Tuesday, November 27, 2018

July Carnival Trip to Santiago and Guantanamo (with option of Baracoa and Holguin)

July Trip to Santiago de Cuba
and Guantanamo

(Optional Extension to Baracoa and Holguin)

Enjoy the Caribbean’s Biggest Carnival    

Engage with Cuban and US History

Photo by Kelly, Compass and Camera travel blog
Read her post about Carnaval

Saturday, July 20   
6:27 p.m. flight on American Airlines from Miami to Santiago (hotel or bed and breakfast)

Sunday, July 21  The Spanish Legacy    
Basilica del Cobre (Cuba’s patron saint) and Morro fortress; orientation presentation at Museum of Carnival; attend opening night of Carnival

Monday, July 22  The Independence Wars and US Intervention   
Maceo Memorial honoring a leader of the mambisi independence struggle; learn about US supporters like Clara Barton of US Red Cross and Dynamite Johnny O'Brien; memorial at San Juan Hill to Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders;  museum of the Cuban-Spanish-American war for the local side of the story; swim at the beach with a Spanish wreck; dinner at seaside seafood restaurant; carnival fair in a neighborhood

Tuesday, July 23  The Revolution   
Biran, the large plantation owned by the father of Fidel and Raul Castro; Moncada Barracks museum (site of the failed first stage of the Cuban revolution); gravesites of independence leader Jose Marti and Fidel Castro; dinner at Terrazas La Caridad, a paladar that also roasts its own coffee; enjoy music and dancing or carnival

Wednesday, July 24  Cultural Focus   
Dance class at Artex; Asociasion Cubana de Artesanos Artistas and Casa de Diego Velazquez; light lunch on roof of Casa Granda; ceramics museum near ICAP;  presentation at Centro Cultural Africano on slavery and its current impact; performance by Café Caliente; roast pig dinner at Centro; enjoy music and dancing or carnival

Thursday, July 25  Guantanamo                                                            
The origin of Cuba’s traditional music, including Tumba Francesa and the Museum of Changui; lunch in paladar el Karey; Zoolagico de Piedra; evening of music and dance at cultural center of Artex
Friday, July 26   Caimanera
The Cuban town adjacent to the US base*; meet community leaders and artists; lunch at Caimenera; discuss local culture and the history of the Guantanamo base during lunch meeting with UNEAC and professors from University of Guantanamo; return to hotel or casa particular in Santiago; enjoy music and dancing

Saturday, July 27   
La Gran Piedra natural reserve and botanical garden; personally explore the city; attend final night of Carnival

Sunday, July 28
Drive in morning to Holguin, 9:10 a.m. Jet Blue flight to Fort Lauderdale; or personal day in Santiago and fly to Miami 8:45 p.m.

In Santiago, choose to stay at the newly renovated Imperial Hotel or at a casa particular (bed and breakfast).

We are offering two price and lifestyle options, a very good conveniently located hotel, probably the Imperial, or a casa particular (bed and breakfast). 

The registration deadline is June 15, 2019.  Please complete this form as soon as possible:  https://tinyurl.com/SantReg  A $150 contribution confirms participation.   Some participants will begin their trip with independent time in Havana and join us on July 19th to drive to Santiago with an overnight in Camaguey.

Cubismo video from Carnaval

* Learn the Cuban perspective on the base from the video "All Guantanamo is Ours"


Addition of Holguin and Baracoa    (subject to interest)

Sunday, July 28  Holguin
Drive to Holguin; visit the three plazas of Holguin and the cross on the hill overlooking the city; night of music and dance with Cuban friends

Monday, July 29  Holguin
Indigenous gravesite museum and the replica of a Taino village; company town of United Fruit and the church in Banes; site where Dynamite Johnny O’Brien landed with arms and soldiers for the mambisis; landing site of Columbus; enjoy the beach with Cuban friends; night of music and dance with Cuban friends

