Cuba Professor and Intellectual Jose Juan Arrom Dies...

By Mercedes Santos Moray, CUBANOW

He was of short height but he had an immense personal charisma; he was talkative and kind, always open to exchange with the youth, nervous and restless; that is how I remember Cuban professor and intellectual José Juan Arrom when we first met in the halls of Havana's Convention Center and in the Casa de las Américas (Americas' House), attending conferences and presentations on Spanish-American literature.

I had read some of his essays, and linguistic and literary studies on the history of Spanish literature in the West Indies, as well as his penetrating exegeses on the aboriginal contribution to the Caribbean and Latin American cultural heritage.

He was one of Cuba's most respected and expert philologists of our literature who rubbed shoulders with people of the most exclusive circles of the US academic world as a Yale graduate and professor.

His merits, his tireless diligence, led to be a funding member of the US Academy of the Spanish Language and, also, a member of the Cuban Academy of Language.

Now, after knowing of his death, in his home in Massachusetts, where he lived after retiring as a professor at the University of Yale, where he had a fruitful career, we feel moved, not only because of the intellect that has died, but also, and above all, because he was a human being of an extraordinary kindness and wisdom that we knew and from whom we received advice and encouragement.

He was born in eastern Cuba, in Holguín; he was the son of a Majorcan man and a Cuban woman. Since he was very young, he received his family's support to develop his intelligence and he studied in Yale, a prestigious institution where he obtained three university degrees on literature and many honors during several decades although he was a very modest and studious man.

He also worked as curator of the Latin American collection in Yale and, without quitting teaching, he wrote a lot and advised many US students on many topics related to Spanish and Spanish-American literature.

Since he was very young in Cuba, he had showed his talent and witticism when he published, since 1941, in the Revista Bimestre Cubana (Cuban Bimonthly Magazine), his article on the "First dramatic expressions in Cuba, 1512-1776", a line of research that he continued, although he also dedicated a lot of time of his life to the study of the colonial period in the literature of Latin America.

His first book, Studies on Spanish-American literature, was published in Havana in 1950. Later, along with his notebooks, he continued developing his writings on culture in specialized periodicals such as Revista Cubana (Cuban Maganzine), the Handbook of Latin American Studies and the Iberoamerican Magazine, among others.

Many US publications, like Hispania for example, had Arrom as a contributor. His essays were also circulated by other scientific publications such as the Bulletin of Caro y Cuervo Institute, of Colombia; the Journal of Inter-American Studies, the American Notebooks, the Magazine of the Puerto Rican Culture Institute and the Bulletin of the US Academy of the Spanish Language.

The `taíno' culture, and its presence in Cuban, Dominican and Caribbean literature, as well as his interest in the colonial matters of the viceroyalty of Mexico and in the black presence on the Americas' folk poetry, were some of the topics that he studied as a philosopher, a sociologist and a culture expert. He also had a fine command of the prose, marked by an explicit communicative eagerness.

Cuban, Spanish and US culture are mourning this great intellectual and those of us who were lucky to have his affection and friendship are feeling his absence with particular emotions.

Source: Cuba Daily News

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Yale Bulletin and Calendar:


Puerto Rico Issue to Be Included in UN Agenda

United Nations, Jun 14 (Prensa Latina) The Special Committee on Decolonization requested for the first time that the UN General Assembly review the case of Puerto Rico in a comprehensive way, after approving 25 fruitless resolutions on the issue over the past 30 years.

That request implies that discussions on the situation of that Caribbean island under US rule would get out of the narrow framework of the Special Committee on Decolonization to be debated at the United Nations.

The upgrade of the Puerto Rico issue is contained in a declaration presented by Cuba and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and passed by consensus on Thursday at the Special Committee on Decolonization, which is attached to the UN General Assembly.

Cuban Ambassador to the UN Rodrigo Malmierca said the inclusion of the Puerto Rico issue in the General Assembly's agenda is an urgent matter due to its growing importance.

"Most Puerto Rican forces agree on that," pointed out Malmierca when presenting the resolution.

The Cuban diplomat noted that despite more than 30 years of efforts and 25 resolutions and decisions on the issue at the Committee, the Puerto Rican people cannot exercise their legitimate right to genuine self-determination.

"At the same time, the United States is trying by all means to strengthen its economic, political and social power on this brother Latin American and Caribbean people," he added.

