Bulls in Cuba

Cuba was the first country in Latin America where bullfights took place.

Last weekend, in Havana, you could almost hear the snorts of the fevered animal and the olé shouted by hundreds of fans, always rewarded with some challenging pass of the bullfighter.

The exhibition “Cuba brava. El toreo en la memoria historica de Cuba”, hosted by the House of Mexico, was unveiled in Havana. Paintings, pictures, posters, customs, documents and other related articles recalled the long and unknown bullfighting tradition in Cuba.

It is easy to realize that Spanish conquerors were the ones who introduced here and other Latin American countries the bullfight shows. Such shows are being criticized due to the cruelty with which these animals are treated.

According to Spanish Placido Gonzalez Hermoso, the first bullfight in Cuba took place in 1514 and Friar Bartolome de las Casas witnessed the event in his “Historia General de Indias.”

The first bullring in Cuba was built in 1769.

Twenty seven years later, the inhabitants of the village witnessed the second bullring built in Monte and Egido Streets. Bulls and bullfighters were brought from the metropolis.

Among the first documented bullfight festivities, the one held in 1569 to honor Saint Christopher is well-remembered. To honor the crowning of Carlos III, it was held a resounding one in 1759.

To honor this king, the bullring “Carlos III” or “La Infanta” was opened in 1885. Such bullfights were even broadcasted by the television for ten years, but it could not capture the audience’s attention, though.

However, this bullfights environment did not quit easily and they won the government’s approval to allow bullfighting in Havana on the exceptional condition of not killing any animal. The aforementioned bullfight took place at the Tropical Stadium before 13,000 fans in April 27th, May 4th, and May 11st 1941.

Not even Mazantin the Bullfighter

You can listen to some of our grandparents the phrase “This cannot be done by even Mazantin the bullfighter.” And some of our young people use the same expression.


Perhaps, they do not know that Mazantin the bullfighter was the very famous Luis Mazzantini y Eguia, a Basque born in 1856.

He was unique due to his elegant and refined art of behaving inside and outside the bullring. He liked opera, social talks, and hanging out with the Spanish high society, where he returned after a long stay in Italy.

He starred a total of 16 bullfights in Cuba. And the bullring located in Belascoin Street, between Virtudes and Concordia Streets was the place where he boasted great skills.

Mazzantini left his mark in the island’s fashion and customs as well as one cigarettes’ brand.

Four decades later, the bullfighter vanished from the daily life of Havana.

In 1899 and after the Maine’s wrecking, the U.S. interventionist forces prohibited bullfights by military order. If any failed to comply with that order, a 500 Cuban pesos fine was executed.

The art of bullfighting in Cuba left like Mazzantini after four centuries. It happened once but those times will never come back again. It may be seen only in exhibitions like the one taking place in Havana.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

Gibara Film Festival to Have Spain as Guest Country

Gibara International Film Festival will be held in the Cuban eastern province of Holguín from April 16 to 22.

The president of the event, Jorge Perugorría, defined the event as heiress of the festival created by Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás in that eastern city of the province of Holguin, and, in that sense, promotes the interaction between the arts.

Only the name of the festival was changed to extend the spectrum of the admitted works, explained the actor, director and producer in a press conference.

Theatrical works, dance, books, photo and painting exhibitions as well as music concerts will alternate with the film program with productions from Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Italy, Nicaragua and Brazil, among other countries.

The competing categories are fiction feature film, fiction short film, documentary feature film, documentary short film and cinema under construction.

This last section includes from unpublished scripts to works in the post-production period, in both genres and films.

Prestigious figures of the audiovisual and the arts of Cuba and the world will integrate the jury of each category, and honorary Lucia Awards will be granted to Adela Legrá and Eslinda Núñez, the two living actresses of the three who starred in the film of the same name, considered a classic of Cuban cinema.

  • Published in Culture

Spain's Podemos Snubs Argentina's Macri over Rights Abuses

Spanish lawmakers criticized the visit of Argentine President Mauricio Macri and the human right violations of his government.

Left parties in the Spanish Congress criticized Wednesday the presence of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with one lawmaker greeting him with a shirt demanding the release of Milagro Sala, an Indigenous activist and lawmaker who was dubbed the first "political prisoner" of Macri's administration when she was arrested after a protest in January 2016.

RELATED: Macri Rejects UN's Call to Release Political Prisoner Sala

Macri also received a letter from the left-wing party Podemos party requesting the release of the activist, who has been in jail for more than a year. After his address to Congress, none of the Podemos lawmakers applauded.

In a second rejection to Macri’s visit, the same party announced its members will not participate in the state dinner that the Spanish king will offer on Wednesday in honor of the Argentine president, his wife Juliana Awada and his team. All parties in Congress are often invited for celebrations as part of official visits by presidents or heads of state.

