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Overlooked No More: Amrita Sher-Gil, an Artist Known as the Indian Frida Kahlo June 21, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, India, Uncategorized, Women.
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With her paintbrush, Sher-Gil explored the sadness felt by people, especially women, in 1930s India, giving voice and validity to their experiences.

With her style and her emphasis on women, Amrita Sher-Gil became known as the “Indian Frida Kahlo.”CreditHistoric Collection/Alamy

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people.

Amrita Sher-Gil, a pioneer of modern Indian art, used her paintbrush to depict the daily lives of Indian women in the 1930s, often revealing a sense of their loneliness and even hopelessness.

She painted women going to the market, women at a wedding, women at home. Sometimes she showed women bonding with other women. At times the works seemed to convey a sense of silent resolve. It was a rendering rarely seen in depictions of Indian women at the time, when portrayals tended to cast them as happy and obedient.

The melancholic painting “Three Girls” for instance, shows women wearing passive expressions, their solemn brown faces a contrast to the vibrant reds, greens and ambers of their clothing. The mood is despondent, as though the women are waiting for something they doubt will ever come along.

Three Girls” is one of many paintings by Sher-Gil that captured the raw emotions of women in India in the 1930s.CreditThe Picture Art Collection/Alamy

With her style and her emphasis on women, Sher-Gil became known as the “Indian Frida Kahlo.”

She understood the loneliness of her subjects well, since their moods were a reflection of her own. Because of her upbringing, she lived between worlds, often searching for a sense of belonging.

 

Sher-Gil was born in Budapest on Jan. 30, 1913, to the Hungarian-Jewish opera singer Marie Antoinette Gottesmann and Umrao Singh Sher-Gil Majithia, a Sikh aristocrat and a scholar of Persian and Sanskrit. She began taking formal art lessons at age 8, when her family moved to Summer Hill, Shimla, in northern India.

At 16, she moved to Paris and continued studying art, first at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and later at the École des Beaux-Arts. She had early success.

Her 1932 painting “Young Girls” received a gold medal in 1933 at the Paris Salon, the renowned art show. It depicts her sister, Indira, wearing European clothing and a look of confidence while sitting with a partially undressed friend, Denise Proutaux, whose face is obscured by her hair — one woman bold and daring and another reserved and hidden. The painting reflects the different aspects of Sher-Gil’s personality — outgoing and sociable, as she was known among those who encountered her at Parisian parties, or tucked away and painting vigorously.

In addition to paintings of relatives, lovers and friends, she created self-portraits that showed her “grappling with her own identity,” one of her biographers, Yashodhara Dalmia, wrote in “Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life” (2006).

They often reflected an introverted and troubled woman caught between her Hungarian and Indian existences.

Self Portrait as Tahitian” evokes the style of the French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, who often painted dark-skinned Tahitian women. Her own brown body is painted in Gauguin’s stylization of the female nude, with a plain ponytail and distant, somber expression on her face.

Sher-Gil also felt conflicted about her sexuality. She was drawn to the idea of a lesbian affair, Dalmia wrote, “partly as a result of her larger view of woman as a strong individual, liberated from the artifice of convention.”

She formed a strong bond with the painter Marie Louise Chassany, and some art critics — including her nephew, the artist Vivan Sundaram, who also wrote a biography of her — believed her piece “Two Women” reflected their longing for one another.

At one point her mother asked about the nature of their relationship, according to the book “Same-Sex Love in India” (2000), by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai.

Sher-Gil denied intimacy with Chassany in a 1934 letter to her mother — translated from Hungarian for Vanita and Kidwai’s book.

 

Though she cited the “disadvantages of relationships” with men, she said of Chassany: “We never had anything to do with each other in sexual terms.” She added: “I thought I would start a relationship with a woman when the opportunity arises.”

She did, in fact, have relationships with men, seeing marriage as a way to gain independence from her parents. In 1938, she married a cousin, Victor Egan, revealing only afterward that she was pregnant. He arranged for an abortion.

Despite being acclaimed for her work, Sher-Gil felt unfulfilled in Paris. She wrote that she was “haunted by an intense longing to return to India, feeling in some strange inexplicable way that there lay my destiny as a painter.”

She went back in 1935, and found the inspiration she needed as she traveled around the country and reconnected with its people.