In addition to the request to the General Assembly, the resolution approved on Thursday also called US authorities to create the conditions to allow the Puerto Rican people to fully exercise their right to free determination and independence.


Taino Identity Survey

Dear Peoples of the Taino Nation,

This letter is in regards to a Taino Identity Survey - and I would like your involvement. I am a Master's Student at the University of Leiden and also of Puerto Rican, and possibly Taino descent. My thesis is regarding Taino identity.

I chose this topic because as I was reading through much of the literature surrounding the Taino "Revival" (which is funny because I thought Taino peoples were always here)- none of the Academic journals or books etc, have interviewed Taino peoples themselves. Therefore, I have decided for my thesis work that I would like to include all of you.

If you could please go to this site: Taino Identity Survey in order to participate I would really appreciate it. The questionnaire takes about 7 minutes to complete. It is in open question format and the last box allows you to express any open opinions that you may have about being Taino, totally without restrictions.

These survey responses will be included in full, in my thesis Chapter 6. You will remain anonymous, unless you contact me that you would like to be referred to. If you would like to participate in this project, and lend more voice to the Taino cause, I would really appreciate it. Please send this survey to any other people that also identify themselves as being Taino.

Here is the link to the Taino Identity Survey, just in case you need to copy and paste it into your browser:

Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Thank you,
Marie Carmen Ortiz


Of Pearls and Doing the Right Thing…

To: Blue Water Ventures


I read with great interest the Internet article about your Margarita shipwreck pearl find. My wife, Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent ), and I gave a lecture at the Natural History Museum of New York on Powhatan and Caribbean Pearls. I would like you to consider the following:

The pearls found in this shipwrecked galleon's site were probably from the Caribbean Peal Trade located in the pearl beds off the Venezuelan island of Margarita . The sunken ship had the appropriate name since it was from its namesake island's waters that the pearls (that came to rival the old Eastern pearl trade) were harvested.

Lucayan Taínos (conch divers from the Bahama Islands) were among the first unfortunate souls used in this deplorable enterprise that helped to deplete the Bahamas of its indigenous people and the Caribbean of its ancient pearl beds. Aside from pearls found in conchs, Spanish explorers may have first encountered Indigenous American pearl trade among the mainland peoples of South America .

Father Bartholomew de las Casas reported the horrible conditions of these divers, "who once looked like men but now appeared as deformed dogs", and who were forced to dive at very deep depths from canoes by their cruel Spanish masters. He reported that if a diver surfaced too early he was pushed underwater by his master in the canoe. At the pearl diver's campsites they suffered from the bends, unhealed sores, starvation and diseases so that European royalty, nobility and merchants could have the luxury of wearing clothes dripping with excessive amounts of Caribbean pearls (See paintings of European royalty of this period). The only "positive" story to have come out of the Caribbean Pearl trade was that of an enslaved Caribbean "Indian" who was given his freedom by his master for finding the largest famous pearl named "La Peregrina" or "The Orphan" (So named because the diver found the pearl out of its shell).

The current owner of the re-hung "La Peregrena" is actress Elizabeth Taylor who was given the pearl by her late husband actor Richard Burton. La Peregrina was briefly lost in her rug; her poodle appeared with it in its mouth. Maybe both the pearls found at the Margarita's site and La Peregrina should be donated to a museum for display that would also acknowledge the holocaust-like history of the Caribbean Pearl Trade, the first European slave trade in the Americas and of the brutal early enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean.

One Love,
Michael Auld (Yamaye Taino descendant)


Thousands of pearls found in shipwreck

KEY WEST, Fla. - Salvagers discovered thousands of pearls Friday in a small, lead box they said they found while searching for the wreckage of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santa Margarita. Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West said they found the sealed box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, along with a gold bar, eight gold chains and hundreds of other artifacts earlier this week.

They were apparently buried beneath the ocean floor in approximately 18 feet of water about 40 miles west of Key West.

"There are several thousand pearls starting from an eighth of an inch to three-quarters of an inch," said Duncan Mathewson, marine archaeologist and partner in Blue Water Ventures.

James Sinclair, archaeologist and conservator consulting with Mel Fisher's Treasures, Blue Water's joint-venture partners, said the pearls are very rare because of their antiquity and condition. Sinclair said pearls don't normally survive the ocean water once they are out of the oyster that makes them.

