completed my little tour here in time to embark with them in the next passage of the Black Warrior, for New Orleans."
Amelia M. Murray, Havana, March 10, 1855

"Like Hitler, Castro is a complete big-headed autocrat who allows no restrictions or restraints by the people or by Political Parties...When the uniformed and swaggering Castro speaks to the suffering people of Cuba concentrated in the public square, he repeats exactly the actions of Mussolini in the Plaza of Rome and Hitler in the Plaza of Nuremburg.
Felix Reyler in the Cuban-Hebrew Congregation Bulletin for November 1965

Thursday, March 13, 2003

My latest search was for "Cubanismo". Try it. Very similar results as from "Cubanidad".href="">
There may be "art" but I do not believe that this "art" openly confronts the tyranny of Casto's "social revolution" or the ideals promoted by "The New Man" in Cuba. I need to get back to my research of the Matanzas plantation owners but the true meaning of where the Cuban Revolution is heading may be found in these two words, the meaning of which define the conflict: Cubanidad and Cubanismo....

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Can you imagine "art" in Castro's Cuba? I wonder who buys it, Raoul or Fidel? Well, according to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, art in Cuba "begs to be studied". I wonder what happens if the art happens to offend someone with a vested interest in Cuba's "social revolution"? The following course description certainly indicates that Castro has nothing to fear from the Art Institute of Chicago. I got this by typing the word "cubanidad" into This came out along with 1100 other hits. This word "cubanidad" is central to Cuba's future and unlike The Art Institute of Chicago, I do not believe that Cuba "reinvented" itself. If anybody did any reinvention, it was Fidel Castro with a little Soviet adult supervision. Anyway, the following is simply another example of how America's academia is allergic to all criticism of Fidel...
CUBANIDAD!: Art, Race & Revolution
Dates: January 3 to 17, 2003

The island nation of Cuba has reinvented itself for more than 150 years. Moving from a nationalist revolution to a socialist one in 1959/60. Cuba unleashed one of the most intriguing artistic trajectories in modern times. From Mambo and Santeria to Wilfredo Lam and Tomás Gutierrez Alea, Cuba has pushed a dialectic on politics and art that begs to be studied.

This course examines Cubanidad in art and film, but through the lenses of race and revolution. Cuba has found sanctuary in its African heritage yet racial prejudice continues. Students will explore this racial acceptance / rejection dichotomy in art and film and grapple with the impact of globalism on race and art today.

Similarly, students will be asked to think about what the Cuban revolution has meant to film. Cuba has been at the forefront of articulating the movement known as 3rd Cinema; a cinema devoted to the historical experience of Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean and has one of the most respected film schools in the world.

Students will have the opportunity to explore all of these issues with Cuban artists, filmmakers and students. We will travel from Chicago to Havana and from there take excursions to several towns and cities.

Chris Bratton, Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Lisa Brock, Liberal Arts Department

Credits: 3 Studio and/or 3 Liberal Arts
Program fee: $2,300 including airfare and meals
Tuition cost per credit: UG$750; Grad$840

Information sessions:
Thursday, September 19 at 12:10 p.m. in 112 Michigan, room 617
Wednesday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m. in 112 S. Michigan, room 707

Tuesday, March 11, 2003


Black market: thrives here. The economy is set up for Cubans to earn pesos (22 to the dollar). They have peso stores that sell a few groceries (basically empty stores), shoddy shoes and ugly polyester clothing. There are also dollar stores that have the better stuff. Everything is priced in American dollars only. There you may have a chance to buy some food. Other items are still shoddy and tacky. We saw fruit juices, rum, some canned goods and eggs in a dollar store in Veradero. (The eggs were the first I've found in Cuba, so we were without for about a month.)

The two forms of currency here are pesos and dollars. European tourists have to convert their currency into dollars. People who work for and around tourists are the most fortunate because they can get tips in dollars. We spoke with someone who was a teacher earning about 400 pesos a month. She applied to work in a marina and was granted a position after two years wait. She took a pay cut of almost 200 pesos a month, but the gov't gives some workers who have contact with tourists deodorant, soap, detergent, perfume, and a uniform. So that -- with the possibility of earning dollars in tips -- is a big draw for the Cubans. I'm sure this isn't universal. I doubt that taxi and bus drivers get such goodies... but it's important.

So, with some dollars floating around and everything here being closely inventoried and owned by the government, there has to be a black market. It's a big one, too! (We were approached by four guys offering to sell us gasoline from their house. We spoke with someone about building or owning your own home. It's pretty impossible because the gov't allocates property, with more than one generation or family typically in one dwelling. But if you can build a house you do it one brick/one tile/one sack of cement at a time. With materials that are smuggled off building sites and sold on the market.)

Also in short supply are medications. We've had officials ask us for Imodium (a marina doctor who said it's for her mother), Viagra (one asked Gene if he had any for his father). I've dispensed headache meds, put Neosporin and a bandage on an inflamed finger. And, along those lines, the lady who works in a marine store told me she didn't have shampoo once, when I stopped by with my just-washed hair still wet. So I gave her shampoo. There's a chance that some of these goods will make their way to the black market.

We've been told that food is rationed by the gov't. Kids are rationed milk until they're six years old. Then they get yogurt. (If the parents have dollars they can purchase milk in dollar stores.) Every family gets a sack of rice, about 10 pounds of sugar a month. Also some chicken. Many people have told us it's just not enough -- especially people raising children. You don't see many fat people here. They're as gaunt as the horses and dogs. (The few fat people seem to be women who like to wear spandex which is the popular clothing.)

The environmentalists would have a heart attack if they came here and looked around. There are oil fields and refineries along this part of the coastline. Veradero and Cardenas were rife with them, belching out sulfurous fumes day and night. When the breeze died at night, in the Veradero marina, the boat was coated with a caustic film... the stainless looks like hell... totally rusted. The Cubans set up oil refineries wherever they wanted. You can sail along the coastline a couple miles out and still gag on fumes. There are fumes hanging over the cities because the refineries are build in the middle of neighborhoods. We saw junk floating in the water miles off the Havana coastline today... plastics, old shoes, sewage

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Struck gold once more on the marvelous Internet. I will try to get this address on here so you can click on it. Anyway, if that didn't work, the collection is on the web at the Smithsonian's site. It is entitled, Exploring Cuba's Postal History,1830-1939, though the Roberto Pichs Collection. Terrific Stuff!!!!!

Condoleezza Rice

Found a lot of stuff on the Net about the Black Warrior. She weighed 1900 tons. 248 feet long;18 feet deep;37 foot beam; an engine with a 65" cylinder and an 11 foot stroke which powered two side mounted paddlewheels.She was built for the Alabama-New York trade and usually stopped at Havana. Found a photo of Christina Young ( holding pieces of silverware engraved with the words Black Warrior which were recovered from the site of the wreck of the Black Warrior, located off Long Island near the opening of New York Harbor. Oh yeah, somebody has the Black Warrior's anchor. It was recovered in 1994. It is a 10 foot long fluted anchor weighing 2000 pounds. I would love to see some of those Black Warrior artifacts. Because the Black Warrior carried mail to Cuba, I will now begin looking into the status of the Cuban Philatelist Club. Buenas.