24th Cuban Identity Festival Opens in Bayamo

Bayamo, Cuba, Oct 17 (Prensa Latina) Historians and artists from the most diverse cultural expressions are participating in the 24th Cuban Identity Festival, which opened in Bayamo, the capital of eastern Granma province, on Wednesday, to celebrate the National Culture Day. As every year, the event takes place in Bayamo, and the program includes about 230 activities related to music, theater, dance, visual arts, cinema, literature and photography, among others.

Today's events include the presentation of the book The Little Prince, by the French writer and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery; several talks and keynote speeches; audiovisual presentations; as well as the opening of the 26th Theoretical Event on Cuban Nationality.

Cuban group Buena Fe will open the concert at the Anthem Square, or Plaza del Himno, in Bayamo.

The current edition of the Cuban Identity Festival is dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Cuba's wars of independence, a liberation feat that led in its first days to the creation of the Cuban National Anthem, which was composed and written by Perucho Figueredo.

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Ocean Research Challenges under Debate at MarCuba 2018

Havana, Oct 17 (Prensa Latina) Specialists from the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Gulf of Mexico are discussing on Wednesday in Havana the ocean research challenges, as part of the 11th Congress on Marine Sciences, to be run until Friday, October 19.

In order to advance in a common debate on the conservation of marine species throughout the Gulf of Mexico, the delegates to the event took up the motto 'Today's sciences in the interest of future coasts and seas.'

The symposium 'Numerical simulation of weather conditions during extreme events and its effect on sea turtle nesting', by Cuban experts, also provokes an intense scientific interchange today.

Those interested in issues related to climate change met in a panel dedicated to the determination of coral reef areas affected by the dispersion of particles at present and for 2100.

Other issuecs under discussion are related to the actions carried out by the Cuban National Aquarium for the protection of marine ecosystems, among which are the technologies applied to maintain living collections, as well as assess structure, abundance and population of the species in their natural environment.

Opened on Monday with the aim of preserving marine ecosystems, MarCuba 2018 brings together delegates from more than 12 countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia, as well as the United States.

Bebo is Cuban

Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro is Cuban. Not even the decades he lived far away, first in Sweden and later in Spain, made him less ours, or stopped him from promoting Cuban music. One hundred years since his birth, October 9, 1918, Bebo Valdés is from Cuba.

It could be no other way for someone who played a first order role in the consolidation of the orchestral style with which Cuban vernacular music reached its purest expression around the middle of the 20th century; and at the same time, made a substantial contribution to the development of the Cuban jam session, the most imaginative and profound variant in the “creole-ization” of jazz.

With Dámaso Pérez Prado, Chico O’ Farrill, and Armando Romeu, plus the genius Benny Moré, as the free electron and only member without academic training, Bebo formed a band to fit his desires. He occupied a place to which he would return time and again to find the keys to the stature reached by Cuban music and its continental projection in the 1950s.

Bebo’s trademark band was Sabor de Cuba, with which he worked at the Tropicana nightclub, alternating with Armando Romeu, between 1949 and 1957, recording memorable sessions and accompanying Cuban and international figures like Rita Montaner and Nat King Cole.

In 1952, he created the batanga rhythm, a renovating proposal that was not understood by the recording and performance industry, but which left an indelible mark to become a reference in much that happened later, in the evolution of both Cuban jazz and timba. Of course, the initial recordings of the rhythm featured Benny Moré, who had just returned from Mexico, and had not yet put together his powerful big band.

Bebo had moved to Mexico in 1960, where he collaborated from some time with the Chilean Lucho Gatica, who he had met in Havana. He later settled in Europe.

He left his family and started another one in Sweden, never understanding the changes taking place in his native country.

But never, even in the days he earned a living in restaurants and seedy Swedish clubs, did he stop thinking about music in Cuban terms.

Such was the case that, at 76 years of age, as someone said, he re-invented himself when he got a call to do a recording in New York.

This is the Bebo who took off again in Latin jazz, discs like Bebo rides again, and films like Calle 54, his fabulous collaboration with Diego el Cigala, and the re-encounter with his son Chucho Valdés on the album Juntos para siempre.

But I agree with something pointed out by researcher Rosa Marquetti: “It would be a major error to reduce the importance of Bebo Valdés in Cuban music, given the international revival boom he experienced withLágrimas negras. In any case, the global recognition he achieved in the last decade of the 20th century was the well-deserved high point of a career that spanned successfully an entire century and more in Cuban music. He has his own outstanding place among the best band directors, composers, and pianists of renown, and moves among the most creative arrangers in the entire history of our music.”

This is the Bebo I would like to recall on his centenary, the Bebo who, without a doubt and beyond the anecdotal, legitimately belongs to us.

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Spanish President to Visit Cuba in November

The president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, will pay an official visit to Cuba on November 22 and 23, local media reported.

Sanchez's trip was agreed upon at the meeting he held with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in New York on September 25, during their participation in the United Nations General Assembly, EFE news agency reported.

It will be the first official visit to Cuba by a Spanish president since 1986, when his fellow social democrat Felipe Gonzalez visited the Caribbean island, according to the newspaper El Pais.

'That a Spanish president has not visited Cuba in 30 years where our companies are shows that politics lags behind reality,' Sanchez said at a forum held on September 27, during his visit to New York.

'What we will do with this official visit is to normalize those relations that we traditionally had in several sectors,' he added before expressing excitement over the trip, which will allegedly 'normalize' traditional ties between Spain and Cuba in the economic, social and cultural fields, he noted at the time.

