RELIGION IN CUBA; POPE BENEDICT PARTIES WITH 300,000 FAITHFUL PUSHES CASTRO ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS AND U.S. ABOUT EMBARGO
This week hundreds of Cuban-Americans have made the 40 minute flight to Havana to spend the week with Pope Benedict XVI, to attend mass at the Cathedral of Havana in Revolution Square and to close the gap caused by decades of exile from their homeland. Cubans hope the attention of the Pope’s visit will bring them greater freedom and open their door to America. Closing his visit the pontiff meet with Fidel Castro and 300,000 Cuban faithful who turned out for the mass at Revolution Plaza. Alongside the large face of Che’ filling the side of a highrise were huge banners proclaimed CHARITY UNITES US…
My visit last year to Havana (a professional researcher license to attend a literary tour was my ticket in) allowed me to walk the streets of downtown Havana for almost two weeks. The locals soon greeted me daily as “Hemingway” since I have a long white beard and hair. Everyone was very friendly and open to my photography. Never was I challenged or chased off, I found getting access to photograph in a local school, easier than anything I have experienced in Arizona. After ten days, my tour returned to the U.S. and I moved in with a local family in the shadow of the Capitol building in downtown Havana. Each day, I moved through the streets never being asked for papers or being quizzed, police officers stood on every corner and I never felt threatened or endangered. I did fall in love with the Cuban people who love Americans and who have suffered most from the Cuban embargo. It needs to end, it is pointless now, and exists still for the Cuban-Americans exiled by Castro fifty years ago. Cuba is Kansas fifth largest wheat buyer, many other cracks exist in the U.S. blockade. America needs the Cuban customer and they need us.
Cathedral of Saint Christopher of Havana near the harbor in the historic distric
Since I was a tourist, churches, cathedrals were big draws and Cuba realizes they serve visitors on many levels and act accordingly, all were open, accessible, but a weak draw for the Cuban. Today Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski held mass in the Cathedral of Saint Christopher of Havana in the Historic district for Cubans and 300 Cuban-Americans pilgrims from Miami. In the sermon the Archbishop called for Cuba to abandon Marxism without embracing the materialism of the West. Many attending had left Cuba as young children or are the sons and daughters of exiles. In Spanish the archbishop called for dignity for all Cubans.
Pope Benedict and the Vatican have set the stage for the Church to raise a voice with a sizable voting block and escalate the possibility of reduced sanctions. Since December a dozen U.S. cities have been cleared for direct flights to Cuba, while not all have ramped up yet. At least five international airports, DC, NY, LA, Miama and Denver all presently have flights making the short hop and landing at the new San Jose International Airport that Cuba built a year ago to handle their increasing need.
I visited the Cathedral of Saint Christopher of Havana at different times during my visit, Revolution Square is a big tourist stop and a local band has a permanent spot in the square and probably offered up a tune for “Papa” while the Archbishop delivered his sermon inside.
Christmas has been celebrated as a holiday in Cuba for only 3 years. Cuba officially became an atheist nation in 1962, but the Christmas holiday was celebrated until 1969, when Fidel Castro decided it was interfering with the sugar harvest. Accordingly, it was dropped from the Cuban calendar of holidays in 1969 as the island strove for a record sugar harvest.
However, the church had continued to call for greater respect for the celebration of Christmas after authorities banned the public display of Christmas trees and nativity scenes, other than in places frequented by tourists, such as hotels. In 1997 President Castro restored the holiday to honor the visit of Pope John Paul II in the island. Although Catholicism is a broad cultural backdrop in Cuba, the number of practicing Catholics among the country’s 11 million people is more limited. With the reinstatement of X’mas a large Mass is held in Havana’s Revolution Square. Thousands of Cubans worship at midnight Masses, as church bells ring out across Havana to mark the moment when Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day.
Another day, we took a water taxi to Regla Cuba, a suburb and home to a beautiful small Catholic Church adorned by statues of the Saints, many whom, drew in regulars who relied on their help and they lit candles in thanks. The same day we passed in the harbor, the new Russian Orthodox Church, built by Russia during the “special period” (the collapse of the Soviet Union). Walking the historic Barrio Chino we saw and entered a district Catholic church which was celebrating the 500th year of Cuba. Barrio Chino, reached 40,000 Chinese who arrived in Havana in three waves. But after 1959, most left after Fidel outlawed private property. There are 500 Chinese-Cubans left in Cuba today it is reported that many are lawyers and doctors but few live in the Barrio. Barrio residents often report hearing ghostly voices, akin to a crowd of Chinese speakers in a morning market.
