Gabriela M. Fernández

Gabriela M. Fernández

IMASUB, zoom to the Cuban seabed

IMASUB, zoom to the Cuban seabed

Underwater photography is largely responsible for taking the aura of mystery away from the bottom of the sea, as much as it is also inevitable for those who have no experience of diving. Characterised by technological and human challenges that have entailed it capture such images taken under immersion rarely leave lovers of nature, and of photographic art in general, indifferent. For this reason, the Gaviota Tourism Group organised for the sixth time last June, the International Underwater Photography Meeting IMASUB 2016, at the International Diving Centre Maria la Gorda, in the south of the Pinar del Río province. The event usually takes place over several stages: arrival and Information Meeting (where the Jury and the rules of the contest are presented), diving (both free and competitive), submission of photos and the jury’s decision. On 6 June, 2016 the 162 IMASUB participants were received in an exceptional Cuban natural setting; the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, which lies within the CIB Maria la Gorda. Followers of professional diving from the United States, Mexico, Chile, Spain and Cuba as host country attended to join IMASUB. While the rest practiced free diving (available in day and night options), the second day of the event the...

A roadtrip with Cubaoutings

A roadtrip with Cubaoutings

What is the difference between reserving a guided tour from the hotel or risking it with an offer from a small private agency? In the case of Cubaoutings, it’s the personalised attention, accentuated by interacting with a small business whose owners are the very same guides who reveal the interior of the island to you. “They show you the real Cuba, and that is what we wanted to experience: get to know the good and the bad and the ugly. We didn’t want the impression given by a luxury resort”. Katarina M decided that trips to the most famous tourist sites and the photos taken from inside the window of a climate controlled bus were not going to be enough. Because of that, she looked among the offers on the internet and found Cubaouting, a private agency described by its owners as “the best way to get to know Cuba”. “The clients have various way of booking. They can contact us directly from the web, via our email, or via our social media: Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn”. Gloria Machado León, co-owner of the business, guide and organiser, told OnCuba. She share various administrative roles along with her...

Putting Cuba on the map, literally

Putting Cuba on the map, literally

Cuban engineer Jorge Luis Batista is a sort of “ambassador to Cuba” for Open Street Map, a collaborative international platform designed on free software that brings together over two million people, united by the goal of creating a world map as detailed as it is open. Launched in 2004, the platform champions the creation of maps - through each user’s knowledge of their neighbourhood, city or country - that are free for anyone to use, without licenses that restrict them to institutional use. Like with Wikipedia, there are various ways of contributing to this source of common knowledge: from plotting a road or tagging a hospital through to coordinating events, like the "Mapping Parties." Jorge Luis Batista began to work on the running of online cartography, and then joined the OSGeo foundation, a non-governmental organisation that provides support and promotes the collaborative development of geospatial technologies and data. At the time, the foundation had just created a chapter for Spanish-speakers, and Batista was nominated as part of the board of directors, of which he formed part from 2008 to 2011. The foundation puts into practice a model of internet democracy, with elections, public discussions and participatory rights. The rules are...

Photo: Jordi Rafel Bergé

EnvioCuba.ca: Virtual shopping, real results

Orquídea García lives on her own in the neighborhood of La Vigía, Camagüey. She suffers from various health problems and her daughter Teresa María Cordero doesn’t like her going out alone; so from Italy, her family ensures that she receives monthly deliveries of essential goods. And so her son-in-law Giusseppe Cerroni puts the chicken, mince, detergent and anything else his mother-in-law might need into the online “shopping basket.” This way, it’s becoming even easier to support friends and family in Cuba from abroad. In just a few clicks, services like enviocuba.ca allow customers to make purchases for loved ones. Thanks to effective coordination between some of the island’s largest establishments, the idea of “online shopping” is becoming more of a reality within the greatly disconnected daily life of many Cubans, providing an alternative for those who only used to be able to send remittances or parcels. Canadian electronics company NACTWS INC and Cuban entities Cimex and TRD have teamed up to create an online version of 23 stores across the entire country, designed specifically for those with relations living abroad. These stores have a system which periodically updates the website with product availability and offers, making online purchases quick and...

Islazul Hotels: A different way to discover Santiago

Islazul Hotels: A different way to discover Santiago

Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second most important city, has lots to offer travelers interested in city, nature or beach tourism. One of the first settlements founded in Cuba, Santiago celebrated its 500th anniversary this July, with its Antonio Maceo airport opening a gateway to the world. The Islazul Hotel Group, one of the largest in the country, is making the most of this occasion to position its hotels among the best options in the island’s eastern region. Santiago is renowned for its hospitality and cubanía, features prioritized across all services offered by this national entity. Hotels like the Rex, San Juan, Las Américas or Gran Piedra are not only excellent options given their comfortable rooms and exceptional restaurants, but also their location, close to places of interest; providing guests with a more complete tourist experience. For example, visitors can enjoy an unparalleled view of the city center from the Rex Hotel’s new terrace-bar. Located directly opposite the busy Plaza de Marte and next to the shopping center bearing the same name, this hotel, built in 1952, was reopened in the summer of 2013, immaculately restored to its original condition. Internet is also available via Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby...

Alberto Pujols, a popular Cuban television actor, poses for a photo by artists Luidmila and Nelson, to be superimposed on a representation of Havana’s Malecon ocean drive produced using electron microscope images captured by Maria Dolores Durruty.

The World of Cuba’s Electron Microscope Art

National Physics Award laureate Augusto Gonzalez is the brains behind a project that, for more than four years, has been combining images captured using electron microscopes with the portraits of renowned Cuban artists and scientists. Electron microscopes are used to capture the images of tiny objects, the kind that cannot even be seen using traditional microscopes – structures as small as atoms, for instance. The result is not a conventional photograph but a representation derived from an electronic scan. The peculiar beauty of the images thus obtained gave Gonzalez the idea of sharing these with other scientists and the general public. But many exhibitions of these types of images – affording us a glimpse at our microcosm – have already been organized around the world, so he thought of inviting a number of artists to put together art pieces, or appear in them. An electron microscope image captured by Augusto Iribarren (Cuban Physics Society). “I don’t think they understand the process all that well, but everyone liked the idea a lot. Doing this, for instance, I discovered that Alicia Alonso is fascinated by science,” Gonzalez says. The idea that science isn’t as removed from art as...

The CRF19 strain of HIV was not so new

On February 19 we published a story that marked the Cuba trending topic on the Net. It had come to light the existence of a more aggressive strain of human immunodeficiency virus, characterized by triggering AIDS more quickly. The informational boom came largely from a report in El Nuevo Herald, but by the time of our report on Cuban television had linked CRF19-a native strain of Africa with the rapid development of AIDS in a group of patients on the island. An article in the journal EbioMedicine revealed results of the study by the University of Liege and Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), in conjunction with the Institute of Tropical Medicine "Pedro Kouri" IPK (Cuba). Implications? The most recognized of HIV variant usually take 10 years to develop the disease; however, the sample diagnosed by studying the "new" strain developed AIDS within the first three years. An ethical question raised by various media that replicated the news kept extra attention on the subject, for criticizing the fact that a group of patients did not receive treatment during the three years between diagnosis and the onset of the disease, based on the qualifier "treatment naive" as used in the article on...

Warning sign in the only Cuban nuclear reactor, located in the INSTEC / Photo: Marita Pérez Díaz

Nuclear power in Cuba, uses and misuses (I)

The nuclear or atomic energy is commonly related to its darker applications such as armaments with potential for mass destruction or major disasters that have been linked to the operation of a nuclear power plant: Chernobyl in 1986 or Fukushima in 2011. The first, triggered by human error, the second by a natural event. For this reason, the use of energy obtained from nuclear level processes in certain isotopes of chemical elements is usually subject to controversy. Although it is one of the "cleanest" energy, malicious dealings and errors in implementing a technique can bring first-order consequences to mankind. However, the existing debate takes into account the advantages that the use of such energy has brought to various aspects of human life, among which highlights health. Cuba uses X-rays from early last century, one of the applications of nuclear energy in medicine. Later, the country adopted other nuclear techniques in radiation treatment for various cancers. All this before 1959. In fact, the Caribbean island is the founder of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), established in 1957 as a United Nations project. Over the next decade the new leadership of the country, a policy that Fidel Castro had announced in...

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