Cuban President Recognizes Art as a Means to Forge Respect

Havana, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel highlighted the power of art and culture to forge relationships of respect when exchanging with artists who participated in recent events in Peru and the United States.

According to the president, during the People’s Summit held last April in Peru it was demonstrated that there is a force capable of uniting Cubans: the identity; and it is time to defend it because in the world some try to fracture it in order to manipulate the history.

Artistic directors such as Elito Revé and Pepe Ordaz told how they performed in Lima, in the context of the celebration of the Summit, to defend their people there through music.

The Cuban president said that the presentations in Peru and the Festival Artes de Cuba that takes place since May 8 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, prove that art is an irreplaceable space for communication between peoples. In the meeting with artists, held on Wednesday at the cultural center La Plaza, Diaz-Canel considered that the events put to the test the effectiveness of the Cuban system of artistic education and valued the role of art as a bridge builder, his contribution to mutual respect and peace, despite the differences.

The dancer, director, and choreographer Irene Rodríguez celebrated the excellent reception of the American public that awarded the artists with extensive standing ovations, while the singer and composer Zule Guerra highlighted the shared spirituality, good energy and great joy around the festival.

To her surprise, many people sang with them Feeling themes and Latin American Boleros.

The best way for the American people to know who Cubans are is to enjoy our art, said Lele Rosales, singer of the iconic orchestra Los Van Van.

The prejudices fell to the floor, the musicians believed that they were going to play in a very serious event, and when they saw people standing ready to move to the beat of the rhythm, the show overflowed with joy, because Cubans are like that, the artist said.

The members of the Miguel Faílde Orchestra assured that at the Kennedy Center Danzón was danced and they praised a group of casineros (dancers of the casino-style) existing in Washington and composed of people from different countries.

The event combines the different arts and visual arts was represented by works of Roberto Diago, Manuel Mendive, and Roberto Fabelo, contemporary dance by the company Malpaso, the theater by plays directed by Carlos Díaz and Carlos Celdrán, among other artists and events.

Artes of Cuba festival in the US capital will conclude on June 3 with presentations from the National Ballet of the Caribbean country, led by the legendary Alicia Alonso.

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Diaz-Canel: US Hostility to Cuba Won’t be Eternal

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. | Photo: Reuters

The recently inaugurated Cuban president praised art as a way of building bridges.

May 24 (teleSUR) Cuban President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, does not believe that the current hostile attitude of the United States toward Cuba can last forever, and believes that they can find the “will” and “points of contact” to move forward from a position of respect.

The president was meeting with some of the Cuban artists who participated in the Festival of Cuban Arts that was held in Washington D.C. this month, and said that art can build bridged between the two countries.

“I don’t believe that the current position will be eternal, and things like what you have accomplished in Washington… can open the way,” he said, praising the artists’ talent and commitment.

“You showed that we can live together in peace despite our differences.”

Lamenting that the administration of Donald Trump has attempted to “roll back the process of recovery with which we wanted to normalize relations,” the recently inaugurated president said that there still remain “points of contact.”

“If there is the will, respect, and equality, we can continue back on that construction.

From May 8-20, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. hosted the largest-ever Cuban arts festival in the United States. The occasion featured around 400 artists ranging from musicians, dancers, actors, filmmakers, fashion, design and cooking.

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A Historic Music Festival Celebrates Cuba’s Vast Range

Pablo Milanés (right) and his daughter Haydée Milanés perform together at the Kennedy Center on May 16, 2018.

Pablo Milanés (right) and his daughter Haydée Milanés perform together at the Kennedy Center on May 16, 2018. JATI LINDSAY / KENNEDY CENTER

Public Media for Central Pennsylvania

May 24, 2018

For two glorious weeks this month, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. exploded with the vibrant sound, color and culture of the historic festival Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World.

It was the Kennedy Center at its best, hosting an unprecedented — literally — array of Cuban arts, with co-curators Alicia Adams and Gilda Almeida building the country’s world-class musicians into a cultural bridge between our two nations. The festival was a rare treat for a U.S audience to experience the work of some 400 Cuban and Cuban-American participating artists.

There were fifty events in all, encompassing music, dance, theatre, film, fashion, visual art and more, topped with a series of free evening parties featuring live jams between the visiting musicians. The festival revealed a spectrum of genres-within-genres that celebrated the artistic convergence of Cuba’s Spanish, African and indigenous influences, and its long history of musical exchange with the U.S.

While it was impossible to catch it all, here are a few of the concerts that stood out.

