Women’s Voices of Cuba: Gloria Rolando

Women face obstacles and oppression worldwide. And yet, the struggle continues. Resilient and resolute — women across the globe are working to create meaningful change. On International Women’s Day, we launched a series of blogs through to Mother’s Day highlighting Women’s Voices of Cuba – a series exploring courageous women impacting Cuba. The first two blogs featured Alicia Jrapko and Catherine Murphy. Today, we launch the third and final of the series…

Gloria Rolando’s celebrated career as film director spans over 35 years. The primary focus of her work is the African diaspora in the Caribbean. Originally trained in art history, she transitioned to filmmaking and has made documentaries and features. She has worked with the Cuban National Film Institute and is a founding member of the film collective Imagines del Caribe, based in Havana. Rolando is best known for films such as Oggun: An Eternal Presence, about Cuban Yoruba singer Lazaro Ros; My Footsteps in Baragua, a recounting of the history of a West Indian community in Cuba; and Eyes of the Rainbow, a documentary on Assata Shakur, the Black Panther and Black Liberation Army leader who took refuge in Cuba. Her current project traces the history of Africans in Cuba.

The following is a written response from Gloria to Global Exchange’s interview questions, translated from Spanish:

I have always worked in documentary filmmaking, since the time when I began working at the The Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) in 1976. In 1995 I began working with the GRUPO DE VIDEO IMAGENES DEL CARIBE, an independent project without any kind of resources, but [they provided] a way to continue my work about the experience of the black population on the island of Cuba. It was also a way, during that time of scarcity…in Cuba, called the special period….that allowed me to survive and live, creating work about themes that still interest me today.  Spiritual life, social, political, and music of Afro-Cubans, the subject of migration, the presence of thousands of people from the English speaking Caribbean, and Haitians are my favorite topics.

[My work] is not just about the presence of black people in Cuba, it is much deeper than that because it has to do with the economic history of the country, the sugar industry, the history of the workers movement on the Cuban island. In these works, I give voice and presence to many people and of course to women because they are the protagonists of many chapters of the African diaspora. And it is right to tell these stories, and so I’ve dedicated myself to giving a space to women as well.

My work has taken much energy and dedication. [My latest project], MY GRANDMOTHER, is a look at a black woman. It is a homage to all those grandmothers who wash and iron so that today we can be professionals. They had many challenges and [by telling their story] we give them continuity.


Grand Prize, “Peace is in Our Hands” by Amanda Mckenna of Sacramento, CA

What About Peace?, the art contest that asks youth ages 14–20 to answer this question creatively is pleased to announce the 2012 winners.

Hundreds submitted entries, and after months of jurying, judging and photographing we are ready to reveal the inspiring work of  this year’s contestants, as they think about what peace means in 2012.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Below is a list of winners; our grand prize winner along with the first and second place winners for each category, plus honorable mentions in each category.

Check out the What About Peace Facebook page for a peek at some of this years colorful, thought-provoking visual entries.

We will continue to showcase the creative entries through the end of the school year on our What About Peace website. You can go there now to see the first installment of all of our amazing and inspiring entries. Then keep checking back for future entries!

In the meantime, without further ado, here this year’s winners:

2012 Grand Prize Winner:

Amanda McKenna 17 years old, from Sacramento, California: “Peace is in Our Hands” sponsored by Deborah George of Sheldon High School.

First Prize Visual Arts: Paisley Hiefield, 16 years old

First Prize Visual Arts:

Paisley Hiefield, 16 years old from Portland, Oregon: “Release More Peace” sponsored by Annarose Pandey of West View High School

Second Prize Visual Arts: Jessica Tilley, 16 years old from Battle Creek Michigan: “Peace Has No Limit” sponsored by Rebecca Gardner of Harper Creek.

First Prize Written:

Emily Council, 17 years old from Wiliamsburg, VA: “Reality Check” sponsored by Moncia Schauffler of Lafayette High School.

Second Prize Written:

Simran Khanal, 15 years old from Bennington, NE: “A New Kind of Peace”, sponsored by Deborah Ward of Burke High School.