"In this instance, we had a lead box and the silt that had sifted into the box from the site of the Margarita, which preserved the pearls in a fairly pristine state," he said.

An initial cache of treasure and artifacts from the Santa Margarita was discovered in 1980 by pioneering shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher.

The ship was bound for Spain when it sank in a hurricane in 1622. The pearls will be conserved, documented and photographed in an archaeological laboratory above the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West.

"Until they're properly cleaned and conserved we don't know their value, but it would seem they would be worth upwards of a million dollars," Mathewson said.


Suriname OKs mining where species found

Environment minister shrugs off concerns, saying 'these are our resources'

PARAMARIBO, Suriname (AP) - Suriname will let mining companies pursue excavation projects in an eastern jungle region where scientists recently discovered two dozen new species of wildlife, the environment minister said Wednesday.

Environment Minister Joyce Amarello Williams said the government will take measures to protect wildlife diversity while encouraging investment in gold and bauxite exploration and open-pit mining in the small South American nation.

"It is a matter of finding a right and responsible balance between exploiting our natural resources to our benefit and preserving our biodiversity, which is an important part of our wealth," she told The Associated Press.
Earlier this month, a group of scientists from the U.S.-based nonprofit Conservation International announced the discovery of new species — including a frog with distinctive purple markings and six types of fish — in the region's rainforests and swamps.

The group's research was financed by Suriname Aluminum Company LLC and BHP Billiton Maatschappij Suriname, two companies considering mining projects in the area.
Marielle Canter, manager for Conservation International's energy and mining program, said the remote area could be developed responsibly if strong conservation management is enforced to "protect its unique values."
Amarello Williams said she anticipates opposition from conservationists but said Suriname will reach its own conclusions about where to allow development.

"These are our resources and we will decide what will happen," she said.

About 80 percent of Suriname is covered with dense rainforest. Thousands of Brazilians and Surinamese are believed to work in illegal gold mining, creating mercury pollution that has threatened the health of Amerindians and Maroons in Suriname's interior.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Click for related content: Survey finds 24 new species in Suriname

Strange species: See some of the colorful creatures documented during Conservation International's survey of Suriname's remote plateaus.


Carib and Taino Recognized in U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands (UCTP Taino News) – An inter-tribal organization in the U.S. Virgin Islands has been officially recognized as an American Indian Tribe in a proclamation by Governor Charles W. Turnbull. The Carib-Taino Confederacy received this recognition on December 29, 2006. In an official communication to Confederacy Chief Fred Vialet and the new U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John de Jongh from the United Confederation of Taino People, Office of International Relations, UCTP President and Chairman, Roberto Mucaro Borrero stated the “proclamation is welcomed by the UCTP as it affirms our calls for the recognition of Taino, Carib, and Arawak peoples who reside throughout the Caribbean region”. Borrero continued stating that the UCTP looks forward to the establishment of a “formal relationship with the Carib-Taino Tribal Confederacy… as this relationship would further our mutual goals to protect and preserve the culture and promote the socio-economic welfare of the Indigenous Peoples of the region.”


Combatiendo la mentalidad colonizada...

OPINIÓN - 06/11/2007
Por Cristina Veran

UCTP Taino News - In an Op-Ed for El Diario La Prensa, the Spanish-Language newspaper, Ms. Veran expresses her thoughts following the recent Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN and last week's Miss Universe pageant re: the perpetual absence/exclusion of red & brown faces among Latin America's contestants. (Article available in Spanish only)

Review article at:


Environmental group raises concerns over Negril resort

THE Jamaica Environmental Advocacy Network (JEAN) has expressed concern about the proposed building of a 6,228-room development resort on 361 acres of land on the Negril Peninsula.

The proposed development will cover a large parcel of land on Negril's west end, and the environmental network, in a statement this week, said irreparable damage would be done to secondary and primary forest of the most threatened kind in the Caribbean and Jamaica if construction of the resort goes ahead.

"This tropical dry forest includes small, highly specialised ecosystems, which are unique to Jamaica and the rest of the world. Negril Hill was an island for extended periods of time; hence its very special evolutionary history of which little is known," the statement said.

The group said an environmental impact assessment (EIA) conducted by consultants hired by the development company failed to provide a complete assessment of either the plants and animals on the site.

