Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ramesses II... a sad type of poem on mortality and power


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart....Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

How I stumbled upon this poem.... hmmm I read lots of comic eh... and X-men is one of them, anyway I was remembering a character named Apocalypse whose real name was En Sabah Nur, he was the villain but i found his servant peculiar his servant was Ozymandias an Egyptian King, so it ran across my mind just now and I decided to investigate who Ozymandias really was. And so here I am with a newly discovered poem I like. Ta daaaaah.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Well This Isn't Kingston...

It's 10:30 am, the sun is bright and warm, un like the magnifying glass heat you feel in the twin island republic I refer to as Kingston and St. Andrew. The roosters that aren't exactly apparent crow throughout the day. The dogs shuffle and scuffle, the rest or creatures laze, graze and bask in the breeze. I watch the clothes drying in the sun and breeze. The ackees, breadfruit, apple and mango trees all seem to strum along to the easy pace of life. This gentle folks is definitely not Kingston.

12:00 midday, people shuffle through "gulley"(bottom of Orange Street for the unfamiliar) selling wares, smoking weed, smoking cigarettes, selling fruits, cussin', chatting and I as struggle to navigate the Car through human traffic and the familiar stench of uncleaned drains wafts in, it dawns on me that in Mobay the pedestrian, loiterers and Mad people (vagrants for the Trinidadian) are king. They drag their collective feet through every corner, crevice, street and lane. In Kingston I'm positive most of them would have been in the hospital or dead by now.

Letter to the editor I wrote, but doubt will get published

Letter to the editor I wrote, but doubt will get published. In the defence of Bob Marley for National Hero.

Dear Editor,

The arguments against Bob Marley being given the title of national hero are many and varied. However it is my view that he be given the title. Mark Wignall and Melville Cooke in their December 19 and 12, 2004 repectively and in their respective newspapers have advanced very reasonable ideas but I still disagree with them.

Wignall contends that “…weed-smoking Marley, who was a Rastaman, wrote some of the world's best pop music. There is no doubt that Marley has put Jamaica's name on the map, even more than our Olympians and the Reggae Boyz. …England, footballers and pop singers are given knighthoods. We have given Marley our local rendition of that. Let us leave it at that. The man was an entertainer.” I would like to know if he is using Marley as a weed smoker to discredit him. I would also like to contend that we have been trying to escape “England and European” standards for a very long time only to use them now to try and qualify or justify our choice in heroes and even govern our thinking or existence.

Wignall proceeds to argue that “…Matter of fact, Bob was into a bevy of women, and then of course, along came the children.” It is my understanding that we never intended to declare Marley a deity, an as such the fact that we are honouring people is acknowledge the fact that they are but men who have triumphed serious adversity and odds to excel. Marley is such a case he has triumphed poverty, a corrupt and unscrupulous music industry to bring music to people everywhere and become the voice of oppressed people everywhere.

He goes on to say “Leave Marley as the rebel he was…” but all the heroes on our national roster were rebels to one system or in one regard or the other. He being a rebel is not inconsistent with him being a hero. Marcus Garvey was no conformist or traditionalist in deed nor thought, neither was Marley.

Cooke contends Marley ought to be a Pan-African hero, and then contends Garvey is our Hero, but there is no bigger Pan-African the western hemisphere ever saw than Garvey, whose ideas do inform Marley’s, so how does Pan-African ideology discredit Marley. Also Marley never tried mass migration in the ways Garvey did. If Garvey’s vision saw fruition then there may not have been a Jamaica or a black Jamaican.

Cooke posits the argument that “Anywhere you go in the world the first thing people think of when they hear Jamaica is Bob Marley. Now that is all well and good for the Jamaica Tourist Board and the all-exclusive hotel owners, but being Jamaica's poster Rastaman does not a National Hero make.” Seeing that along with remittance that tourism is our islands biggest income earner and tourism is hinged on the wholesale prostitution of Marley in someway shape or form, then I do believe it is time our debt to this man be repaid. Even in death he is a vector in our very economy.

I believe we need another hero and more to look to. Not as deities but to inspire men that they too can be men and something more. Marley is no Messiah. He is a man that has done more than many men and their generation after will ever do for this island, “gi di man him props, stop the fighting.”

