Cuba’s other revolution is green, not red

In Copenhagen they are debating how to end deforestation, but in Cuba’s Pinar del Río they were replanting 50 years ago, creating lush, unspoilt valleys

Cuban hills ... typical bungalows in Las Terrazas, Sierra del Rosario Nature and Biosphere Reserve, Pinar del Rio. Photograph: John Harden/Robert Harding/Rex Features

Birds and butterflies are swooping above us and, as our taxi reaches the summit of this forest road just 40 minutes from the heat and noise of Havana, the view opens to an undulating landscape painted every shade of green. Before Castro these hills were dusty yellow and brown scrub.

If Copenhagen needs a model, this is the most eloquent I know, a visionary example of reforestation and the long term benefits it brings. While the rest of the world is ripping up forests in the name of minerals and wood, Cuba has been replanting its tropical forests in the name of jobs, the environment and a lush holiday destination for decades. This policy has worked so well that in 1984 Unesco gave biosphere status to 26,686 hectares of forest in the western region of Pinar del Río, where I am heading to stay at Las Terrazas, 50km from Havana. Continue reading

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Fidelity

This is a ten minute excerpt from the Cuban documentary ‘Fidelity’. The film offers an  insight into Cuban life from the perspective of the people. A fascinating portrait of a complicated society, balanced precariously between past and future, revolution and capitalist penetration.

Whilst the international press speculates on the imminent death of Fidel Castro and the Cuban community of Miami is already celebrating his funeral, on the island the condition of his health is a state secret.

As the umbilical cord that ties every Cuban to the revolution is beginning to be severed, a new energy is emerging in the country. An ex-fighter of the Sierra, a television actress, a gigolo, a young ballet dancer, the custodian of a church and many other Cubans give voice to the moods, aspirations and fears of the islands people – the old warn against the risks of the penetration of imperialism, whilst the young dream of a freer society, economically efficient and open.

The film will be showing next Wednesday 15th July at the Barbican in the City of London as part of the Cine Cuba film festival.

For more information see

http://barbican.org.uk/film/event-detail.asp?ID=9374

Cuba50

CUBA 50 is a hub for any event, large or small that aims to celebrate and showcase the best of Cuban culture and talent in 2009.

From world class touring music and dance to national and regional theatres, galleries and exhibitions, Cuba 50 will be out there offering something for everyone, from live performances and film festivals to schools workshops and seminars.

Alongside sporting links to the Olympiad and Sustainable Living initiatives, this will be the biggest ever celebration of Cuban culture, of art, music, education, dance, film, photography and theatre.

From a country renowned for its vibrant cultural mix, events will be taking place across the UK throughout 2009 and culminating with the Cuba 50 highlight, a major London festival in Summer 2009.

From the rhythms of salsa and the cha cha cha, to the beauty of Afro Cuban dance to the precision of formal ballet; theatre, in a specially commissioned series of readings and performances of Cuban drama; seminars and talks from leading cultural commentators; art and photography exhibitions in some of London’s leading galleries; Cuban film festivals around the country; and the fantastic Barbican Cuba50 festival, featuring some of the world’s best musicians.

People across the world have come to love Cuba through seeing and experiencing the island’s culture, born of hundreds of years of history and a rich mix of cultures.

This is a unique festival and the biggest mix of performances and events to celebrate Cuban culture in Europe – Cuba 50!

Check out the Cuba50 website for more info.

Socialism In the 21st Century

Cuban socialism has placed human beings at the centre of society and development. Cubans enjoy a system of social welfare provision which is among the best in the world. They have created a system of democratic representation which gives an active role to all sectors of society. The Cuban Revolution has become synonymous with international solidarity, sending doctors and educators around the globe. All this achieved despite nearly 50 years of military and political aggression from the United States, including a brutal economic blockade.

Cuba’s example is an inspiration to those fighting imperialism and underdevelopment all over the world. Now a united front has been formed in Latin America. Governments representing the working class and oppressed of Venezuela and Bolivia have united with Cuba to create the Bolivarian Alternative, directly challenging the regional and global hegemony of the United States and its allies. Continue reading