Victor Lopez: “Cuba is paramount in the development of NACAC and track and field”

Puerto Rican Victor Lopez heads the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association since 2013. His management will end in 2019. He agreed to talk to CubaSi:

Why Cuba and specially Marabana for this competition?

First of all, I would like to thank Marabana’s Organizing Committee and the Cuban Athletic Federation for allowing us to add this competition to this race.

According to an IAAF order — since Sebastian Coe assumed responsibility—, it is all about inserting street races to those already established all over the world to draw the public’s attention and encourage young people, as they see elite athletes running alongside them. I believe this first edition of NACAC marathon has been a resounding success.

How do you see the area within the current world athletic panorama regarding future events?

The NACAC senior is a very important event and will be held in Toronto in August 10-12. The European and African championships will take place the same week. We hope the main stars can participate as Canada, U.S., and Cuba confirmed their attendance. Can you imagine the quality of this event with all the stars dispersed all over the world?

What’s your view on the track and field in the area and your assessment of 2017?

The area is doing fine. We are having prominent results within IAAF and we hope to continue that way. The Pan American U20 was sensational: thirteen Pan American records and one world record. U17 athletes got awesome results in Nairobi; some of them were even elite marks.

I have two priorities before ending my term as head of NACAC in 2019. The first, it is my goal that all of our events can be televised worldwide as well as the Diamond League. In this regard, we gave shape to a collaborative agreement with one prestigious TV network.

The second is related to marketing. We are sponsored by Puma and Mondo. Inserting our best athletes in quality competitive scenarios leads necessarily to preserving traditions and keep growing.

Years of friendship with Cuba. How is your relation with Cuba both as president of NACAC and Puerto Rican?

Cuba’s helps has been outstanding and your stance in favor of the development of track and field and the rest of sports is unique. The delegate of Trinidad and Tobago told me about his idea of Cuba, a third-world country mired in poverty…

There are limitations as in every other nation of the world. But Cuba has been always willing to help and cooperate with its human resources in first place with any country.

All the islands know Cuba offers its helps unselfishly. That is why we found elite throwers in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Grenada…

That is a perfect example of solidarity in sports, very similar to the one showed with those countries affected by hurricanes this season in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

We have not recovered yet and two months have already passed. I am personally grateful with this country and its people. And as the Lola Rodriguez Tio’s poem reads: we are always the two wings of the same bird.

To highlight NACAC growing power in track and field, the region won 13 gold medals, 14 silver medals, and 15 bronze medals in IAAF World Championship London 2017.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Suspicions about Concealed Deaths during Hurricane in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Nov 21 (Prensa Latina) The repetition by the Puerto Rican Government that only 55 deaths were reported due to Hurricane Maria has revived suspicions about concealment, after the U.S. TV station CNN increased the number of fatal victims to 499.

The abysmal difference between official data and those from CNN has sounded the alarm that authorities want to conceal the truth, after the collapse of the power system in the country, as a result of which 69 hospitals had no electricity and their generators collapsed due to fuel shortages.

At present, 18 hospitals still have no electricity, so surgeries are performed in a limited number using generators.

The Puerto Rican Government has requested 'evidence' of the deaths caused by the hurricane, although it controls the agencies in charge of collecting those statistics.

Public Security Secretary Hector M. Pesquera asked the funerary services to provide information on the deaths that might be related to Hurricane Maria to carry out the relevant investigations.

'Any citizens or relatives who have evidence that a death is related, directly or indirectly, to Hurricane Maria and that we have not counted it yet can provide that information for our consideration to make the relevant investigation,' he demanded.

CNN made contact with 112 funeral parlors, and nearly half of them refused to provide statistics, but despite that, the number of deaths related to Hurricane Maria increased to 499.

The TV station made it clear that some funeral parlors did not answer their phones, while others refused to provide information about the deaths reported between September 20, when the hurricane hit the island, and October 19.

The director of the Association of Funerary Parlors of Puerto Rico, Eduardo Cardona, confirmed that reporters got information from nearly half of the funeral parlors that are still operating after the emergency.

Puerto Rican Interior Minister William Villafañe insisted that the official number of deaths is 55, so he demanded evidence proving otherwise.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto recalled that Pesquera instructed the Forensic Sciences Institute to cremate 911 bodies between September 20 and October 18.

