Mike Gonzalez

One Hundred Years of Solitude

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Gabriel García Marquez

First published in 1967

Expelled from a Garden of Eden, a still nameless community moves through the world, until they stop at a place called Macondo. Jose Arcadio Buendía, whose family dynasty governs Macondo, puts up the sign that marks the town's existence.

But where is this place? What is its relation to the wider world?

When Buendía leads a search he finds that the town is locked between marshes, mountains and the sea with no path to the wider world. All they find is a wrecked Spanish galleon, suspended in the forest.

Blood on the Mobile

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When Frank Poulsen, director of Blood on the Mobile, visits Nokia's headquarters in Finland, the landscape is snow-covered. The offices are antiseptic, hi-tech and apparently welcoming.

At least they are until he asks where Nokia gets the minerals for its telephones from. Suddenly every door closes and Nokia's pride in its social responsibility begins to look more than a little tarnished.

Blue Labour: rewriting Labour's history

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Advocates of Blue Labour claim to offer an alternative to both the market and the state. Mike Gonzalez argues that this is a hollow promise and that Blue Labour rewrites the labour movement's past to exclude working class resistance

The Labour Party has a problem. It has a new leader who, like his predecessors, sees Labour as an electoral machine whose sole purpose is to put the party back into power. To do that, of course, requires presenting an alternative - a different programme or vision or set of policies - which can distinguish them from the government in power. Let's get out of the way immediately the fact that the party leaders are almost indistinguishable, cloned products of the new managerialism.

Joan Miro: A Blow Between the Eyes

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"To me rich and vigorous material seems necessary to give the spectator a blow between the eyes at first sight which must hit him before other thoughts can intervene. In this way poetry expressed visually speaks its own language" (Joan Miro)

Strange creatures floating in timeless space; circles and triangles and eyes in bright colours linked by fragile lines. That is the familiar Miro, childlike perhaps, magical, and free. Though he knew Picasso, identified as a surrealist and was admired by them, the world of Joan Miro's imagination escaped schools or movements.

Cuba's contradictions

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Last month a national congress in Cuba agreed to reforms aimed at opening the country up to market forces. Mike Gonzalez examines Cuba's contradictions

In April 2011 the Cuban Communist Party met in national congress. This was its first congress since 1997, and the first that would not be presided over by Fidel Castro - who used to be its general secretary as well as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. Four years ago Fidel passed the baton to his brother Raul, five years younger than him and minister of defence since the revolution of 1959.

A Life in Pictures

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Why is the extraordinary painter, muralist, novelist, illustrator and socialist, Alasdair Gray, so little known?


Alasdair Gray's Cowcaddens Streetscape in the Fifties

Perhaps, as he insists, it is because he is a Scot, marginalised and ignored by a London-based cultural establishment. Or perhaps it is because he is a radical, an eccentric sensualist, in love with the human body, with his community, with life itself. Or is it his deep sense of the spiritual combined with a barely contained rage against formal religion that makes him difficult to integrate? Perhaps it is all of these things.

Subterranean solidarity

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The entrapment and eventual release of 33 Chilean miners provoked a media frenzy. But beneath the self-serving sympathy of Chile's politicians lies the real story of solidarity.

"Renewing the wooden piles increased the cost of the mineral, so they were allowed to fall into disrepair. The result was that [they] were continually having to carry out an injured man or sometimes a miner killed when the roof collapsed in the deadly corridor. But the company always persuaded the men to return for a few cents more..." - Baldomero Lillo, El chiflon del diablo.

Lillo wrote his stories of the Chilean mines at the beginning of the 20th century. How little conditions have changed in the first decade of the 21st.

Imperfect Cinema

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Death of a Bureaucrat, directed in Cuba by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, opens on a factory where a worker creating busts of José Marti (leader of the Cuban independence struggle of the 1890s and icon of the 1959 Revolution) is killed in an accident. The last bust to emerge is the worker himself.

What follows is an extremely funny and pointed film about the inflexibility of bureaucracy. After his burial his son realises that his identity card has gone to the grave with him. Without it, his widow cannot collect her pension. But getting the body disinterred proves to be a nightmare of paperwork and permits. It is a satire, of course, and representative of a deeply creative moment in the culture of post-revolutionary Cuba.

Voices from the Other Side

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Keith Bolender, Pluto, £12.99

In Latin America, Luis Posada Carriles is a household name. Among other attacks, he organised the bombing of an Air Cubana plane which killed the young Cuban fencing team and a group of fishermen. In all, 77 people died that day in October 1976. By any standards, Carriles is a terrorist, yet he and the authors of several other murderous assaults on Cuba live comfortably under the protection of the US government.

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