Photographer René Burri dies

This video says about itself:

René Burri: Impossible Reminiscences

27 September 2012

As a world-renowned photojournalist and celebrated member of Magnum photo agency, René Burri’s photographs have had a huge influence on our visual understanding of the major political and cultural events of the second half of the twentieth century. From his iconic shot of Che Guevara smoking a cigar, to his beautifully composed photographs of the construction of Brasilia, his black-and-white photography is ingrained in the collective consciousness.

Previously less-known are his colour photographs that he has continually taken alongside his black-and-white work. This book introduces, for the first time, a retrospective of his personal selection of colour photographs.

From the British Journal of Photography:

Magnum photographer René Burri dies

René Burri, a photographer with photography agency Magnum Photos, dies

Gemma Padley — 20 October 2014

News has emerged of the death of 81-year-old René Burri, a photographer with Magnum Photos. The news broke this afternoon (Monday 20 October). In an email sent to members of the press the agency said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Magnum photographer René Burri who passed away today”. An official statement has not yet been released.

The Swiss photographer, who began working with Magnum as an associate in 1955 and became a full member in 1959, was well known for his work in Cuba, including his iconic portraits of Che Guevara.

In addition to his work in Latin America, Burri, who lived and worked between Zurich and Paris, travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East during his lengthy career, photographing artists such as Picasso, Giacometti and Le Corbusier, and contributing to publications including Life, Stern, Paris-Match, and The New York Times, among others.

He also worked as a documentary filmmaker, participating in the creation of Magnum Films in 1965.

Of Burri’s book, Impossible Reminiscences, published by Phaidon last year [2013], Martin Parr commented: “[This book]…easily demonstrates that he is a master of colour as well as black and white, and one of the great figures of 20th century photography”.

Che Guevara in Yemen anti-dictatorship movement

This music video is called Hasta siempre; a Cuban song about Che Guevara.

From the Angry Arab News Service:

Do you know that the most common and visible picture carried by protesters all over Yemen is the portrait of Che Guevera. That is quite interesting.

UN concern about Yemen: here.

Bahrain Snapshot: The 21 Prison Sentences and Regime’s Strategy: here.

Bahrain: The first football players’ agent and general supervisor of the national team before the court: here.

SUPPORT Bahrain’s Athletes; sign petition here.

Bahraini Students Forced to Choose Between Loyalty to the Regime and an Education: here.

Cuban doctors restore eyesight of Che Guevara’s murderer

This is a video of images, and a song, about Che Guevara.

From AAP news agency, the Australian Associated Press:

Cuban doctors help Che Guevara‘s killer

September 30, 2007 – 7:39PM

Cuban doctors volunteering in Bolivia performed a free cataract surgery for Mario Teran, the Bolivian army sergeant who killed the legendary guerilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara in captivity, the daily Granma newspaper reported.

“Four decades after Mario Teran attempted to destroy a dream and an idea, Che returns to win yet another battle, and continues on in the struggle,” the Communist Party of Cuba‘s official newspaper said.

On October 9, 1967, Teran killed Guevara while he was being held prisoner and suffering from combat wounds in La Higuera, the paper recounted. It said he acted on orders from generals Rene Barrientos and Alfredo Ovando, as well as the White House and the US Central Intelligence Agency, to execute the Argentine-Cuban rebel leader.

Nearly forty years to the day later, Teran underwent eye surgery in a Santa Cruz hospital that was donated by the Cuban government and recently inaugurated by Bolivian President Evo Morales.

“Now an old man, he (Teran) can once again appreciate the colours of the sky and the forest, to enjoy the smiles of his grandchildren, and to watch football games,” the article said.

“But surely he will never be capable of seeing the difference between the ideas that drove him to murder a man in cold blood, and the ideas of that very man.”

The reports said one of Teran’s sons asked the local Santa Cruz daily El Deber to publish a notice thanking the Cuban doctors who restored his father’s sight with the successful operation.

Che Guevara and rugby: here.

A special film screening will take place in Petersham, Sydney on September 28 to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba’s medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003: here.

Afro-Cuban writer Pedro-Perez Sarduy interviewed

Afro-Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen recites his poem about Che Guevara.

From London daily The Morning Star:

INTERVIEW: Afro-Cuban writer PEDRO-PEREZ SARDUY explains how the lot of Cuba‘s black population has changed in recent years.

PEDRO-PEREZ Sarduy remembers the day in 1959 when Che Guevara came to the central square of his home town Santa Clara.

“The square was packed,” he relates. “We were all excited and avid to see and hear this hero of the revolution. At the front of the crowd were the white Cubans, behind them were the mixed race people and the blacks stood at the back. That’s the way things were.”

At the time, Sarduy was just a young boy. Today, he is a leading Afro-Cuban poet, writer and journalist whose most recent book The Maids of Havana tackles the experience of growing up black in Cuba. …

While, in 1959, the Afro-Cubans still had to stand at the back to catch a glimpse of Che, almost all blacks were supporters of the revolution, as it represented their liberation too.

Today, racial issues and discrimination are not as clear cut in Cuba as in the US or Europe. There are leading figures in government and party who are black, but there are hardly any black TV presenters.

“In the past,” says Sarduy, “black history had been given expression in films such as Ultima Cena, but we called them ‘negro metraje’ or blaxploitation films, because they only looked at the slave period, ignoring contemporary race issues.”

