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The New York Times, November 18, 1852, p.3:

Favorable Season--The Slave Trade--Port Regulations--Passports--Public Amusements--The Negroes--
The Captain-General and Secretary Galliano--
Consul Sharkey.

Special Correspondence of the New-York Daily Times.
HAVANA, Thursday, Nov. 11, 1858.
    The season here, though it has been distinguished for unusual and very fatal sickness, has been highly favorable to the sugar planters, and they are now drawing toward the realization of the most abundant crop ever made on the island. Probably, in the aggregate, the increased production of the season will more than make up for all the losses of negroes by the various epidemics which have prevailed.

    The trade in negroes from Africa is now quite prosperous, and appears to be favored by the business men generally, and only so far interfered with by the Government as to enforce the payment of the regular contribution by the way of bribes to the officials.
    I have heard a person interested in the landing of a cargo of 450 slaves on the south side of the Island, last month, exult heartily at the successful skill with which the parties concerned, assisted by the officers of the locality, humbugged a British cruiser lying within five miles at the time of disembarkation, employed for the express purpose of preventing such piracy, but was amused and kept ignorant till the cargo was disposed of, and when, in the evening the Captain was permitted to have information, he could not leave port till morning, the slaver, meanwhile, having made good her escape to parts unknown.

    It is one of the wise and prudent regulations that prevail in this island, that no vessel can enter or leave any port after 6 o'clock P.M., till sunrise the next morning. No matter how threatening or tempestuous the weather may be, no regard for property or life ever relaxes the rigid rule. Instances are related of vessels, belonging to this port and conveying passengers residing here, being compelled to buffet the storms outside for twelve hours, because they arrived at the entrance of the harbor a few minutes too late; and one ship went to pieces within hail of the Castle, having as passengers a family of consideration here, and no interposition, even to save life, was allowed until the appointed hour, and then it was permitted to rescue the people, but the ship and cargo were lost.

    The same inflexibility obtains in regard to passports. An instance came under my observation of three well known residents of Havana returning from Europe with passports from Paris for Havana via England and the United States, being fined $10 each, and the master of the steamer $25 for bringing each of them, because they had not procured the signature of the Spanish Consul at New York, their last point of departure, to their passports.

    Notwithstanding these and thousands of other absurdities, this is a rich, prosperous, and growing city, of which any country might justly be proud. There is not a single hotel in town built for that purpose, and only four in all at which foreigners requiring the comforts of civilized life can be accomodated, and these four together cannot lodge two hundred persons.
    Consider that the city is larger, and has a more extended commerce, than Boston, and these facts show plainly enough the wide difference between the habits of the Cubans and those in the Universal Yankee Nation.

    In amusements the contrast is as marked and striking as in any other particular. I shall not describe a cock-fight or a bull-fight, everybody has heard enough about them. There is only one of the public amusements of this great city, being the one most regular in its recurrance and frequented by the greatest number of persons, to which I will now refer. The Sunday negro dances exhibit the wildest, rudest and most revolting scene that it is possible to imagine human beings to present, especially if it be considered that pleasure is the object of the performance.
    There are on the street facing the wall of the city something like thirty houses which are appropriated soley to these savage displays. They are used ever Sunday, and only then, and their owners get a liberal rent of them though only used as dance-houses by these wretched beings one day in seven. They stand together, as in fact their appropriation to these horrid displays makes the neighborhood uninhabitable.

    The negroes assemble in these buildings every Sunday, and from 3 o'clock to sundown the dances occur. Every contrivance that their ingenuity and means can compass to make a deafening and damnable noise is brought into activity. Drums, horns, pans, kettles, sheets and bars of metal, clubs, and in fact everything which by beating and pounding can be made to contribute to the infernal din is added to the concert. Suppose some two hundred performers to be thus occupied, and then throw the voices of three or four hundred negroes and negresses, each trying to out yell the rest, and you begin to have some idea of the prominent feature, to wit, the music of these weekly African reunions.
    But the dancing should not be passed by without notice. The twenty or thirty houses devoted to these refined enjoyments are crowded with African chivalry and beauty, and every individual seems to put forth the utmost possible exertion to make the exercise as furious as their excited vigor is capable of performing. This with the temperature at 85°, you may well conceive soon moistens the starch of the ladies' finery. As for the gentlemen they look as though they were dripping from the sea. Few of them have any clothing but their shirts and trousers, which are thoroughly soaked with sweat. Many of them omit the shirt altogether, and their bare bodies look as shiny and slippery as if just greased from the crown of their head to their waistbands...

