CELAC Summit begins with a moment of silence for Fidel

Heads of states from the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, participated Tuesday in the opening ceremony of the group’s fifth summit in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, kicking off their meeting with a moment of silence to honor late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The summit will continue Wednesday and the leaders will discuss greater regional cooperation and stronger ties as they brace for an uncertain relationship with the United States under the leadership of Donald Trump.

The Dominican Republic’s President Danilo Medina said the Brexit vote to leave the European Union in the U.K. and the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement were signs of a new era.

Among the issues reportedly under discussion will be an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba as well as greater food security in the region.

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‘Thank You Fidel’: Puerto Rican Poet and Ex-Political Prisoner

Rafael Cancel Miranda was part of an assault on the U.S. capital building in 1954 demanding the independence of Puerto Rico from U.S. colonial rule.

I give thanks to life
for my boricua skies,
my soul, nationalist
my belief, Fidelista.

I give thanks to life
for the courage to fight,
for the courage to confront
the imperialist beast.

I give thanks to life
for Isabel and Albizu
and for those friends
who served as guides.

I give thanks to life
for my brave people,
who have honorably
kept their soul alive.

I give thanks to life
for the light on my path,
and for marking my destiny
with that of my country.

Having just finished this poem, I learned of the physical death of compañero Fidel. In order to honor one who honored us so much, I gave the poem the title, “Thank You, Fidel” and in his honor, I changed one word in the poem.

This morning a journalist interviewed me about Fidel’s death, although he has not died in my mind. Fidel will keep on for a good while. The imperialist mafia did its best so he would not reach 50 years old, but being Fidel, his body decided which day he would pass away.

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Fidel Castro: A Latin American Legend

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Fidel was born in 1926 during a period when then-President Gerardo Machado was cutting off the traditional elite from its long-held power and defending the island’s sovereignty from the United States.

As a child, Fidel was sent to live in Santiago de Cuba, where he excelled more in sports than academia.

His youth was marked by turbulent politics: Fulgencio Batista became president in 1940 and ruled the country until 1944 before returning to power through a coup in 1952. With the blessing and material support of the United States, he ruled Cuba with an iron fist until 1959 in what even John F. Kennedy once referred to as “one of the most bloody and repressive dictatorships in the long history of Latin American repression.”

While studying law at the University of Havana, Fidel became increasingly involved in anti-imperialist activism. After traveling to the Dominican Republic and Colombia, Fidel sharpened his leftist politics and led protests against right-wing governments in both countries.

Upon returning to Cuba, Fidel used his legal training to oppose the Batista regime while founding an underground revolutionary socialist group called “The Movement.”

The Movement staged a failed attack on the Moncada barracks, and many—including Fidel—were arrested.

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Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution

Cuban rumba has roots in African culture and historically has developed in some of the island’s poorest and most marginalized neighborhoods.

Cuban rumba performers dedicated a day of music and dance Sunday to late Cuban President Fidel Castro as they celebrated the recent announcement that rumba, one of the country’s most iconic musical genres, has been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

“Rumba for Fidel,” as the Sunday’s events were dubbed, brought together stars of Cuban rumba in the capital city Havana, while other events in other cities also echoed the celebrations on smaller stages.

Amid singing, drumming and dancing, rumba artists also commemorated Fidel Castro’s legacy, which they said included a revolution of the concept of cultural policy on the island in the early years after the fall of the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

The celebration of Cuban rumba, which has its deepest roots in African culture and has historically developed in some of the island’s poorest neighborhoods, comes after UNESCO declared the traditional music part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during a meeting in Ethiopia on Nov. 30.

UNESCO recognized Cuban rumba as an expression of “self-esteem and resistance,” especially for a “marginal layer of Cuban society and identity,” that fuses the traditional and contemporary in a genre built on “verbal and nonverbal” heritage. Continue reading “Rumba for Fidel: Cubans Celebrate Music, Culture and Revolution”