Accoring to the BBC, the first cargo ship to sail from Miami to Cuba in 50 years recently arrived in Havana.

The ship was carrying humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine that are exempt from the US trade embargo against the communist-run island. Its cargo was made up of charitable donations and gifts to relatives from Miami's large Cuban exile population.

The vessel will now operate a weekly service linking Miami and Havana for the first time since 1962.

Original report:

UNESCO_thumb307_UNESCO will hold a workshop during the 2nd Encounter of Filmmakers from Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean and its Diasporas (Cinema ABCD) in the Dominican Republicon July 15-18. Accoring to the Prensa Latina news source, the objective of the workshop is to assisting in the development of cultural industries.

"The workshop is to explain the normative framework in which we are moving during the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions," UNESCO representative Fernando Brugman told Prensa Latina.

Reflecting upon the issue, Brugman talked of the importance of understanding that production support is essential, but equally important is support to the skill-building process and knowledge sharing."

“The idea is that all experts meeting in the Dominican Republic share a project in order to identify the main needs," the director of the Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean stated.

Responding to a question about expectations, Brugman described the first Cinema ABCD held in Havana as "amazing," where he was able to appreciate connections between people and their interest in getting to know one another.

haitiBrian Macquarrie writes about tourism aiding Haiti in Boston’s Globe:

John Gibson, a 40-year-old Oklahoman, leans back in a beach chair and watches his two children frolic in the crystalline water that laps the fine sand at his feet.

“Do I look like a towel?” he asks with a laugh as the children, 10 and 8, run toward him, dripping, shaking, and squealing with delight. In a moment, after Gibson has failed to fend off the spray, the children sprint back to the ocean on a balmy, cloudless, sun-streaked day.

Behind him, bartenders stock liquor at an outdoor cabana. On the far side of a large pool, lunch is served on a patio. Just off the beach, a fishing boat with a russet-colored sail makes its leisurely way along the coast.

If a visitor had parachuted into this place, a resort called Club Indigo, the amenities would seem indistinguishable from hundreds of upscale retreats that dot the Caribbean Sea. But this is desperately poor Haiti, and the leisure comforts of Club Indigo are only 40 miles north of the impoverished and wildly chaotic capital of Port-au-Prince.

Gibson did not visit Club Indigo for the night life. Instead, he is using its beaches for a short-term breather during a religious mission to Haiti. Nearby, Lucille Hill of Atlanta, a nurse who had come to Haiti with a US medical team, curls her hands around a rum punch.

Besides these guests, the club’s expansive, manicured grounds are nearly deserted.

Two years after an earthquake is believed to have killed more than 100,000 people in Haiti, its people continue to struggle to rebuild the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

Tourism will help, they hope, but even the most boosterish officials know that dream is in need of more than good intentions. The earthquake publicized Haiti’s plight around the world through indelible images of suffering; cholera remains a serious, often fatal problem; and an overwhelmed government fails to provide adequate sanitation, public safety, medical care, and transportation.

Simply traveling from Port-au-Prince to Club Indigo, less than an hour’s ride in the United States, can take more than three tortuous, rib-rattling hours in which battered cars and trucks fight for room on a crumbling road with pedestrians, trash, and the occasional goat.

When Joseph Zaiden, the club’s general manager, said he routinely makes the trip in 45 minutes, I rolled my eyes and wondered, how, by helicopter?

haiti_2Traveling anywhere in this country is an adventure, and almost always not in the positive sense of that word.

“Over the last 25 years, every time we mentioned tourism, people would say, ‘Tourists? Haiti?’ ” said Richard Buteau, vice president of the Haiti Tourism Association.

Now, because of the devastation caused by the earthquake, the notion seems even more preposterous for a country where US visitors routinely prepare for the trip by protecting themselves against typhoid, hepatitis, and malaria.

“Wishing for tourism and making it possible are two different things,” said Vick Ulysse, 34, a video production manager who also works as a driver, or fixer, for visiting foreigners.

