Da Vinci in Havana

I like expositions after the opening days have passed, when the main speaker’s words are finished and the welcome cocktails are just a flavor lost in memory. I prefer the moment when the exhibition hall is empty and only the custodians and the occasional odd visitor pass by the works on display. When the author or curator isn’t there to explain to us the why of that stroke on the canvas or that cleft in the stone. In the midst of this solitude, of this silence without cameras or toasts, the artistic creation captivates me more. So I waited until now to go see “Da Vinci’s Genius,” an exhibition that includes machines designed by the mind of this universal Italian, crafted now with wood, metal… and great ingenuity.

Since June 29, in the White Hall of the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, a hundred pieces donated by the Anthropos Foundation are on display. Meticulous reproductions of numerous models drawn by the man who has symbolized, for centuries, artistic and scientific genius. The machines of the visionary Da Vinci displayed in a city that was founded in 1519, the year he ceased to exist. Leonardo the engineer, the painter, in the middle of this Havana of the third millennium, sometimes as incomprehensible and visionary as he was, but also as ingenious. Leonardo the Havanan that never was is here now with his prediction of submarines, with the diving suit that he planned in his sketches, the bicycle and the catapult that emerged from his drawings. And all this surprised me between the thick walls of an enormous Church, when the camera flashes had gone leaving only his works before my eyes.

16 thoughts on “Da Vinci in Havana

  1. Damir, the only Green project going on in Cuba is the Greenback project, 11 million Cubans take part in it every day.

    I think you’re mistaking windbags for windmills, a common Marxist error.

    You should contact your Cuban university about a way to use hot air to run Cuba’s power stations. Maybe you and Fidel can be put to good use after all.

  2. Post 13, Freethinker, Cuba is NOT investing a cent in oil exploration. Cuba is merely selling licenses to interested parties, qualified to do the research and exploration.

    Cuba is currently not in a position to invest in green energy simply because it is cash-strapped thanks to the nazist economic blockade imposed by the nazist dictatorship usa.

    However, there are universities in Cuba working on such plans and there are already solar stations and windmills producing energy. These experinments are creating the basis for the future just as you are suggesting. Cubans know that there is no future in oil and are working, within their severely limited options, towards the green energy. If they had the money, they would instal the solar panels over the national highways and would be able to supply all the energy Cuba needs from just that installation.

    What a fantastic idea!

    Cuba has already started producing a biofuel sourced from the seeds of a pine Jatropha curcas, well known for its high oil content. It can replace diesel completely, or it can be mixed with it.

    Look up cubasolar.cu if you understand Spanish. It is a great source of information on developments of green technologies in Cuba.

    Contrary to what the “demcoratic” and “free” capitalist press tels you, Cuba is actually powering on, given the financial challenges they face, with the green energy.


    HUFFINGTON POST: Cuba’s Renewable Energy: Gov. Missing Out On Solar, Wind Power Opportunities, Experts Say – By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

    The reality in Cuba today is that wind and solar energy sources are almost exclusively for local consumption and there has been little attempt to expand them to augment the national grid, which is powered mostly by fossil fuels. Scientists say the country lacks the investment and expertise for such a move.

    Around the region, examples abound for Cuba to emulate. Central American nations are using hydroelectric facilities to harness the power of rivers. Caribbean islands are passing laws stimulating foreign investment in renewables. Wind and solar farms are popping up where viable. Faraway in Europe, and nearby in the United States, individuals with solar panels can get paid for any extra energy they generate that goes back into the grid.

    “Possessing apt natural resources to generate energies is a tremendous boon, but that alone is not enough to create energy,” said Cherni.

    Another obstacle to boosting renewable energy is a stubbornly fixed mindset that equates development with oil.

    “Cuba is a nation that is dependent on oil, yes, but in addition the culture of its leaders and technicians, of its common citizens, is one of fossil fuels,” said Alejandro Montesinos, director of Cubasolar, the island’s chief NGO for sustainable energy.