Tuesday, July 30  Baracoa
Drive to Baracoa; museum and beach of Cajobabo where Jose Marti and Maximo Gomez landed in 1895; lunch in paladar of Jose; meet President of UNEAC and/or historian of Baracoa Alejandro Harmant; pre-Colubus archeological museum Cuevas de Paraiso; swim at Duaba river; dinner in paladar Marco Polo or La Colonia; sociocultural project Atabey (painting, music, sculpture); Casa de la Trova

Wednesday, July 31  Baracoa
Sendero del Cacao; Rancho Toa; boat to Tibaracon del Toa;  swim or hike; lunch at Rancho Toa Almuerzo Campestre; coconut farm and production center; dinner with university professors; music and dance at Terraza Artex, discoteca el Ranchon or discoteca El Parque

Thursday, August 1
Drive to Holguin airport; morning flight to Ft. Lauderdale on Jet Blue or evening flight to Miami on American Airlines; or travel independently by bus to Camaguey, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Bay of Pigs, Matanzas, Havana, and/or Pinar del Rio 

From Wikipedia:

The Americans decided to invade Cuba and to start in Oriente, where the Cubans had almost absolute control. They cooperated by establishing a beachhead and protecting the U.S. landing in Daiquiri. The first U.S. objective was to capture the city of Santiago de Cuba in order to destroy Linares' army and Cervera's fleet. To reach Santiago, the Americans had to pass through concentrated Spanish defences in the San Juan Hills and a small town in El Caney. Between June 22 and 24, 1898, the Americans landed under General William R. Shafter at Daiquirí and Siboney, east of Santiago, and established a base.
The port of Santiago became the main target of naval operations. The U.S. fleet attacking Santiago needed shelter from the summer hurricane season, thus nearby Guantánamo Bay, with its excellent harbor, was chosen for this purpose and attacked on June 6 (1898 invasion of Guantánamo Bay). The Battle of Santiago de Cuba on July 3, 1898 was the largest naval engagement during the Spanish–American War, resulting in the destruction of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron (Flota de Ultramar).
Resistance in Santiago consolidated around Fort Canosa,[18] All the while, major battles between Spaniards and Americans took place at Las Guasimas on June 24, El Caney and San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898, outside of Santiago.[19] after which the American advance ground to a halt. Spanish troops successfully defended Fort Canosa, allowing them to stabilize their line and bar the entry to Santiago. The Americans and Cubans forcibly began a bloody, strangling siege of the city[20] which eventually surrendered on July 16, after the defeat of the Spanish Caribbean Squadron. Thus, Oriente was under control of Americans, but U.S. General Nelson A. Miles would not allow Cuban troops to enter Santiago, claiming that he wanted to prevent clashes between Cubans and Spaniards. Thus, Cuban General Calixto García, head of the Mambi forces in the Eastern department, ordered his troops to hold their respective areas. He resigned over being excluded from entering Santiago, writing a letter of protest to General Shafter.[14]

Program revised 1/19/19 and subject to change.  

John McAuliff, Fund for Reconciliation and Development   director@ffrd.org    917-859-9025

Tuesday, November 20, 2018



Plaque at the Church of the Transfiguration

Father Felix Varela became the advocate for the Irish immigrants in New York from the 1830s to 1850s.  He was exiled to New York from Cuba because of his passionate support of independence, abolition of slavery and equal education for women.  His first teacher, an Irish priest, introduced him to Gaelic.  Excerpts from a Google search:

Varela fled to New York, the first Cuban exile. There he eventually became Vicar General of the New York Diocese. His special apostolate was to New York's recently arrived Irish immigrants, who were as detested and persecuted in the 19th century as Hispanics are today in this country. Varela built the first Catholic schools for them (open to both sexes, for the first time); the first mutual aid society; the first orphanages; and the first parish to cater to their spiritual and material needs, in the notorious Five Corners section were most of them lived. The Irish clamored for Varela to be their bishop, but Spain vetoed his selection because Varela continued to agitate for Cuba's independence from New York, creating, through his patriotic writings, a distinctive Cuban consciousness and nationality. Martí himself journeyed to Varela's grave, then in St. Augustine, FL, to pay homage to "the man who taught us to think" and consecrate his work of liberation to him. 