Still, Buteau sees potential for an industry that, since the 1970s, has declined precipitously amid a high rate of HIV and AIDS, the migration of Haitian boat people to Florida, military coups, and other political instability. In its heyday in the late ’60s to early ’70s, the country was attracting about 300,000 tourists a year, and even about 100,000 before the 2010 quake.

“We have one advantage because we are starting from scratch, and we can learn from the mistakes,” said Buteau, who is general manager of the Karibe Hotel, one of the best in the country. “Changing the image of Haiti is something we have started working on.”

That makeover will be daunting, but the country’s leaders are pitching tourism as one of the four pillars of its redevelopment, along with agriculture, manufacturing, and education. The government recently launched a tourism campaign called Vivez l’Experience, or Live the Experience, whose logo features a red hibiscus, the national flower.

Haiti currently has only about 800 quality hotel rooms, according to a report in the Caribbean Journal, but has set an ambitious goal of 3,000 new rooms by 2015. Five hotels and 763 rooms are moving toward development, including a $45 million, 173-room Marriott hotel in Port-au-Prince, the Journal reported.

To pitch the country’s potential, Haitian tourism officials have begun attending travel conventions in Miami and elsewhere to tout their tropical beaches; the French colonial architecture in Jacmel, a city that influenced the look of New Orleans; and the Citadel, a fort near Cap-Haitien that is the largest in the Americas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean cruise line has been taking passengers since 1986 to Labadie, a private beach resort in the north. Haiti also has connections to the pirate captain Henry Morgan, who in the mid-1660s established a base at Ile a Vache, an island off the southern coast; and to Christopher Columbus, who visited Haiti on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492.

Well-known and well-meaning Americans on humanitarian visits have given Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, some adventurous appeal. They include Bill and Hillary Clinton, who honeymooned in Haiti; celebrities such as Sean Penn, Oprah Winfrey, and Matt Damon; and thousands of medical volunteers who have brought their time and skills.

As a result, Buteau said, the country has experienced a boomlet in a certain kind of overseas visitor.

“We have a huge increase in humanitarian tourists. They are tourists with a purpose,” Buteau said. “Now, we are not targeting the average American tourists. We are targeting the more adventurous tourists, the more sophisticated tourists.”

For the foreseeable future, Haiti’s logistics will be a big deterrent for casual visitors who simply want to relax. Navigating the streets of the capital is a slow-moving nightmare of few traffic rules and stop-and-go congestion that will tax nearly everyone’s patience. Locally hired drivers who know the shortcuts and the detours are a must.

Port-au-Prince has daily air connections from the United States, particularly Miami, which puts this country much closer to Americans than its Third World difficulties make it seem.

Once in the country and out of the capital, the effect is otherworldly. Poverty is stark and widespread, and remnants of the earthquake are still apparent in damaged buildings and piles of rubble. But the farmland is often beautiful, the vegetation lush, the mountains imposing, and the people friendly.

The staff at good hotels such as the Karibe speak English, but most regular Haitians speak only Creole or French. A Haitian driver who can translate is indispensable for US tourists who want to explore the countryside and interact with merchants and others.

Tourism officials know they have a deep, ready-made pool of customers: the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who have left the country to start new lives in places such as Boston, New York, and Montreal. But even they will want a certain comfort level when they revisit their homeland, Buteau said.

“The diaspora will be our first target market,” Buteau said, “but you must not forget that a lot of them have been living in the United States, or Europe, or Canada, and they have become used to those standards.”

Lowering expectations is essential for any trip to Haiti, where even the airport, which opened in 1965, can be an anxiety-laden maze that requires patience, guesswork, and a high tolerance for frustration.

Haiti is maddeningly primitive and seemingly directionless, but its unexpected visual gifts — a rickety truck teetering with towering piles of bananas; a long, solemn funeral procession on a dusty road; a collage of vibrant color in a makeshift market — leave a lasting, profound impression.

This is a country that is hard to navigate and hard to understand, but it is a country that teems with life in all its disarming simplicity and harsh complexity.

