Sunday, July 11, 2010

Extraordinary times in Cuba

Laura Pollan, leader of Las Damas de Blanco, marches along Quinta Avenida in Havana on Sunday.

There has been a flurry of news in Cuba. First came the Cuban government's decision to release 52 political prisoners over the next three months. Then came the extradition of Francisco Chavez Abarca, a Salvadoran accused of carrying out violent attacks against Cuba.

Salvadoran Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez, at left in the photo below, arrived to meet with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, at right. Items on their agenda included Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes' upcoming visit to Cuba.

More news came today when Fidel Castro's photographer son Alex posted photos showing the former Cuban president visiting a research center in Havana. Alex Castro shot the pictures last week at the National Center for Scientific Investigation in Havana. One news report said Castro used a cell phone camera to take the pictures; I haven't confirmed that.

 Photos by Alex Castro. Source: CubaDebate

News of Fidel Castro's rare public appearance comes days after the Cuban government said it would free 52 prisoners held since a government crackdown on dissidents in March 2003.
Guillermo Fariñas announced he'd end his 134-day hunger strike after Cuban authorities announced the release. Fariñas is a dissident and independent journalist in the central town of Santa Clara. He began his protest after dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in February after an 86-day hunger strike.
Laura Pollan said on Sunday that at least 20 of the 52 prisoners have agreed to leave Cuba and travel to Spain. Six others refused, saying they want to stay in Cuba.
More than a dozen reporters and photographers showed up to cover the Damas' march on Sunday. The women marched without any interference. A passing motorist yelled something like, "Those people aren't news." Another shouted, "Mariconas," which means lesbians.
The Damas kneeled in front of Santa Rita Church and prayed after finishing their march, then they chanted "Freedom! Freedom!" A few minutes later as they gathered at a nearby park and some of them repeated the chant. A man who was shooting video missed that shot and asked the Damas to repeat it. One prominent member of the group refused, saying that these chants "come from the soul" and aren't meant to be repeated just because someone asks.
The cameraman asked if, well, the Damas could please be inspired again to feel it "from the soul." More than a half dozen of the women complied, chanting "Freedom! Freedom!" once again, then told the cameraman that they hoped he was satisfied.


Fidels Eyeglasses said...

I'd love to see a photo of "Pops" (Fidel)
talking on a cell phone... with a blue tooth ear piece. LoL!

Nico said...

I think he took those (official) photos with a regular camera and someone else took the photos with a cell phone.. You could be right though

Tracey Eaton said...

Fidels Eyeglasses - a photo of Fidel with a bluetooth earpiece would be a first, wouldn't it?
Nico - you raise a good question about the cell phone. I can't really say how Alex Castro shot the photos. It doesn't make sense he'd use a cell phone for such an important series of shots. And the photos on CubaDebate are good quality high-res photos - not your typical cell phone camera stuff. So I'll bet you're right - there was a regular camera in the mix somewhere...

Cuba Journal said...

Alex Castro is an excellent photographer. In the past he has traveled with Cuba's National Selection baseball team and given us excellent photos of Cuba's very talented peloteros.

I am sure that many people will be watching Mesa Redonda tonight to see the expected public appearance of his father.