Her family had close ties to the British Raj, but she sympathized with the Indian National Congress, which had been fighting for the rights of average Indians who sought independence from Britain.

She described her technical style during this period as becoming more “fundamentally Indian.”

“I realized my artistic mission then: to interpret the life of Indians and particularly of the poor Indians pictorially, to paint those silent images of infinite submission and patience, to depict their angular brown bodies,” she wrote.

In 1939, Sher-Gil and Egan ultimately settled in Saraya, a village in India’s Gorakhpur district.

She was depressed while living there. After a time, she and Egan decided to relocate to Lahore, a growing cultural center in India that is now part of Pakistan. Days before her first significant solo art show in Lahore, she became ill.

Sher-Gil died on Dec. 5, 1941. The cause was believed to be complications from a second, failed abortion performed by Egan, Dalmia wrote in her biography of Sher-Gil. She was 28 and was just gaining widespread popularity and taking on commissions.

Sher-Gil’s legacy has grown in recent years. Unesco, the cultural organization of the United Nations, declared 2013, the 100th anniversary of her birth, the international year of Amrita Sher-Gil.

“I painted a few very good paintings,” she wrote in a letter to her mother in October 1931, when she was 18. “Everybody says that I have improved immensely; even that person whose criticism in my view is most important to me — myself.”

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Images 8 March 17, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Health, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: some miscellaneous images.

 

My money’s on Mona.  The further away you are when looking at this, the more interesting it gets.

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Early NRA???

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Sorry for the blurry image, but it is to remind us that almost every industrial nation has had universal health care, in some cases for half a century.  The U.S. to its shame lags behind; and while the fight is on against Trump’s killer amendment to Obamacare, let’s not forget that Obama, by adopting the Romney Republican plan, set back for decades the goal for single payer universal coverage.  What he did was to etch in stone the monopoly over health care to the voracious private health insurance industry.  He didn’t even put universal health on the table when developing the legislation, which is nothing more than an enormous gift to the private insurers.

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Here I am at my spiritual political home, the campus of U.C. Berkeley.  I cut my radical teeth here, and I hope that they haven’t lost their bite.  This picture was taken last year in front of Sather Gate.  As an undergraduate on the Student Council, I established the Hyde Park Free Speech area, which served as an embryo for the Free Speech Movement two years hence.

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Uncle Sam Meets Doctor Freud July 29, 2016

Posted by rogerhollander in Arms, Art, Literature and Culture, Humor, Political Commentary, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: I am a lover of cartoons, puns, politics and psychology.  When all four combine in one image, it knocks my socks off.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

 

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Mississippi Stuntmen August 7, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Police, Race, Racism.
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by BAR poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner

Our poet in residence reflects upon the unique

and innovative skillsets deployed by those who

allegedly take their own lives in police custody

Mississippi stuntmen

by BAR poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner

THANKS

to

Nina

Everybody knows about

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selves

with

dental

floss

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time

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acting normal, hiding severe depression, recurring

suicidal thoughts, until the scene shifts behind bars

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thrillers, whodunits, horror flicks; Masters of the

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on the set—gaffers tape, super hero’s cape, head-

phones, chicken bones, eagle feathers, trailer tethers—

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Hire Mississippi stuntmen, …”everybody knows about

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stuntmen? David Copperfields in orange jumpsuits making

Handguns appear out of thin air, making dash-cam video dis-

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who’ll bring your blockbuster in under budget!

Independent contractors in right to work states

of mind: No pensions, 401ks, no social security,

no

Insurance.

Mississippi stuntmen travel and teach in Texas,

Arkansas, in fact, all over the U.S…. Up south,

Down

south,

Out

south,

Anywhere south of the Canadian Border!

Mississippi stuntmen come certified by CWS:

Crackkkers With Stars!

Raymond Nat Turner © 2015 All Rights Reserved

Kids Who Die August 6, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Police, Race, Racism.
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Let My People Go May 11, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Torture, War on Terror.
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Roger’s note: I wish I knew a way to enlarge this picture.  Its bright colors and brilliant sunshine suggest the mind of an artist filled with optimism and hope.  Would you believe that it was painted by a Guantánamo detainee who has been cleared for release after years of illegal imprisonment yet languors in this hellhole because mean spirited American Republicans have the power to continue his torturous confinement?

