Cuban-Dutch ancient shipwrecks research


Admiral Cornelis Jol and his peg leg

Again, a blog post about Cuba. This time not about the birds I saw in Cuba (more blogs posts about that will come later). But about some twenty historical wrecked ships in Cuban waters; including some of Dutch buccaneer admiral Cornelis Corneliszoon Jol (1597–1641).

Cornelis Jol was nicknamed in Dutch Houtebeen=in English pegleg=in Spanish Pie de Palo, because he had one wooden leg. So, there is not just the fictional pirate Captain Hook, but also the real Jol.

Jol was an admiral of the Dutch West India Company. As such, he played an important role in making the Dutch important players in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery, which they had not been before. Jol conquered the Portuguese slave export port Luanda in Angola. He also played a role in the conquest of north-east Brazil with its slave plantations.

In 1640, a storm sank some of Jol’s ships off Cuba. Today, Dutch NOS TV reports that there will be joint Cuban-Dutch archaeological research into these shipwrecks.

There are also later Dutch shipwrecks near Cuba: like the cargo ship SS Medea, sunk in 1942 by a German submarine.

The research will start in 2018.

Journey to Cuba’s birds


This video says about itself:

Full Documentary: Cuba, Natural Paradise

15 March 2016

The Cuban mangrove forest is still an unknown world concealing biological mysteries and treasures which will astonish the world; a forgotten paradise ruled over by an impenetrable hell of dangerous crocodiles, manatees, birds, hutia, marshy labyrinths, and myriads of mosquitoes.

Science has not yet studied the complexity of its creatures and the balance of its ecosystems. And that is part of the charm of the Cuban mangrove forest, knowing that it remains exactly as it always has been, impenetrable, solitary, virgin. It is such a complex world that virtually nothing is known about it. And nonetheless, all its strength and complexity, all its biodiversity and richness, are due to tiny, intrepid travellers that still today, faithful to their spirit, continue to set out on anonymous journeys, crossing the sea and sowing the seeds of paradise.

The mangrove’s success in colonising is due both to its extraordinary evolutionary adaptations, making it possible to live in an acid, briny environment, and to its incredible method of reproduction.

When the mangroves reproduce, they develop what will be the most astonishing means of genetic expansion, colonisers equipped to travel vast distances: their seeds.

A coral world surrounds the Cuban archipelago.

Enormous coral structures, the result of thousands of years of patient calcareous construction, constitute the reefs which fill the coasts of Cuba with life. The coral reef is composed of millions of tiny filtering polyps capable of turning the solar energy and the scarce nutrients in the water into organic matter available for other organisms in the coral community. Starting with them, the chain becomes increasingly complex, and thousand of different life forms develop, from the fragile invertebrates to the most highly evolved, complex fish.

Because Cuba is an island, there are many endemic species, living only in Cuba. 95% of Cuba’s 62 amphibian species are endemic. So are 37% of its 57 freshwater fish species; 79% of its 155 reptile species; and 32% of its 52 mammal species. As for birds, 26 species live only in Cuba. Also, 22 species live only in Cuba plus on a few other islands like the Bahamas.

On 5 March 2017, our journey to the wildlife of Cuba started.

Our plane was already above the Atlantic ocean, west of Scotland, when one of the passengers had heart problems. The plane had to go back east, to Manchester airport in England, so the patient could go to a hospital.

Then, we flew west again, over Ireland; then, the Atlantic.

Plane wing, 5 March 2017

This photo, a cellphone photo like the others of this blog post, shows a wing of the plane.

Hours later, we reached eastern Canada. Frozen lakes; snowy ground.

Frozen lakes and snow in Canada

This photo shows lakes in Canada.

We then flew over Maine in the USA. Still snowy ground, but already a bit less snowy than Canada.

As we went further south along the United States east coast, the snow got less and less. Still later, it disappeared.

We passed New York City.

Clouds off Georgia, USA

Clouds over the Atlantic east of Georgia.

Then, the sea between Florida and Cuba.