Friday, January 07, 2005

Aluta Continua: Cuban Updates... issue #6

Cuba tourism increases, as Canadians top list of visitors

Canadian Press

HAVANA (AP) - Tourism to Cuba increased eight per cent in 2004 compared to 2003, with Canadians topping the list of visitors, followed by Europeans primarily from Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

The rise occurred despite new U.S. restrictions sharply cutting back on how many Americans visit the island.

More than two million tourists visited the Caribbean island, the largest number ever, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced. Last year, about 1.9 million foreigners visited Cuba.

Marrero told reporters tourism now represents 41 per cent of Cuba's foreign exchange income - a leap from just four per cent in 1990.

Few of those now visiting Cuba come from the United States.

By mid-September, visits to the island, primarily by Cuban-Americans, had dropped 25 per cent since the United States implemented new travel restrictions June 30 cutting the number of authorized family visits to Cuba from once a year to once every three years.

© The Canadian Press 2005

Cuba-EU Relations Warming Up

For more than a year, ties between Brussels and Havana were put on ice. Now the Castro regime aims to reignite diplomatic relations with the EU – but not with all members.

Cuba has decided to resume contact with the embassies of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Portugal and Sweden. According to the country’s foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, Havana wants to once again reach out to Brussels.

But the EU list is far from complete. Fidel Castro’s government only plans on reviving ties to those EU members who no longer invite dissidents to official embassy affairs in the Caribbean island’s capital. Among those not included are the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The partial warming up of European relations comes after the EU council on foreign affairs recommended in December that the bloc end diplomatic sanctions. Earlier in the week, Roque acknowledged that the change in EU policy had led to Havana’s decision. Already a month ago Cuba reestablished contact to Spain, Belgium and Hungary.

End of diplomatic sanctions

Havana's Malecon boulevard
In 2003 the EU put all relations with Cuba on hold after some 75 dissidents were arrested and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison. Castro’s government responded in kind by breaking off all ties to European embassies in Cuba.

Since June, however, 14 of the dissidents have been released and Brussels has been reconsidering its position.

“Both sides have moved back closer to each other because they are both interested in resuming a normalization of relations,” said Bert Hoffmann from the Institute for Ibero-American Studies in Germany.

“The Cubans have made a significant step towards resuming ties by releasing a portion of the dissidents,” he said and added that the Europeans had done their part by refusing to invite dissidents to receptions in their embassies.

It’s also likely that this “low profile diplomacy” will lead to an agreement about releasing all of the dissidents in the near future, Hoffman said.

EU divides over Cuba

Castro has ruled Cuba for 51 years
Not all EU members are happy about resuming relations with Havana. Those countries still on Castro’s black list have resisted a reorientation of EU policy on Cuba. As a result, contact between the Cuban government and the embassies of the Netherlands and the three new member states is still frozen.

“The EU needs to be careful that the issue of Cuba does not divide the bloc,” Hoffman said. “Due to their (communist) past, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia understandably have a different relationship to Cuba as compared to Spain, for example.”

Havana recognizes this and as a result tries to conduct as much business bilaterally as possible and avoids dealing with the EU as a whole.

Hoffmann predicted that it will not come to a big rift in the EU over Cuba – unlike two years ago with the war in Iraq. But he is nonetheless doubtful that the EU will be able to speak with one voice regarding Cuba. Interests in the 25-member bloc are still too diverse, he said. While people in Madrid think first of the economy in Cuba, those in Prague are primarily considered with human rights issues.

Michael Knigge (ktz), DW-WORLD.DE

Cuba has lowest infant deaths in Latam region

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

HAVANA (AFP) - Cuba's infant mortality rate has fallen to less than six deaths per thousand babies born, the lowest in Latin America, according to government figures.

The figure of 5.8 deaths per thousand contrasts with the 37.3 per thousand infant deaths when Cuban leader Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, official newspaper Granma reported Monday.

In the last 12 months, 127,062 births were registered on the island of 11 million. Some 735 infants died largely due to perinatal infection and congenital defects, according to the report.