In 1837, Varela was named Vicar General of the Diocese of New York, which then covered all of New York State and the northern half of New Jersey. In this post, he played a major role in the way the American Church dealt with the tremendous influx of Irish refugees, which was just beginning at the time. His desire to assist those in need coupled with his gift for languages allowed him to master the Irish language in order to communicate more efficiently with many of the recent Irish arrivals. 
While in the United States, Fr. Varela published newspapers and many articles on subjects such as human rights, religious tolerance, education and the need for the Spanish and English speaking communities to live in peace.  In 1827, he founded the Church of the Immigrant in the impoverished Five Points district of Manhattan.  Today, known as the Church of the Transfiguration, the parish continues to serve many immigrants.  Fr. Varela became renowned in New York for his charitable works, his ministry to the ill during a cholera epidemic, his ecumenical spirit and respect for non-Catholics, his great devotion to the Mystical Body of Christ, and the missions he preached each year in anticipation of the Feast of Corpus Christi.

In 1837, Fr. Varela was named Vicar General of the Diocese of New York, which at that time included the entire state of New York and northern New Jersey, as well.  Proficient in languages, Fr. Varela learned the Irish language and was instrumental in helping the Irish acclimate to their new country at the beginning of the great migration of the Irish to the United States.


The Spanish Governor in Havana, Francisco Vives, decided to apply Varela’s death sentence in New York, dispatching one of his thugs, el tuerto (one-eyed) Morejón of the Havana police to assassinate him. By that time Varela had built a loyal following among his Irish parishioners, who were no friends of colonialists, and they foiled the plot by warning Varela and intimidating the would-be assassin. A one-eyed Spanish-speaking stranger wandering around an Irish neighborhood in lower Manhattan would have been noticed. In any case, Morejón returned to Havana, presumably without earning the 30,00o pesos Vives had offered him. 


Varela’s association with Friends of Ireland in 1843 in support of publication of Thomas Mooney's lectures on Irish history


Varela talks about his support of Irish immigrants in 1800’s New York in “Choosing Peace”:
“I work hard to help Irish families build schools for their children, and I tend cholera patients, and I defend Irish American boys and girls against insults from mobs who hate them just because their parents are immigrants.” 


Two observations from Hernán Guaracao, a major on line publisher for the Latino community in Philadelphia, originally from Colombia.  He brings Varela into the present.

But his greatest achievement in life was not this advocacy for the independence of his homeland, written out in that journalistic enterprise he launched in Old City Philadelphia, but what he did in the following 30 years in New York City, where he moved to lead a life of charity in defense of the poorest of the poor, the undereducated immigrants coming to America in the first half of the 19th century, mostly from an island called Ireland.
“No single Latino left a greater imprint on 19th century American culture than Varela,” writes  former Philadelphia Daily News writer and New York Daily News columnist, Juan Gonzalez in his book “Harvest of Empire.” 


Does anybody remember the “Kensington Riots,” when the Catholic Irish confronted the backlash of resistance to their presence they found in Philadelphia in the 19th Century, either because they were poor, or they were undereducated, or they were simply “different”, on top of being catholic, exactly like a good number of Latinos are today?

The life of Father Felix Varela y Morales, when properly publicized and well understood, can be a major point of reference to the current dilemmas of immigration into the United States.

And it can be a call, from the shrine of the memory of a man one step away from being declared a saint by the Catholic church, for the moral responsibility many leaders with power and influence, some of Irish descent, must feel today.

In the profound immigration crisis of today, Varela life’s example can be just an inspiration for action in view of the millions that have come and are now trapped by obsolete laws that keep many on the run, or stigmatized because of the negative images propagated by a society of immigrants that have been harsh with their own kind.

Additional URLs for Cuban, Irish and Irish American links    https://tinyurl.com/IrishCubalinks

Fund for Reconciliation and Development   director@ffrd.org   917-859-9025