    I saw the Captain-General on the Pasco... He is not thought to be a bad man, but feeble only. MARTIN GALLIANO, his political secretary, is said to be the malignant and scheming spirit whose wicked counsels originate all the embarrassing measures of his chief, and will doubtless hasten the extinction of the Spanish dominion here.

    We learn this morning, by the Isabel, of the election of Gen. PIERCE to the Presidency. The Creoles with one voice exult in the result, feeling an assured confidence that his succession will mark the final period of their oppression. I confess I have more than one motive in hoping that their deliverance will not be so long postponed. If there was any courage or generosity in the present administration, I am sure it would not.

    The return of Judge SHARKEY to the discharge of his duties as Consul has given very great satisfaction to his countrymen. He is a very intelligent and competent officer, and his presence is felt to be some security to Americans and their interests.
    But since the departure of the Powhatan no ship of our navy has appeared in port, although every one feels that life, liberty and property are in constant peril from the piratical Government, which practices all sorts of atrocities without compunction.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1852 was equivalent to $24.71 in 2007.

The New York Times, February 24, 1879, p.2:

THE HONRADEZ CIGARETTES

HAVANA'S BIGGEST TOBACCO FACTORY.

THE SMOKERS OF CUBA AND HOW THEY SMOKE--MAKING
THE CIGARETTES--WOMEN SMOKERS IN HAVANA--SMALL
BOYS AND DONKEYS--ONE FACT ABOUT HAVANA CIGARS.

    HAVANA, Feb. 5.--There may be a smoker in New-York who has not heard of the Honradez cigarettes, but he would be hard to find. The young man, especially, runs to cigarettes, and generally to Honradez cigarettes. These little white cigars that the Spaniards, Cubans, and Mexicans call cigarros are considered by many smokers the best in the market, although more "Honradez" cigarettes are made every month in First and Second avenues than in Havana in a year.

    The Honradez is the largest cigarette factory in Havana, and, therefore, the largest in the world. It stands at the corner of two of the narrowest and busiest streets in this busy city. The sidewalks in front of it and at the sides are not more than 18 inches wide, and in the street there is barely room for two carriages to pass. Probably 1,000 persons go by every hour of the day; yet whenever two meet, going in opposite directions, one must step off into the street to let the other pass. The President of the Fat Men's Club could never get along here; the sidewalks are so narrow he would be jammed against the wall by a donkey cart. A man must be very thin to go through the streets with any comfort.

    The cigarette factory does not look large from the outside. It is built of stone and covered with plaster, like nearly every other building in Havana. On the corner is a cigar and cigarette store that looks like one of a thousand cigar stores in New-York. A little way up the street is an arched entrance that looks as if it might lead to a stable. The floor is of stone flags, the walls are covered with rough yellow plaster, and the wooden doors are big enough to admit one of the Coaching Club's turnouts.
    This is only a sample of nearly all the "grand" entrances in Havana. Our truckmen in New-York drive their draught-horses through better-looking entrances to stables than stylish ladies here go through to reach palatial interiors. The family carriage is nearly always kept in the court-yard, and the horses are generally tied there. The carriage is often left standing so close to the parlor door that you have to squeeze past it to get into the house. But carriages have nothing to do with cigarettes, although there were two or three of them standing in the court-yard of the Honradez factory.