Yissy García & Bandancha

Composer and percussionist Yissy García gave a thrilling display of musicianship, as she and her five-piece group Bandancha electrified the audience with a set of complex, contemporary sounds. The young García has emerged as one of Cuba’s powerful new female percussionists, landing gigs with the likes of Dave Matthewsand Esperanza Spalding. At her performance, García proved to be just as adept at Afro-Cuban rhythms as she is of contemporary jazz, R&B, funk and hip-hop.

“We’re happy, happy, happy with what’s happening,” García said (in Spanish) after the performance, sporting her distinct Mohawk-styled afro, large stars dangling from her ears. “For all the Cuban artists who are able to come here after so much work, everything worked out and it’s super wonderful.”

García was a sight to behold, drumming like a speeding train headed straight at you. Her high energy playing and rapid-fire rolls seemed effortless, twirling her drumstick like a baton at times as her other hand and her feet banged out beats without even breaking a sweat – all the while exchanging riffs and beaming smiles with her bandmates, who were just as spirited and skilled.

She Cubanized Miles Davis’ tune “Tutu,” making it her own, while DJ Jigüe added a fascinating electro-hip-hop twist. They ended the show with a somewhat more traditional Afro-Cuban rumba finale she calls “Te Cogió Lo Que Anda,” as impressive as it was fun.

Yissy Garcia y Bandancha perform at the Kennedy Center on May 9, 2018 as part of the Artes de Cuba Festival.

Yissy Garcia y Bandancha perform at the Kennedy Center on May 9, 2018 as part of the Artes de Cuba Festival. JATI LINDSAY / KENNEDY CENTER

Los Van Van

Despite valiant attempts, the legendarily stern Kennedy Center ushers couldn’t contain the crowd as Los Van Van, one of Cuba’s most popular and prolific bands, fired up its pan-Latin groove machine in the normally staid Eisenhower Theater. The band altered an entire generation of music lovers on the island, fusing Afro-Cuban sounds with the electricity of American rock, pop, funk, soul — which ended up creating a distinct genre called “songo,” after the group’s 1989 album.

Los Van Van was founded by the late Juan Formell, whose son and percussionist Samuel Formell has now taken the reigns as its director.

“We are anxious,” Samuel told me before the show. “We’ve been practicing our repertoire for months – selecting from 50 years of music – which has been hard to do. Our goal is to make people dance … We want to bring joy.”

The 17-piece band did just that from the very first song, spurring people to dance in their seats before pouring into the aisles. The high-energy front line of three male vocalists, dressed in all-white suits, and a female vocalist, in a contrasting red dress, danced and sang, flanked by a keyboard on each side. Meanwhile a solid horn section, violinists, flutist and a dedicated güiro player swayed from side to side. Smack in center of it all was Formell, at his drum kit and the congas, in a splash of red with his jacket, delivering showmanship and solos both seamless and spectacular.

The group performed a string of hits from each of its decades, starting from Songo. Occasionally shouting out, “Are you tired yet?” in Spanish between songs, their fans invariably returned with: “No!”

Haydée Milanés and trio, with guest Pablo Milanés

Singer and pianist Haydée Milanés gave the most emotionally stirring concert of the festival, accompanied in part by her father, “Pablito” Pablo Milanés, one of Cuba’s most beloved singer-songwriters of nueva trova and filin.

Milanés embodied beauty, grace and reverence inside and out, opening her show on piano, singing a tribute to Yemanyá, an Orisha (or deity) from the Yoruba faith, embedded into Cuba by African slaves.

Milanés subsequently turned the Eisenhower Theatre into an intimate Latin jazz cabaret, her gentle, enrapturing voice floated through soft scats and romantic whispers in seemingly endless breaths, dancing around Raul Verdecia Gallardo’s eloquent guitar.

In tribute to the past, she sang “Palabras” by one of her greatest inspirations, Martha Valdés and an homage to her father’s legacy. The emotion was palpable as “Pablito” walked onto the stage, sharing his pride at seeing Haydée perform. As they sang together, it was impossible for me not to cry as their sweet voices, gorgeous harmonies, love as familia and artistic passion melded and swirled through the audience in waves. The magic culminated in a stunning duet of the Cuban classic “Yolanda,” met with a standing ovation that went on for several minutes.

“It’s time for the world to rediscover its roots and musical heritage,” the younger Milanés told me, in Spanish, backstage. “I’ve been adding modern elements to older songs to keep the past present, and take it into the future.” After breaking away from her father’s shadow and finding her own style, she’s now reaching back in order to preserve the past.

“This event is an important exchange — music has the power to unite. It always finds a way. We’re all sharing in the same energy. It has a magic higher than politics, religion, anything.”

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World Badminton Federation Awards Cuban Federation

Image result for Cuban Badminton federation

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) The World Badminton Federation (WBF) recognized in its annual meeting held in Bangkok, Thailand, the record of Cuban Miguel Diaz, founder of the national federation in 1979, today highlights Cuban digital website Jit .