  4. The Castros should really be trying to invest in clean energy for the whole country rather than a quick, but expensive and potentially dangerous fix that oil exploration would provide. That would be putting your money where your mouth is when talking about the revolution.

    Cuba is proud of its success in using alternative energy to bring electricity to isolated hamlets like Ramon Gordo, 90 miles (150 kilometers) west of Havana. Some 2,000 schools and at least 400 hospitals are lit up by solar panels in rural areas not plugged into the national grid. But scientists say the island, blessed with year-around sunshine and sea breezes but plagued with chronic energy shortages, could be doing much more on the national level, and that its communist government is missing a golden opportunity to reduce its dependence on subsidized oil from uber-ally Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez is sick with cancer.

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/07/09/4107657/solar-wind-energy-a-missed-opportunity.html


    HUFFINGTON POST: Cuba Offshore Drilling: Another Well Declared A Failure

    HAVANA, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Another offshore well in Cuban waters has been declared a failure after oil was found, but in rock too dense to allow production, Cuban media reported on Monday.

    Communist Party newspaper Granma said a well drilled by a Malaysia’s giant state-owned oil company Petronas in partnership with Russia’s Gazprom Neft showed “the existence of an active oil system, “but in a geological formation where “rocks are very compacted and don’t have the capacity to deliver significant quantities of oil and gas.”

    Because of that “it cannot be qualified as a commercial discovery, the paper said.

    The unsuccessful well was the latest blow to Cuba’s hopes to tap into offshore oil fields it says may hold 20 billion barrels of oil and help it achieve energy independence.

    Currently, it relies heavily on socialist ally Venezuela and its cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez to meet its oil needs.

    Spanish oil company Repsol hit a dry hole in Cuban waters in May and said it would likely pull out of the communist country after 12 years of operations and two unsuccessful wells.

    Granma said Petronas and Gazprom would continue to evaluate data collected during the drilling, which was completed on July 31, and conduct more seismic studies with an eye toward another possible attempt.

    It said that the oil found in this well “could extend to other zones in the four offshore blocks leased by the two companies and perhaps beyond.

    The Petronas well was drilled in 7,408 feet (2,258 meters) of water off Cuba’s northern coast, using the same Chinese-built, Italian-owned semi-submersible drilling rig brought to Cuba by Repsol earlier this year.

    Granma said the rig will now be passed on to Venezuela’s PDVSA to drill a well off Cuba’s western tip.



  7. It takes a lot of empty skull, such as that of the team “yoani”, their pin-up granny in Havana, or the copy and paste genius to say things they think support their failed and delusional case, only to discover that they made fools of themselves


    upon the world’s roaring laughter at these losers.

    Who can forget how the copy and paste “genius” posted an interview with a retired Cuban lady who had returned from Canada to Cuba because the life in Cuba

    I S

    G O O D !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yet, the dumbos never learn (that is becasue they have got nothing to use for learning. Like a brain…). Just have a look at the post 1!!!

    “why would Cubans leave “island paradise to go to bad, bad usa”, the loser asks!!!

    And the article, the loser dilligently copied and pasted without actually



    “the U.S. Coast Guard has been P A T R O L L I N G the Florida Straits MORE AGRESSIVELY, H A L T I M G M A N Y B E F O R E THEY CAN R E C H Florida. Most Cubans who reach U.S. soil can stay, but those intercepted at sea are usually returned to their homeland, and U.S. figures indicate that more than 1,000 have been S T O P P E D AT SEA so far this year.”

    The policy of the usanian nazist gulag is ” IF you make it to the dry land we’ll take you”.

    The actual practice is: “But we’ll make sure you never make it to the dry land, you bitches. We ourselves will take you back to Cuba!!!”