    This court-yard leads into the outer office of the factory. The office, like the rest of the building, and, indeed, like most of the city, is grand and not grand, magnificent and squalid, comfortable and uncomfortable. The windows (perhaps windows, but more exactly holes in the wall,) have no glass in them, but are guarded by iron bars. All Havana might be mistaken for a prison, for there are iron bars everywhere, iron bars on hinges serve for doors, other iron bars, not on hinges, serve for windows and shutters, and other iron bars still, only flattened out a little, serve, I regret to say, for beds, and keep crawling in between your ribs and trying to tickle your liver all night long, notwithstanding that a blanket is laid over them.
    If you complain to the landlord about sleeping on these iron bars, he says, "Ah, but they are so cool." A nice big block of ice to sleep on would be cooler yet, and not much harder or more uncomfortable.

    The doors are the most imposing part of this office. Any one of them is large enough to admit four men abreast. None of them are less than 10 feet high, (for the ceilings of these buildings are up in the air, often 15 feet or more,) and each door is surmounted by a semi-circle colored glass of the most gorgeous hues--bright yellow, and bright red, and bright blue--with great effect. The floor of the office is also of stone flags, and the entire building is as nearly fireproof as our Equitable Building, on a cheap scale, for there is little about it to burn.

    Two gentlemen, evidently Cubans, with dark skins, and well dressed, in the cool style everywhere noticable in Havana, are lounging back in delightfully-comfortable rocking-chairs, that look as if they might have been made for half-grown elephants to doze away the warm afternoons in. The frame-work of the chairs is of timber almost as heavy as Americans build houses with, darkened with age, and the seats are of thick leather. Many generations, representing many tons, of cool, comfortable, and heavy Cubans, have pressed the leather into inverted domes, and given them a form and appearance of comfort that can be thoroughly appreciated only by the passenger who, entering from the stifling streets, dusty and perspiring, finds himself suddenly in the cool, refreshing office.
See also: Virgin Islands News - Bahamas News
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All of Cuba is one time zone at GMT-5, with Daylight Savings time.

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  Top World & Cuban News in Spanish


    The Republic of Cuba is situated just south of the tropic of Cancer at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the large island of Cuba itself, the nation includes the rest of the Cuban archipelago, a formation of about 1,600 islands, islets, and cays.

    The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after the European discovery of the island by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 and following its development as a Spanish colony during the next several centuries. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the coffee and sugar plantations, and Havana became the launching point for the annual treasure fleets bound for Spain from Mexico and Peru.
    Spanish rule, marked initially by neglect, became increasingly repressive, provoking an independence movement and occasional rebellions that were harshly suppressed.

    It was US intervention during the Spanish-American War in 1898 that finally overthrew Spanish rule. The subsequent Treaty of Paris established Cuban independence, which was granted in 1902 after a three-year transition period.

    Fidel CASTRO led a rebel army to victory in 1959; his iron rule has held the regime together since then. Cuba's Communist revolution, with Soviet support, was exported throughout Latin America and Africa during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

    The country is now slowly recovering from a severe economic recession in 1990, following the withdrawal of former Soviet subsidies, worth $4 billion to $6 billion annually. Cuba portrays its difficulties as the result of the US embargo in place since 1961. Illicit migration to the US - using homemade rafts, alien smugglers, air flights, or via the southwest border - is a continuing problem. The US Coast Guard intercepted 2,810 individuals attempting to cross the Straits of Florida in fiscal year 2006.
    CIA World Factbook: Cuba


Area of Cuba: 110,860 sq km
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania

Population of Cuba: 11,394,043
July 2007 estimate

Languages of Cuba:
Spanish

Cuba Capital: Havana


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    The two Cubans are talking in English with a man who is evidently a stranger, and just as evidently an American, for he smokes a cigar instead of the inevitable Havana cigarette, keeps his hat on in the house, which the Cubans never do, and spits all over the floor. The two Cubans smoke their cigarettes lazily, and show decidedly the effects of 40 or 50 years of life in an enervating climate. They are the owners of the establishment, and the old gentleman in and adjoining room (it is well he is in a room, for he is in nothing else but a very small shirt, very thin pantaloons, and very slipshod slippers,) refers to them when he is asked for permission to go through the factory.