All pretty tame stuff, until we got hooked-up with a Santeria New Year’s celebration, complete with dead chickens and blood. A variety of slave religions exist in Cuba mostly of African cultural origin. According to a US State Department report, some estimate 80 percent of the population consults with practitioners of West African religions, like Santeria. The hour long ceremony held openly in a city park, consisted of singing, drumming and dancing until flowers are tossed into the stream and they flow downstream to the sea. It was a beautiful performance of singing and drums. Brought to the New World by slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations combines with Roman Catholic and Native Indian traditions. These slaves had a religious custom, including a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, using animal sacrifice and sacred drumming.
When the Communist wall went up around Cuba in 1959 atheism was the standard, in those days believers of God were ostracized and discriminated against, the faithful went underground. Since those years, the Cuban government has allowed the Catholic Church a greater voice and today the Church works with the Castros to reach greater goals. The Vatican says Cuba is 60% Catholic, but most agree fewer than 10% are practicing, but know they should. Following the 1960s many believers chose to hide their faith in response to state persecution. Many parents chose not to burden their children with the difficulties they would inherit if they were baptized Christians, and therefore did not raise them as such. The archdiocese of Havana in 1971 reported only 7000 baptisms. In 1989 this increased to 27,609 and in 1991 to 33,569. Today Protestant churches includes Baptists, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-day Adventists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodist, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Lutherans. Other groups include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba has spotlighted the Communist Island and his pleas for reform–begging for more freedom for the Cuban people many hope the Pope’s influence will bring change to Cubans lives on this Caribbean Isle. Increased freedoms were known following the historic visit of John Paul in 1998, and over the years the Communist lock down on people’s lives has slowly been lessened. In the past year, Cubans have been allowed to sell private property; houses and cars, and thousands of personal business licenses have been issued so individuals can provide paid services, like selling pizza slices on the street. Many Cubans set up restaurants in their homes, or rent out rooms to tourists, collecting about $25 for two people for the night.
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Great crowds turned out for the Civil War in the South West to watch more than 200 re-enactors battle out the great Civil War engagements of the South West. Two were fought in New Mexico, Valverde and Glorieta Pass, is often called the Gettsyburg of the West. The third battle, Picacho Peak is fought near the actual battle spot, just across I-10, lies the unmarked grave of a Union trooper who died, buried where he fell at the skirmish known as the Battle of Picacho Peak. Today hundreds turned out to relive those days of the the Confederate Territory of Arizona, and the 150th Anniversary is on everyone mind. “This is a rare thing,”! “A 150th anniversary”! says VJ Audegis and Annette who have been coming for 12 years to this contest between the blue and grey. “This is a really special year”, “this anniversary preceded by the statehood celebration has made it a very exciting year” say Baldy Cervantes and his thirteen year old son Elvis. Both had attended the Civil War in the South West Weekend before and wanted to become re-enactors so they both joined on the spot.
Both father and son are reveling in the anniversary this April 15, the 150th year, of that chance encounter at Picacho Peak, called the most western battle of the Civil War. This summer Cervantes and Elvis are taking off three weeks and driving back to Gettsyburg for the 150th anniversary and re-enactment, a four day event that will see more boots on the ground this July, than has trampled those grounds since the original battle when 133,000 men battled and died in the most desperate fight of the Civil War. Cervantes is proud of his Arizona roots and his Hispanic culture, so when the recruiter mentioned the First Texas were made up of a number of Texacans, and their reenacted force was lily white now. “They needed us”, he said, “We fit right in”.
“We know that few people understand what was happening during the Civil War in the Southwest and these battles offer the public a glimpse into history and how the battles were fought,” says Rob Young, Picacho Peak State Park Manager. “This is also a popular camping park for RVers because it is just off the highway and surrounding Sonoran Desert habitat is so unusual, especially when there are magnificent poppies.” The Mexican Poppy were looking good about three weeks ago but warm days and hot wind frazzled this year’s crop into a less than an average display with pockets of opportunity if you catch them at the right place, at the right time, that spot won’t be Picacho Peak this year.
