Julio Batista

Julio Batista

Ante todo cubano, luego periodista. Inquieto, polémico y sin medias tintas. Consecuente con sus ideas hasta el final. Vive para contar historias, al fin y al cabo, la vida —o eso que llamamos vida— no es más que una historia que escribimos cada día.

Ian Padrón seeks funding for filming Elpidio Valdes with actors

We found Ian in the corridors of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, with his eternal New York Yankees cap and an instant smile he is willing to return all the expressions of sympathy received. OnCuba had a short conversation with him, just a few minutes stolen from his time to discuss professional challenges and his immediate projects. Have you ever imagined what would be the human face of Elpidio Valdés? It seems that Ian has thought of that. Ian Padrón, in case anyone does not know it yet, is the son of the legendary Juan Padrón, creator of Vampires in Havana and Elpidio Valdés, a man who set his seal to generations of Cubans, planting his characters, phrases and situations in the imagination of an entire country. That night his father was honored at the 35th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema with a Honorific Coral, a deserved award for someone who has turned cartoons into art and occupied irreplaceable place in the hearts of people. What extra pressure means to you being the son of Juan Padrón and pursue fulfillment in Cuba? "Above all, being his son is a luxury. My father is a person who breathes talent,...

Challenges and future: baseball goes for more

Getting back to the Olympic program: that is the great challenge baseball today in the world facing, in Havana Dr. Antonio Castro Soto del Valle, Vice President of the International Federation of Amateur Baseball (IBAF ) said in lecture offered in the Havana’s Conventions Center. The official, who spoke on the new proposal by the international body for the return of the discipline at the summer events, explained that, given the current conditions in the world of sports, baseball and softball has only left the path of evolution to survive. Both disciplines officially will be unified in March 2014 in a single board, when the constitutive Congress of the World Confederation of Baseball Softball (WBSC), an institution that will cover more than 65 million practitioners around the world. The WBSC has already been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and established its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Antonio Castro recognized the importance of presenting a new proposal to the IOC, in which two tournaments of just six days each will be included, with eight teams per capita in a single stadium, and the presence of nearly 300 players , with which investment costs are reduced and increases the efficiency of...

Havana Club Ranks First Among Elite Brands

This time is not chauvinism. Cuba produces the best light rum in the world, according to the British specialized website International Wine and Spirits Researches (IWSR), the most important reference on that topic in the world. The flagship of Cuban rums, Havana Club, ranks 24th among the top 100 spirits in the world. It is sold in 145 countries and sales are around 3.7 million 9-litter boxes a year. If that wasn’t enough, the IWSR placed the Cuban rum in the first spot of the Elite Brands, surpassing Bacardi for the first time ever at the top. The joint venture, founded in 1993 with capital of Pernod Ricard (in charge of marketing) and Corporación Cuba Ron Cuban (production), has the potential to rise much more in the list of the most sold, especially when taking into account that it cannot access one of the largest markets in the world by the regulations of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States of America. It would be an explosion of sales for the Franco- Cuban company if it can access the American sales network. The U.S. territory is home to more than two million Cuban immigrants, a figure that...

Cubans impress in Peruvian basketball

Many complain that basketball in Cuba, specifically men’s, suffers an obvious decline in quality and, for too long now, no longer is the show that moved passions across the island. However, most are unaware that several Cuban players are in involved other leagues, true, in small South American leagues, but there are they are kings. This Sunday November 3 concluded in Ayacucho, Peru, the initial phase of this National Basketball League, qualifying event where three Cubans saw action. The first phase of the Peruvian tourney was agreed in three groups, one round, with qualification for the top two positions of each key and a wild card for the best third place. Let's be frank, the Peruvian LNB is not exactly glamorous prelude to the NBA, but neither is our Superior Basketball League. Clarified this point, let's get to what concerns us: the players. In Group C, which saw action this weekend in Ayacucho, two Cubans took much of the attention of the contest: Juan Luis Álvarez Fumero and Reinier Panfet Menéndez. Both played in that Capitalinos team that won five Cuban titles and the oldest among those who are now competing in Cuba. The two, excellent basketball player left their...