    They give their consent with great politeness, and the old gentleman produces a slip of paper and requests the visitor to write his name on it in large plain letters. The name written, the paper is sent up stairs, where it is soon followed by the visitor and a one-eyed and somewhat sepulchra guide, who appears mysteriously through a stone arch as from a tomb.
    Scattered about promiscuously throughout the building are rooms where big pieces of wood are cut down into staves, shaped and smoothed, and put together into barrels and casks. In other rooms strong packing-boxes are made for exporting the cigarettes. After a brief tour through the place the first impression is that it is a vast barrel factory and printing-office, and that a lot of cigarettes are made incidentally to fill up the barrels.

    One of the largest rooms on the second story, with a brick floor, like all the other upper rooms, is the printing-office. This is as well fitted and provided with types and machinery as the average New-York printing office, if there is such a thing as an average printing-office. It looks like home to get into it. Among all those dark Cuban faces and these odd-looking houses and the unreadable signs, here are the stands and cases, the sticks and rules, and chases, and quoins, and presses, and ink kegs, and galleys, and racks that printers are familiar with.
    The name that figures most prominently in the press-room is R. Hoe & Co. The type is from Bruce's foundry. Nearly everything in use is American, except the engine that drives the machinery, and that came from Paris. They can turn out fine cigarettes, these copper-colored smokers, that sell well, and induce many imitators; but they have to call upon New-York when they want to print their labels, and the paper for the labels is imported from the United States. Even the machines in which the cigarettes are rolled are from America, and nearly all the tools in use.

    But because this is a nest of American exportations it must not be supposed that such is generally the case throughout the city. There are very few American goods here. Nearly everything is imported from Spain, France, and England, Spain having a heavy preponderance. Barcelona is a popular place for exports. Half the things sold here that have any special names at all have "Barcelona" worked somehow into the title. There is a Barcelona-street, and there are "La Barcelona" business houses without number.

    The cigarette machines are simple enough. There is a reservoir filled with tobacco, like the fountain of a printing-press; the operator puts in a piece of paper, and it comes out a cigarette. There is such a heavy rotary movement, and everything is so rounded off, that I think if a tenpenny nail should be dropped in it would come out a lead-pencil.
    There are 15 or 20 of these machines, and they make many thousands of cigarettes every day, but fully as many more are made by hand inside and outside of the factory. In one of the rooms on the ground floor 40 or 50 boys are at work, some rolling cigarettes, others counting them rapidly into bundles, and still others putting the papers around them with great dexterity. These boys are bright and cheerful, and seem comfortable enough; but it is not a pleasant idea to contemplate that they are slaves, and have their tasks to perform.

    There are still a large number of slaves in Cuba, those in Havana being owned principally by wealthy old families, who send them out by the day, like horses from a livery stable. The recollection of the old flag goes up several per cent. when it is remembered that, could one of these boys make his way to the neighboring coast of Florida, he would thenceforth be free.

    The number of people outside the factory who make cigarettes is enormous. Every one of the big houses has its porter at the door, and each porter has a brood of children about his heels. It is the perquisite of these porters to be allowed to utilize their unemployed time in making cigarettes, and as their time is pretty much all otherwise unemployed, they make a great many cigarettes. Their children are taught the business as soon as they are knee-high, and the male members of the porter's family sit in the big doors, around a little stand, and make cigarettes unceasingly. The cigarette business, in the porter's mind, is of much greater importance than any business connected with his employer, and the visitor has to wait till the little cigar on the stocks has been launched.
    A small circle of tin is worn on the forefinger of the right hand, sharpened to a point like a huge pen, and with this the ends are neatly tucked in after ther rolling is done.

    A light yellow paper is in great demand by smokers, and the yellow cigarettes are seen everywhere. It is thought that this paper is less hurtful to the lungs than the white. Gentlemen have constantly a roll of the cigarettes in their pockets, and the laborers are hardly ever seen without one in their mouth, and another, rolled ready for use, behind one of their ears.

    Ask one of the natives about the ladies' smoking, and he will tell you that cigarettes are used only by the lower classes of women; but this is a little Spanish prevarication. A native woman who does not smoke, whether she be of high or low degree, is a rare exception. The better classes of women do not often smoke in public places, while the lower classes do; but the former may be seen smoking often enough to settle any doubts on the matter.
    The cigarettes smoked by the ladies are made especially for them, a trifle smaller than the others, and are sent out of the factory all ready for smoking, without any additional rolling.