 

FOJ-5-11-GAB_art

On Thursday, CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) Senior Staff Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei will be heading down to Guantánamo to visit several of CCR’s clients, including Ghaleb Al Bihani and Mohammed Al Hamiri. For men like Ghaleb and Mohammed, who have been cleared for release and yet remain trapped in Guantánamo because of politics, these visits are a lifeline and a way to hold onto a tenuous and fragile hope that they will someday be free again. “I’m working hard to recover that sense of being a human being which was stripped away from me,” Ghaleb told us in a recent letter. He was cleared for release a year ago after a Period Review Board (PRB) hearing at which he, Pardiss, and his team made the case for his release. His hopes raised then, he is fighting hard to keep them alive now. “I will not allow these conditions and circumstances to become a stumbling block into my unknown destiny. He who has will and determination has also strength.” Ghaleb’s case is playing out against the backdrop of debate in Washington around the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). House Republicans are hellbent on including new restrictions on Guantánamo transfers in the NDAA, dedicated to the seemingly sole purpose of ruining President Obama’s legacy. This week the Senate will mark up its bill, with a vote expected later this month. Politicians play games for cheap political gain while men like Ghaleb wonder if they will leave GITMO alive.

Guantanamera! May 9, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Cuba, Latin America.
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Roger’s note: I scan the world news every day with particular interest in Latin America, Canada, the USA, and the Middle East; and what I see and what I put on this Blog relate largely to struggles for political, environmental and economic justice.  It is appropriate, however, to from time to time to take time out to celebrate what the human spirit is capable of.

I have a particular affinity for Cuba, which I had the opportunity to visit many times during the 1980s and early 1990s and travel around a good part of the country.  What I found in Cuba, which sets it apart from any of the other Latin American countries I have visited or lived in, is a spirit of pride, the pride of having stood up to the North American Behemoth and achieved its independence after decades of imperial oppression.  I will never forget the huge billboard at the entrance to the Bay of Pigs (Cubans call it Playa Girón) that proclaimed the “first victory over imperialism in the Americas.”  It is the same pride that showed itself recently when, after a half century stand-off, the Goliath Obama finally blinked.

As you will read below, “Guantanamera” refers to a woman from Guantánamo,  It is beyond irony that in our day Guantánamo has become synonymous with torture and degradation; but we cannot let that take away from the celebration of life and love that is reflected in the lyrics and performance of this amazing song.  Thanks to Adrian Sanchez, who posted this on his Blog.  I urge you if nothing else to click here in the first paragraph and listen to the Playing for Change performance.

 

Guantanamera

A song which we all should know. Its name alone resonates deep within me and in perfect time with my heartbeat. Guantanamera. I love it when a song, its rhythms and beat, affect me with such physicality. Guantanamera is one such song. Imagine my excitement when I recently heard a new version of this Latin American musical gem. For anyone who has not heard “Guantanamera” and would like to listen: click here and please tell me what you think of it.

Guantanamera

This  version of Guantanamera is a vast collaboration of no less than 75 Cuban recording artists. It was produced by Playing for Change [1]. They recorded and produced this track with Jackson Browne, who stated that traveling with Playing for Change across Cuba was one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of his life.

As with the most popular versions of this song, this latest recording, is based upon that of Julián Orbón (1925-1991). It was made with a selection of verses from poems by the Cuban poet José Martí’s Versos sencillos, Simple Verses, intertwined with these three very special musical words:

Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera.

Guantanamera - Music for change

The Simple Verses are rich in profound and colourful symbolism [2]. The couplet below captures the simple power of the words; a call from the past, to today, for tolerance and respect:

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.

Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo una rosa Blanca.

Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera.

… …

I grow a white rose
in July just as in January
for the honest friend
who gives me his open hand.

Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera.

And for the cruel one who tears out
the heart with which I live,
no thistle or nettle I grow;
I grow a white rose. [3]

Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera.

José Martí

José Martí’s writing (1853-1895) contributed greatly to the Spanish modernist literary movement. He is known as one of the greatest figures of the Cuban Revolution and a Latin American intellectual. He also became a symbol of Cuba’s independence against Spain in the 19th Century. In time, this song was destined to become an unofficial anthem of Cuba.

But … what do guantanamera and guajira mean and why does this refrain appear between the verses?

Both words come from the aboriginal taínos dialect, an indigenous Caribbean ethnic group, and became part of the Spanish language, as did many other indigenous words.