Photos: Y!HQ

For the original report go to

Film of singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte "Sing Your Song" is in UK cinemas now.

To promote the film he was interviewed by Sarfraz Manzoor of the Guardian. In the interview he talks about his life and work in music, cinema and fighting for social equality - as chronicled in a new memoir. He also discusses his friendship with Martin Luther King, his relationship with President John F Kennedy, and the humiliation that led him to become more heavily involved in the fight against racial segregation.

In the video and also in his memoir he criticises Barack Obama. In USA Today he says: "I don't mind that Barack Obama needs to have America know that he's president of all the people; but that doesn't mean that you can't speak about black people, or speak about being black. It doesn't mean that you can't speak about special dispensation for the poor. He hasn't used his bully pulpit."

Source: Afro-Europe

Tuskegee Airmen 7.17.12
You are invited to...

A Bridge Dedication in Honor of the
Tuskegee Airmen
In Boston
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 10:30am
American Legion Highway and Morton St., Dorchester
The bridge is located outside VFW Post 1018
(with Tank out front)

The Museum of African American History is proud to announce the special occasion
of a bridge dedication in honor of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, a group of heroic African American pilots who fought in World War II.

This event is sponsored and organized by the City of Boston.

RSVP to Walter Apperwhite at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Herbert_Solomon_JBlack Meetings & Tourism magazine (BM&T), in collaboration with Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) and The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers, (NABHOOD), announces Stay-A-Day .. See Our USA, a 36 month program, encouraging all international and domestic travelers and conference attendees to extend their U.S. travel experience to enjoy a day, or more, of America’s unique culture, flavor and heritage from an African-American perspective.

This promotional program is designed to be in support of the Brand USA, Discover initiative for promoting the United States to world visitors and the U.S. Travel America Association’s Vote Travel campaign, The Power of Travel ….Get America Moving, that showcases the diversity of travel experiences available in the United States.

The basis of the program is to ask ALL visitors and conference attendees traveling in the US to add an extra day to their itinerary and:

• Visit an African-American Cultural and/or, Heritage Site/Venue

• Dine at an Ethnic Eatery

• Purchase items from African-American retail stores, artists & craft artisans

Additionally, the program suggests, if possible: 

• Book travel/tours with an African-American Travel Agent, Tour Operator

• Stay at a black owned hotel and/or bed and breakfast

• Worship at an African-American church

It is estimated that $367.1 million in revenue would be added to the US economy each dayif all international visitors extended their travel experience in this country. Approximately $1.8 billion day would be generated if all domestic travelers included an additional day in their itineraries.

The purpose of this program is to:

Help revitalize the overall Travel Industry

• Contribute to creating jobs in African-American communities

• Stimulate the nation’s economy

• Expose travelers worldwide, to the enormous cultural impact that people of African descent have made in

   this country.

Included in the various sectors of the travel industry and the African-American community that are being engaged to support and benefit from this initiative are, destination marketing companies such as CVBs, and state depts. of tourism, as well as well as other black travel-related organization and businesses. For more information, contact Victoria Head at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Gloria Herbert at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Photo: Solomon Herbert, Publisher of Black Meetings and Tourism

BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM Magazine (BM&T)                                                             Publishing since 1994, BLACK MEETINGS & TOURISM is the exclusive, African-American owned, awarding-winning, international, trade publication for and about the $56 billion plus African-American meetings, incentives, leisure and group travel market.

TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS OF COLOR (TPOC)                                                                          Travel Professionals of Color is an international organization that promotes education, networking and support of minority travel professionals. This organization provides quality training to help travel specialists effectively reach the multicultural minority travel

National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators & Developers (NABHOOD)                      The purpose of this national organization is to help African-Americans to purchase hotels. They accomplish this by finding ways to create partnerships and working with various corporate hotel franchise companies.





Despite Haiti's devastations and tumultous past, the country is poised to re-invent itself as an investment and tourism destination, according to Yamiche Alcondor reports in an article for USA Today.

