Yosel E. Martínez Castellanos

Yosel E. Martínez Castellanos

Photo by Calixto N. Llanes

Cuba put the Fiesta and the United States the goals

This Friday the Havana Pedro Marrero Stadium witnessed an authentic fiesta when the Cuban and U.S. soccer teams played against each other in a friendly game that ended 2-0 in favor of the visitors. Flags from both countries, fans of one or the other team with faces painted red, white and blue, signs allegoric to the match, shouts and songs were the complement to a good soccer game, where the Cubans broke all forecasts by carrying out a great commitment, beyond coming out with the defeat. Photo by Calixto N. Llanes Approximately 15,000 Cubans attended the game at the capital’s stadium while close to 2,000 people from the U.S. were present to encourage their team. Soccer, as U.S. technical director Jürgen Klinsmann said at the end of the game, was the common denominator to strengthen ties of friendship and fraternity between the two nations. The former technician of the German team highlighted that soccer is the ideal sport to build bridges between persons from different countries. And he added that they wanted to come to Cuba because they needed to get to know Cuba’s culture and its people. He said that they were treated with a...

The Cuban Clan of Chicago

Chicago, the Windy City, Chicago, city of skyscrapers. Chicago, the city where the “famous" Al Capone built his own Mafia empire, back in the 20s in the last century. Chicago, city surrendered in April 2014 to the talent of Cuban players José Dariel Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. Can this last adagio stay for the coming five months? That would be like playing Russian roulette. And in a sport like baseball, filled with so much quality, injuries, penalties and low yields is wise not to start spreading the good news. But what we cannot do is ignore that the trio of Cubans has changed the face of the Chicago White Sox in MLB during the present season in just beyond its first 30 games. The team, based in the south of the third city in the U.S. hierarchy looks like a fetish at the feet of the Cubans. No matter how cold, no matter what the sun does not rise for these rainy days of April and May, no matter what it costs in that city to find Cuban food, no matter the distance. Chicago keeps its gratitude to Orestes " Minnie " Minoso ; the ' Titan '...

New Cuban faces in the US Major Leagues

Almost about to hear the long-for cry of Play Ball that starts a new major league season, a small group of Cubans are rubbing their hands , inhaling deeply , lowering their in front of their lockers and certainly dedicating a prayer to the " Blessed " for Him to help them debut with their right foot in the best baseball in the world. José Dariel Abreu , Miguel Alfredo González , Erisbel Arruebarruena , Alexander Guerrero and Adrian Nieto are - so far – the Cubans in charge of keeping the good performances in recent years of Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes , Jose Iglesias, Yasiel Puig and José Fernández as rookies . What a mission for this quintet of youngster, but not impossible! If anything they showed in the National Series of Cuba - discounting Nieto- is that they boast quality to shine at the highest level. Strength, speed, intelligence and know-how are qualities acquired south of the Straits of Florida side, that now, a few miles above, in Spring Training; they should refine and enhance other skills. The first is to adapt - if they have not achieved it- in the psychological aspect. They will face a new...

The best save for Aroldis Chapman

For days, weeks, I owed myself to write a paper on Aroldis Chapman. After all I would be talking of the man, since the invention of the speedometer – that has thrown a baseball the hardest in MLB history. For the boy born in Cayo Mambí , north of Holguin, pitching balls at over 100 miles per hour is like having a coffee early in the morning . No arm is stronger than his. Rivals ... far from it. But one, there is always one, challenged him and almost cost him his life. The power of a line drive out from the bat of the Venezuelan catcher Salvador Perez hit squarely in the face of Cuban , after he pitched a 99 miles per hour fastball, during the celebration , on Wednesday ,of a MLB preseason match. The stadium fell silent. The flamethrower lefty collapsed. Players and medical staff rushed to the aid of the Cuban. At least he was conscious by the cries of pain emanating from his throat. The first few minutes were of real panic. Some took their hands to the head, the other set their sights on the floor , there were shocked faces . Salvador...

The secret of the Robaina family

Before the dialogue, our interviewee left the comfort of the armchair. For a moment the room disappeared, while ... I took the opportunity to review the military photos hanging on both sides of the room. I didn’t satiate all my curiosity, since the man who went out without saying a word, returned, armed in his right hand with a flamboyant Habano. Again he occupied the chair, pulled the ashtray that served as a centerpiece, dipped his other hand in one of his pockets from where he took a lighter to give life to the Habano. Then he took the time to subtly verify the cigar, made the cut, tilted it while bringing the flame closer. Finally, he placed the cigar in his mouth to suck gently. “If we are going to talk is better to do it with a good cigar, he has witnessed innumerable transcendental conversations between politicians and personalities. The camera or recorder fails to enter places where cigars are allowed, “Carlos Robaina Pacheco, Public Relations Specialist at the Casa del Habano in 5th and 16th streets, in the Havana’s neighborhood of Miramar. His last name is no accident, son of famed producer of layers of leaves of...