That international organization with 189 members honored Diaz in an emotional ceremony for his outstanding contribution to the development of badminton in a national and international character.

As participants there were Paul-Erik Hoyer, president of the WBF, who participated in the gala for recognition; Khunying Patama, holder of the Federation of Thailand and member of the International Olympic Committee; other senior managers of the WBF; Alexis Ramírez, president of the FCV and the island’s ambassador to Thailand, Héctor Conde.

‘I received this award with the pride of being Cuban and that award is the result of the sacrifice of my country to keep up well our sports movement, for which I will spare no effort to continue contributing with all my strength,’ said Diaz to website Jit.

The Cuban had high international responsibilities as vice president of the Pan-American Badminton Confederation and holder of the Badminton Confederation for Central America and the Caribbean.

Before this, in 2000, he created the annual international tournament ‘Giraldilla de La Habana’ and currently maintains his notorious contribution to the Federation of Badminton of Cuba and the INDER, the note said.

During the ceremony a group of players, coaches, federation and distinguished personalities worldwide were honored for their tributes to the discipline.

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Venezuelans Voted for Self-determination, Said Elias Jaua

Caracas, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Venezuelan Education Minister Elias Jaua said today that on May 20 Venezuelans achieved a great victory for independence and self-determination, without being intimidated by imperialist threats.

The decision of the National Executive to declare the Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Venezuela, Todd Robinson, and his deputy, Brian Naranjo, persona non grata, corresponds to the gesture of dignity expressed by the Venezuelan people through the vote, the political leader emphasized in his television program ‘Encuentro popular’.

Jaua described as shameless the actions of these officials to act outside their functions, ‘trying conspiracies within the Bolivarian National Armed Forces and the people to provoke an explosion, so that they are true agents of destabilization. So we expel them from Bolivar’s homeland.

He also said that those who come with a spirit of respect and recognition to the nation will be welcome in Venezuela.

In his reflections, the revolutionary leader questioned the recent unilateral, illegal, and coercive sanctions announced by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, as a kind of ‘punishment’ to that people that expressed its will in the elections and gave the triumph to the president Maduro with 6,224,040 votes (67.81 percent).

‘The United States rudely, as a punishment to the people for exercising its right to vote, once again applies unilateral and illegal sanctions to prohibit a normal practice throughout the world, such as the purchase and sale of foreign debt bonds, with which countries can face the terms of payment of the debt, look for forms of financing, so this is another attack against the Venezuelan people,’ Jaua emphasized.

The Venezuelan head of State, during his proclamation in the National Electoral Council as reelected president for the period 2019-2025, announced yesterday the expulsion of Robinson and Naranjo for acting as conspirators and carrying out interventionist actions in the Venezuelan internal affairs.

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Cultural Feast Announces 504th Anniversary of Fourth Cuban Villa

Sancti Spiritus, May 24 (Prensa Latina) The 504th anniversary of the town of Sancti Spiritus, the fourth villa founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, will be celebrated with a broad cultural day from May 31 to June 4, according to the promoters.

The festivities include the holding of a Solemn Assembly on June 4, when the town of Espiritu Santo was established by Diego Velazquez, at about 365 kilometers east of Havana.

The day also plans the inauguration of the City Hall, dedicated to the visual creation in the city, as well as the awards of contests of musical composition, literature and the City Prize, in order to stimulate territorial identity from artistic work. During the celebration will also be held the Colloquium of the Sancti Spiritus Culture, space for reflection, exchange, debate and promotion of local culture and heritage, reported in a press conference executives of the Municipal Department of Culture.

In statements to Prensa Latina, Abel Hernandez, in charge of this edition of the conclave, reported that this will include work on commissions, keynote lectures and the screening of the documentary ‘El naturalista perdido’ (Lost Naturalist), dedicated to the life of the German Juan Cristobal Gundlach.

The venue for the colloquium will be the Museum of Colonial Art, one of the most prestigious cultural institutions of the town, and will have professors from the University of Sancti Spiritus, as well as specialists in local identity and historians, he said.

Despite its establishment as one of the first seven Cuban villas in 1514, Sancti Spiritus did not reach the title of city until 1867 when its economic situation made it a national referent.

In 1964 the city was declared a National Monument, a condition that recognizes the conservation of its historic center characterized by evidence of colonial Hispanic heritage.

Since 1976, with the new Cuban political administrative division, the city was named capital of the homonymous province and one of the most important in the center of Cuba.

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President of Cuba Tours Food Fair 2.0

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said today that the development of the food industry is one of the country’s top priorities, a strategy based on the economic and social development program.