Women from the countryside in Cuba, mujeres del campo, are named guajiras (masculine: guajiros).

Guantanamera_cover

As for guantanamera, it sounds similar to the term Guantánamo, the easternmost province of Cuba; and indeed guantanamera refers to a woman originally from Guantánamo (masculine: guantanamero).

Who was that anonymous country woman from Guantánamo, who inspired such a song? She became part of the legend of this song, as the Brazilian Garota de Ipanema, the Girl from Ipanema, did with the homonymous song?

As with any myth, the origins of the song Guantanamera are lost in the mists of time. However, the controversies about the genesis, and authorship of the tune and lyrics still remain.

We do know that, by the end of the 1920’s, this song was already being sung in Cuba and nearly 100 years later it has a new lease of life and it is infusing a new generation of fans to carry it onwards.

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In the hot humid afternoons of 1930’s Cuba, the radio program El suceso del día, The Events of the Day, Radio CMQ, in La Habana, became very popular. Crime stories selected from the newspaper were sung proficiently to the tune of Guantanamera by the Cuban singer/songwriter/composer Joseíto Fernández (1908-1979). Actors also re-enacted the news events live on air and for several years Guantanamera became one of the most followed radio programs in Cuba.

It is said that Joseíto Fernández would have sung variations of the refrain in other radio stations, such as guajira holguinera (woman from Holguín Province) or guajira camagüeña (woman from Camaguey Province).

According to one of the accounts, he fell in love with a woman from Guantánamo who was very jealous. It appears that the “guajira guantanamera” found him talking (or flirting with …) another woman and following a tantrum and a curse, she ran away and he never saw her again. That day, he sung the song as usual and the audience was so enchanted with that version that they called the radio station in their hundreds to request that he continue singing those particular lyrics and he did.

Guantanamera cover

The best known version of Guantanamera is the version by Julián Orbón, who used Joseíto Fernandez’s original music, including the well known refrain, intertwined with the fragments of José Marti’s Simple Verses.

The American songwriter and activist Peter Seeger (1919-2014) reworked and recorded a live version of the song on his album We Shall Overcome, at Carnegie Hall, in 1963.

In 1966, The Sandpipers recorded it, to some acclaim, and their version become a Top 10 hit in the UK. Click here to listen to their version.

When the beat of the music is with the beat of the heart, a song becomes a musical treasure. However, Guantanamera transcends its music, the words of Marti’s verses convey that perennial call for tolerance, respect, inclusiveness, equality and freedom; and it makes Guantanamera a song standing for those rights that are universal and indivisible.

Then, “in July just as in January, I grow a white rose”.

Guantanamera - The Sandpippers

— —

[1] Playing for Change is a movement founded by Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, created to inspire and connect the world through music, with the belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.

[2] The book Poemas sencillos, Simple Verses, comprises 46 poems written in a short form, using simple words, deliberately putting meaning over form. Besides this, the poems are of regular rhyme, scheme and alliteration.

[3] Free translation.

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About hoxton spanish tutor info

Hi, my name is Adrian Sanchez. I am passionate about words and languages, particularly Spanish, the language I learned at my mother’s knee. I am curious about how languages change and evolve. I am a qualified Spanish Teacher (CLTA) and a journalist. I have taught in literacy campaigns in Latin America and given Spanish tuition in Spain and in the UK. I would like to share some of my thoughts on the Spanish language; and particularly on what I have learned from my students, who in many ways have become my teachers throughout the years. Spanish is a vast and beautiful language and I would like you to accompany me on a journey of discoveries, so I will be presenting two blogs per month and I would like to hear from you. Here is a link to my webpage: spanish-tutor.info You can visit my blog here: spanishtutorinfo.wordpress.com Email: info@Spanish-tutor.info Thank you!