    Long live “usanian some kind of pragmatic capitalist freedom” and “democracy”, of kors…

    Get the traitors and terrorists to the firing squad, in accordance with the usanian “democratic” and “freedom of expression” own patriotic act law!!!

  8. For all the delusional and confused nazist-lovers (all the 1 and a half pioneers still thinking that the world gives a rat’s donkey about the team “yoani” and their nazist work against Cuba), and are asking an OBVIOUSLY ST**D question “why leave the paradise island to go toBAD usa”, here’s the answer given by theCuban woman who

    D I D

    R U N

    A W A Y from

    the paradise island and then got the taste of the truy BAD usa. She wanted to return to Cuba becasue she had enough of the “promised land” and a “better life in paradise” alsno known as “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”

    Even her husband, who doesn’t want her to go back to Cuba, admitted that they were taken from one bureaucrate to another in obvious attempt from the usanian nazsit authorities to wear them out and make them resign in their quest for

    P R O T E C T I O N


    J U S T I C E

    They never got any of it so the woman had had enough and wanted to go back to the

    T R U E

    P A R A D I S E

    also known as

    C U B A.

    She had realised that she will only be protected from the “wonderful wonders” of the “some kind of pragmatic capitalist” “freedom” in

    C U B A.

    Although the wannabe judge whatshername did talk to the Cuban woman trying to offer her advice on what to do to resolve her problems, the woman was unable to do so and in the end she simply left and returned to

    C U B A

    You know, the true paradise. Unlike the usa, nazist gulag. Her story can be found on the internet, search a little and read more about her case, which is

    N O T UNCOMMON in the usa, especialy among the Cuban immigrants.

    As the sewage rats of miami, posting here as if they are in the know, would know…

  9. @Humberto, you’ve got a pretty good handle on that already. I wouldn’t want to take that job away from you.


  11. The Maleconazo, as it is known, took place on August 5, 1994 around Havana’s well known waterfront route, near the port where the ferry to Regla is moored. Here, hundreds took the streets when rumors flew that the ferries had been hijacked and were leaving for the United States. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, subsidies from the once superpower ceased, resulting in a major downturn for Cuba’s state-run economy. The economic situation became dire, with blackouts and food shortages, and many of Cuba’s youth – then as is the case today – sought to flee to the U.S., taking the path they know best to escape the lack of opportunities and liberties in Cuba. The government’s response to these actions was to send the state’s fast-acting brigades (department of state security officials) to the congregation at the port, in an effort to control any possible uprisings. What ensued was a large protest by Cubans who began shouting: “Freedom; Cuba yes, Castro no” and scuffling with police as they expressed their dissatisfaction with conditions on the island. Havana residents began pouring into the streets, significantly increasing the number of protesters. Discontent over the lack food and other basic needs had been building up like a pressure cooker; this was the eruption.- by Carmen Ferreiro

    YOUTUBE: El Maleconazo- Cuban Uprising for Freedom on August 5, 1994.

  12. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/8/3/charles_glass_with_annans_exit_influx

    AMY GOODMAN: At the United Nations, the French Ambassador to the UN, Gérard Araud, he said that a political process may never have been in place for resolution to the conflict in Syria. France holds the presidency of the Security Council for the month of August.

    GERARD ARAUD: Mr. Annan, we have confirmed, that his job was impossible. We must recognize it, and for him to decide to resign is not surprising. What is very serious though, as well, is that the feeling that we may never had a political process. We didn’t have one. There is no negotiating process in place, so we have the impression, either way you look at it. It’s military logic that is winning the day, and with all that entails for the entire population and with all the political risks for the region.

    AMY GOODMAN: That’s the France’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Charles Glass, your response?

    CHARLES GLASS: The French, like the British and The United States and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have never supported a negotiated settlement. They demanded a regime change through violence from the very beginning. So, if Annan has been undermined, he’s been undermined by those parties themselves. So, it is not surprising that they accept his resignation with such equanimity, and the logical conclusion being that the Syrian conflict will be resolved by force of arms. And they, along with other Western and Arab powers and the Turks, are supplying those arms to one side, while Russia supplies arms to the other side. In the long run, all of Syria will suffer as a result.