During a tour of the II International Fair of Food, Beverages and Food Technology of Cuba, Food 2.0, -until May 24 in Pabexpo-, Diaz-Canel explained that for this year is projected in the food industry the largest process investor in the last 10 years.

He added that the country will gradually recover the deteriorated production in this area and above all new products and assortments will be presented, as well as an expansion of the productive capacities to satisfy the food needs of the population.

About the fair, the Cuban President said that there is a greater dimension in the participation of Cuban and foreign companies, an opportune element before the pretensions to relaunch, modernize and strengthen the Cuban food industry.

Díaz-Canel stressed that the business exchange that takes place in this space will make it easier for foreign businessmen to appreciate the potentialities of the food sector, which have a large presence in production, science and innovation as a function of the food industry, a complement to advance in the compliance with the proposed objectives.

Before the stand of Alba Foods (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, Food), the Cuban leader stressed that among the countries belonging to the ALBA they must establish a productive chain that allows to market a range of products from different Latin American countries, to form a company multinational.

The 2nd edition of the International Fair of Food, Beverages and Food Technology of Cuba, Food 2.0, is attended by about 102 exhibitors from 22 countries and involved some 70 foreign companies.

Alimentos 2.0 is sponsored by the Ministries of the Food Industry, Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and Agriculture of Cuba.

It constitutes a space for the promotion of technologies associated with the production and industrialization of food and beverages, a prime ambition of the Development Program of this industry in the country.

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Rum Festival Begins in Cuba Today

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) The 2nd Rum Festival in Cuba is beginning today at Pabexpo exhibition center in this capital to promote external financing, Gabriela Garcia, Head of Commercial Intelligence of Cuba Ron Corporation, said.

Garcia told Prensa Latina that during the days prior to the festival, tastings and magisterial classes of several rums were carried out, among them Isla del Tesoro, a nationally and internationally awarded product.

The Rum Festival has prestigious foreign guests, among them sommelier and gastronomic consultant Nariz de Oro (Golden Nose) from Spain, Jose Joaquin Cortes, and Cesar Adame, from Brazil.

Garcia stated that, as part of the new features, the festival proposes today a commented tasting of bourbon by Michter’s distillery in the United States.

A meeting with eight rum masters from Cuba is planned for tomorrow, coinciding with the closing of the event.

Their knowledge was declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2016.

In addition to promoting the growth of all its brands in the foreign market, the event aims to complete some negotiations that will double its export levels to reach six and a half million nine-liter boxes in 2030, CubaRon president, Juan Gonzalez, said.

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From Portugal to Cuba, Solidarity Hug of Danish Rowers

After arriving in Cuba, the four activists made their wish come true to make friends and build new relationships which would strengthen ties between the people of Cuba and Denmark.

Havana, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Four Danish rowers brought a message of peace, solidarity and unity among people after a 74-day journey from Portugal to Cuba.

After being received at the capital’s headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, the captain of the ship, Japúk Jacosen, showed a document signed by MPs of the Danish parliament.

This letter means a hug of solidarity from the people of Denmark to the Cubans,’ said Jacosen on behalf of the other crew members (Jogvan Clementsen, Niclas Olsen and Edmund Berg).

The activist shared details of the journey, which initially included six men, and said he had felt a desire to visit Cuba for many years, and heard about it for the first time when he was 10 years old.

Danish rowers left Faroese Islands in Portugal on February 10, following the marine tradition of their Viking ancestors, and sighted shores of Baracoa, east of Cuba, on May 12.

After arriving in Cuba, the four activists made their wish come true to make friends and build new relationships which would strengthen ties between the people of Cuba and Denmark.

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Turkish Corporation to Manage Cruise Port in Havana

Istanbul, May 23 (Prensa Latina) Turkey’s Global Ports Holding (GPH) signed a 15-year agreement with the Cuban company Aries S.A. for the management of cruise port in Havana and its expansion.

The terms of the agreement include a mixed company system for the infrastructure management, and a major investment program, to increase the current two cruise-ship terminals to six by 2024, according to a statement made public by GPH.

The Havana port received last year some 328,000 passengers, and it is expected that this figure will reach 500,000 by late 2018.

‘In addition to the operations of the cruise-ship port, the company will continue working with our Cuban partners on the design and technical specification of the cruise port investment program, including the proposed new terminals,’ the note said.

Global Ports said that it will use the acquired experience and its operating model for the management of the facilities and will assume responsibility for the commercialization of the new terminals as they go into operation.

GPH is the world’s largest cruise port operator, and currently manages 12 of them in the Mediterranean, one in Singapore and two commercial ports in seven countries.

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