Arriving in Gibara

Photographs by Gonzalo Vidal (all rights reserved).

GibaraGibara sits on its bay, on the north coast of eastern Cuba, not far distant from the city of Holguin. Some say it was named after the jiba, a bush growing abundantly along the banks of the Rivers Cacoyuguin and Gibara, which flow out into Gibara Bay. Others believe it came from the guibara, a common shrub found along its coasts. But whatever the origins of its name, it was here that Christopher Columbus first set foot in Cuba, his ships finding shelter. Amazed by the richness of the vegetation, the proliferation of bird song and the framing of the hills, it was here that he exclaimed “this is the most beautiful land that human eyes have seen”. Continue reading

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The longest hunger strike

It has been twelve years since Irom Sharmila last ate food. On 2 November 2000 she began what has become the world’s longest hunger strike, in protest at the apparent impunity with which the Indian armed forces, in her home state of Manipur and elsewhere in India, are killing civilians. Though prompted to her action after hearing the gunshots of the Malom Massacre, in which ten died she has come to symbolise the campaign to bring an end to all such deaths, and the repeal of the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that has provided them with legal cover.

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Visualising hurricanes

The following image, constructed by John Nelson, shows the locations and intensities of hurricanes and tropical storms since 1851. It is a chillingly beautiful representation, demonstrating the unequal geographical impact of these cyclones. While the entire mainland of the Americas remains visible, with a light peppering from occasional sorties by these violent natural phenomena, the Caribbean basin is almost entirely obliterated, hidden behind a layer of repeated assault. A very potent reminder of how much this region’s history, and the ongoing problems its people face, owe to the weather.

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Kidnap, race and death along the Malecon

2nd Grand Prix of CubaAlbarrojo finds himself amongst the crowds that have gathered along the Malecon to watch the second Cuban Grand Prix. Cuba is in the grip of uprising. Guerrillas of the Ej√©rcito Rebelde in the mountains of the East, now broadcasting with their newly founded Radio Rebelde. Urban insurgents of the Movimiento 26 de Julio in the cities, with hit and run actions, seeking to cause what disruption they can to Batista’s regime, which responds with brutal inefficiency while seeking to show the world that business continues in Cuba as usual. Continue reading