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Havana to Host 3rd Congress of Cuban Avant-Garde Artists

With the participation of around 300 delegates from all over the country, Havana is hosting Tuesday the Third Congress of the Hermanos Saiz Association (AHS), a group of young Cuban avant-garde artists.

According to the AHS President, Rubiel Garcia Gonzalez, the meeting will be an opportunity to review compliance with the agreements made at the last congress and the functioning of the institutions, in correspondence with artists' interests.

In addition, it will allow the debate on crucial issues such as the loss of values and national identity, key factors to preserve the collective work that is the Cuban Revolution.

The exchange will be done in commissions, which are constituted by artistic manifestations and other aspects such as cultural promotion, new technologies, artistic education, the statutes and regulations of the association.

According to Garcia Gonzalez, during the meeting will be recognized the achievements achieved in the materialization of projects, the approach to the municipal cells, as well as the nexus of the organization and the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba to the artistic movements.

The activities also include exhibitions, book presentations, conferences, concerts and the presentation of the Maestro de Juventudes ('Master of Youth') Prize, which every year recognizes personalities of Cuban culture.

This time, the event is dedicated to the 150 years of the beginning of the independence struggles and to the figure of the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz.

The AHS is a non-governmental organization that gathers the most relevant writers, artists, intellectuals and promoters, aged up to 35.

Born in 1986, its name pays tribute to the Cubans Luis Rodolfo Saiz Montes de Oca and Sergio Enrique Saiz Montes de Oca, young students who died fighting against Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship.

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Che and Beginning of Cuban Independence Wars Remembered in Russia

The Association of Cuban Residents in Russia commemorated the fall in combat of the heroic guerrilla fighter Ernesto Che Guevara and the beginning of the wars for independence in Cuba, at an event held here on Sunday.

The screening of a documentary about Commander Camilo Cienfuegos and Che opened the event, which also remembers the physical disappearance of Camilo, also known as the Hero of Yaguajay.

The Association also screened a recent speech by President Miguel Diaz-Canel at the event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Cuba's wars for independence, held at the emblematic La Demajagua sugar mill, in eastern Cuba.

Cuban Deputy Consul Ricardo Carbajo Perez noted the possibilities opened for Cuban residents in Russia after an agreement is ratified between Moscow and Havana to extend to 90 days the period during which Cubans can stay in the country without a visa.

In addition, the diplomat noted that Cuban residents here can submit their proposals to modify the Constitution on the Internet.

The meeting also included a cultural gala at which musicians from the Cuban community in Russia played songs by the Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona.

Participants at the meeting were called to celebrate Cuba's Culture Day on Saturday, October 20, to recall the first time when the National Anthem was sung in the country.

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National Symphony Orchestra Celebrates Cuban Culture Day

Havana, Oct 15 (Prensa Latina) The Cuban Symphony Orchestra gave a special concert on Sunday that will be dedicated to National Culture Day that included music by emblematic composers.

According to a statement from that institution, the program consisted of pieces by Cuban authors Guido Lopez Gavilan, Gonzalo Roig and Alejandro Garcia Caturla, as well as the Russian composer, pianist and conductor Sergei Prokofiev.

The concert at the National Theater's Covarrubias Hall, the featured the young pianist Rodrigo Garcia, under the conduction of Maestro Enrique Perez Mesa, director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, the text says.

The audience could enjoy 'Concert No. 1 for piano and orchestra', by Prokofiev; 'Danzon', by Garcia Caturla; 'Guaguanco', by Lopez Gavilan, and the contredance of zarzuela Cecilia Valdes, by Gonzalo Roig.

Every October 20, Cuba celebrates the National Culture Day in remembrance of the first time the National Anthem was sung, an event that took place in the eastern city of Bayamo, under the guidance of its author, Perucho Figueredo, 150 years ago.

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Diaz-Canel: Cultural Development, Not Art Commodification

"We have to defend cultural development and artistic creation from banalities that some try to impose from the outside,” said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

During the closing ceremony of the 1st National Conference of the Culture Workers’ Union, the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called for clarity to distinguish between creativity and the commodification of art, as he claims sectors of society are aiming for the latter.

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“We have to defend cultural development and artistic creation from banalities, vulgarities and paradigms that some try to impose from the outside,” said Diaz-Canel.“ And that can be achieved from dialogue, debate, discourse.”

The president said there is people trying to do everything possible to keep government away from culture, especially those opposing the revolution, when discussing issues. He warned there’s a growing tendency of speaking about ‘art consumption; trying to turn art into a commodity and putting personal enrichment before the development of authenticity.

“#CubaIsCulture. For an emancipatory platform in defense of our history, our culture and our identity against the attempts to impose the capitalist and neoliberal restauration on us. #Cuba #WereCuba”

Diaz-Canel warned about the risks of culture homogenization through rupture of the people’s historic memory, the negation of its history and identity, by perverse and alienating content. He called for an artistic emancipatory platform to defend Cuba’s identity and highlighted the Revolution’s cultural policy, emanating from Fidel’s discussions with artists and intellectuals, and its achievements such as the literacy campaigns, artistic teaching systems, events and arts’ development.

“History has shown us that the only answer to face that circumstance is unity, and cultural debate must first defend unity and I think we can achieve that,” he concluded.

The Cuban president also reminded the public about the harm that the U.S. blockade, the most comprehensive of any country in modern history, has done to the island, calling it "the greatest obstacle for development in Cuba."

The conference started on Thursday with the aim to discuss the cultural environment of the island as well as internal matters. A new 11-member National Committee was announced and Nereyda Lopez Labrada was ratified as the union’s secretary general.

Lopez Labrada said the country’s cultural policy has always been the unity between culture and liberty, and highlighted their responsibility in building Cuba’s future.

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