At least eight hotels — including Comfort Inn, Best Western, and Marriott — plan to build or expand properties on the island-nation, according to Paul Altidor, Haiti’s ambassador to the United States. Haiti’s government is also revamping economic institutions and recruiting people with investment experience in an effort to streamline business endeavors and provide transparency to potential business partners. However, challenges such as homelessness, lack of infrastructure, and Haiti’s image as an international charity case threaten it’s ability to move forward, experts say.

“We’re trying to move away from survival mode to investment mode,” Altidor said. “We’re not convinced that sending humanitarian aid to Haiti is going to push us out of this poverty hole. We’re looking for capital and knowledge.”desitnation_haiti

Part of that move means Altidor, former vice president of programs and investments for the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, sees his role as a roving one in which he seeks out and welcomes potential investors

It also means Haiti’s president, Michel Martelly, newly appointed Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, and Altidor, who has been in office about a month, plan to revamp the country’s Center for the Facilitation of Investments, a sort of one-stop shop where people starting businesses in the country can get advice and process the necessary paperwork to make companies happen.

The country’s leaders also are hoping Haiti’s often “forgotten middle class,” some of whom are providing the funds to build and expand hotels in the country, will play a critical role in the country’s future, Altidor said.

Sitting in his office in Washington, D.C., last week, Altidor pointed to the Oasis Hotel, a $35 million hotel that will feature 130 rooms, three restaurants, and 14 shops, as a symbol of Haiti’s economic potential. Like many hotel projects in the country, Oasis is designed to serve mainly business travelers whose increased comfort, developers hope, will mean more economic progress.

The project, which began in 2008, is funded mainly by Haiti institutions and everyday Haitian citizens, said Jerry Tardieu, chief executive of the company developing the project. After the earthquake, many shareholders were killed or financially ruined. Since then, however, the project has regained local investors and is scheduled to open later this year in Pétion-Ville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, he said.

“We are very proud to offer Haiti this rare symbol of modernity,” said Tardieu, who spoke from his home in Port-au-Prince. “We have started to find certain stability that will translate to us receiving more tourists.”

For Altidor, the hotel is an example of Haitians taking hold of their economy as well as a chance to show off Haiti’s long coastline and create jobs for local residents. “It’s a symbol of what the new Haiti could look like,” he said.

Other projects offer similar hope, developers say. Haiti has fewer than 1,000 hotel rooms compared the 50,000 hotels rooms in the Dominican Republic, according to Altidor.

“People are going to be more apt to do business if they are comfortable with where they are staying,” said Mark Williams, vice president of North American development for Best Western. A group of investors will open a $12 million Best Western franchise in Pétion-Ville by the end of this year. The project had been planned since 2008 but was set back by the quake, he said.

Jean-Marie Wolff, of Westbury, N.Y., is one of several Haitian-Americans who formed an investment group that bought Cap Lamandou Hotel in Jacmel, known as an arts and culture center, for nearly $3 million in 2006. The hotel will be re-branded as a Comfort Inn later this year to allow online booking and name recognition, he said. Plans are also underway to expand the hotel from 32 rooms to 49.

Wolff, whose group got their capital from U.S. and international banks, said Haiti’s diaspora must make an effort to help in the country’s rebirth. “If these people start to re-establish themselves in Haiti you will see a difference,” he said.

Digicel, a Haitian telecommunications provider, plans to open a $45-million, 173-room Marriott by 2014 in Port-au-Prince. At least four other hotels, El Rancho, Karibe Hotel, Kinam Hotel, and Le Village de Port-Jacmel are being expanded or are under construction.

However, in the midst of this economic renaissance, challenges remain, said Jocelyn McCalla, a New York-based Haiti expert and former head of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights. While Altidor points to the number of people in tents — down to 400,000 from 1.5 million just after the quake — as a sign of progress, McCalla said the government has forcibly removed people from such encampments. Many now reside in shoddy homes along mountainous illegal ghettos, he said.

The country’s infrastructure remains underdeveloped and Haiti’s credibility remains weak as the country continues to be regarded by many as a charity case rather than a business opportunity, he said.