'That number is much higher than the average that the government itself has mentioned and the government has to respond about the causes and why those deaths are registered,' Cruz Soto demanded.

  • Published in World

Puerto Rico's Oscar Lopez Rivera Honors Cuba's Fidel Castro

Mementos, songs and photos were brought out for the occasion to honor the revolutionary life of Cuban hero Fidel Castro.

Fidel Castro's legacy is an example for the world, Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera said Wednesday during a tribute ceremony in Cuba for the Cuban revolutionary leader.

RELATED:  New 'Fidel' Musical Celebrates Cuban Revolution in London

Mementos, songs and photos were brought out for the occasion. The event, coordinated by the Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, and the Casa del Cultura in Havana.

“I can say this afternoon for me has been a great honor and an experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life, with the desire that other people around the world rise and follow the example of the leader in order to achieve a better world,” Lopez said to the crowd of 140 international guests and media personnel

With the assistance of the Tricontinental Audiovisual Space, Fidel's life became a living mobile of photos.

“The whole world must emulate the example that the commander in chief Fidel Castro Ruz left to us,” Lopez Rivera said.

During his visit to Cuba, the independence activist, who spent nearly four decades in U.S. prison as a political prisoner, also visited the University of Havana to speak with students.

“This country has achieved like no other poor country in the development of human resources and the system of university education has been a pillar,” Lopez Rivera told the students, adding that Cubans enjoy debt-free education.

Lopez described the strength and wealth of opportunity open to Cuban youth, saying he planned to leave the congregation of students more confident in their abilities.

He criticized the host of sanctions targeting the nation by U.S. President Donald Trump and he denounced the travel and economic bans as a means to disempower Cuban people.

RELATED:  Oscar Lopez Rivera Tells Young Cubans They are the ‘Future'

“We Puerto Ricans, those of us who love freedom, those of us who believe in independence, live deeply grateful to the Cuban people, to their government of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro, and to all those who have been in solidarity with our struggle,” Lopez Rivera told the students.

“Youth is the future of every people, it is the driving force that has made this society achieve so many accomplishments. When I look at you, I see the best of this society,” he added.

The Puerto Rican activist spent two weeks touring Cuba and will bring his visit to a close after stopping for a short time in Guantanamo Bay.

  • Published in Cuba

Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López arrives in Cuba (+Photos)

HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 13 (ACN) Happy to visit Cuba for the first time, whose leaders and people he thanked for their support for his release, the Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar López Rivera arrived in Havana this morning.

At the José Martí international airport Oscar Lopez was met by Fernando González Llort, Hero of the Republic of Cuba and president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), with whom the Puerto Rican patriot shared a four-year cell in the Terre Haute prison in Indiana, United States, in the midst of almost 36 years of unjust imprisonment, until being pardoned by former President Barack Obama.

In statements to the press, Lopez Rivera said he intends to enjoy as much time as possible with his brother Cuban people.

When referring to the situation in Puerto Rico, he recalled that it is a country colonized for more than 100 years that today suffers from the effects of hurricane Maria, while facing the lack of interest and support from the US government.

López Rivera will exchange during his visit to Cuba with the Five Cuban Heroes who served sentences in the United States, including Fernando, where in addition to the Order of Solidarity, conferred by the State Council, he will receive samples of affection and admiration of the authorities and the population.

Invited by ICAP, the independence leader will develop an extensive program of activities, which includes meetings with representatives of various sectors in various provinces, and the tribute to Commander in Chief Fidel Castro in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, in Santiago de Cuba.

As part of the support for the case of López Rivera, during the more than three decades of imprisonment, Cuba promoted before the United Nations Decolonization Committee a resolution in which it requested recognition of the right to independence and self-determination of Puerto Rico, and demanded Lopez Rivera´s release and that of other freedom fighters imprisoned in the United States.

The project, supported by Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua, was approved as a resolution by said committee in 2012, but the US ignored it.

Now, on a memorable day for relations of brotherhood between Cuba and Puerto Rico, the island receives this Puerto Rican patriot.

