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Jamaica: A Reggae Nation

Miguel Lozano

Expression of the root of music in Jamaica, former Prime Minister Percival Patterson was the one in charge to receive the prize granted in 2012 by the Association of the Reggae Industry to The Skatalites, a mythical band of which he was the manager.   

The group, created in 1964, is considered a creator of ska, a precursor of reggae and other slopes of present Jamaican music, cultural reference of the Caribbean country anywhere in the world.  

Between the 22 awarded artists, it was including posthumously Peter Tosh - a pioneer of reggae -, whose son Andrew Tosh performed in the tribute during which Morgan Virgo was presented as the Artist of the Year and the song One By One by Laza Morgan, as the Song of the Year.

The awarding ceremony is included into to a bulky calendar of festive activities made every February since 2008 with the official endorsement called "Month of Reggae" as part of the actions for the defense of Jamaican music and preservation of its roots.

The link between Patterson and The Skatalites in a month dedicated to the preservation of the musical trend brings a demonstrative fact of the influence of reggae in the island to the memory, the concert One Love on April 22, 1978, that had Peter Tosh and Bob Marley among its protagonists.

The initiative of Marley, an ícon of reggae, took to extend the musical terms to turn the presentation at the National Stadium of Kingston in a political event, by the hand of the musician's philosophy centered in tolerance, understanding and peace.

In the middle of strong confrontations between those in favor of then Prime Minister Michael Manley, of the Popular National Party and Edward Seaga, of the Labour Party of Jamaica, Marley called both politicians to the stage and made them have a handshake.

The fact happened during the presentation of Bob Marley and The Wailers and remains like a directed action to use music to improve human behavior.

With more than 30,000 spectators and one impressive troops of talented musicians, this was the first concert of Bob Marley in Jamaica, after an attack against his life in 1976 during which he was wounded and that took to him to leave the country.

Unfortunately, it was not enough to stop the violence and there is the belief that Manley and Seaga never shook hands any more until 1981, in Bob Marley's funeral to honor a figure that both admired though they were irreconciliable political actors.

From the initial time of The Skatalites (disintegrated and soon rearmed with renovation of its musicians) and the concert of One Love, Reggae mainly crossed a way of recognition universal, although non free of the mistrusts of the musical industry.

Despite the Grammy Award was established since 1985 to the Best Reggae Record, this award is still considered one of the least important, practically delivered "behind the stage", out of the broadcast segment of the show on the television.

Its development has not been able to avoid the influence of negative factors such as bribering those who edit, publish and transmit the music, which acoording to the Jamaican Reggae Industry Association, covers electronic and written press as well.

Producer Stephen Stewart told Jamaican newspaper Observer that such a practice stops the transmission of recordings with a great quality, facilitating things for a music with a lot of less merit. Another obstacle, in the opinion of British critic David Rodigan, a historian of the reggae music, is the loss of identity in some artists.

"Could you imagine Aretha Franklin singing just wearing her bra and panties?... No! However, that is what most stars today do, to attract the attention of the press media," Rodigan said.

Rodigan coincided with cultural authorities in making the reggae music history know better, and the conscience that made it original and popular. Regarding this, Jamaican Culture Minister Lisa Hanna promised she would work on terms of monetary and fiscal support to strenghten reggae music.

"We are a reggae nation. We have to go back to claim our cultural position in the world," she said. In a speech on the celebration of the Reggae Month, Jamaican Tourism Minister Damion Crawford urged musicians to revert the role of reggae.

Tourism Assistant Director Jason Hall said Jamaica is taking the risk to lose the control and property of reggae music, so he called for taking measures to preserve it. "Reggae music has become one of the mostly listened all around the world.

Not only it offers entertainment but also inspiration for people from all over the world to improve themselves," Hall said. In Jamaica, reggae music is a genuine expression from the Jamaican authentic people, but now faces the challenges of a commercial world, a factor that not always benefits small countries' typical values.

The challenge of the preservation of reggae is another job to do, since Jamaican reggae reaches its first 50 yearsof independence in the middle of obstacles going from the climatic change to the economy, including scourges such as violence and drug trafficking.

It is precisely in difficult moments, when legitimate values get a greater relevance. This is quite clear for Jamaican authorities, since they see in the preservation of reggae music an element in favour of their own nationality, and the promotion of better human values

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Film on Bob Marley at Berlin Film Festival

The film "Marley" by director Kevin MacDonald will be presented in the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival next February, as an attempt to cover the life and legacy of the Jamaican musician.

The documentary film includes photos, recordings and music considered "rare", whose publication was authroized for the first time by the family of Bob Marley, according to the specialized online magazine United Reggae.

According to the source, MacDonald had access to private family archives during the filming of the documentary and visited countries such as Uganda, Kenya, India and Japan to provide an overview of the global impact of Marley's work.

MacDonald said he is interested in showing why the philosophy of the creator and leading exponent of reggae, who died at age 36 in 1981, still has an impact in virtually all the world.