Haiti is years away from being an investment or tourism destination and must develop cities outside of Port-au-Prince to succeed, McCalla said. The country lacks good roads, stable electricity, a proper sanitation system, and the resources needed to train middle class people such as plumbers, carpenters, and construction workers, he and others said.

“Most of downtown Port-au-Prince remains a disaster area,” McCalla said, adding that safety and transportation are among the country’s biggest impediments. “The average tourist is not going to be interested in Haiti.”

Some, like Mireille Toussaint, vice president of Haiti Tourism, says part of changing minds is about creating first-hand experiences. Toussaint’s Tampa, Fla.-based company takes small groups into the island-nation for excursions. “We’re trying to promote the hidden beauty of Haiti,” she said. “It’s really tiring to see only tragedy.”

Meanwhile, Altidor says the country’s government remains committed to changing Haiti’s international image despite any barriers.

“We face a major deficit in credibility when it comes to investment,” he said. “People look at Haiti, look at this embassy, look at me with this pity as opposed to someone they can do business with. That’s our biggest challenge.”

Source: Repeating Islands

For the original report go to


The Caribbean Poetry Project is sponsoring the “The Power of Caribbean Poetry – Word and Sound,” conference at the University of Cambridge in the UK on September 20–22, 2012. Attendees will be able to experience a stunning line-up of poets from Barbados, Jamaica, and Canada and, as well as popular British Caribbean poets.

ccelogo-130pxThe Caribbean Poetry Project is sponsoring the “The Power of Caribbean Poetry – Word and Sound,” conference at the University of Cambridge in the UK on September 20–22, 2012. Attendees will be able to experience a stunning line-up of poets from Barbados, Jamaica, and Canada and, as well as popular British Caribbean poets.

The Caribbean Poetry Project is a pioneering collaboration between Cambridge University Faculty of Education, the Centre for Commonwealth Education, and the University of West Indies at Mona (Jamaica), St Augustine (Trinidad) and at Cave Hill (Barbados). Through a joint research and teaching programme, their three-year project will encourage engagement with Caribbean poetry, and improve the teaching and learning of poetry in both British and Caribbean schools.

Speakers and performers for the upcoming conference will include John Agard, Beverley Bryan, Christian Campbell, Kei Miller, Mervyn Morris, Grace Nichols, Velma Pollard, Olive Senior, Dorothea Smartt, and special guest Linton Kwesi Johnson, who will be celebrating his recent 60th birthday at the conference.

Academic papers, lectures, table discussions and workshops include: approaches to teaching Caribbean poetry; Caribbean landscapes; Caribbean poetry and music; carnival and all that jazz; celebrating the work of Caribbean poets; ecocriticism and Caribbean poetry; gender in Caribbean poetry; origins and histories of Caribbean poetry; poetry as emancipation; and new perspectives on Brathwaite, Smith, Walcott, and other poets.

For more information, visit     

ATAThe Africa Travel Association, the world’s leading travel industry trade association promoting tourism to Africa, held its 37th Annual Congress in Victoria Falls , Zimbabwe , May 18 – 22, 2012. More than 500 delegates from government, business and the non-profit sectors gathered at ATA’s hallmark event in Africa .

The theme, “Africa Tourism: Partnering for the Future,” focused on how tourism, with growth rates in emerging markets outperforming more established destinations, is one of the most promising industries on the African continent for development. South African Airways served as Presenting Sponsor and Official Congress Carrier and Arik Air served as Official Media Carrier.  

“Our 37th Congress has been a real success with significant outcomes that will have a positive impact on the tourism industry in Zimbabwe and across Africa ,” said Edward Bergman , ATA Executive Director. “Now more than ever, the tourism industry has a greater ability to affect lives and contribute to positive growth and development and ATA is pleased to be at the heart of this process.”

Delegates included five tourism ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana, Namibia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, along with government representatives from Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia and hundreds of participants from around the world.

