Bárbara Maseda

Bárbara Maseda

Marius Jovaisa, fotographer and triathlon athlete. Photo: Blog Maratonolaukas

The Man Behind “Unseen Cuba”

When the aerial photos of Cuba taken by Lithuanian Marius Jovaisa began to be published on the Internet, we saw more than one expression of wounded, nationalist pride bemoaning the fact a foreigner had come along and captured those images before Cubans could. But Jovaisa’s status as a foreigner played a very small role in this feat, which required five years of his life, spending one million dollars, putting his patience to the test and even an interrogation by Cuban authorities on suspicion of espionage. The secret to the success of this initiative – which anyone familiar with the workings of Cuban institutions would dismiss as impossible – is to be found in the photographer’s athletic background. The obsessive and perseverant attitude he developed as a triathlon contestant – not being blonde or having been born in Europe – was what allowed him to master the “extreme sport” of pitching any unusual idea to Cuban institutions and negotiating the precipices of the island’s bureaucracy. “I have always been attracted to adrenaline sports,” Jovaisa told OnCuba in an interview conducted over the Internet. “I’ve done paragliding, skydiving, bungee jumping, wake boarding, snowboarding and surfing. That’s how I came to be interested...

Richard Blanco: An American Poet Made in Cuba

Physically, Richard Blanco could easily pass for Cuban in the streets of Havana, where he’d be just another man in his forties who has aged well, good looking, having the genes of Spanish immigrants from a not too distant generation. He would pass for Cuban even after opening his mouth, because he speaks Spanish with a Cuban accent, and is capable of the most perfect “Que vola, asere?!" or any other local slang phrase. But when the conversation is about literature –he told me when we were discussing the best way to conduct this interview that he kindly granted OnCuba— he prefers to do it in English because the Spanish he learned at home wouldn’t suffice to talk about more elevated things. “As I always like to say, I was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain and imported to the United States,” he said, and I realized that Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis was quoting him when he introduced him to the audience that heard him recite his inaugural poem at the opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on August 14. His parents, both Cuban, left for Spain in 1967 to get to the United States –there were no direct...

Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of the United States in Cuba. Photo: Roberto Ruiz

U.S. Embassy in Havana Readies to Raise Stars and Stripes

The Stars and Stripes will be raised on August 14th at the entrance of the building that used to house the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and that, since July 20th, became the Embassy of the United States in Cuba. The symbolic act will give continuity to the one held in Washington, D.C., the day the Cuban flag was hoisted at the inauguration of the Cuban Embassy. The trip of Secretary of State John Kerry to Cuba to take part in the inauguration ceremony on Friday, the avalanche of cameras and press, and the crowd of onlookers which will most likely fill every balcony in the area, will serve as public confirmation that the change in relations between the two countries is sealed. Amid the intensity of the arrangements for the ceremony and the agitation that can be perceived in the aisles of the U.S. mission in Havana, its chief, Mr. Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who currently holds the post of Charge d’Affaires, devoted a few minutes to answer OnCuba’s questions about the future framework of operations of the new embassy. What are the main changes deriving from this transformation from interests section to embassy? As an embassy we will be able...