Tag Archives: caricom

COMMENTARY: Cubans love Music; Is ‘real’ Reggae Music finally seeing some light in the largest Caribbean Island?


Views expressed are solely the opinion of the writer, and when of others is clearly quoted, and not (unless specifically stated as such) that of www.nataliemonique.com.

by Natalie Monique

The Republic of Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean (over 11 million inhabitants), having gained formal Independence from the United States in 1902. Cuba has always been known for its rigid Communist regime under Leader Fidel Castro, causing a huge lack of Freedom for its citizens. After Raul Castro became President in 2008, he promised that there would be more freedom in Cuba, of which there has been progressive changes. Though slow in movement, one can say there seems to be a ray of hope. There are still major restrictions for example, Computer ownership/Internet use and Travelling to name a few, and there is still a high rate of Illegal Emigration. However, the island does boast a highly rich Culture (understandable being a highly multi-ethnic region), offers the best worldwide healthcare, a 99.8% literacy rate and a lower infant death rate than most developed countries, but many of the benefits are not equally distributed.

A huge part of Cuban Culture is Music, right now various types of Music though not definitively known as Genres are enjoyed more in the island. Besides Cuban produced Music, local Cuban musicians also tend to adapt worldwide Popular Cultures such as Hip Hop, Reggae, Reggaeton and Rap, while still maintaining their own vibe through content and lyrics representing current Social and Political issues.

Approaching the 1990’s, Cubans began listening to Reggaeton, a ‘form’ of Reggae Music (blending Reggae, Electronic and Latin beats) which many original Reggae Lovers feel can never come remotely close to the authentic and meaningful Genre. Reggaeton is mostly popular in the Latin American Culture and spreading to other regions especially where Latin American communities exist, I would be lying if I say it doesnt get me moving. There is nothing more satisfying and relaxing even somewhat holistic, than some real, unadulterated Reggae Music seeping through your body. However, I think its great when persons try to emulate this beautiful Genre, I’m all for diversifying, creating an eclectic blend, mixing cultures, as long as the original is still maintained and respected…I do agree however, we can never say it is actual Reggae Music:)

Holding Cuban and Jamaican Flags – Photo/Caridad

Some Cubans have actually criticised Reggaeton as being ‘too explicit’ and sexual, and publicly yearned for Reggae, and original Reggae lovers there have made efforts to push the actual genre, however limited by Resources and support. When say Reggae, I am not referring to Cuban Reggae, which is a mix of Hip Hop, African Beats and Reggae, but the original ‘Jamaican born’ Reggae. In Cuba, Reggae is largely associated with the Rastafarian culture, as is in many other societies, hence Reggae is represented and promoted by the small cross section of Rastas in Cuba. Reggae? We all instantly think of the Jamaican King of Reggae, Bob Marley who was a convicted Rastafarian, spreading Reggae Music worldwide, touching the lives of persons from various races, cultures, age and class.

Most of the Rastas and Reggae Musicians reside in in the Eastern part of Cuba, where it is believed mostly Jamaicans live, and a huge Caribbean influence exist. However, Cuba does not permit the ‘public’ Rastafarian practice, namely smoking Cannibis, which is considered a main part of the faith. There has been controversy as Reggaeton is more popular (not without criticism though) than Reggae, the original genre from where it was even created. There are a few Reggae bands/artistes in Cuba, main ones such as Remanente and Paso Firme, and others on the rise still trying to keep the genre alive.

I recently bumped into an article in the Havana Times, where the author Dmitiri Prieto said he met with Raudel, a local Musician who pleaded for ‘the advance of pacifistic non-conformist spirituality in support of reggae and against reggaeton, which he said represented the corruption and perversion of the music that gave it its birth.’ He also highlighted the fact that Rastas are unable to freely practice their belief due to Law enforcement.

Check out this Documentary trailer, directed by Susanne Moss ‘Ras Cuba’:

He mentioned that the Mass Media has also been airing more Reggae promotions and even Bob Marley which is a good sign for the well loved Genre. To highlight progress, he also made reference to a recently published Cuban book ‘La Cultura Rastafari en Cuba’ (Rastafarian Culture in Cuba) by Cuban Researcher/Author Samuel Fure Davis. I also came across another interesting online narrative by Fure wrote back in 2005, ‘Lyrical Subversion in Cuban Reggae’ and and his in-depth ‘Reggae in Cuba’, a presentation at the University of the West Indies, UWI, Jamaica. Prieto also mentioned an upcoming conference on ‘African-based’ beliefs of which he says will include the Rastafarian Faith, for the first time.