Today Confederate hats are flying out the tent door and Gerald Durbin, owner of the Coon River merchantile, can hardly keep up with the line at cash out. Confederate hats out sell Union all day long. Pausing for a breathe, between checkouts of hardtack, hats of blue and gray, uniforms, flags and dresses he reasons the Johnny Reb look allows variety enough to let its owner change his persona, “those Yankee troops never change”, he explained. “Like cookie-cutters, everyone looks just alike.” Fifteen year old Taylor Horrid, chose the Confederate side and dressed in period clothes to came with his uncle. He was having fun learning about the Civil War.
For Taylor, learning how to load, fire, clean a black powder musket has been great and military drilling is something he learned and now loves. He looks forward to learning more about the United States and its history. Brother Bryson thinks it’s fun to “help people learn about history”. His friends think his re-enacting “is pretty cool” and a few friends have joined up. Bunch of loosely connected California re-enactors who frequently see each others at events, camped together at Picacho. “We’re all history buffs” and we find re-enacting to be “a good kick in the ass”, says Ray Daniel (right). “Ain’t that a good looking peacock”, says First Sgt Mark Guyton (right) a re-enactor from Mesa whose brother, Robert (the peacock), mustered him in.
Since 1855, the 4th Cavalry has continuously served the United States of America in the Indian Wars, the Civil War, the Philippine Insurrection, World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War. Today the 4th Cavalry is a historic and ceremonial regiment stationed at Fort Huachuca and its Troopers are active duty and retired military who care for their horses and drill weekly.
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HAYDEN’S SMELTER TURNS 100 YEARS, POLLUTION ISSUES WORRY RESIDENTS BUT QUIET LIFE, GOOD JOB, A BIG PLUS
On Nov. 10, 2011 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved against ASARCO for six years of illegal emissions of arsenic, lead, chromium and seven other dangerous compounds from the smelter. The EPA issued an unpublicized administrative action that could result in millions of dollars in fines for allegedly being in “continuous violation” of the Clean Air Act since June 2005. The action is a slap at both the company and the state for their failure to act.
Hard Rock Mining has deep roots in Arizona soil. For 300 years miners have walked this state looking for minerals that they can dig and sell. In 1849 gold and silver was the big draw, today both are byproducts of Copper mining, taken from the earth in amazing small concentrations, leached from the soil by chemicals. Copper is the big dog now, and since it brings jobs, salaries, community development and opportunity to small town Arizona for over a hundred years it has ruled the state. The Army and State Troopers have broken strikes, busted heads, all in the name of Copper Corporations. The famous 1917 Bisbee deportation when 2000 vigilantes rounded over a 1300 strikers, herded them to box cars, loaded them up and dumped them in Hermanas, New Mexico, without money or transportation, told not to return to Bisbee. Today Arizona copper mines are largely self-regulating or watched by the state, the 100 year old Hayden Smelter is locked in debate between state and federal agencies declaring the air pollutions emulating from the mine stacks are outside the federal limits for safe air. The state says those particulates are within limits, however heavy metals like arsenic, lead and sulfur dioxide all have been found in the air and soil surrounding the mining community. Residents filed suit, cancer cluster have been reported and ASARCO have performed extensive testing and has cleaned the soil where warranted. Two homes were bought and condemned, they were downwind of the crusher conveyer belt and several other houses had their topsoil removed down to 18 inches, rocked over and dirt replaced. Residents have received $8-9,000 payment for damages, in retribution from the mine. Not enough say some and others whose homes were downwind but apparently safe, shrug their shoulders when they eye-ball the diagrams and pie charts on paperwork they were given, it must be so they smile.“Old Valley National Bank is now the home to Hayden Police Dept”