Son of a British white man and a Jamaican black woman, Robert Nesta Marley was born on February 6, 1945 in Nine Mile, north of Jamaica, but later moved to Kingston where he started the musical legend with Bunny Wailer.

Along with Peter Tosh they formed The Wailing Wailers, later Bob Marley and the Wailers.

The talent of Marley and his group, which was joined by his wife, singer Rita Anderson (born in Santiago de Cuba), overcame the commercial barrier of its socially committed lyrics, which would then become a key element of its significance.

Prensa Latina to Launch Book on Indigenous People

The book "Abya Yala: An Indigenous View", containing a foreword by Bolivian President Evo Morales, will be launched at the International Book Fair of Havana, scheduled from February 9-19.

The book belongs to the collection Letras Urgentes (Urgent Lyrics), published by Prensa Latina’s publishing house, whose purpose is to address current Latin American and the Caribbean issues based on the contributions from the news agency’s correspondents and experts in Havana.

The book, which will be presented on February 15 at 14:00 pm in the Jose Antonio Portuondo Hall in the Morro-Cabaña complex, published in cooperation with the Ciencial Sociales publishing house (Social Sciences) and includes features, interviews, columns and articles about indigenous peoples.

In the foreword, President Evo Morales defines the book as "an unprecedented approach to the reality of our peoples", and indicates that it will allow future generations to learn about aspects of the culture of our grandparents and founders, as well as the continuity of their lessons.

According to Morales, the book refers to the period prior to Christopher Colombus’ arrival, when the continent was a single land: Abya Yala, which means land full of maturity or land of life blood.

This is the second title of the Letras Urgentes collection, after "SOS Amazon", a collection of works by Prensa Latina correspondents in that Bolivia.

"Abya Yala, An Indigenous View" contains fifty works written by 25 authors who reflect how in their transit through the 21st Century, Latin American native people demand fair recognition of their ancestral values in the future.

It also deals about aspects of indigenous people’s participation in parliamentary and governmental institutions in the context of the current process in the region, and about issues related to the defense of language and other native cultural expressions.

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Colombian Paramilitary Threaten Venezuela

Colombian Paramilitary Threaten Venezuela

Miguel Lozano

Caracas.- Having emerged in the context of an over 50-year old war, paramilitarism crossed the borders of Colombia and is currently a main worry for Venezuelan authorities.

The detention in 2004 of a group of paramilitaries near Caracas who were planning to assassinate President Hugo Chavez showed the political intention of the heirs of the so-called United Self-Defenses of Colombia.

Situation complicates because it is an open secret, denounced at the National Assembly (Parliament), that Colombian paramilitary groups are taking part in drug trafficking from Colombia to the United States through Venezuelan territory.

This element gets prominence in the context of US harassment of Chavez, whom they want to link to drug trafficking to justify a military action against Venezuela, as they did in Panama with Antonio Noriega.

A new element denounced by Chavez is that they are not only using Colombians, but also citizens from other countries called private "contractors," as they have done in Iraq and other countries.

According to Venezuelan authorities, these paramilitary forces are introduced in Venezuela by Colombian war supporting sectors backed by US private firms.

A consequence of this action was the emergence of kidnapping in the last few years, a practice spreading from states bordering Colombia to other regions of Venezuela (there were 382 cases registered at the end of 2007), mostly in border areas.

Actions against Chavez are a well-defined tactic of the opposition, in a year of elections of governors and majors, which Chavez himself has described as essential for the future of the process of changes he has been leading since 1998.

Source: Prensa Latina

Chavez, Tenth Year s Counterattack

Chavez, Tenth Year s Counterattack

Miguel Lozano

Caracas.- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez began his tenth year in power engaged in a revision, rectifying and boosting process that puts to the test his assertion as a strategist who is comfortable in a counterattack situation.

Chavez assumed the Presidency on February 2, 1999, after winning elections with a little over 50 percent of the votes and the proposal of a more just society in the rich oil country ridden with poverty for most of the population.

In the opinion of the President, what then began was the dismantling of a neocolonial system ruled by a super-rich minority dependent on the United States.

That oligarchy, said Chavez in a speech to the nation on occasion of the ninth anniversary of his mandate, took over all the powers of the nation and played the role of pawn of the US empire, following its orders.

As a result, despite the enormous wealth of Venezuela (fifth oil exporter of the World), the country he inherited in 1999 expressed extreme differences as 50.2 percent of the population in poverty and 42.5 percent in misery.

Nine years after, misery was reduced to 9.4 percent and poverty is estimated at 33.7 percent.

The leader believes that was possible not only for the oil revenues, but because those resources for the most did not go to the hands of transnational companies.

Another cause is the social focus of state policies that allowed to engage in numerous programs of social benefit, the so-called missions, to convey health services and free education for millions of Venezuelans, among other results.

One of the myths used by the opposition to downplay advances is the argument of oil price increases. which is still lower than the hike of the 70s, when the barrel of oil went from 2 to over 30 dollars (15 times) while the most recent increase took prices from 10 to 65 dollars on the average.

Now 90 percent of the oil income stays here and does not only stay but is used in the people s Benedit, says Chavez.