Cuba puts strong emphasis on health and education. Its low infant mortality rate compares to eight per cent in Costa Rica and Chile, according to UNICEF figures.

Cuba is among 36 countries worldwide with the lowest infant mortality rate, "despite being blockaded for more than four decades by the world's most powerful country," Granma said, in a jab at the United States. It noted that the US infant death rate is seven per thousand.

Despite travel restrictions tourism to Cuba up


—Tourism to Cuba increased 8 percent this year compared to 2003, despite new U.S. restrictions sharply cutting back on how many Americans visit the island, state media reported Monday.

More than 2 million tourists visited the Caribbean island this year, the largest number ever, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced at a weekend event in the eastern province of Holguin.

Last year, about 1.9 million foreigners visited Cuba. Canadians top the list of tourists, followed by Europeans, primarily from Italy,
France, Germany and Spain. Marrero told reporters tourism now represents 41 percent of Cuba’s foreign exchange income — a leap from just 4 percent in 1990. Last week, Economics Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez told Cuba’s National Assembly that earnings from tourism increased by 15 percent in 2004 compared to the previous year.

Rodriguez also said Cuba expected up to 2.05 million tourists by year’s end, and predicted that as many as 2.3 million people would visit Cuba in 2005.

Few of those now visiting Cuba come from the United States. By mid-September, visits to the island, primarily by Cuban-Americans, had dropped 25 percent since the United States implemented new travel restrictions June 30 cutting the number of authorized family visits to Cuba from once a year to once every three years.

Programming by Ayten Alizadeh. Copyight by IntraNS. All rights reserved.

'Cuba has highest ratio of teachers in world'

Message from Her Excellency Enna Viant Valdes, Ambassador for the Republic of Cuba on the occasion of the 46th Anniversary of the Cuban Revolution "Forty Six years ago, the first of January 1959, the victory of the Cuban Revolution the people of Cuba put an end to a neocolonial domination and achieved full independence and sovereignty. For the first time in its history it had the possibility to implement a policy of social justice and respect to human dignity for every Cuban citizen.

Cuba was a country where the best land and main resources belonged to a few foreign companies, with hundreds of thousands of landless farmers, unable to get medical assistance or education for them and their children and with 30% of adult illiteracy.

Today the virtues of the educational system in Cuba, show a nation with the highest ratio of teachers per capita in the world: one for every 36.8 inhabitants, Cuban educational system, is completely free, and use audiovisual and computer programs at the various levels of teaching. Medical care is also free and there is social security for the elders and disabled. The country allocates more than 12 million pesos for health, education, security and social assistance, culture, housing, science, communal services and sports equivalent to 59% of total GDP.

A great feat was the achievements of Cuba at the last Olympic games in Athens, ranking in 11th place, among the first fifteen countries in the world, With 27 medals, 9 of them gold 7 silver and 11 bronzes showing once more the quality attained by the Cuban policy on physical and sport education.

Despite the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on our country for over 46 years, which have cost more than US$79 billion, the average rate of growth of the Cuban gross national product has been steady and grew at 5% in 2004.

The tourist sector is growing at an average rate of 9.5% in arrivals if we compare the same period in 2003. It has surpassed for the first time, the figure of 2 million visitors to Cuba last year.

The successful results in various fields of the economic, social and cultural life of Cuban society were achieved thanks to the hard work and the unity of Cuban people and his leader President Fidel Castro and its conscious support to the correct of the Cuban government and also to the priceless support of the peoples of the world.

On this happy occasion, we can not forget the longstanding links of friendship and mutual support and cooperation that has been existing between Cuba and Sri Lanka for 46 years availing ourselves of the opportunity to wish the Sri Lankan people the peace, happiness and prosperity that it deserves and that friendship, collaboration and understanding will continue to prevail in our relations".

Belize Prime Minister Thanks Cuba for Healthcare Assistance

Havana, Jan 3 (AIN) Cuba was thanked for its cooperation in the field of health by Belizean Prime Minister Said Musa during an annual ceremony commemorating the 46th anniversary of the island's revolution.

