Alicia Cid

Alicia Cid

Photo: Potatoes USA.

Cuba-U.S.: To continue sowing the potato seed!

Potato’s contemporary history in Cuba has a bit of drama, suspense and even action. It is told by the pounds per capita and sold rationed in the producing provinces and in the country’s capital; the endless lines and the sense of unease of not knowing when “your next round will come.” That panorama could change, but it will not solely depend on the access to the seed market and the technological package, but rather on the domestic capacity of Cuban agriculture and, of course, the climate. To explore the business potentials in the fields, a representation of Potatoes USA – the marketing organization of 2,500 potato farmers operating in the United States, based in Denver, Colorado – visited Cuba last March 27-31 as part of an “an informational exchange mission,” according to Capital Press, a U.S. West coast publication specializing in agriculture. The delegation, made up by 16 seed producers, agronomists and members of the Potatoes USA council, met with officials from the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, with the presence of national producers as well. In Matanzas and Cienfuegos they visited two cooperatives where the tuber is harvested. “Despite the many challenges facing Cuban growers—such as lack of...

Photo: Johan Persson

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba captivates United Kingdom

Danza Contemporánea de Cuba (DCC) is reaping pure applause and praise from critics during its third visit to the United Kingdom, invited by Dance Consortium, a group of major theaters interested in importing international dance to that country. The Nottingham Post described the Cuban company’s presentation in the city’s Royal Concert Hall as “exuberant.” “A ray of welcome sun in this cold February night…an incredibly agreeable and vibrant night of inspiring dance by the fabulous Danza Contemporánea de Cuba in the first leg of its current national tour.” Meanwhile, The Times classified with four out of five possible stars the proposal of three diverse choreographies with which DCC showed its sensuality, energy, versatility and discipline on stage, concluding the review by describing it as “exhilarating.” The program for Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall comprised “Reversible,” by Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle López Ochoa. “It starts with the metaphorical birth of a man and a woman, each one lifted by separate groups. What follows is an always changing series of duets and dances for nine men wearing grey skirts and eight women wearing grey trousers. A couple unsuccessfully attempts to change clothes, which culminates with the time in which all the dancers are...

Mimi Imfurst. Photo: Glenn Garner

The first U.S. drag queen in Havana

We already knew that the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba would not only be through diplomatic means. After the visit of athletes, academicians, artists, religious leaders and students, precisely on December 31, 2016 U.S. drag queen Mimi Imfurst came to Havana to confirm that once the door has been opened, no one waits to enter. The performance given by Mimi, a participant in the U.S. RuPaul’s Drag Race television show, was the first presented by a U.S. drag queen on the island. It was arranged with El Divino, a project sponsored by the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX) for the promotion of health in the group of MSM (men who have sex with other men), in addition to creating recreational spaces for the LGBTI community in Cuba. Through the agency, specializing in organizing cruises and vacations for gay persons, Mimi Imfurst brought to Havana a small show in which Cuban dancers took part. On her official Facebook page she described her experience as follows: “On December 31st- New Year’s Eve, I was honored to be the first American Drag Queen to ever perform in Cuba. The moment was incredible. I met with El Proyecto Divino...

First Pearl Seas cruise docks in Havana

On January 19 the Pearl Mist docked in the bay of Havana. This cruise ship belongs to the Pearl Seas line, the second U.S. company that is connecting the two shores after Carnival will inaugurate the route in March 2017. Last December the cruise ship company published on its Twitter account that it had finally been authorized by the Cuban government to start operations, and the confirmation of its arrival was also given on the social media by the general director of the General Department for U.S. Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Cuba, Josefina Vidal. The Pearl Mist set sail last January 17 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and in a 10-day journey it will sail around the island of Cuba with stopovers in the Isla de la Juventud, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa. It is expected that it will make 11 trips between the start of the year and next May. With capacity for 210 passengers, the ship, of a smaller size than Carnival’s Adonia, it will bring visitors as part of the people-to-people cultural and exchange program, one of the 12 travel to Cuba categories U.S. citizens are allowed. Timothy Beebe,...

Photo: Ismario Rodríguez Pérez

Brookings Institution takes close look at Cuban tourism sector

“Cuba would have to invest roughly $33 billion over 15 years to 2030 to achieve these targets of 10 million tourists,” the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank, estimated recently in a report that takes a careful look at the tourism sector on the island. “Tourism in Cuba. Riding the Wave toward Sustainable Prosperity,” by Richard E. Feinberg and Richard S. Newfarmer, describes that figure as massive compared to the total size of the Cuban economy (some 87 billion dollars). “It seems unlikely that sufficient financing and domestic savings would be available to reach Cuba’s ambitious goals.” Feinberg, a researcher of the Latin American Initiative, of the Brooking Institution’s study center, and Newfarmer, professor of the London School of Economics, described the current Cuban scene, in which tourism “is poised to explode.” According to the experts, no sector of the Cuban economy seems more ready to “unlock future economic expansion and generate the foreign exchange necessary to release Cuba from the hard-currency tourniquet that has throttled growth. Eventually, agriculture and industry could take off, but not before government economic policies are thoroughly overhauled, and that will take time. Other promising sectors, such as biotechnology and the creative industries, are launching...