Only a recent a film El Benny, about renowned Afro-Cuban musician Benny More, addressed these problems. Renny Arozarena, who played More, won best actor at the Locarno Film Festival. …

“Cuba was long in denial about the existence of racial prejudice and discrimination. As throughout the socialist world, it was asserted that a socialist country, by definition, could not be discriminatory and thus the issue was swept under the red carpet.”

One incident in particular backs up this claim.

When, moved and shocked by the tragedy of Martin Luther King’s assassination, the great contemporary Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote a heartfelt paean to his memory. In it, with inadvertent but embarrassing racial stereotyping, he alluded to King’s soul being ‘white as a driven snow’.”

Incensed, black Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen answered with a scathing poem describing Martin Luther King’s soul as being “black as the coal ripped out of the Earth’s entrails.”

Both poets were committed communists, but the sharp exchange underlined the oft-present misguided and dangerous assumption that, under socialism, we all automatically lose our cultural prejudices and references and separate traditions and identities simply disappear or become irrelevant.

“Of course, life improved tremendously for black Cubans after the 1959 revolution, but race is still a card that favours light skin and gets played every day,” says Sarduy. “Played, but not discussed openly, until recently.

“Young black people, especially through the medium of rap music or reggaeton, are saying things openly that would never have been voiced before.”

So, does Sarduy believe that black Cubans still support the revolution?

“Yes, I believe so,” he replies. “The history of Cuba from the wars of independence and the slave uprisings in the 16th and 17th centuries attest to the involvement of black Cubans in all those struggles. …

“It is amazing how Cuba has changed since the 1990s,” Sarduy says. “After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba was forced to confront its own reality. It now stood alone and it had to forge a new unity among the people.”

The Communist Party opened its ranks to those with religious convictions and there was an acknowledgement that Cuba had a mixed cultural background.

Black people began find to a new pride in their colour and culture.

Increasingly, in the Cuban arts scene, you can see people returning to their cultural roots. Cuban universities are beginning to teach African studies for the first time.

Even issues such as sexual discrimination have been shifted up the agenda. Raul Castro’s late wife Vilma Espin was a vociferous campaigner for women’s and gay rights and now their daughter Mariela Castro Espin is continuing that campaign, demanding that Cuba recognises gay marriage, which would be a Latin American first.

The long-term future of Cuba, which stands on the threshold of the historic 50th anniversary of the revolution and is coming to terms with the mortality of a great revolutionary leader, is as yet uncertain.

But Sarduy is sure that, whatever happens to Castro, Afro-Cubans will be among the staunchest defenders of its achievements and most passionate advocates of its continuity.

“They will hold on to that island for the sake of their ancestors, who fought for this country,” he says. “It was not given to them. It was not a handout. They fought for it.”

African-American artist Jacob Lawrence and First Lady Laura Bush: here.

Race in Cuba: Essays On The Revolution And Racial Inequality, by Esteban Morales Dominguez: here.

Gloria Rolando has been revealing hidden chapters of Cuban history since the 2010 premiere of the first part of her documentary series “1912: Breaking the Silence,” about the virtually unknown story about the only legal political party to promote racial equality in this country: here.

Hip-hop and Cuba: here.

Prominent gay and transgender rights activist Mariela Castro called on US citizens on Thursday to press their government to “remove the economic and social blockades” on Cuba: here.

Che Guevara’s favourite poems discovered

This is a video of a Pablo Neruda poem.

From British daily The Independent:

Rediscovering Che Guevara, the romantic revolutionary

By David Usborne in New York

Published: 13 September 2007

Romanticising the memory of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro’s brother-in-arms during the Cuban uprising, has long been a worldwide industry. But the Argentinian revolutionary remained in touch with his own romantic side to the end, even as he battled to foment a second revolution in the jungles of Bolivia, a new book reveals.

Guevara was executed by Bolivian troops near the town of La Higuera on 9 October 1967, after an ambush backed by the CIA and US special forces. Now, as the 40th anniversary of his death approaches, a Mexican publisher has printed what it claims are the contents of a dog-eared notebook which was found on his body and kept locked away for years in a Bolivian army vault. But the secrets offered up in the new book, The Green Notebook Of Che, are neither codes nor battle plans. Instead, the pages – densely filled with Guevara’s handwriting – contain a collection of his favourite poetry. Many of the entries are love poems.

Planeta, the publisher, first showed the manuscript to Paco Ignacio, a popular Mexican novelist and biographer of Guevara, who has written the preface to the compendium. Yesterday, Ignacio recalled the moment when his editor first handed him pages photocopied from Guevara’s old spiral notebook. “He asked, ‘What is it?’ and I said, ‘Well, let me see’,” Ignacio told the BBC World Service. “And I said, ‘This is Guevara’s handwriting. This is the green notebook’.”

The existence of the book was already widely known but no biographer had seen it before. After Guevara was shot, according to Ignacio, CIA agents “looked at it and tried to find some code but they said, ‘They are just poems’.” More precisely, there were verses from 69 poems by four writers – Pablo Neruda from Chile, Nicolás Guillén of Cuba, César Vallejo of Peru and the Spaniard, León Felipe.

Guevara, and Bolivia today: here.

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