The Prime Minister made his statements while marking the occasion with Cuban doctors, nurses and technicians who are serving in the Central American nation as part of the Integral Health Program established in 1999.

Also present at the ceremony were Belize's national development minister and health care officials, reported Granma newspaper on Monday.

Cuba's ambassador to Belize, Eugenio Martinez Enriquez, characterized the Integral Health Program as another "beautiful" example of the assistance that Cuba provides many countries.

The head of the Cuban Medical Brigade, Dr. Kenia Monjes, presented a report on the accomplishments of the program over the last five years in Belize, where over one million people have been treated by Cuban health professionals and at least 65,000 lives have been saved.

Cuba fights to keep AIDS in check

By James C. McKinley Jr.
The New York Times
Posted December 26 2004

HAVANA · Like many prostitutes who ply their trade in the darkened bars and discos near Havana's tourist hotels, Maria says she does not go out every night. But whenever money gets tight and her 12-year-old son is hungry, she puts on a red miniskirt, puts rouge on her lips and heads for El Conejito bar, a thinly disguised rendezvous point.

"Most of the tourists come to look for girls, tobacco, you know, the things they cannot get in their country," she said. "They say the Cuban girls are very hot."

Maria, who is 36 and insisted that her last name not be published, said she worried about contracting AIDS and forced her clients to use condoms, every time. She is knowledgeable about the disease, having learned about it through the government's anti-AIDS program, and she was tested twice during a stint in jail last year for prostitution. Since then, she said, she voluntarily gets tested regularly at the free health clinics.

A decade after an economic collapse forced thousands of young women and men into prostitution, Cuba has become something of an anomaly in Latin America: a destination for sex tourists where AIDS has yet to become an uncontrollable pandemic.

Cuba has the lowest infection rate in the Western Hemisphere, less than 0.1 percent of the population, according to the World Health Organization. The infection rate in the United States is six times that in Cuba, and Cuba's rate is far below that in many neighboring countries in the Caribbean and Central America.

That is not to say the disease is not spreading in Cuba, and some outside the government say a thriving sex industry has contributed to its spread. On July 3, 1998, the Cuban government said 1,980 people had tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS since 1986. Since 1998, 3,879 more have been discovered to have the virus, according to statistics released by health officials; in just six years, the number of newer cases has nearly doubled.

Cuban health officials acknowledge that the number of infections has increased, as in most countries, but they say the overall rate is very low for a population of 11 million.

"Prostitution is not an aggravating problem in the epidemic," said Dr. Rigoberto Lopez, the director of the National Center for the Care of Persons with HIV-AIDS, saying that only a few of the 280 patients he cares for at the main sanitarium for AIDS patients in Havana, known as Los Cocos, are former sex workers.

For more than a decade, the government has run an intense public-education campaign in schools and on state-owned television and radio stations, promoting the use of condoms and informing people about how HIV is transmitted. The system of free primary care clinics in Cuba has also led to the early detection of the virus in many people, Cuban and U.N. officials say.

In the early 1990s, Cuba quarantined people with the virus, and those discovered to be infected are still required to stay three to six months in one of Cuba's 13 government AIDS sanitariums, where they receive treatment and counseling on how to survive with the virus and how to avoid passing it along. Once they leave the hospitals, the patients are closely monitored in their homes by social workers, officials say. U.N. officials who track AIDS say Cuba has done a better job than most countries at corralling the disease.

The low levels of the virus in Cuba and the inexpensive price of sex compared with other places have made the island a destination for male tourists seeking women.

In Havana, the sex trade becomes obvious after sunset. Around 10 p.m., young women in skimpy attire begin gathering outside the main tourist hotels, asking men if they would like to go to nightclubs, where a sex-for-cash proposition is usually made.

Sex workers seeking tourist clients can also be seen outside certain discos and bars, or hitchhiking along the Malecon, the main highway separating Havana from the sea, to proposition tourists.

In interviews, several said the brutal economic conditions in Cuba under the U.S. embargo, where monthly state salaries do not buy enough food for a month, had pushed them into the business.

Most work for themselves, and on most days, they say, they can count on $50 to $75 from Europeans, plus meals, drinks and gifts.