Upon his arrival, President Macri also shook the hand of lawmaker Irene Montero, a spokesperson for Podemos, who wore a white t-shirt with a drawing of Sala and in black letters the phrase "Free Milagro."

Irene Moreno received Macri in the Spanish Congress with a t-shirt that asks "Freedom for Milagro Sala."

Montero called Macri "an offshore agent," referring to his use of tax havens revealed through the Panama Papers leak last year that identified Macri as one of a dozen global power players with assets in offshore companies.

"It’s not necessary to do those acts of honoring a president of the type of Macri," said Montero during a press conference Tuesday. She also accused him of being "responsible for human rights violations".

RELATED: Milagro Sala Trial: ‘I Apologize for Being Black and an Indian'

Meanwhile, Lawmaker Anton Gomez-Reino blasted the visit, saying that the Congress "is not a chamber of commerce in the service of the Popular Party of (Primer Minister Mariano) Rajoy and President Macri. Congress is not a platform for his friends’ businesses."

Iñigo Errejon, also from Podemos, said he was troubled by the fact that Macri called the parliamentary coup in Brazil against former President Dilma Rousseff “a political change.”

Meanwhile, back in Argentina various workers’ organizations called a massive protest in the capital city of Buenos Aires to protest the Macri government. The movements have also suggested that the may set up an encampment in the center of the capital city to continue the protest against also said they could set up a camp under the emblematic obelisk monument in the center of the city.

  • Published in World

Cuban Baillarina Marta Garcia Dies in Spain

Famous Cuban Baillarina Marta García, 68, died today in a hospital from lung cancer, according to sources close to the artist.

García was born on Feb.7, 1949 in Guanabacoa, Havana and her long career made her one of the main pillars of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba (BNC) company.

With less than 5 years old the Best Artist Award given by a popular TV program at that time, when she sang, acted and danced.

In 1956 she starts in the Academia de Ballet Alicia Alonso located at then called Teatro Radiocentro (today renamed Yara).

Ten years later she perfoms her first presentation in Las Amigas de Gisselle;and Danza Española and Mazurca from the El lago de los cisnes.

With thel BNC she travels the world and performed all the main roles of the great classic ballet repertoire like La fille mar gardée, Giselle and El lago de los cisnes, Don Quijote y La bayadera.

Less than two years ago she published her memoirs in Spain.

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Majority of Spaniards Perceive Local Political Situation as Bad

Despite the end of the prolonged political blocking and the formation of government, almost 75 percent of the citizens considered the political sitation in Spain as a bad situation, reported an official survey Monday.

According to the survey from the Center for Sociological Investigations (CIS), conducted from November 1 to 11, 74.3 percent of the respondents perceived the situation as bad (35.6) or very bad (38.7), when they were the 88.1 percent, a month earlier.

The CIS developed its traditional monthly barometer two days after Mariano Rajoy, of the conservative Popular Party, was vested on October 29 for a second presidential mandate, which put an end to more than 10 months of institutional paralysis in this European country.

Despite the better perception, still two of each three Spanish considered the politicalsituation as bad or very bad, and just a 3.5 percent qualifies it as good, while for 19.6 percent, is regular.

The sample of November, shows unemployment remains at the head of the main concerns, with 72.9 percent - up nearly two points compared to October-, followed by corruption, a scourge which is mentioned by 36.1 percent of the 2,487 consulted people.

The parties and the political class were, with 29.5 percent, the third more designated unease by the Spanish people and the economic problems classified in the fourth, since they were mentioned by the 23.9 percent of the surveyed.

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Communist Poet, Longest-Serving Prisoner of Franco, Dies at 96

Marcos Ana, a lifelong Communist and anti-fascist, and the longest serving prisoner of the Franco regime died on Thursday in Madrid at age 96.

Marcos Ana, born Fernando Macarro Castillo, was a celebrated poet, lifelong Communist, and perhaps best known as the man who spent the most time imprisoned by the fascist regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco regime. Jailed by Franco at the age of 19, he was released 23 years later, in 1961, thanks to an international solidarity campaign led by the likes of Pablo Neruda.

"I am a child of solidarity. It’s not just a beautiful word; it’s an attitude towards injustice, which is still necessary. I owe it my liberty and my life," said Ana.

ANALYSIS: Second Spanish Republic Holds Valuable Lessons

Born to a humble family in Salamanca, Spain in 1920, he left school at 13 to work to support his family and soon joined the young Socialists of Spain rising to become a regional secretary just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. During the war, he joined the Communist Party of Spain and played a key role in the opposition to Franco.

Captured by Franco's forces in 1939, he would spend the next 23 years in jail, surviving two death sentences, torture, and multiple beatings. While in prison, Ana continued his political work. Along with fellow Communists, anarchists and artists he created a clandestine newspaper and offered tutorials to fellow inmates.