  1. Hugo Isa says : 19/02/2015 at 7:54 am la guantanamera de Joan Baez

     

Rest in Power, Eduardo Galeano April 16, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Latin America.
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Posted on April 13, 2015 by chrmaria

 

 
Dedicated to The Nobodies
The nobodies: the sons of no one, the owners of nothing.
Who don’t speak languages, but rather dialects.
Who don’t follow religions, but rather superstitions.
Who don’t make art, but rather crafts.
Who don’t practice culture, but rather folklore.
Who are not human, but rather human resources.
Who have no face but have arms.
Who have no name, but rather a number.
Who don’t appear in the universal history books,
but rather in the police pages of the local press.
The nobodies,
the ones who are worth less than the bullet that kills them.

losnadies

Los Nadies, by Eduardo Galeano

 

Eduardo Galeano’s Words Walk the Streets of a Continent April 15, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, History, Latin America, Media, Uruguay.
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Roger’s note: Two literary giants and champions of social justice — Eduardo Galeano and Gunter Grass — passed away earlier this week.  Not surprisingly, North American media paid more attention to the latter, a European, than they did to one of the Western Hemisphere’s own super heroes, who nevertheless was not exactly a household name in the North American imperium.  Not to take anything away from Grass, the importance of the life and work of Eduardo Galeano for the peoples of Latin America and the notion of social, political and economic  justice cannot be overestimated.  If you read only one analysis of Latin American history, make sure it is his “Open Veins …”  One reviewer characterized Galeano as a cross between Pablo Neruda and Howard Zinn.  That is not an overstatement.

 “She’s on the horizon…”

by BENJAMIN DANGL

0-1-0-Galeano

The world lost one of its great writers yesterday. Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano died at age 74 in Montevideo. He left a magical body of work behind him, and his reach is as wide as his continent.

During Argentina’s 2001-2002 economic crisis, Galeano’s words walked down the streets with a life of their own, accompanying every protest and activist meeting. Factories were occupied by workers, neighborhood assemblies rose up, and, for a time, revolutionary talk and action replaced a rotten neoliberal system. Galeano’s upside-down view of the world blew fresh dreams into the tear gas-filled air.

In the streets of La Paz, Bolivia, pirated copies of Galeano’s classic Open Veins of Latin America are still sold at nearly every book stall. There too, Galeano’s historical alchemy added to the fire of many movements and uprisings, where miners of the country’s open veins tossed dynamite at right-wing politicians, and the 500-year-old memory of colonialism lives on.

Up the winding mountain roads of Chiapas, past Mexican state military checkpoints, lies the autonomous Zapatista community of Oventic. One day a few years ago, Galeano’s familiar voice floated over the foggy, autonomous land, reciting children’s stories over stereo speakers.

At a World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Galeano entered a steaming hot tent where hundreds had gathered to hear him speak about the Uruguayan water rights movement in which the people had “voted against fear” to stop privatization. What I remembered most about the talk is how much he made the crowd laugh.

And one night in Paraguay, with the smell of cow manure and pesticides lingering in the air, small farmers besieged by toxic soy crops gathered to tell stories of resistance, stories they linked to Galeano’s accounts of the looting of Latin America and struggles against greed and empire that were centuries in the making.

With the small mountain of books and articles he left behind, Galeano gives us a language of hope, a way feel to feel rage toward the world while also loving it, a way to understand the past while carving out a better possible future.

“She’s on the horizon,” Galeano once wrote of utopia. “I go two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I’ll never reach her. What good is utopia? That’s what: it’s good for walking.”

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

Some more tributes:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/14/galeano-bolivar-with-a-pen/

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/8/eduardo_galeano_chronicler_of_latin_americas

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/04/14/we-will-miss-you-eduardo/

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/13/eduardo-galeano-open-veins-of-latin-america-writer-dies

 

GUANTANAMERA! April 3, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Cuba, Latin America.
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Roger’s note: Since my first visit in 1980 (where on the beaches of Havana I joined in with veterans of the successful  defense of the Bay of Pigs invasion in celebrating the 20th anniversary of their victory), I have had a love affair with Cuba.  I have visited the islands many times and traveled the island from east to west.  I have lots of stories to tell, but that will wait for a future post.  For now, enjoy the recording, which in ways I could not begin to approach, communicates the joy and spirit of the Cuban people and their culture. When Obama, for the wrong reasons, agreed to resume normal relations with Cuba, the Cuban people rejoiced.  This represented a 50 year struggle finally won by Cuban David over the American Goliath, at least for the time being.  It remains to be seen if an American invasion of capital can succeed to wipe out the gains of the Cuban Revolution in a way that 50 years of economic embargo and clandestine dirty tricks could not.

I came across this recording at this web site: https://spanishtutorinfo.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/guantanamera/.  You can go there for much more on Guantanamera.  The word Guantanamera, by the way, refers to a woman of Guantanamo, and this song is the polar opposite of the Hell that the United States government has made there.