"The section of the EIA that deals with environmental impacts and mitigation is wholly inadequate, failing to address sewage or drainage impacts sufficiently," the environment group said.

JEAN also bashed a proposal by the consultants that coral be relocated to other sections of the coastline.

"The EIA proposes coral transplantation as a mitigation measure, but fails to provide any information on the success of coral relocation. In fact, according to experts, this is a risky and costly approach with a spotty record of success," said the group.

JEAN claims that the proposal to construct a marina and alter the shoreline, by dredging and building five sandy beaches, is a recipe for disaster and would result in negative effects on air quality, allow invasive species to take over the area, hazardous waste management, oil spills and storm water management.

The group was also concerned about the impact on Negril's cultural heritage.

"According to the journal of the Archaeological Society of Jamaica, there are five Taino cave sites in Negril, four of which are burial caves, and one of which had a petroglyph (carving)," the release stated.

JEAN also urged the National Environment and Planning Agency to call for a new EIA to be conducted and for sections of the site to be declared as conservation areas as well as the immediate stoppage of cutting and bulldozing.

Source: The Jamiaca Observer

Caribbean‘s reef-building coral at risk

Associated Press Writer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Six species of reef-building coral could vanish from the Caribbean due to rising temperatures and toxic runoff from islands` development, according to a study released Thursday.

The species — about 10 percent of the 62 varieties capable of forming reefs in the region — include staghorn and elkhorn corals, which were once among the most prominent.

Peter Edmunds, a biology professor at California State University-Northridge, said the study provided a broad perspective that is "terribly important" but does not indicate how close a particular species is to dying off in the region.

Researchers have blamed rising temperature, disease and pollutants for damage to the coral reefs, which host countless marine plants and animals.

The team also reported significant damage to mangroves, which filter pollutants, reporting the plants cover 42 percent less area in the Caribbean than they did 25 years ago.

The study was sponsored by the Caribbean Biodiversity Initiative, along with the nonprofit World Conservation Union in Switzerland and the Royal Caribbean Cruises` Ocean Fund.


Chichen Itza Among the Leaders of New 7 Wonders contest

LISBON (UCTP Taino News) - Mexico's Mayan city center of Chichen Itza is among the leaders in a competition, ending in one month, to choose the New Seven Wonders of the World, the campaign organizers reported on Thursday.

The winners will be chosen through a global online and phone vote, organizers of the New 7 Wonders of the World (http://www.new7wonders.com/ ) competition. Among the 21 “wonders” selected to the finalist list, three represent ancient indigenous cultural heritage including the Inca city of Machu Pichu in Peru, the monolithic Moai statutes of Rapanui (Easter Island), and Chichen Itza located in the Yucatan peninsula.

Over 50 million people have voted so far in this global competition to produce a 21st century list of the world's greatest man-made heritage sites. The original seven wonders of the ancient world were chosen by the Greeks more than 2000 years ago.
The winning list will be announced in Lisbon on July 7, 2007.


Taino Artist Featured at Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa, Florida (UCTP Taino News) - Selected master works of Taino Artist John Brown Ayes are appearing in an important group exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. The opening was May 18, 2007 and the exhibition runs through June 24, 2007.

Ayes has written a small page in the history books because he is the first documented Taino to exhibit at the museum as well as the first Puerto Rican. The Ayes works featured are Don Quijote de la Mancha, An Altar to Dali and PHI.


Taino and Other Caribbean Indigenous Peoples Engage the United Nations System

United Nations, NY (UCTP Taino News) – After a two week working session from May 14-25, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues came to a close at United Nations headquarters in New York. Over a thousand participants from around the world participated throughout the session, which concluded in the form of a report containing recommendations to governments and United Nations agencies.

Highlighting the session’s theme “territories, lands, and natural resources,” the Permanent Forum recommended that Governments adopt, in relevant national legislation, the principle of “free, prior and informed consent” of indigenous peoples regarding potential development projects or other activities carried out on their lands.

“It is […] clear that most local and national indigenous peoples’ movements have emerged from struggles against policies and actions that have undermined and discriminated against their customary land tenure and resource-management systems, expropriated their lands, extracted their resources without their consent and led to their displacement and dispossession from their territories,” the Forum stated in one of eight sets of draft recommendations and three draft decisions approved by consensus at the close of its sixth session.

