Your Production Jedi down in Cuba. Just shining light on all the people, places, and things helping shape the narrative today

Posts tagged ‘cuba’


Hurricane Matthew just passed 1 week ago through both Cuba and Haiti, leaving major devastation in both our wakes. Record shopping in Havana a few days ago, this album seemed to have found me. Probably because my mind is there this moment. In Haiti, Cuba is already present and pitching in. Members of the Cuban Medical Brigade, some 648 Cuban doctors and other professionals, remain on site. They are expected to offer medical care and disease-prevention efforts in the aftermath of the storm, including a recent outbreak of Cholera.

In all these thoughts, I wanted Haitian music marinating in my home, and then this sleeve popped in my sight, so I took the calling. I had never heard of Martha Jean Claude before and it turned out her voice is so captivating, so I wanted to know more. I learned that this woman had deep connections to the Haitian people through her folkloric and voodoo lyrics. She was not just a actress, singer, dancer, but also a philanthropist and activist. As an avid speaker of the abuse of the masses, it led to her arrest in 1952. After her play “Anriette” was released, officials deemed it anti-government so she was imprisoned, and eventually released 2 days before the birth of her child. Fearing for her life, she exiled to Cuba in 1952 (before the 1959 Cuban Revolution) with her husband, Cuban journalist, Victor Marabel. Martha eventually became an international legend, touring Paris to New York to Angola using her soulful voice to share her protest music against injustice. After 3 decades in exile, the homesick Martha finally returned to her motherland in 1986 after the fall of Jean Claude Duvalier, where she held a legendary homecoming concert.

After that, she returned to Cuba, a place she called her second home — the name of her album: “Soy Mujer de Dos Islas” (I Am A Woman of 2 Islands). She passed away in her Havana home in 2001. I just recently discovered that Cuban Painter, Michel Mirabel calls Martha Jean Claude his “Mamita” (but she is truly his grandmother from his dads side). It’s a beautiful merging of both worlds since Michel’s artwork is coincidentally displayed on the first US approved credit card in Cuba (MC) issued by Stonegate Bank this year. Michel also received attention this Spring 2016 when Usher came to Cuba and visited his studio. Here’s a toast to riding on the shoulders of our ancestors, and pushing the storyline forward at all times.

This post is also a nod to the true Grand Dame of Haitian music, and the people who are keeping it real this week helping on the ground. Donate to Waves for Water (Matthew Haiti Relief) or follow @jon_rose to see his daily diary of providing clean water to people on the ground. To use his words “Basically it’s this simple — the more support we get, the more people get access to clean water. Period. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help us so far”.

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So you’ve arrived in Cuba, and you need to check your emails. If it’s your first time, and if you are staying at a major hotel, you can easily check your emails in the hotel lobby, with the purchase of internet login codes at the business center. These codes will allow you tap into Wifi for 1 hour intervals.

However, if you are staying at cute little “casa particular” AKA, a private residence (thank you Air BnB), The wifi situation can be a little confusing. Fear not, below is a guide.

(Wifi access at the Parque Coyula, in Playa, Havana. Photo: Jauretsi)

In June 2015, the Cuban state installed 35 WiFi’s in the country. These are not free Wifi parks, but rather, one can log into Wifi with the usage of a Nauta card (Nauta cards are sold by the only Cuban phone company, named ETECSA).


Local Cubans (and foreigners alike) log into the internet using scratch-off cards from the company NAUTA. These cards can be purchased at the local phone company, ETECSA for $2 CUCS. Most tourists do not purchase these cards at the ETECSA offices, simply because the lines are too long, and you’ll find yourself wasting a full afternoon on your vacation (did we mention each person is only offered a 3 card limit purchase per person per day when bought at ETECSA?).


(Internet Log in Cards, in very high demand in Cuba)

The smart move is to troll outside most Wifi spots until you hear a local voice pass by you uttering these words under their breath: “tarjeta de internet” [tar-he-ta-de-eeent-er-net]. This is usually a local resident selling NAUTA cards on the black market for $3 CUCS. It only costs 1 CUC more, but you’ll be able to buy a bigger wad of cards in one shot. Welcome to Cuba’s black market, offering an efficient service at a slightly higher cost (but worth it for the convenience). Hello Capitalism.