    WALL STREET JOURNAL: Cuba Takes Another Foreign Hostage – After Oswaldo Payá’s suspicious death in a car accident, the regime arrests the driver, a Spanish rights activist.- By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

    Cuba wants to make itself an international travel mecca. But it also needs to keep the Cuban people away from pesky foreigners who could put counterrevolutionary ideas, like the notion of the right to earn a decent living, in their heads.

    Last week the military dictatorship demonstrated how it plans to solve this dilemma when it arrested Spaniard Ángel Carromero and charged him with vehicular manslaughter in the car wreck that killed Cuban dissidents Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero.

    There is every reason to believe that the regime is making an example out of Mr. Carromero—a member of the youth wing of the Popular Party in Spain—not because of his driving but because of his politics. Foreigners: be warned.

    If human-rights advocates had the technology to create, in a laboratory, the perfect dissident to challenge Cuba’s military dictatorship in Havana, they couldn’t do better than what God made in Payá. The 60-year-old pacifist was brave, articulate and unwavering in his belief that if Cubans would only drop their fear, they could claim the justice and equality under the law that is their due. A unique combination of intelligence, raw courage and gentle humility made him Castro’s worst nightmare.

    Payá’s death immediately raised speculation in the human-rights community about whether the regime played a role in the crash. If so, it would hardly be news. Thousands of Cubans have been killed since Fidel seized power because they refused to conform. Now that Raúl Castro—who earned a reputation over the years as the “executioner” working for his older brother—has been promoted to dictator, a hit job on Payá, if that’s what happened, would be a dog-bites-man tale. But there may be more to this incident.

    Also in the car was a Swedish human-rights advocate named Jens Aron Mondig, who was unhurt. In the days after the crash, rumors swirled that he’d sent a text message to Europe from the wreckage saying that the car was forced off the road by another vehicle. But neither he nor Mr. Carromero has confirmed that, and no message has been made public. Another plausible theory is that the car was being tailed—not hard to believe—but that the crash was indeed an accident.

    More could be learned if Mr. Carromero could speak freely. But from the moment he was taken to the hospital in the city of Bayamo, he has been in police lockdown. He has not been allowed to talk to the Payá family and has only been seen by the public on what looks like hostage videotape. In that tape he uses at least one term that is not common usage in Spain, which suggests the script was written for him.

    The Payá family has not pressed charges against the 27-year-old, but if his is found guilty by the regime, he could get one to 10 years. Mr. Mondig, who says he doesn’t recall what happened, appeared on Cuban television last week with a government minder seated next to him. He “confessed” to helping Mr. Payá in his work by giving him money, and he apologized to the nation. He was allowed to return to Europe last week but canceled a press conference on Friday.

    It may be that a government vehicle provoked the crash and that the regime figures that if it holds Mr. Carromero for a few years, memories will dim and by the time he is released and tells the truth no one will care.

    But the regime’s decision to politicize Payá’s death has only further fanned suspicions of foul play. A 1,500-word editorial in the state newspaper Granma last week responded to critics who claim that the government was behind the crash by complaining about Mr. Carromero’s affiliation with a party in Spain that has been a harsh critic of Cuban repression.

    Granma said that on a tourist visa he had no right to be cavorting with Payá. It also lashed out at Mr. Modig and his ties to Swedish Christian Democrats, who, it said, “rival the ultraconservative North American Tea Party.” The editorial went on to list numerous organizations from around the world that have engaged in trying to help dissidents, or what it calls “subversive” activities.

    Another enemy operation named in the editorial is the U.S. Agency for International Development. Cuba is already holding a USAID hostage, contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested in 2009 and later sentenced to 15 years in prison for bringing satellite communications equipment into the country. With the taking of what appears to be a second hostage, Raúl, the so-called reformer, is reiterating his hard-line policy.