The Congress was hosted by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) under the auspices of Honorable Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Walter Mzembi. ATA government members elected Minister Mzembi, as the new president of the association at the ATA board meeting on the final day of the congress.

Zimbabwe is Open for Business 

On the first day of the congress, Ambassador of the USA to Zimbabwe, Charles A. Ray, conveyed that “ Zimbabwe is open for business.” He said that US business representatives were coming to Zimbabwe because the economy was growing and trade and investment links between the two countries were improving.

Speaking about the importance of building better cooperation and understanding between the USA and Zimbabwe, the Ambassador said, “Zimbabwe, even with its political uncertainty, represents a potentially huge market for Americans… it has the highest literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa, and a population that when opportunities are available they’re very hard working and very organized and get things done.”  

In an interview with one of the congress media delegates, Ambassador Ray said, “You have to look at what’s going on on the ground in order to understand the reality. There is a gap between the perceived risk here and the real risk. The real risk, in most cases, is far less than the perceived risk caused by the image the country has.”

Building on these themes, a special congress session, featuring Ambassador Ray and U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Mark C. Storella, was held on the second to last day of the congress. The two Ambassadors spoke about prospects for U.S. trade and investment in the tourism sector in the neighboring countries, along with the role the US embassies play in improving relations and facilitating exchanges. 

Program Highlights

The Congress kicked off with ATA's third annual Young Professionals Program Forum at the Elephant Hills Hotel. Students, young professionals and industry leaders from the tourism and hospitality sector came together to discuss the most pressing issues for young professionals in the industry. Topics included harnessing social media to promote African tourism, rural tourism development, and the ethics of sustainability and ecological integrity.  

Ministers from Central African Republic, Ghana , Namibia, Togo and Zimbabwe participated in the Tourism Ministers’ Roundtable. Everyone agreed that the benefits of tourism could be strengthened if African governments collaborated more closely with each other and the private sector over a number of issues, including connectivity, visas, branding and packaging products. The importance of integrating local community into tourism programs was also stressed.

 Inspired by the Japanese television cooking show, Iron Chef, ATA held the first “ATA Culinary Experience.” Delegates enjoyed a luncheon prepared by culinary students from the Bulawayo School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies and chefs from Victoria Falls hotels. Visiting chefs from the USA, Chef Pierre Thiam, Senegalese cookbook author, Yolele! and Eric Simeon, E&E Grill House Executive Chef, judged the competition, along with Ambassador Ray; Dr. Nancy Scanlon of Florida  International University; Chef Christopher Gonzo, Chi ef Executive of the Zimbabwean Culinary Association; and Chef Johnson, Chief Technical Coordinator of ZTA.  

Sessions on social media strategies with RS Social and the role of film in marketing destinations with Thinking Forward Media provided participants with practical tools for more effective media relations and marketing. An Expedia representative discussed the importance of bringing Africa 's products to market through social media, mobile technology, and the Internet. A Matador Network representative discussed how to leverage content from dozens of partners to create a unified strategy for promoting your destination on the Web. Group IST also presented on the pros and cons of volun-tourism.

Delegates explored several new tourism topics at the congress, including “Women’s Engagement in Africa ’s Tourism Industry,” which brought together representatives from Affluent Hospitality Group, Amalinda Collection, United Nations World Tourism Organization, and ZTA to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women in the tourism industry today. 

Leading travel trade and mainstream media representatives explored the relationships between tourism and the media at one of the sessions. Participants spoke about how to develop more effective media relations and how to move travel news to the front pages. The participants spoke about how the negative and the positive play a role in creating perceptions of Africa and stressed the potential role of the media in communicating tourism’s contribution to development and achieving political stability.

At Zimbabwe Culture Night, ATA announced the recipients of ATA’s annual awards. The recipients of the Outstanding Service to the Association awards were Hon. Mzembi (MP), Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe; Karikoga Kaseke; Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA); Tesa Chi kaponya, Executive Director of Destination Marketing at ZTA; and Evelyn Chi dyausiku, US Representative of ZTA. Robert Brunner, Vice President of the Americas for Arik Air International Ltd received the Outstanding Leadership Award; and Dr. Yohannes Zeleke, President of the ATA Mid-Atlantic Chapter, received the ATA Founder’s Award. Chef Pierre Thiam and Chef Eric Simeon received the Development of Responsible Tourism in Africa awards and ATA outgoing President, Hon. Fatou Mas Jobe-Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture of The Gambia, received the Promotion of Responsible Tourism to Africa Award. Finally, Andrea Papitto, Vice President of Thinking Forward Media, received the Young Professionals Leadership award. 

For more information on ATA, visit

by lisaparavisini

This summer, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Jamaican Independence, The O2 and its multiple venues including indigO2, will be transformed into a Caribbean oasis as over 50 artists take to the stage as part of Respect Jamaica 50.

The two week extravaganza, from July 25 to August 6, will include a multitude of legendary Jamaican singers, DJs, writers, comedians, actors and poets from Damian Marley and Lee 'Scratch' Perry to Shaggy and Jimmy Cliff showcasing the cultural depth and diversity of this esteemed nation.

Supported by the Jamaican Government, Respect Jamaica 50 will add a sprinkling of Caribbean flavour to what's set to be a great summer for Jamaica! Among the dozens of musicians flying in to the capital is triple Grammy award-winning reggae artist Damian Marley, the youngest son of Bob Marley. He will be delivering his trademark blend of dancehall and reggae with hits like 'Welcome to Jamrock' and 'As We Enter' to thousands of fans.

Joining them on the bill will be Junior Murvin, whose 1976 song 'Police and Thieves' cemented his place in reggae history, becoming an international hit covered by artists such as The Clash and Culture Club. Another celebrated reggae artist to join the festival is dub veteran Lee 'Scratch' Perry who has worked with the likes of Bob Marley & The Wailers, the Beastie Boys and Animal Collective. With over half a century of music under his belt, Perry is considered one of the godfathers of the scene. Joining him on the bill is Jimmy Cliff who will be wowing the crowds with breakout hits like 'You Can Get It If You Really Want' and 'Sitting in Limbo'.

For those in search of something lighthearted, some of the finest contenders in Jamaican comedy will be providing the laughs for the crowds at Proud2 July 27 ' August 6.
Other outstanding cultural events at Respect Jamaica 50 include Messenger: The Bob Marley Exhibition at the BME July 24 ' October 22. Visitors will be invited to explore a retrospective featuring personal memorabilia, candid photographs, old concert posters, records, music clips and archive video footage.

Other artists confirmed on the roster include: Shaggy, Tappa Zukie, Jamaican Legends Band, Mutabaruka, John Holt, Freddie McGregor, Tarrus Riley, Toots & The Maytals, Young Toots, Horace Andy, Morgan Heritage, Raging Fyah, Yellowman, Dennis Alcapone, Benjamin Zephaniah, U-Roy, The Abyssinians, Winston Reedy, Mad Professor, Mighty Diamonds, Leroy 'Heptones' Sibbles, Marcia Griffiths, Maxi Priest, Gyptian, Johnny Clarke, Derrick Morgan, Max Romeo, Jah9, Sir Lloyd Coxsone, Michael Prophet, Gaylads, Bob Andy, Fatman Hi Fi and Jah Shaka Sound System. For more information please visit:

Source: Repeating Islands

cuba_hammel_dance204The U.S. Treasury Department placed certain restrictions on trips to Cuba by non-Cuban Americans on so-called “people to people” visits, saying that the revisions will “help to deter abuses.” Although the article uses the word “abuses” about five times, it never explains what the abuses are. The closest it comes to giving an example of “abuses” by U.S. citizens who travel for personal reasons was a reference quoting Marco Rubio who complained about someone who had scheduled salsa lessons every night. Oh dear, I can just see this among the new travel restrictions, “Dancing prohibited.” And this is progress? Scary.