Edwin González (I), delegado de la misión puertorriqueña en Cuba, recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

Fernando González Llort (D), Héroe de la República de Cuba y presidente del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

Fernando González Llort (D), Héroe de la República de Cuba y presidente del Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), recibe al luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera, en el aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP

El luchador independentista puertorriqueño Oscar López Rivera (I), ofrece declaraciones a la prensa, a su llegada al aeropuerto internacional José Martí, en La Habana, el 12 de noviembre de 2017. ACN FOTO/Orlando PERERA/ICAP


  • Published in Cuba

Silvio Rodriguez Puerto Rico Tour Hails Independence Fighters

Rodriguez formed part of Latin America’s socially conscious Nueva Trova songwriting movement of the 1960s.

About 10,000 people gathered in Puerto Rico's Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Saturday to welcome back Cuban folk singer and songwriter Silvio Rodriguez, who dedicated a song to Ana Belen Montes, sentenced by a U.S. court to 25 years in prison in 2004 accused of conspiracy to commit espionage for the government of Cuba.

RELATED: Fidel Castro and Silvio Rodriguez: A Revolutionary Friendship

The singer dedicated his "Song of the Chosen One" to the leading figures of the Puerto Rican independence movement including Pedro Albizu Campos, Juan Antonio Corretjer, Lolita Lebron, Filiberto Ojeda Rios and Oscar Lopez Rivera, citing the line, "This is not a story of a common man but of a human being from another world."

Rodriguez was actually able to meet with and hug Lopez Rivera on Friday in a historic visit after receiving permission to do so as the political prisoner serves out his 35-year U.S. sentence in San Juan under house arrest. Lopez Rivera is the longest-held political prisoner from Latin America in the U.S.

Rodriguez was accompanied on stage by Jorge Aragon (piano), Jorge Reyes (double bass), Oliver Valdes (drums), Emilio Vega (vibraphone and drums) and Trio Trovarroco, with musicians Rachid Lopez, Maykel Elizarde and Cesar Bacaro, as well as the only woman on stage, flutist Niurka Gonzalez.

The prolific musician, who has released more than 20 albums, has always supported Fidel and the Cuban Revolution and he recently condemned the blockade imposed by the United States.

Rodriguez was one of the guests of the Cuban government at the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C. in July 2015, the day of the formal reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

In 2010, the 68-year-old played his first concert in the U.S. since 1980, to a rapturous reception.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban and Puerto Rican Musicians Mix Their Rhythms

Havana, Mar 24 (Prensa Latina) Cuban rap music group ORISHAS expects that soon everyone sings and has fun, with the music of new song ''Pegadito al Piso'' (Right Close to the Floor), recorded in collaboration with Puerto Rican band ''La Tribu de Abrante.''

'The song is mixing the Afro-Cuban and Afro Puerto Rican cultures, and I am sure this song can go round the world, because it is a very joyful song, with a spectacular video clip filmed in Cuba,' said one of the members of Orishas, Yotuel Romero, to reporters of Prensa Latina

'The sound of the drums, make those who don't know how to dance move', stated Puerto Rican band's director, singer and composer Hiram Abrante.

Abrante sees this kind of collaboration as a chance to let know the Puerto Rican cultural roots, and is a great admirer of the music by Orishas.

For his part, Yotuel Romero was invited to a party in Miami, and there was some attractive music, that called his attention, he asked who was playing the music, and it was the Puerto Rican group 'la Tribu de Abrante'.

'I saw what they did, and I saw a very fresh and current musical proposal, I saw young people trying to rescue the essence of Afro Puerto Rican rhythms and as Orishas does the same thing with the Afro-Cuban music, blended with the rap, I said: it is necessary to make a song with these guys,' the singer told the reporters.

After eight years of absence in their native Cuba, Romero decided to revive Orishas, the best band of hip hop in the Cuban music's history that had been founded at the end of the decade of the 1990's, together with Hiram Riverí (Ruzzo), Roldán González and Liván Núñez.

For the reunification, they recorded the video clip 'Cuba Beautiful Island', in collaboration with popular local musicians as the duet Buena Fe, Leoni Torres, Laritza Bacallao, Isaac Delgado, Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona and Waldo Mendoza.

Rosemary assumed the visual part, with a friend photographer with the intention of reflecting in a very subtle and natural way of the Cuban idiosyncracy.

'I wanted to make a non nostalgic song, a song that stands,' he underlined and exposed satisfaction to direct audiovisuals for their group and other artists, as he made it recently in this capital for Spanish Beatriz Luengo and the vocalist of the Mexican band Reik.

  • Published in Culture
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