Two good spots to purchase the black market Nauta cards is the exterior of Habana Libre Hotel (near the outside stairs of Havanatur office) and Miramar Business Center (front of building). If you’re feeling brave enough to weather the long lines of ETECSA, there is also an office tucked inside the Miramar Business Center. For additional places, just ask word-of-mouth once you arrive. Most Cubans are helpful with routing you to buy a NAUTA card.


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(Vedado Park. Photo: Jauretsi)


• La Rampa (from the Malecón up to cine Yara in Vedado),

• Parque de 51 in La Lisa,

• Parque Coyula in Playa/Miramar,

• El Anfiteatro de Marianao y el Paseo de la Villa Panamericana

• Parque Mónaco in 10 de Octubre;

• Pabellones Central and 14 at Expocuba (Parque Lenin)

• Calle 23, near Nacional Hotel (see Map for exact cross streets)

• Parque Fe del Valle in Havana Centro (Galeano y San Rafael)

(A few of the public Wifi spots in Vedado, opened last year)


• Parque Central – You will also need to purchase food or drink in the lobby.

• Hotel Inglaterra – You will also need to purchase food or drink in the lobby.

• Hotel Santa Isabel (Habana Vieja) note: this hotel has a weak Wifi signal, but it’s a charming hotel to stay if Wifi is not important during your trip.

HOTEL DIRECT LOGINS – No Nauta Cards here

Specific large State-Run Hotels have instituted their own “sign-ins” for a nominal fee. These hotels do not allow a visitor to log into Wifi using a Nauta card ($2-3 CUCS). These hotels charge a larger fee. There are pro’s and cons to logging in this way.

The first one being that if you need quick service, you can walk into these hotels and pay a premium price to log in ASAP, without chasing NAUTA cards on the street. Instant gratification, if you will. The con, of course, is that this option is more expensive.

Please note that when purchasing your “hour of internet”, that each hotel offers a code which expires quickly. It is important to note, because, for example, if you purchase Hotel Nacional login, the codes expire within 24 hours. If you do not return to the hotel within 24 hours, you will lose remaining unused minutes. Some hotels with Wifi include:

• Saratoga, Habana Vieja (10 CUC per hour) the code expires within 1 month

• Melia Cohiba, Vedado (10 CUC per hour) the code expires within 1 week

• Nacional Hotel, Centro Habana (10 CUC per hour) – the code expires within 24 hours

• El Presidente (4.50 CUC)

• Melia (Habana, Miramar)

More hotel options with Wifi options:

• Hotel Chateau, Miramar

• Montehabana, Miramar.

• Panorama, Miramar.

• Occidental Miramar, Miramar.

• Sevilla Hotel, Vieja.

• Plaza Hotel, Vieja.

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(Vedado Park. Photo: Jauretsi)


PHONE MODELS: iPhones tend to be trickier devices to pick up wifi signals in Cuba. Traditionally, Samsung phones (Androids) log onto ETECSA Wifi quicker than iPhones. With a little patience and tenacity to search a strong signal, both models will eventually log on.

RAINFALL: From personal experience, I’ve noticed that when heavy rain falls in Havana, that most major Wifi spots (for example, Melia Cohiba and Parque Central), are useless to log in. If you’re visiting Havana on a heavy rainfall week, I would not even bother attempting to login. If you do, prepare to lose your $10 CUCS while wrestling the whole hour with no success. Cuba has not quite understood the concept of “refunds”.

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(Vedado Park. Photo: Jauretsi)


This year, it was big news that Google offered to wire Cuba. 85 year old Jose Ramon Machado Ventura (Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party) rejected the gift that Google offered in July 2015 — that is, to install Free Wifi antennas for the country. His quote in the local state paper, Juventud Rebelde.

“Everyone knows why there isn’t more Internet access in Cuba, because it is costly. There are some who want to give it to us for free, but they don’t do it so that the Cuban people can communicate… Instead their objective is to penetrate us and do ideological work to achieve a new conquest. We must have Internet, but in our way, knowing that the imperialists intend to use it as a way to destroy the Revolution.” (Quote:

Ramon is kinda seen as part of the old guard revolutionary. Of course the other side, the hardline anti-Castro faction in Miami is having a field day with this quote and is angry that Cuba is not taking this favor. It’s so exhausting seeing these 2 forces ram heads together, like 2 stubborn rams.

While, of course I would love to see Cuba have free Wifi all over the country, it is very understandable that Cuba would have its guards up. Have we not forgotten the last US digital invasion through the usage of an absurd Cuban Twitter? Based on the USA’s latest covert operation, how could they be sure this is not another Trojan Horse?

I do firmly believe that Obama’s first visit to the island has reduced this paranoia, and hopefully paved the way to begin real open talks about lending digital infrastructure. This is a complicated trapeze walk for people on both sides looking to join forces. The 57 year ideological battle has created a deep wound, which is going to take more than 1 year to heal. With the US Presidents recent visit to Cuba, Obama announced that Google was indeed creating a deal to set up more WiFi on the island. Nobody quite understands how this will unfold, but nonetheless Google is attempting to help upgrade the island’s 2G wireless coverage. More here on this plan.

The most important thing to defend is that the Cuban people need internet… and they need it now. Access to information is everything. Stay tuned as the story of Internet evolves in Cuba.

Until that magic day arrives, good luck scratching off and logging in…







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Very excited for this new Biennial to hit Havana. With a tagline of Diseño y Prosperidad (Design & Prosperity) the first Design Biennial, called 1ra Bienal de Diseño La Habana — otherwise known as BDHabana 2016—will take place May 14–20, 2016. Open to design students and professionals worldwide, the Biennial’s first edition will feature exhibitions, symposia, and events in Havana, and in Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba.

Coordinated by Roberto Miguel Torres, the Biennial will explore issues of design and industry, creative innovation, and workshops to promote design as an element of socioeconomic development. To celebrate the exchange and promotion in relation to the presence of design in our lives towards a new reality.

Roberto Miguel Torres, who is the general secretary of the event´s Organizing Committee and director of Image and Promotion of the National Office of Design (ONDI), states: “We are referring to an event that will be first carried out on the island and its slogan acquire a higher importance given we are realizing about the presence of the design in our lives, so the prosperity cannot become an abstract concept; on the contrary, it is a necessity.” He added. “How could we have a prosperous nation? It would be by having a vision on the related development and innovation which are concepts that are certainly linked to the design and that is to say the way your office is designed, your house or the computer you are using, for instance, So we just cannot produce what is needed, we need to produce what is competitive, and it is right there where designer´s work starts.” (as reported in Cuban Art News)

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Questlove was the first person to reach me after President Obama’s announcement to normalize relations with Cuba on December 17, 2014 and ask to visit Cuba. His heart and soul has been invested in the island nation since their Havana performance in 2002, always dreaming of the day he’d go back. Enter April 2015, there was finally a hole in his exhaustive schedule, including Late Night with Jimmmy Fallon, tucked just after Coachella 2014. Cuba, here we come. It was a hell of a memory.

In addition to two nights of DJing, Questlove made good use of his time in Havana, engaging in extensive cultural research — including an afternoon of digging some vinyl, and a personal visit to the legendary EGREM studios, where most of those albums were originally recorded.

I’d like to thank the whole team who helped put this trip and video together. Let’s keep doing this!


Directors: Jauretsi & Daniel Petruzzi
Cinematographer: Hector David Rosales
Sound Technician: Adrian Garcia
Editor: Jake Remingon
Executive Producer: Daniel Petruzzi for Okayplayer
Produced by: Edgar Productor n Jefe, Okayplayer, You and Me Inc.
Sugar Barons.
All Music Courtesy of: Edgaro Productor n Jefe & Maria Bacardi, MB Records

“Me Queda Voz (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Cojimar” (Instrumental)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nunca Vida Mia”
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

“Nosotros” (Maria Bacardi Version)
Produced by Edgaro Productor n Jefe

Special Thanks to: EGREM, Fabrica de Arte Cubano, X Alfonso, Josue Garcia, La Rueda Producciones, Jorge Rodriguez, Joyce Alvarez aka Bjoyce, Tania Canet Iglesias, Cultural Island Travel

(A Man whose “Soul is Fed”, Ahmir backstage after his DJ Performance at La Fabrica)

All photos: Jauretsi

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Props to Vice for their new Cuba story, “Castroland” (aptly named for sharing the spectacle of this sometimes dark amusement park). The photo portfolio is profound, humorous, and visually strong. The short captions are intelligent and loaded. I’ve read a million predictable Cuba articles that make me yawn, but this one has a vibrant personality. You can tell the photographers really explored, walked around, and had intimate but brief conversations with their subjects.