Cuban Echarte inducted to the softball Hall of Fame

Exiquio Echarte Jesus Leyva is one of the three Cubans inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Softball Federation. The Ciego de Avila former star played for more than 20 years in the national team in the sport achieving important foreign results. Echarte, one of the greatest exponents of softball in the island, is part of the golden generation of the discipline in Cuba. And during his long career, which ended in 2005 with his retirement from active sports, he collected numerous important trophies as three titles and silver in the Central American and Caribbean Games, four bronze medals in Pan American games, plus a respectable fourth seat in the Cup World and a bronze in World Championships. In nine of these events Echarte was part of the All-Star as first baseman, and repeatedly led offensive by averaging over .350, all of which speaks clearly of his high quality as an athlete and justifies with ample reasons receiving this award. The Cuban player, who deserved the ring accrediting him as a member of the select group of players for their quality and contribution to the discipline are inducted each year, told media in his native province that this...

Key West – Havana, just 30 minutes apart

Just 30 minutes will separate Key West and Havana from next November 15. Since then, and after 51 years without direct passenger flights, they will resume operations between the two places. Havana will receive charter flights of up to 19 people three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), Isaac Valdeş, sales director for Mambí Travel explained. This company, based in Miami, will join Air MarBrisa to jointly operate the airline which will have a small fleet of small twin-engine aircrafts, which will cover the journey between the two cities, near in history and far today for political reasons. To undertake the project the Key West International Airport, closer U.S. territory point to the Cuban coasts, has made infrastructure investment totaling nearly 2.5 million in the last four years. In 2009 the then director of the facility, Peter Horton, applied for a special permit to the Treasury Department of the United States to resume flights between the two airports, barely 144 kilometers apart. These trips, established since 1920, were constant until 1963. The re-establishment of flight services occurs just in the year that marks the centenary of the first flight Key West - Havana, ​​which made Cuba the first international...

Figueroa surprises in Doha by finishing second

Following the invitation of the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM by its French acronym) to participate in the Champions of Champions, it was clear that Cubans José Figueroa and Leidis Laura Moya were already among the elite of the sport in the world, something quite complex if we consider that this discipline is largely dominated by Europeans. However, what no one imagined was that the young Cuban man made history by finishing second in the maximum modern pentathlon event which was held at Al Shaqab sports center, in the city of Doha, capital of Qatar. This Saturday, October 27, in a remote location, Figueroa had a luxury day, one of those he will never forget. The Cuban athlete ended on top of the fencing and riding events, which allowed him getting his best score of ever and finishing second at only 40 units of the event winner, Frenchman Christopher Patte, who accumulated 5760 points. Figueroa, current champion of the NORCECA Championship held in last July, is only 22 years old and stands today as one of the great promises of the sport. Alejandro Guarch, head of Cuban coaches and Pentathlon National Commissioner, has described the presence of these two young...

Tony Castro and the possible return of MLB to Cuba

In an interview with ESPN and not with a Cuban media, as usual, Antonio Castro, IBAF vice president, hinted at the possibility that Cuban players in MLB could return to play for the national team, opening thus a door which was closed for decades. Tony Castro, former Cuban national baseball team doctor and current official of that international agency, explained to that major sports network that after the changes to be undertaken by Cuban sport movement, it would be necessary also to transform the way to relate with players abroad. "Cuba needs to change too. We are part of this world. It's indeed a risk, but you take risks in every moment of life, "Castro said in conversation with journalist Paula Lavigne, in the show Outside the Lines. These words, coupled with the recent opening for Cuban athletes that can now be contracted in any foreign league, are perhaps the clearest warning of what could mean a complete shift in the way the country and its political leadership have understood the sport. Regarding the obvious possibilities that this measure opens for the players and their origin country, Castro noted that the current situation does not benefit either party. "It is...

Cubans Invited to World Combat Games

From today until October 27 the Russian city of St. Petersburg hosts the II World Combat Games, in which three Cuban boxers and the women’s judo national team will participate. The presence of the Cubans, invited by the organizers of the event, respond to the undeniable quality that have achieved both disciplines in the country, which is proven by the many medals won in many different events. Suffice to say that since 1992 these two sports have been contributed with Olympic medals for Cuba. The judo girls will be present as a team in a competition extremely strong; they will have to deal with teams from China, Japan, South Korea, France, Brazil, Mongolia and the hosts. The composition of competition ensures only one thing: a relentless struggle, a real battle between the world's best women's teams. The Cubans, winners of the bronze medals at the World Championships in Paris (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2013), will be led by Olympic and world monarch Idalis Ortiz (+78 kg). Ortiz is joined by her fellow Yanet Bermoy, double Olympic silver medalist in the 52 kg; Anailys Dorvigny (57 kg), Maricet  Espinosa (63 kg) and Onix Cortes (70 Kg). This time the women's...

Manolin in Cuba … forever

Manolin, El Medico de la Salsa, will return to live in Cuba . The single story, with no frills or drama, is enough to become a main headline. As shocking as any other explanation is superfluous. Cuban musician, who has lived for 12 years off the island, firmly announced his wish: “I want to establish myself in my country and forever “. It is not a decision taken lightly. “I’ve been to do it for a long time and I think now is the ideal time. Those of us who have walked more in life, we know that there is nothing like the family home. There is no place like your own land and that is what I need: to live in my country to the rest of my life, “the artist said. The truth is that the decision will cause a stir in its first stage, some will blaspheme against him, and others will shrug in disbelief. Meanwhile, Manolin will be playing around Cuba the music that in the 90's made him one of the greatest exponents of timba . We found him in the gardens of the Hotel Nacional with his friend Pachito Alonso, outstanding Cuban musician who...

The art of fishing in Jardines del Rey

The crystal clear waters around Coco and Guillermo Keys , in the northern coast of Ciego de Avila, will be the scene until next October 18 of the 4th Jardines del Rey Big Game Trolling International Fishing Tournament. The event, hosted once again by the Guillermo Key Marlin Marina, has managed to maintain its presence and establish itself as the second tournament of its kind in Cuba, only surpassed by the traditional Ernest Hemingway Fishing Tournament . For this occasion seven vessels are registered from Canada, Russia, Spain, UK and Cuba, which will be represented for the first time by Ciego de Avila’s fishermen. The ships will compete under the rules of the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) in the form of "tag and release ". After catching preys, the competitors, veteran fishermen with years of experience in the business, must take three photos of the fishes ​​to validate fishing before a jury made up by members of the Cuban Federation of Sport Fishing. This kind of competition allows protecting the species which are subject to the capture without lose the spectacular experience of the classic battle between fish and man, an attraction that , after millennia, continues to fascinate...

Oscar Hijuelos: between New York and memory

Oscar Hijuelos was the first to break down a door that had been closed for decades. Son of Cubans, born in New York, he made ​​history by becoming the first Hispanic to win a novelist fiction Pulitzer for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, in 1989. Unfortunately, Oscar Hijuelos died on October 12 in Manhattan, at age 62. He collapsed in the middle of a tennis match, as if struck; perhaps of a heart attack or other complications like that, that's the least important. He died quietly, without the pomp of his characters. He died, in short, as any common man dies as any grandfather who tells us stories dies. We'll never know, perhaps it is better that way-what things go through the mind of a dying man in the final seconds of his existence. What I understand at the moment is the gap men like this leave behind. Hijuelos, torn between the forces of his roots, devoted much of his work to describe the processes of adaptation of Latino communities that immigrated to the United States during the twentieth century. The Mambo Kings ..., work that launched him to stardom and was later taken to the...

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