The government periodically cracks down on prostitution, they said. Undercover police officers work the streets and clubs, looking for prostitutes. An arrest can mean a two-year prison term. But some women said they kept relationships with pimps to pay off the police.

For the most part, the women who work as prostitutes say they are looking to link up with someone who can take them out of Cuba, or provide them with a steady income. Many are part-time prostitutes, who go out only when their meager state salaries run out.

Hermita, 28, a secretary at a school who earns about $8 a month, was trolling for tourists near the Hotel Inglaterra in Old Havana on a recent evening. She has a 2-year-old daughter from a marriage that did not last, and she said she needed money for food, clothing and shoes.

"When I am with a foreigner, I try to be with them for the whole time they are here," she explained. "Above all it's about the money." Ideally, however, she would "meet a foreigner, marry him and be able to travel, without having to leave the country forever."

Outside Jardinas 1830, an outdoor disco on the Malecon also known as a place to pick up prostitutes, Maria A. and her sister, Yamilet, two young women from Camaguey province, were showing off their legs and midriffs to tourists who approached the club, hoping someone would invite them in for a drink or take them to a rooming house for the night.

Maria A., 23, said she gave up working as a hairdresser and started sleeping with tourists two years ago. She said she came close to striking it rich when an older Italian tourist had agreed to pay for an apartment for her. But they quarreled on a subsequent visit, she said, and now she is on the hunt again. In the meantime, she collects $40 to $70 a night from any tourist she can lure to a rooming house with which she has a mutually beneficial arrangement.

"Nobody does this because they like it," she said, drawing on a cigarette. "I would marry someone to get out."

Sleepless in Mo-Bay

Its. 3:00am, roosters crowing, dogs still shuffling, Dax's hamsters seem as sleepless as I am, running in their never ending wheel. Mosquitoes eat me away, and Fanton Mojah song "When I rise" is humming off somewhere in the background at one of those mysterious sessions that go on in the night that I never seem to know where it is. Me really, I just stepped in from off the road, hunting fun and excitement on the streets of Mo-Bay never found it, not at Margueritaville or Mo-Bay Proper. So here I am documenting my life as it were. Pre-occupied with life after undergrad, the real world, life without UWI, Caribbean Integration, Social Decay in Jamaica, The flogging of dead horses know as tourism, development in Mo-Bay particularly in the intellectual arena, Communism/anarchy, absentee girlfriends and pursuing the arts and making money out of it.

The days are much 'rainier' and cooler here. The night are down right chilly. As a friemd of mine points out to me "the ka-tet (group brought together by destiny: see Stephen King's Dark Tower series) is broken." The term 'tempus fugit' The usual entourage of friends may quite possibly never be the same again. But as it were I have work to do, the higher powers will it so, things that have gone a wry must be set back, new worlds must be forged etc. So these days I spend my time consuming DVD documentaries (The weather underground, Farenheit 911, El Che etc), listening to the host of great new music coming out (Richie Spice, I-wayne, DYCR, Junior Kelly, Fanton Mojah, Jah Cure, Sizzla to name a few). I will be taking out membership at the doctors cave beach and attending Wayne Brown's poetry class. Seeing that he accepts none of my submissions (gee, I'm hurt). I spend alot of my days thinking about all taht I'll miss at UWI, free fetes, Laurayne and Leslie, cute girls, Carla Moore and crew badgering and berating me (really will miss that). Hmmm oh well here is to better things, hopefully all paths will meet again and our stars will all cross.

© Yannick Nesta Pessoa & Azteka Designs MMIV (2004 a.d.) ®

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Yannick's Quotes: Edition #5... First for 2005

"...well professions and jobs... u climb through the bureacracy an all the red tape to middle management and then get redundancy cheques that pay nothing that ur worth and an income that never will compare to the boss... u become the pencil pushing mindless desktop, suit and tie drones and zombies that perpetuate the evil capitalist and neocolonist as well as liberalist engine we call earth..."
- Yannick Pessoa
On speaking with Monique "Lock" Sloley

© Yannick Nesta Pessoa & Azteka Designs MMIV (2004 a.d.) ®