Honorable Mentions Visual Arts:

  • Dana Ser, 16, Levittown, NY “Breathe in War, Breathe out Peace”
  • Alayna Miller, 17 Battle Creek, MI “Take Time to Converse about Peace”
  • Nhi Nguyen, 15 San Diego, CA “The Letter of Peace”
  • Baylee Kentner,, 15 Levittown, NY “Represent Peace”
  • Camille Mason, 16 Chattanooga TN “Peace on Earth”
  • Ashley Hand, 16 Chattanooga, TN “Heartbeat?”
  • Mary Hare, 17 Portland, OR “We Stand For Peace”
  • Angeleena Tiaokhiao, 14 San Diego, CA “We Are Peace”
  • Katie Lober, 17 Odenville, AL “Share the Peace”
  • Alexander Setzer, 16 Baltimore, MD “A Piece on Peace”
  • Jacob Reynolds, 16, Concord, CA “Peace is in our Reach”
  • Allie Witham, 17, Portland, OR “Peace Comes from Within”
  • Veronica Stamp, 17 Oneonta, NY “It isn’t Enough..”
  • Brenna Rathbone, 16 Oneonta, NY “Holding the World Together, One Hand at a Time”
  • Ansley Pearson, 14 Chatttanooga, TN “Let Peace Fly Free”
  • David Vieira, 16 Parlin, NJ “Why Not Try Peace”
  • Rausan Bonijerai, 18 , Locust Valley, NY “Peace, love, peace, love”
  • Emma Black, 17, South Abington, PA “Together we Can find the Missing Peace”
  • Mallory Hiefield, 16 Portland, OR “It Starts with You”

Honorable Mentions Written:


  • David Arellano, 15 Ooltewah, TN “What About Peace”
  • Changwoo Hong, 16, Winona, MN “ Promoting Peace”
  • Hyuntuek Huang, 16, Winona, MN “Peace Sign (V sign)”
  • Lynzee Matousek, 18 Omaha, NE “My Peace”
  • Jacqueline Naganuma, 17 Beaverton, OR “Peace, What About It?”
  • Amelia Nichols, 15, Winona, MN “Peace is Possible”
  • Nicolo Odorizzi, 17 Omaha NE, “Peace”
  • Cecilia Perez, 17, Salinas, CA “Give Peace a Chance”
  • Alexander Peterson, 16 Omaha, NE “Peace and War”
  • Nick Thurber,16 Omaha, NE “A Piece of Mind”
  • Joseph Tlougan, 16, Winona,MN “Untitled”
  • Michael Yoon, 16, Winona, MN “Untitled”


  • Samantha Adams, 16, Baltimore, MD “One World Peace”
  • Emily Banat, 17 Omaha NE, “The Implications of ‘Peace”
  • Rachel Chuang, 17 Great Falls, VA “Perched on the Window”
  • Lauren Cooper, 17 Omaha, NE “The First One Home”
  • Eric Keisling, 18 Omaha, NE “Something to Fight For”

Short Story:

  • Erin Brown, 16 Omaha, NE “That One Person”
  • Hannah Combs, 15 Chattanooga, TN “Why Can’t There Be Peace?”
  • Kathryn Gunderson, 16 Seaford, NY “City of Peace”
  • Stephen Skelly, 16, Levittown, NY “Stockholm Syndrome”

What About Peace? is a Global Exchange international arts contest for youth ages 14 – 20 to express ideas and thoughts about peace by responding to the question, “What About Peace?” through artistic expression.

With the submission deadline just one day away, it is finally time to announce who this year’s What About Peace? Grand Judge is, and that person is….drum roll please…

Rae Abileah!!!

What About Peace 2012 Grand Judge Rae Abileah

Rae Abileah is the co-director of CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepink.org).  She is also a founding member of Young Jewish Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace. Rae is a contributing author to 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military; Sisters Singing: Incantations, Blessings, Chants, Prayers, Art and Sacred Stories by Women; Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Stories of Jewish Peace Activists; and Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution.  Her articles have been published on Mondoweiss, AlterNet, Common Dreams, Pink Tank, and she has guest blogged for Global Exchange.

Please join me in welcoming Rae as this year’s What About Peace? Grand Judge. Rae is a shining example of what it takes to be a truly dedicated activist, role model, and leader in the struggle for justice around the world! Last year Kirsten Moller served as the Grand Judge.

The "What About Peace?" art contest submission table

Submissions are pouring in as the deadline approaches. All entries must be received in our office on or before February 15th, 2012 to qualify. The Grand prize is $1000, but more than $2500 in total prizes will be awarded. Check out www.whataboutpeace.org for all the contest details.

On my way to lunch this afternoon, I passed a big pile of incoming mail. The person watching the front desk area told me “Most of these are “What About Peace?” submissions. Crazy, huh?”

I picked one envelope up out of curiosity. The return address said Philippines.

“So cool,” I thought. Each one of these art submissions was created by a young person…poems and short stories, photographs and paintings. Graphic designs, essays and cartoons. Piles of submissions, all about peace. All by young people. From all over the world.

Yes, so cool. And now that we have a cool Grand Judge, we are gearing up for the big announcement. Who will be crowned this year’s What About Peace winner? Stay tuned.