Reggae means different things to different person, to Cubans it is synonymous with Rastafari. I am not a Rasta nor smoke Marijuana, (not every Islander smokes meds by the way), but those who know me well, KNOW I deeply enjoy the natural mystic/outdoor vibe, nourishing and healing the body with herbs, seeking knowledge, eating organic and healthy AND I am an avid fan of my Island’s Reggae and Dancehall Music! Despite what Reggae means to you, we here at nataliemonique.com are determined to keep this island gem of a genre alive and taking the authentic Caribbean culture to the World:)

We love the move, the word is getting out…Free Up Reggae maan! Its not ‘just’ Music, it is a euphoric experience! We may like Music, but everybody needs a little Reggae!:) Who better to explain what Reggae is all about than the King of Reggae himself: (Watch Videos below) Feel free to comment/share your thoughts:)

NEW!! Pics: Shaquille O’Neal launches Trinidad’s new Sports social program ‘Hoops Of Life’

Trinidad has launched a new social program called, ‘Hoops Of Life’, a sports development program set up by the Trini government to help discourage the youth from getting involved in crimes, by becoming actively involved in uplifting activites.

Minister of National Security Jack Warner initiated the move as one of his crime-fighting plans. According to Guardian Media sources, he is ‘..bent on pulling out all the stops to take back Trinidad and TObago fromt he criminals.’ The Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and National Infrastructure Development Company have also partnered with the government on this. Sources say the program is currently estimated at $10 million.

The move was further endorsed by American NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal who was flown in by officials to launch the initiative. The program was unleashed by Prime Minister Kamla Bissessar-Persad at a cermeony put on by the Housing Development Corporation in Beetham Gardens.

The basketball tournament, Hoops of Life’ is also known as ‘Shaq Attack. Different communitites will compete to win a grand prize of $1 million dollars in addition to other prizes, the community shooting the most hoops will be the winner. Teams are expected to adhere to strict behavioral guidelines, one such being that, no team member should be involved in any criminal activity and if found to be, the entire team will be disqualified.

Officials believe this is a good way to ‘trace’ juvenile delinquencies. Sources say Shaq encouraged the residents, telling them to believe in themselves. Saying that he also came from humble beginning, but proved that regardless he could make it. ‘They said I could not get my doctorate—I graduated recently. They said I could not play basketball and I showed them differently. To make it you must believe in yourself.’

Love this..positive energy!!!

Shaq assisting Prime Minister Bissessar to shoot a hoop..love this

NEW!! World Bank rates St Lucia as top CARICOM Island for doing business

According to the Doing Business Report 2012, the top countries doing business in the region, Latin America and the Caribbean were, Chile, Peru, Columbia, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda, Panama, Dominica, Trinidad, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bahamas, Jamaica.

St Lucia is number 52 in the world, and holds the top overall position in the Caribbean region, followed by Antigua (57), Panama (61), Dominica, Trinidad, Grenada, St Vincent, Bahamas, Jamaica and Belize. Haiti was the lowest ranked island.

Morocco is the most improved region worldwide, jumping 21 places between May 2010 to May 2011. The list shows the top five countries in the world doing business as, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, United States and Denmark consecutively.

Just recently in March, the World Bank approved US$15 million line of interest free credit to help St Lucia rebuild infrastructural damage from Hurricane Tomas, which created havoc in the island. Francoise Clottes, World Bank’s Caribbean director told Caribbean Journal that the Hurricane ‘created serious economic problems, especially in the areas of tourism and agriculture. Households and communities deemed vulnerable were particularly hard hit’.

The Caribbean statistics were based on analysis of each country based on factors such as:

1) Starting A Business Jamaica, Dominica, St Lucia, Panama, St Vincent

2) Dealing With Construction Permits St Vincent, Belize, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts

3) Getting Electricity St Lucia, Panama, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines

4) Registering Property Jamaica, Guyana, Dominica, St Lucia, Panama

5) Getting Credit Trinidad, Panama, Dominica, Bahamas, Belize

6) Protecting Investors St Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent, St Kitts

7) PayingTaxes St Lucia, Belize, Bahamas, Trinidad, St Vincent

8 ) Trading Across Borders Panama, St Vincent, Grenada, St Kitts, Dominican Republic, Bahamas

9) Enforcing Contracts Antigua, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Haiti

10) Resolving Insolvency Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, St Lucia, St Vincent

Watch video to learn more on this ratings in general: