Amílcar Pérez Riverol

Amílcar Pérez Riverol

Otro de esos tipos flacos a los que no les gusta estar al lado del camino. La fotografía, el periodismo, poemas sementales, el dopaje musical y la necesidad de amanecer cada cierto tiempo en la montaña, han terminado por reconfigurar al microbiólogo que me sobrevive. No tomo píldoras para soñar. Guajiro como soy, me tiro del gajo antes de que las ganas y el sol se pongan viejos. No sé, otro de esos flacos que van camino de no pertenecer a ningún ismo.

Photo: Yander Zamora

CIMAvax: from Havana to New York, a Bridge for Life

Statistics, as cold as irrefutable, are moving. Cancer represents one of the most complex challenges of biomedical, social and economic sciences. According to the World Health Organization (WHO),1 that disease – or system of diseases – represents the second cause of death on a global scale, only surpassed by cardiovascular conditions. Close to 8.8 million persons died due to malignant tumors in 2015. The data implies that one out of every six deaths was related to that condition. In this group, lung cancer has the highest indices of incidence, with 1.19 million deaths per year (19{bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de}). Cuba and the United States exhibit a panorama very similar to the global performance. According to the Health Statistical Yearbook,2 during 2015 malignant tumors caused on the island 215 deaths/100,000 inhabitants, while in the United States the rate has been estimated in 171.2/100,000. In both cases the figures are only surpassed by cardiovascular conditions. Lung cancer also registered the highest indices. It’s not strange then that both countries dedicate significant efforts – from different focuses – to combat this system of diseases. Thus in 2011 an informal collaboration was born between the Molecular Immunology Center (CIM) belonging to the West of Havana Scientific Center...

Our daily Trumpisms

I.Melania During recent months the social media and several newspapers have resuscitated a group of nude photos of the future First Lady of the United States, Melanie Trump. The images are fundamentally from an article published by the British magazine GQ in January 2016, when Melanie Trump – still Melanie Knauss – was working as a model. A significant group of anti-Trump activists, of systematic criticizers of the New York magnate’s misogyny, have declared these photos and the public nudity of Melanie a symbol of shame. To make sure that this is so, they have placed them side-by-side with the anti-Trump arguments as the scandal of the shameful – they surely are – sexist statements made in 2005 by Donald and published a month before the U.S. elections by the Washington Post. The gesture is deplorable. Not because it deliberately disrupts and manipulates the times, but rather because it again brings to the fore the role set aside for women - in this case the First Lady – while placing their right to carry out any type of work-related activity in the background – in this case that of model, a job as professional as any other – and being...

497th anniversary of Havana: Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol

(In)visible Havana

In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino – or Marco Polo – tells us that the City of Zaira is not made of how many steps make up the streets rising like stairways or the degree of the arcades' curves, “but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past.” Havana also consists of this. Of the height of the cannons that guard it and the English ships that once took the city. Of the kilometers of its seafront and of those who at some time were bid farewell and who one day – or none - returned. Of “the height of that railing,” like Zaira, “and the leap of the adulterer who climbed over it at dawn.” Of the light centuries that have passed between the Miramar mansions and the post-colonial added floors of Centro Habana. Of the diameter of the hole in front of a child’s running shoe and the number of smiles caused by the goals it has scored. Of the relationship between the cabin in a luxury cruise ship that recently passed in front of the Morro and the room of the fisher that has just come back from the sea at sunset....

Photo: EFE

Impeachment in Brazil, Cuba, and the Mais Médicos Program

Ruled by President of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) Ricardo Lewandowski, the Brazilian Senate conducted the proceedings—the result was already a bygone judgment—; and last week it was approved, by 61 votes to 20, the removal from office of the democratically elect president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. Michel Temer (Brazilian Social Democratic Party, PSDB)—his vice-president during this second term of office, one I do not even dare to catalog as a former ally of the head of state—is in her place. Analyst of International Politics Peter R. Brieger summarized what happened in the Brazilian Senate with a phrase: “Voted by 54 million people. Removed by 61.” Even though the math of this result is more complex—many of these votes are due to the Dilma-Temer formula presented by the former president during her 2014 candidacy—, there is an unquestionable core matter in this phrase. The approval of the impeachment process translates immediately into the fact that Brazil will be run by a politician who, if general elections are to be called right now, would only get five per cent of the votes. Moreover, Brazil is run today by an officer who will not be able to hold government posts once his...

Cuban Biotechnology: More Than a Boom

The Cuban biotechnological industry has experienced a significant rise since its boom, promoted in the 1980s with the inauguration of Havana’s Center for Biological Research (CIB) and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB). The creation of both institutions is closely linked to the ideas of Cuban former president Fidel Castro, who in 1960 predicted that: “The future of our nation necessarily has to be a future of men of science….” Following this vision, and with the help of foreign specialists like U.S. Professor Randolph Lee Clark, Cuba prioritized a significant investment in the development of its biotechnological industry. Just in the period from 1990 to 1996, the country invested around a billion dollars which resulted in the emergence of the so-called Scientific Hub West of Havana,1 a cluster of scientific centers that, in 2003, already had 52 institutions. The creation of the Hub significantly modified the panorama of the export sale of biotechnological products on the island which went from 100 million dollars a year during the 1990s to close to 300 million dollars in 2005.2 It also enabled Cuba to produce approximately 60{bb302c39ef77509544c7d3ea992cb94710211e0fa5985a4a3940706d9b0380de} of the basic table of medicines used in the country. All these factors have...

Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol

There where the city ends

There where the city ends, Cuba starts again. Every once in a while, when I’ve had enough of its noises, its streets and its tiring routine, I get away and heal myself with a trip to the bush. “El Canon” of the Santa Cruz River, where these pictures were taken, is one of the places that welcome people who, like me, need a retreat. In this part of Cuba the sun rises early and more times, and each leave, straw hat, each machete blade is a new experience. These escapes from the electric life of the city into the isolation of the rural night, are an act of reconstruction. Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol Santa Cruz Canyon, Pinar del Río, Cuba. Photo: Amilcar Pérez Riverol  

Photo: Amílcar Pérez Riverol

Cuba: the urgent dialogue with its diaspora

A few days ago two gametes texts showed on my table, such that when put together are capable of generating, as in biology, live offspring. The texts were a post of my brother, posted on his facebook wall and the speech Los Pinos Nuevos,   delivered by José Martí at the Lyceum in Tampa, on November 27, 1891. My brother, like me, is one of the millions of Cubans who "chose" to live temporarily or permanently outside Cuba. IT specialist, young, Doctor of Science that write codes today for a research group at the University of Cambridge, that of Watson-Crick and beers, with Stephen Hawking and his theory of everything. In his text my brother asks us the question: How long will our country authorities intend to blow up the bridge that communicates Cuba with its diaspora? When would they understand that the future of the nation, even despite of them, goes inexorably through the reconciliation with its exile? When would they understand, and I say, we understand- the Cuba to which we all aspire will not become ever while still starting halves in and out without establishing a solid bridge where there are no border points? My brother´s questions and...

Photo: M. Gabriela G. Camargo

Suitcases

There is no element to define more accurately the nature of a Cuban passenger than aesthetics, volume and especially content of their bags. Nothing can tell our past, concerns, intimacies, fears and oddities like that. Neither barcode or seals, nor shield alongside the huge tattooed Republic of Cuba says as much about ourselves as it does a suitcase going to or coming from abroad in the hands of a Cuban. The suitcase that contains us. The syncretic. The pharmaceutical. The culinary, cosmetic and solidarity. The borrowed, as teaspoon, and little salt. The always obese. The wheel stuck and paraplegics of arms. The metamorphic. There are in our suitcases a profound definition of the nation and at the same time, chronology, almost genetic markers of our (r) evolution. The suitcase initially resembles utopia. It is a little the horizon. Having it around represents to be one step closer to him, and one beyond ourselves. For a few nights while you go to sleep you look at it for long, full of old clothes, junk without origin and say to yourself one day, one day you will return to accommodate present and especially to bring future. And that day arrives. You take...

Doors

At dawn the city awakes at a time that won’t be part of History, among the streets named after the characters that walk on them. And then you see the doors. Doors turned into canvasses that no longer protect the castle. What castle? They are meant to let mice enter, and the dust, and the rain, and the street vendor, and the cup of coffee and the sparrow. They are always open for the good son and the prodigal one. Everyone. They are living heritage. They give shelter to the runaway slave. Doors that speak to us without a mouth, that offer me leaves torn from books. They give shelter to the most forbidden sex, and to the dreams and fears of the thief. They are still open wide by my grandmother, so she can escape death and get away from the promised heaven. They are there to allow the return of those who departed. Old, damaged, they still protect things winds couldn’t take away. They deserve medals on their old chests. They are the gates to a nation. Photo: Amílcar Pérez Riverol Photo: Amílcar Pérez Riverol Photo:...

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