Finally, our plane arrived at Varadero airport in Cuba.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on Cuba, and its birds!

Cuban art exhibition in London


This video from England says about itself:

14 February 2017

The ¡Presente! exhibition gathered, for the first time in London, the work of over 30 contemporary Cuban artists. With curators and artists from the island visiting the city, it also represented an opportunity for conversation and exchange on arts, culture and education.

Cuban painter Wilfredo Lam exhibition


This video from London, England says about itself:

24 December 2016

Art historian Julian Stallabrass visits the Wifredo Lam exhibition at Tate Modern and analyses the life, artistic influences, work, and legacy of the Cuban painter.

Guantánamo, Cuban views, new film


This video says about itself:

ALL GUANTÁNAMO IS OURS

25 October 2016

Produced by RESUMEN LATINOAMERICANO, 2016

From the Investigaction site:

The word Guantánamo was popularized world-wide in 2002 when the U.S, Government opened a detention camp at the military base to detain more than 1,000 suspected terrorists there.

Few know that the territory is a piece of land that belongs to Cuba, but has been illegally occupied since 1903 and remains a present impediment to the normalization of relations between the two countries. Watch the new documentary All Guantánamo is Ours, directed by Colombian journalist and writer Hernando Calvo Ospina. This short film shows the feelings of the Cuban people, especially the people of Guantánamo, in relation to the occupied territory.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro dies


This 25 November 2016 video is called Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies at 90.

From Al Jazeera today:

Cuba’s Fidel Castro dies aged 90

Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and current president of Cuba, announced his death on state television early on Saturday.

The leader of the 1959 revolution, which overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, defied the US efforts to topple him for five decades, before ill health led him to make way for his brother Raul, 84, in 2006.

In his final years, Fidel lived in relative seclusion but occasionally wrote opinion pieces or appeared meeting with visiting dignitaries.

‘Enormous emotional impact’

Al Jazeera’s Latin America Editor Lucia Newman, reporting from Santiago, Chile, said Castro’s death hardly came as a surprise.

“He has been a larger-than-life figure who inspired a revolutionary movement all over the world, especially in Latin America,” Newman said.

“As time has gone by we have been hearing less and less from Fidel Castro. We all know he has been ill for a decade and was not been seen since August after his birthday, which was celebrated across the country. …

Havana residents reacted with sadness to the news.

“I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is public figure who was respected and loved,” Sariel Valdespino, a student, said. …

The US government spent more than $1bn trying to kill, undermine or otherwise force Castro from power, but he endured unscathed before old age and disease finally took him.

His supporters in Havana described him as a tireless defender of the poor.

Castro was “a giant of the Third World”, said Agustin Diaz Cartaya, 85, who joined Castro in the 1953 attack in eastern Cuba that launched the revolution. “No one has done more for the Third World than Fidel Castro.” …

No doubt, Castro leaves a legacy that will be hotly debated for years to come.

For five decades, he worked to turn the island nation into a place of equality and social justice. His government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere. …

The US had tried for years to topple the Cuban government. Cuba stumbled along even after the collapse of its chief sponsor, the former Soviet Union.

The CIA plotted to assassinate Castro using everything from exploding seashells to lethal fungus. American officials cut off almost all trade to Cuba. They financed dissidents and pro-democracy activists. But nothing worked during 11 successive administrations, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

On December 17, 2014, Obama announced that the US planned to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen some trade and travel restrictions.

Obama’s critics were enraged.

50 Truths about Fidel Castro: here.

Cuban emerald hummingbird’s nest


This video says about itself:

Cuban Emerald‘s Tiny Nest

13 July 2016

Bird parents build nests of all different shapes and sizes to keep their young safe and warm. Bald Eagles, for example, build massive structures out of twigs that can be over 5 feet in diameter. Hummingbirds, such as this Cuban Emerald have a much more discreet approach. The cup-shaped nests they construct out of materials such as leaves and spider webs are only slightly bigger than a quarter and typically house two eggs weighing less than a gram apiece.

Cuban emerald hummingbirds live only in Cuba and the Bahamas.