Photographed and written by Danish guys Jesper Damsgaard Lund and Lasse Bech Martinusse, Vice says they describe Cuba as “a perpetual going-out-of-business sale at Fidel’s personal cigar factory”.

(Vice Caption: A storefront window in Havana. It can be hard to find toothpaste and soap, but if you want something esoteric like a minibear bike, they have them)

(Vice Caption: Vladimir is the star of the water ballet that plays every day at the National Aquarium in Havana. He was simultaneously elegant and masculine—a hard thing to pull off in a loincloth)

The photographers integrate tourists in the portfolio which is sorta genius since tourism is so woven into the fabric of the circus that is Cuba — see the Italian and Slovakian who visit for their freak holidays. Photos of empty discos in grand hotels and Cuban bowlers with no shoes speak volumes. This is real photography.

(Vice Caption: Cubans have been isolated politically, socially, and financially from the rest of the world for decades. As a result, their access to mass communications has always been extremely limited, and the few things they do have access to are heavily censored. It was only two years ago that the government set up an internet infrastructure and allowed people to go online)

(Vice caption: This is Cesar, a retiree from Italy. He visits Havana several times a year to meet Cuban ladies. They become his “girlfriends” and move in with him at whichever casa particular (sort of like a Cuban bed-and-breakfast) he is staying at. Cuba’s sex industry is growing because there is less work than ever for young women)

(Vice Caption: Cubans bowl too, only barefoot, and against a different color scheme than what you’ll find at the average American alley)

(Vice caption: This is Yimi Konclaze, a fairly notable Cuban rapper/DJ who just finished his second album. A friend of ours knows him and asked us to bring Yimi a hard-to-get (in Cuba) cell phone. We visited him in his tiny Havana apartment-cum-studio, where he lives with his mom, sister, and eight-year-old daughter)

Shout out to one of his subjects, a Cuban rapper called Yimi Konclaze — one of East of Havana’s photo subjects — Represent. Represent.

(Vice Caption: Friday night at the Hotel Habana Riviera. The dance floor was completely empty)

I strongly recommend you go to this link and see more photos/captions truly illustrating the beauty and the despair of this gorgeously unique island — oh yes, there is a woman with a moustache too. Go to Castroland, The Beauty and Despair of Modern Day Cuba.

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Angel Delgado
Límite continuo V
Digital print/wax
pencil/pastel on canvas,
39.2” x 47.1”

Cuba Art NY announces the opening of the exhibition Contemporary Cuban Art in New York at the Dactyl Foundation Gallery, 64 Grand Street, New York, which will be on display from October 8 to October 10, 2009. It’s a strong 3 day window to snatch up some good Cuban art today.

Arturo Rodriguez
Oil on canvas
16″ x 20

Carlos Estevez
Los movimientos
cifrados de la existencia
Oil and pencil on canvas
51″ x 63.5″

Heriberto Mora
Una dosis de amor y
un baño de luz
Oil on canvas
25″ x 24″

Armando Guiller
Spiral Work no.5
26 x 16 x 14 in.
Enameled steel-cherry

An opening night reception and silent auction will be held tomorrow on Thursday night, October 8th, at 6:00 P.M.

The artists included in the 2009 exhibit are:
Giovanni Bosch
Liliam Cuenca
Angel Delgado
Carlos Estévez
Carmen Herrera
Mario García Joya
Armando Guiller
Rafael López Ramos
Heiberto Mora
Arturo Rodríguez
Gilberto Ruiz
Arnaldo Simón

To attend the event or learn more, go to

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