    There are more small boys in Havana than in New-York, and I say this with a full knowledge of the capacities of Mott-street and Second-avenue. Every third live creature met in the streets here is a small boy, and every fourth is a donkey. The donkeys have rather the more clothes, for their bodies are nearly hidden beneath their burdens.
    There is a constant stream (and it might be said a rather muddy and dirty stream,) of these small boys pouring into the Honradez factory, carrying rolls of cigarettes that have been made in their families, and are to be paid for. These (the cigarettes, not the boys,) are usually done up in circular bundles of a thousand or more, like wheels, fastened up with a strap, or sometimes with a woolen band.

    The best quality of cigarettes sell at retail in Havana for 3 cents a package, silver. Upon leaving the Honradez factory the visitor is always presented with a bundle of cigarettes, on the wrapper of which is handsomely printed, in Spanish, "Compliments of Honradez Brothers, to Señor San Francisco de Fiddlesticks," or whatever the visitor's name is, and the visitor puts the bundle away in his very safest pocket, to be kept as a souvenir forever, or till the next time he happens to be out of cigars.
    A little cigarette, planted in fertile soil, I suppose, would grow into a big cigar, if you gave it time enough; so going through a cigarette factory leads inevitably to the great and inspiring subject of cigars. A little piece of information that I got this morning stern duty compels me to lay before the smokers of New-York. It is often said that "the Havana cigars are not originally so much better than American cigars, but that they are greatly improved by the ocean voyage, the sea air giving them a pleasant flavor." When cigars are put up in Havana for exportation, they are first put in the ordinary boxes, and then in a strong and almost air-tight wooden packing-case. A tin box is then soldered around this packing-case, and the package is as air-tight as a box of canned fruit. By the time the cigars reach New-York they have as much sea air about them as a clam has of mountain dew.

    The sad truth is, there are just as bad cigars in Havana as anywhere else, and the only one I have smoked here that was better than the average of good cigars in New-York I had to pay 15 cents in silver for.
W. D. [WILLIAM DRYSDALE]

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1879 was equivalent to $22.06 in 2007.

TIME Magazine, August 31, 1962 p.31:

THE HEMISPHERE: CUBA: Russian Ships Arrive
    ...As if a trickling tap had been suddenly turned full on, Soviet bloc aid is pouring into Cuba. Since July 26, some 20 Soviet ships have embarked from Black Sea, Baltic and Siberian ports; by Aug. 8 at least eight vessels had docked at Cuban ports to unload military goods and 5,000 "technicians."

    Rocket-Size Crates. Cuba's Communist government tried to keep a security lid on the shipments. Casual citizens were cleared from dockside areas; uloading was confined to after midnight. The result was to proliferate rumors that most of the 5,000 new arrivals were Russian combat troops in helmets and short-sleeved uniforms; 18,000 RUSSIAN TROOPS IN CUBA, headlined the New York Daily News, going a step further...
    U.S. intelligence identified the first cargoes as communications trucks, radar vans, general purpose trucks, mobile generator units--and, apparently, rockets. All the equipment pointed to large-scale coastal surveillance and air-defense systems. In other nations where similar Soviet help has been received, the contents of crates like the ones landed in Cuba turned out to be ground-to-air rockets, similar to the U.S. Nike-Ajax...

    Technicians, Yes. At last week's press conference, President Kennedy was asked about Communist-bloc troops or supplies entering Cuba, and replied: "New supplies, definitely, in large quantities. Troops? We do not have any information but an increased number of technicians..."
    The coast and air defenses should help ease Castro's fear of a new invasion... Last week he proclaimed that "enemy ships" standing a few hundred yards offshore had pumped 20-mm. cannon shells into a suburb of Havana... Actually the bombardment was an unopposed nighttime firing on a waterfront Havana hotel housing Iron Curtain technicians, and the nearby Chaplin Theater, from a surplus PT boat and a fast cruiser manned by 20 members of the underground Revolutionary Student Directorate...

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