The Permanent Forum, a 16-member subcommittee of the Economic and Social Council, is mandated chiefly to provide expert advice on indigenous issues to the Council and the United Nations system; raise awareness and promote the integration and coordination of activities relating to indigenous issues with the United Nations system; and prepare and disseminate information on indigenous issues.

Amid the diverse delegations of Indigenous Peoples highlighting the complex issues associated with land, territories, and natural resources, Caribbean Indigenous Peoples were actively presenting sound advice to Governments and intergovernmental organizations about how to meet their needs for survival. Working together in the form of the Indigenous Caucus of the Greater Caribbean (IPCGC), indigenous representatives from throughout the region presented their collective views on such topics as urban Indigenous Peoples and migration, the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and future work of the Forum.

Chief Reginaldo Fredericks of the Lokono Arawak Community of Joboshirima noted the importance of the session and looked forward to receiving more Indigenous delegates from the Caribbean at next year’s session, which will focus on climate change. “We need to be at these sessions to support each other and highlight what is happening in our communities” stated Chief Fredericks. “We need to strengthen our ancestral connections and working together as a Caucus can help us achieve these goals.”

Mildred Gandia, a Boriken Taino and a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) stated “We, Caribbean Indigenous Peoples made a big impact on this session and there were Taino here from Boriken, Kiskeia (Dominican Republic), and even Jamaica as well as Lokono Arawaks from Venezuela and Guyana and Garifuna from Honduras .”

Gandia continued stating “Our views were presented at the plenary sessions via the IPCGC, on panel discussions focusing on climate change, our artists were highlighted in the United Nations Art Exhibition, and we stood in solidarity with other Indigenous Peoples in supporting the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.”

The Permanent Forum strongly urged the General Assembly adopt during its sixty-first session the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the fate of which remains unclear some six months after it was approved by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. The Declaration, which was initially opposed by countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, is now being further endangered by proposed amendments submitted a group of Africa countries. The African Group’s proposal was roundly rejected by Indigenous leaders as “unacceptable and inconsistent with international human rights law”.

With the exception of Dominica and Haiti, countries from the Caribbean region including Guyana, Belize, and Suriname are expressly supporting the African Group’s amendment proposals, which will in fact critically weaken the Declaration adopted by the Human Rights Council after 20 years of negotiation.

Why Caribbean countries that in the past have seemingly been supportive of indigenous rights would promote a proposal inconsistent with international law is related to politics and trade arrangements. Caribbean Community leaders have recently announced that a significant new “Unity Alliance” for trade, economic, and political co-operation between Africa, South America, with Caribbean involvement, has been established. One of the highpoints of the “Abuja Declaration and Plan of Action on Peace, Security, and Development” include the creation of a permanent “Africa-South America Co-operative Forum that is to meet every two years. According to news sources the summit leaders are “anxious to demonstrate the seriousness of their collective commitment”. In light of these relations, it would appear that opposition to the rights of Indigenous Peoples is a pre-requisite for demonstrating Caribbean solidarity with Africa.

“Considering that Indigenous Peoples are mentioned in the Abuja Declaration only in the context of cultural cooperation and tourism, it is clear that Caribbean governments still do not understand the aspirations of the region’s first nations” stated Roberto Mucaro Borrero, the President of the UCTP Office of International Relations. Borrero noted that the IPCGC’s third plenary presentation at the Permanent Forum highlighted the Abuja Declaration and called for the inclusion of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples in its follow-up mechanisms.

Summing up the Permanent Forum’s work this year, Johan Schölvinck, Director of the Division for Social Policy in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs called the Forum a “celebration of the world’s cultural diversity”, in that it had seen extremely rich participation from some 1,500 representatives from indigenous peoples’ organizations, non-governmental organizations and academia, some 30 United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations, about 70 Member States and some 30 indigenous parliaments. The Permanent Forum was not just an event; rather “a tribute to our human efforts of partnership” that offered the opportunity for inspiration, he said.

As per the recommendation of the final draft report, the Forum’s 2008 session will focus on the theme of climate change and there will also be sessions devoted to the Pacific region and to the protection of the thousands of threatened indigenous languages.


To review the Abuja Declaration visit:

To review statments of the IPCGC visit: http://indigenouscaribbeancaucus.blogspot.com/