Elegance and comfort to enjoy a Habano

A Casa del Habano looks more like a family dwelling. Its workers, hours before opening the doors, work tirelessly. Waiters dress and decorate the rooms, the gardener checks on the plants, clerks update listings of goods, and the bartender rubs the bar in search of the luster lost the previous night. All tasks are performed in the greatest harmony, as they talk about the latest ballgame, quality of transport, or the cold they longed for but didn’t arrive in Cuba this winter. Perhaps what distinguishes the job in recent weeks is how fast is done. What happens is that within a few days, on February 27, the Casa del Habano located in 5th and 16 in Miramar will host a dinner, accompanied by a show of live Cuban music to the delight of those attending the XVI Festival del Habano , to be held in Havana February 24-28 and it will be dedicated to honor four of the most prestigious Habanos brands : Hoyos de Monterrey , Trinidad , Partagas and H. Upmann . Each house is its own customers, and the one on 5th and 16 is no exception. "Dinner is an excellent opportunity for the participants to visit...

Butterflies, puppets and psychedelic masks at Antonia Eiríz´s house

The Papier Mache House is a difficult place to find, especially if there is only a small plaque on a sloppy wall at the entrance of the residence of the former home of renowned Cuban painter Antonia Eiríz Vazquez . Located at Juanelo neighborhood, on Havana outskirts, we found a space where art does not rest. Butterflies, kites and sunflowers adorn the walls on both sides of the winding passage; children draw traits with tempera on papers, other retouched pieces in an effort to prevent the bright to disappear. In 2004 Antonia Eiríz´s community work was rescued, nearly 10 years after her death in the United States. The place, declared Heritage S ite, aims mainly to maintain alive Antonia’s life and work, together with the promotion of creative and appreciation workshops, both in plastic arts, as papier Mache. Despite highlighting as iconic figure of Expressionism in Cuba, Antonia was linked to Papier Mache, and vice verse. However, she was an artist who did not leave any work done with this technique. Her transcendence lies in putting a whole community to work with plastic arts. She showed Juanelo neighbors how to make pieces of Papier Mache. At the beginning of the...

Hope for the future lies on a Cuban arm

The MLB 2013 season had not started and a Cuban generated a thousand of opinions among baseball experts. They claimed he was a stranger to take a place in the starting rotation, that his pitches were still very green, while others advocated to give the 20 year-old boy a chance and see his talent. Finally, seven months after the consensus is unanimous. The Cuban Jose Fernandez is a monster! The native of Villa Clara proved to be one of the few pieces that passed with flying colors his performance in a disastrous campaign for the Miami Marlins. Now that we are about to conclude the regular season, the team looks at his inclusion in the April roster as a hit. The Floridian team knows that Fernandez is going to be the image of the franchise for years to come, and is a priority to build a winner team to support his upcoming performances Maybe we hasten to say that he is a "monster". It happens that young pitchers often suffer serious injuries. But Fernandez, for now, knocks on wood and alienates his main enemy. The Marlins, aware of his quality have stopped abruptly this week his season when it remains...

Will a Cuban s ave LA?

Cosmopolitan city of nearly four million people and huge highways, which seen from above resemble cobwebs strokes. A city accustomed to the eccentricities of socialite Kim Kardashian, the sex scandals of Kobe Bryant, the bickering of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Hollywood debuting new films or revealing stars on the walk of fame. That is the city of Los Angeles, where their people can live their 15 minutes of glory. For hosting major sports clubs, it is not surprising that several of the best players chose the city to extol their careers. Shaquille O'Neal, David Beckham, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Lisa Leslie attest to this. However, dealing with the press, public, history, fame and the lights of LA is not an easy task. To this city located in southern California, came on February an unknown boy, no fixed abode, with a bad English, but he brought in his suitcase, along with a bat and a ball, the desires to shine in the firmament of the majors. At just 22, Yasiel Puig, a Cuban from the province of Cienfuegos, arrived at the historical squad of the LA Dodgers, the challenge was just beginning . Puig began killing pitchers in spring training. The gestures of his instructors were evident: The sneaky smile, whispers in the ear, thumb up, head down, like someone looking for a pearl lost in the fieldconfirmed that Puig was here to stay. The pearl was not lost; it began to be polished to become a diamond. He had to wait for debuting. With tears in his eyes the Cuban accepted the team's decision of sending him to the minors, despite his outstanding performance in the preseason. April and May passed. The Dodgers´ expectations of winning the World Series began to crumble, when occupying the bottom of the table of their division. His famous players, among injuries and poor performances, could not assert the status of favorite of the second team with the most expensive payroll in baseball. Then June came and so, Yasiel Puig´s option. Does the young Cuban could do what monsters like Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw failed to do ? Pair of homers in his second game, two days...

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