Why are some homes so polluted and others not so? One long-time Hayden observer Chris Martinez who was born here then spent 25 years in the Army seeing the world and now has retired to Hayden. Why we wondered? My wife, he says who is also a Hayden girl and besides “I like the quiet”, Martinez says while flashing on the traffic and commotion seen in Asian and European cities and then his quiet life in Hayden. “The smoke and dust bring a lot of environmental concerns”, he says while playing in the park with his grand-daughter, Elda.Town folks who filed law suits against ASARCO–they moved here in the 1970’s says Martinez “I was born here in the 1950’s and it was much worse then”. In those days, he notes the stack was 220′, the present ASARCO stack is over a 1000′ and the old Kennecott stack is 680′, so particulates from the stack showered the community. The ore train, was a steam engine burning coal, blowing heavy black smoke where ever the wind blew as the steam engine circled Hayden. We played in that, we climbed the hills and tracks, constantly down wind. The tailing pile in 1950 was two 30′ tiers, today it has five 30′ tiers and stretches from seven miles and is a mile wide. There was no soil containment in those days, so when the wind blew, here came the tailing. “It was worse then”, says Martinez. His father lived and worked in Hayden mines 42 years, he supervised the tailing piles for twenty years still lived a long cancer free life. Martinez’s Hayden childhood, was typical small town stuff, 25 cents for the town theater, Tuesday night was Mexican movie night, Saturday and Sunday had the afternoon matinee, Hayden had 8-9,000 residents then, two mines-the old ASARCO employed 250-300 and Kennecott employed almost 1200 and was the big dog on the block so when ASARCO bought Kennecott out the city’s caste system was turned upside down. The city had busy ball parks, churches, pool halls and bars. Today, the church is for rent, downtown seldom has a car on it, the Hayden Police Station is in the old Valley National Bank building and beside the Hayden Fire House is the only building in town with a fresh coat of paint.
Contrerras buffs “Black Snow” Spots
Roy Contrerras has “done everything” for mines in the middle Arizona mining communities, he worked for the Christmas Mine, ASARCO, Kennecott. Father and son are polishing Dad’s newly-painted 1957 Chevy, and Roy Sr pauses over a couple spots on the hood he claims are left by acid-rain. “You can’t see it”, he says, but it appears “like black snow” and flakes paint on cars not kept in a garage. Some folks in Hayden paint their vehicle every few years. Contrerras says they received a payment “not enough” from the mine for their polluted soil and the lawn was removed and replaced. Now his lawn and the mine’s tailing across the valley constantly blows through his yard and deposits dust in his home. Still “life gets faster” in the city, says Roy Sr and “I don’t like it.” “I like the quiet here, no ambulances or sirens”. He lost his wife to Mesa, she needed more he says, his 32 year old son Roy Jr, tried living in Mesa a few years and but came home. Roy Jr found a job with a mine contractor on the graveyard shift and has a shiny new truck, a flashy new pickup, which “cost a lot of money” young Roy reports as he leaves for work. “I think I will die right here” says his father, Roy Sr. “If the mines don’t throw us out first”, he adds. Without the mines this town wouldn’t be here he continues. Copper is the only reason this place got going-without the mine-nothing would be here.”
Hayden, Arizona, is 100 miles southeast of Phoenix on State Highway 177, it sits on a hillside beneath the smelter. The entire town covers less than one square mile, and with 365 homes below the confluence of the Gila and San Pedro Rivers. The town built in 1912 to provide housing for Ray open pit mine workers and those working at the copper smelter. The town has a population of 900, and it shares a school district, with Winkleman whose population 600 is located one mile south. The towns share a history with the several smelters and their emissions discharged over the towns since 1909.
Historically emissions contained large quantities of lead, arsenic, sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter. These contaminants drifted over the entire region and many of these emissions fell out of the atmosphere and settled on the ground. The first air controls placed on the smelters were installed in 1920. These electrostatic filters removed particulate matter from the stack. The smelters had minimal emission control til 1969, when the Clean Air Act of 1970 required controls be installed to limit SO2 emission, controls were added in 1984, to further reduce SO2 emissions. The smelter stack height was designed to elevate the emissions above the valley air shed for optimum dispersion.
In Hayden, 16 of 18 indoor dust samples exceeded the arsenic R-SRL of 10 mg/kg, 14 of 18 indoor dust samples exceeded the copper R-SRL of 3,100 mg/kg, and 8 of 18 samples exceeded the lead R-SRL of 400 mg/kg. All nine attic dust samples collected in Hayden exceeded the R-SRLs for arsenic, copper, and lead.