It was in prison that he also began writing poems under the pseudonym Marcos Ana, named after his father who was killed by Franco's forces in 1937 as well as his mother who died while he was in prison. The poems, smuggled out by prison guards and comrades who had memorized the lines before being released, were eventually compiled and sent to a printer in Brazil. The publication in Brazil of his first volume of poetry, "Poems From Prison," brought him to the attention of Pablo Neruda, who would go on to spearhead the international campaign for Ana´s release, along with the newly-formed Amnesty International.

RELATED: 40 Years After Franco, People Demand Truth and Justice in Spain

After his release in 1961, Ana continued his activism in exile in France as head of the Center for Information and Solidarity with Spain which included Pablo Picasso as an honorary president. From France as a member of the central committee of Spain's Communist Party, Ana toured the world organizing aid and solidarity campaigns for fellow exiles and opponents of Franco.

In a speech in London in 1962, Ana said, "The only revenge to which I aspire is to see the triumph of the noble ideals of freedom and social justice, for which we have fought and for which thousands of Spanish democrats lost their freedom or their lives."

He returned to Spain in 1976 after the death of Franco and ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the Community Party in the 1977 elections.

During his birthdays, he would subtract the 23 years he spent in jail from his age and often remarked that he felt he had been born twice, first on the day of his birth and later when he was finally released from prison on Nov. 17, 1961. In 2007 he published his memoirs "Tell Me What a Tree Looks Like: Memories of Prison and Life," with a foreword by Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, and to which Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar acquired the film rights in 2008.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban Singer Descemer Bueno to Perform in Madrid

Madrid, Oct 18 (Prensa-Latina) Cuban singer Descemer Bueno will attend the Cubania Festival, where he will perform along with fellow countrymen and Spanish artists.
On the occasion of Cuban Culture Day, the Sports Palace in Madrid will host, on Thursday, October 20th, the first edition of this event, a project that according to its musical promoter, Spaniard, Julio Gutierrez, will be held again.

Descemer, considered by critics as a major Cuba musician, agreed to talk with Prensa Latina on his collaboration in Cubania.

'Artists such as Leoni Torres, Alain Perez, Haila Mompie, Luna Manzanares or El Septeto Santiaguero, are some of the participants in this almost five-hour concert, which I will have the responsibility to close,' he said.

'I will sing well-known songs such as 'Cuando me enamoro', 'Loco' and 'Bailando', and others not as well-known international such as 'Tus luces sobre mi', a very popular song among Cubans, which I have had the opportunity of singing in other shows,' the renowned artist said.

Descemer, a composer of popular songs, which are sang by artists both in and outside the country, such as: Gente de Zona and Enrique Iglesias (Bailando), or Dominican, Juan Luis Guerra, has expressed his excitement about returning to the Palacio de los Deportes.

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Why British fans will not be able to watch live coverage of El Clasico

La Liga's decision to broadcast the first El Clasico of the season at 3:15 UK time means that fans in Britain will be unable to watch the game live on television.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet for the first time in the league at the Nou Camp on December 3, but a long-standing British broadcasting rule means the game will not be shown live on British television.

Barcelona Real Madrid
Barcelona beat Real Madrid home and away last season  Credit: AP 

FA rules prohibit any football being shown on television between 2:45pm and 5:15pm.

As in previous years, the game will be shown, in full, on a delay from 5:15pm on Sky Sports. 

La Liga president Javier Tebas defended the time-slot insisting the decision was made to maximise the match's worldwide audience. 

"The Barcelona and Real Madrid game will be played on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. The game will not be aired in England because of the TV embargo that is placed at that time," Tebas told Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser.

 Lionel Messi 
Barcelona beat Real Madrid 4-0 at the Nou Camp last season  Credit: AP 

The kick-off time means the game will be available to watch in over 100 countries, including the growing audience in America.

"We had three windows we had considered, at 1pm, 4:15 pm and 6:30pm. We analysed those with our audiovisual team and to play at 6 pm is too late in Asia while to play at 1pm is too early for the American market."

"I look at other leagues when setting the timetable," Tebas said. 

Real Madrid 
Real Madrid are level points at the top of La Liga with Atletico Madrid  Credit: Reuters 

"The timetable is a strategy we have been working on in recent years and the results are there. Our international sales have tripled because of that and the quality of the players we have in our league.

"We are continuously looking at ways that we can improve our product. For example, we have installed aerial cameras in seven venues and by the end of the season, we will have that in three more stadiums.

Defending champions Barcelona are currently fourth in La Liga, two points adrift from rivals Real Madrid who are level on points at the top of the table with Atletico Madrid.

  • Published in Sports
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