Advances includes the eradication of illiteracy, and the Venezuelan president admits that errors have been committed like the ones leading to the defeat in the referendum on his proposal of constitutional reform last December.

This led Chavez to introduce his Project of the 3 Rs: Revision, Rectification and Relaunch of his mandate, in the midst of a tough opposition campaign trying to deny any of his government s accomplishments.

The alternative, the old, perverse, anti Christian, inhuman and savage capitalist system, which abandoned the people, grabbed most of the nation s resources and allowed them to escape abroad.

The 3Rs is a kind of halt along the way that will be defined by the elections for governors and mayors next November.

The followers of change in Venezuela will be put to the test in those polls for their unity, their ability to understand and recover.

Source: Prensa Latina

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ALBA: Integration Strategy with Practical Mechanisms

ALBA: Integration Strategy with Practical Mechanisms

Miguel Lozano
Caracas.- Beyond its strategic importance as a new kind of cooperation alliance, the Sixth Summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) paved the way to immediate development projects.
Unlike other presidential meetings, the summit held in Caracas from January 24-26 debated the implementation of concrete self-financed programs.
A major element in this approach is the ALBA Bank, made up of Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which has excluded traditional concepts to seek profits to focus on benefits for the peoples.
Venezuelan Finance Minister Rafael Isea pointed out that the bank’s first actions would be aimed at defining the domestic policies to approve "grand national" projects, based on proposals by the ALBA Ministerial Council.
As grand national, ALBA experts define joint projects among member countries that are aimed at benefiting the peoples instead of seeking profits, unlike the principle of transnational companies.
Cuban Central Bank President Francisco Soberon told reporters that the new financial body would fund projects that similar institutions would reject.
Unlike commercial banks, which reject low-profit loan requests, the new mechanism will consider the productive, social and ecological impact of the projects, he added.
Therefore, each partner country will supply capital to the bank, which will also receive funds from third parties, because it will open so strong that it will be a perfectly-viable alternative in a relatively short term, Soberon pointed out.
He explained that one of the main characteristics of the bank, unlike other similar institutions, is that it will not play a hegemonic role, and its decisions will be based on equal votes, independently from the partner’s level of participation.
However, although the creation of the ALBA Bank was one of the key issues debated at the group’s summit, the initiative’s reach is greater, as it is regarded as a project aimed at the Great American Nation.
Cooperation and social benefits instead of competition and profits make the ALBA a new kind of group aimed at achieving strategic goals based on concrete actions with short- and medium-term results.
Source: Prensa Latina

A Forest Inventory in Venezuela

A Forest Inventory in Venezuela

Caracas (Prensa Latina) Venezuela initiated preparations for the carrying out of a national forest inventory that will be ready within five years, Ministry for the Environment of the South American nation reported.

The director of Forests Olga Perez explained that the study will begin in January in the southern State of Amazonas, of more than 11,000 miles, and will continue with Bolivar and Delta Amacuro States, both located south Orinoco River.

This region approximately concentrates the 80 percent of the forests of the country and includes a considerable portion of the Venezuelan part of Amazonia, world’s great water reserves, shared by eight countries of South America.

Perez reported that the Unit of Management of the National Forest Inventory was created, element contemplated in the methodology for the carrying out of the investigation, formed by forest engineers, agronomists, geographers and botanists.

The inventory, according to experts, is an instrument of management to protect the natural resources and to help its administration.

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Theology of Liberation Again in Venezuela

Theology of Liberation Again in Venezuela

Miguel Lozano
Caracas.- Theologians from several countries will meet to re-launch the Theology of Liberation, when religious sectors fear a rise of conservatism in the Catholic Church.
One of the meeting organizers, Father Atencio Vidal, told Prensa Latina that the appearance of the Brazilian Leonardo Boff, among other personalities from Spain and Latin America are invited to the event that will be held from August 14 to 15.
Father Vidal explained that although the specific program is still not decided, meetings will most likely be held in four popular parish churches of the Venezuelan capital. Official social programs will be also visited.
The priest recently criticized a document released by the Venezuelan Episcopate Conference for assuming opposition political attitude ignoring social programs. He gave this explanation in a meeting that promotes the beatification of Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
The Salvadorian archbishop, a well-known defender of human rights, was assassinated while practicing his priestly duties and a process of canonization was begun in 1994.
According to Father Videl, the meeting in Caracas will serve to demonstrate that the Theology of Liberation is not dead, as some church officials would wish and in spite of condemnation of its promoters, such as Jon Sobrino.
He added that Venezuela can now become a platform for the re-launching of this religious movement that seeks an approach of the church with the poor.
Questioned over the possibility of suffering some form of reprimand from the Catholic hierarchy, the Venezuelan priest of indigenous origin recalled that he already ready received a letter from the Maracaibo archbishop, Ubaldo Santana, asking for his silence.
He added that, although he has received no answer to a letter he sent, no one will be able to silence him in his demands in favor of the poor and the expression of his opinions.
Source: Prensa Latina

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