    The Castros fear the increasing audacity of dissidents to speak out, organize and assemble, and they know that contact with the outside world has helped them. They have decided to put an end to it. That purpose is served by locking up Mr. Carromero and holding him incommunicado. “Opening” to tourists never meant allowing them to do dangerous things, like mixing freely with the Cuban people.



    CNS NEWS: UN General Assembly denounces Syrian crackdown – By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN

    Russia and China had objected to those provisions. Both voted “no” Friday, along with Syria, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

    The revised resolution takes a swipe at Russia and China by “deploring the Security Council failure” to act.

    Frustration over the lack of action was clear. Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan resigned Thursday as the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria after his peace proposals failed.

    Friday’s session rang with accusations over why Annan’s mission failed.

    The Syria uprising has left 19,000 dead since it erupted in March 2011. The U.N. estimates that 1.5 million people have been forced to abandon their homes but remain in the country.

    “The acts of brutality that are being reported may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes,” Ban said of the Aleppo fighting. “Such acts must be investigated and the perpetrators held to account.”

    The resolution backs Annan’s “demand that the first step in the cessation of violence has to be made by the Syrian authorities.”



  15. In 1492, the year Cuba was discovered by the first European explorer, Leonardo was employed on many different projects for Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, including the preparation of floats and pageants for special occasions, designs for a dome for Milan Cathedral and a model for a huge equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, Ludovico’s predecessor. Seventy tons of bronze were set aside for casting it. The monument remained unfinished for several years, which was not unusual for Leonardo. In 1492 the clay model of the horse was completed. It surpassed in size the only two large equestrian statues of the Renaissance, Donatello’s statue of Gattemelata in Padua and Verrocchio’s Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, and became known as the “Gran Cavallo”.

    I am happy for Yoani and the people of Cuba to have a chance to see these magnificent drawings and inventions of the Italian genius.


    TIME MAGAZINE: US-Bound Cubans Pour into Panama Through Colombia

    (METETI, Panama) — Led by smugglers armed with knives and machetes, Mayra Reyes and 14 other Cubans sloshed through swamps and rivers and suffered hordes of mosquitoes as they struggled across the notorious Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, the only north-south stretch of the Americas to defy road-builders.

    After walking for three days, the group reached the foot of a steep, scrubby mountain. There, the smugglers peeled away and told the Cubans they would have to press ahead alone.

    “I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” the 32-year-old hairdresser from Havana told The Associated Press. “What the guides did was get us to the mountain, where we had to wait for nightfall while these green and black poisonous frogs got on top of us.”

    Hundreds of Cubans like Reyes are taking that arduous new route toward the United States, trekking across the 85 miles (135 kilometers) of steamy tropical jungle that divides Colombia and Panama, through mountains, ravines, and muddy ground teeming with poisonous reptiles, jaguars, wild boars, guerrillas and drug traffickers,

    And after that, they still face a journey across 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) and six countries to reach the United States.

    Panamanian immigration authorities detained 800 Cubans near the border with Colombia from January through the first week in July, compared to 400 in all of 2011.

    “We have detained up to 90 people in one week,” said Frank Abrego, director of Panama’s National Borders Service.

    Thousands of islanders over the decades have used rudimentary rafts to travel the 90 miles (150 kilometers) that separate Cuba from the United States, but that journey can be deadly, and the U.S. Coast Guard has been patrolling the Florida Straits more aggressively, halting many before they can reach Florida. Most Cubans who reach U.S. soil can stay, but those intercepted at sea are usually returned to their homeland, and U.S. figures indicate that more than 1,000 have been stopped at sea so far this year.

    So Cubans have turned to land routes. In the first nine months of this fiscal year, 7,407 Cubans have entered the United States through the border with Mexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.



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