Regardless of design many residents told the state Public Health workers of “not being able to have a barbeque at night, because going outside makes you sick”. Still in the public Health Assessment of the Hayden community most residents accepted the fact that the smelter produced air pollution, and that by working and living in the area they would be exposed to whatever was being emitted from the smelter. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality maintains a particulate sampler at the Hayden Jail. This collects particulate samples including lead, arsenic, cadmium, and zinc and samples collected over the past several years have shown arsenic and SO2 present in concentrations that exceed limits in air. Water delivered to Hayden and Winkleman contains measurable arsenic. Drinking water obtained from several wells located in the area, show arsenic present in many groundwater aquifers. Urine samples for arsenic were obtained in late 1999, seven children from 6–36 months of age were tested, blood lead concentrations ranged below detectable limits but no cases of lead poisoning in children were found. According to a study by the Arizona Department of Health Services under cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Asarco says it is operating within legal limits and promises to “vigorously” contest the EPA’s claims. The head of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality calls the federal filing an “attempt by the EPA to make it seem as if the state of Arizona has done nothing when, in fact, that is not true.” At the same time the state has been slow to act.
Tucson-based Asarco LLC has received 51 citations for health and safety violations at its Hayden copper concentrator operation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. The mine-safety agency cited the Asarco plant for 15 “significant and substantial” violations and 36 nonsignificant violations. A significant and substantial violation is defined as one “likely to result in a reasonably serious injury or illness” under the circumstance of the violation. Significant violations can result in fines of thousands of dollars each, but the citations can be contested before any fines are levied.
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Here are the students responses to the question…
What do you like about living in Arizona?
When I wake up in the morning, I like to seeing the sun come up behind the mountains.
What I love about living in the South West and Arizona is our school, which is a wonder to see!
What I love about living in Tucson is the mission and all of the roadrunners!
Living in the desert is fun because the temperature is warm enough and we don’t have to worry about earthquakes.
I like Arizona because I get to see a lot of wild animals everyday of my life!
I love Arizona because there is water and desert and trees in Arizona.
If you go to the mountaintops, you will get a good view!
I love Arizona because I have family and friends here. I get to see them whenever. I love our school and our teachers are the best, especially our 4th grade teacher.
I love living in Arizona because a lot of my family members live here, and the summer is really warm. There are a lot of things to do like swimming, climbing mountains, and see animals, like coyotes, prairie dogs, and rabbits.
The things I like about living in the Southwest and Arizona are the fact that we don’t have to worry about things such as, earthquakes, tornadoes, or tsunamis, and we have a lot of cacti.
I like to look at the beautiful sunsets.
I like the smell of the desert when it rains.
Thank you so much! Victoria
ARIZONA’S 2012 BIRTHDAY was the 100th anniversary of Statehood for this western territory who in 1912 was the last link for the lower 48 and finally forged the United States into the geographical formation it enjoys today. Just 9 miles south of Tucson off I-19, lies the San Xavier Del Bac Mission which still ministers to the Tohono O’odham, who built the mission from sun-dried brick. A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church’s interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It stands as one of the oldest building in the United States.
I had the opportunity to visit San Xavier’s Mission School Fourth Grade class on Arizona’s birthday February 14th or Valentine’s Day. Teacher Victoria McLellan had solicited help from her sister-in-law and relatives to bake a birthday cake for Arizona’s 100 anniversary and they decorated it beautifully for her students to enjoy and celebrate the day.
Close to final bell, the 4th graders took the opportunity to finish up their Valentines and pass them out to their fellow students. While enjoying their good wishes from each other, McLellan led them in singing Happy Birthday Arizona and cut the cake and began to nibble on their piece of history and enjoy their celebration of the past.
The San Xavier Mission School has provided an education for grades K-8, since 1864 for the Tohono O’odham people. More recently the school opened enrollment to all. In 2002 the school added new wing that doubled the size of the school. Now they have four more classrooms, a computer lab, an art room, a meeting room that doubles as a music room.
SAN XAVIER’S MISSION STATEMENT
San Xavier Mission School is committed to educate, nurture, and empower Tohono O’odham students, other Native American students, and students of all cultures, to strengthen their living expression of the Catholic faith. Our diverse academic program develops a student’s respect for tradition and culture as well as provides the necessary skills to succeed in an ever changing world.
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