Complaints of abuses of such trips — they must be for “educational” purposes, never for tourism — have dogged the program since President Barack Obama approved it last year in a bid to increase Americans’ engagement with regular Cubans.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., drew laughter during a speech in Washington last year when he read the schedule for one such trip, showing salsa dancing sessions every night. Other tours have met with Cuban government ministers and even a daughter of ruler Raúl Castro.

Rubio put a block on Roberta Jacobson’s nomination as the top U.S. diplomat for Latin American until the Obama administration addressed some of the myriad complaints. Jacobson was sworn in earlier this month. “I think it’s progress … because the changes require closer reviews of the itineraries,” Rubio said. “But I still have concerns about the program in general, because it is difficult to manage and avoid abuses.”

Treasury spokesman John Sullivan said the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls, which enforces sanctions on Cuba, revised the regulations for those seeking OFAC licenses to organize trips “in part because of reports we received.” He did not detail the “reports” but added that the changes “will provide clarity to applicants and licensees seeking renewals, facilitate OFAC’s review of license applications and help to deter abuses by licensees.”

Source: Repeating Islands

Gold! Haiti eyes potential $20 billion bonanza


Its capital is blighted with earthquake rubble. Its countryside is shorn of trees, chopped down for fuel. And yet, Haiti's land may hold the key to relieving centuries of poverty, disaster and disease: There is gold hidden in its hills — and silver and copper, too.

A flurry of exploratory drilling in the past year has found precious metals worth potentially $20 billion deep below the tropical ridges in the country's northeastern mountains. Now, a mining company is drilling around the clock to determine how to get those metals out.

In neighboring Dominican Republic, workers are poised to start mining the other side of this seam later this year in one of the world's largest gold deposits: 23 million ounces worth about $40 billion.

The Haitian government's annual budget is $1 billion, more than half provided by foreign assistance. The largest single source of foreign investment, $2 billion, came from Haitians working abroad last year. A windfall of locally produced wealth could pay for roads, schools, clean water and sewage systems for the nation's 10 million people, most of whom live on as little as $1.25 a day.

"If the mining companies are honest and if Haiti has a good government, then here is a way for this country to move forward," said Bureau of Mines Director Dieuseul Anglade.

In a parking lot outside Anglade's marble-floored office, more than 100 families have been living in tents since the earthquake. "The gold in the mountains belongs to the people of Haiti," he said, gesturing out his window. "And they need it."

Haiti's geological vulnerability is also its promise. Massive tectonic plates squeeze the island with horrifying consequences, but deep cracks between them form convenient veins for gold, silver and copper pushed up from the hot innards of the planet. Prospectors from California to Chile know earthquake faults often have, quite literally, a golden lining.

Until now, few Haitians have known about this buried treasure. Mining camps are unmarked, and the work is being done miles up dirt roads near remote villages, on the opposite side of the country from the capital. But U.S. and Canadian investors have spent more than $30 million in recent years on everything from exploratory drilling to camps for workers, new roads, offices and laboratory studies of samples. Actual mining could be under way in five years.

"When I first heard whispers of this I said, 'Gold mines? There could be gold mines in Haiti?'" said Michel Lamarre, a Haitian engineer whose firm, SOMINE, is leading the exploration. "I truly believe this is our answer to taking care of ourselves instead of constantly living on donations."

On a rugged, steep Haitian ridge far above the Atlantic, brilliant boulders coated with blue-green oxidized copper jut from the hills, while colorful pebbles litter the soil, strong indicators that precious metals lie below.

"Just look down," said geologist John Watkins. "Where there's smoke, there's fire."

Nearby, 8-year-old Whiskey Pierre and his barefoot buddies stared at a team of sweat-drenched men driving a narrow, shrieking diamond bit 900 feet into the ground.

"That is a drill!" shouted Whiskey, bouncing on his toes. "The man drill to get gold!"

The workers periodically pulled up samples and knocked them into boxes. The first 40 feet yielded loose rocks and gravel. About 160 feet down, cylinders of rock came back peppered with gold. At 1,000 feet down, rocks were heavily streaked with copper.



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