The Havana of Blue Tanks

There’s increasingly less time left for the capital of Cuba to reach its half century, and many Havanans rejoice from their anonymous everyday life.

At present, when there is increasingly less time left for the 500th anniversary of Havana, it is usual that you hear about the great and well-known spaces, the iconic sites of the city.

But not very few Havanans from that other anonymous Havana —the one that does not appear in pictures or postcards— lean out of the door or the window every morning these days too, and discover a new lamp on their street, colorful painted façades, and new benches built in the local park.

And the fact is that this Havana on the verge of its half century is actually felt by all who inhabit, enjoy and suffer it, neither occasionally nor from a car window that does not let the sun’s rays enter or the cool air escape. I am talking about the Havanans who unintentionally are remodeling their city every day, walking on its sidewalks and asphalts, charming it with a symphony of warnings that the (rationed) chicken had arrived (at the butcher’s) or run, run, because so-and-so is fighting, stirring it up from its nights, sensual or sordid, of red and sharp, of skin and rhythm, of boredom or passion, and a very hot weather.

This, the City of Columns, by Alejo Carpentier, is also the city of blue tanks today. No talented artist cast them, they did not accompany Havana in its village flushes or in its ambiguous wiggles of pseudo-republic; no old patina marks them. But they are also evidence and witnesses of recent and heroic times.

Just as current archaeologists have investigated among ruins, rubble and aged drains, helping rebuild past ordinarinesses from crockery fragments or a piece of fan, perhaps the future archaeologists will stop reflectively in front of a piece of blue tank, comparing it with photos of the period when the roofs of the city were crowded by these “mysterious” containers.

Maybe, they will not know how to deduce with so little evidence that those blue tanks were also a symbol of endurance, of creativity, of a day-by-day work, but anyway people walked clean and freshly bathed.

They are the same people who proudly comment today from their balconies or in front of the television at home, about this or that restoration, this or that change in the city that improves their lives.

They are also the same who, without fuss, toast or artificial lights, will get up next November 16 and, as every day, they will savor a cup of coffee. But this Saturday all their routines will be different: Their Havana, that of the Capitol and also of the blue tanks will be celebrating its birthday.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Pope Francis sends a message on the occasion of Havana’s 500th anniversary

Rome, November 15 (RHC)-- Pope Francis sent a warm message to the people of Havana on Friday on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the city, San Cristóbal de La Habana.

In a video message, the pontiff said he was happy to join his 'dear brothers and sisters of Havana' on the anniversary and said that since its foundation, many lives given by others are interwoven, many dreams, efforts, shared sacrifices to build the present and future of the children of Cuba.

In this regard, he referred to faith, charity, and hope, three historical aspects that, in his opinion, were present from the very beginnings, and continue to be pillars for this time.

After indicating that faith is in the roots of the city, Francis urged the inhabitants of the Cuban capital not to forget "the testimony of faith of your ancestors" and recalled that the founding act of Havana was the celebration of Holy Mass.

And because "there will always be difficulties in life," Pope Francis encouraged the Cuban people to move forward in unity, united in charity and in the hope of moving forward, which "helps the people to grow strong.”

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares
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St. Petersburg pays tribute to Havana on its 500th anniversary

Relevant cultural personalities from the Russian city of St. Petersburg have travelled to Cuba to pay tribute to Havana on the occasion of its 500th anniversary.

The tribute begins today with a meeting between Yuri Smekalov, dancer of the Mariinsky Theatre Ballet, and students of the Fernando Alonso National Ballet School of Cuba.

St. Petersburg Days in Cuba is the title of the cultural and commercial program organized by the Foreign Affairs and Culture Committees of St. Petersburg, extending until next Sunday.

The program includes a conference on commercial and economic cooperation between the Russian city and Cuba, as well as round tables on innovation technologies in health care, tourism and the preservation of cultural heritage.

These meetings will be attended by specialists in different matters and representatives of the main companies of St. Petersburg, city founded in 1703.

The Russian delegation will also join the different celebrations organized to pay homage to Havana's 500th anniversary. (ACN)

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Heaven at hand in Havana Galiano Street

Strange cobwebs have been hanging for a few days on Havana's Galiano Street, officially Italia Avenue, with the constant question of what they will be.

What seemed to be nothing but wires and careless light bulbs during the day, last night unveiled huge constellations that illuminated the entire road.

Galiano Street then welcomes with a new image the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, with a light show donated by the city of Turin to celebrate this anniversary.

Heaven at hand in Havana Galiano Street

The general astonishment occurred minutes after the cannon fire, when only seconds were enough for the yellow, blue and white spotlights to form the starry shapes of the night.

The crowd then had the opportunity to pose in front of Orion's Belt, the Big or the Little Dipper, without the need to reach the sky, and the floodlights were the scene of hundreds of people from Havana and visitors who witnessed this unique event in Cuba.

Havana is dressed up to receive its 500 years and Galiano Street accompanies it with a renewed nocturnal image. (ACN)

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Cuban National Ballet celebrates Cuban capital’s 500 birthday

Havana, October 29 (RHC) -- Dedicated to the 500 years of Havana and as a tribute to Alicia Alonso, the Cuban National Ballet Company will offer a season that will show the ensemble’s versatility beginning this weekend. The statements were made by the dance group’s deputy artistic director and prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés.

Valdés highlighted the premiere in Cuba of the abstract ballet Concerto DSCH, with a score by Dmitri Shostakovich and choreographed by ABT’s resident choreographer, Russian-American Alexei Ratmansky, who traveled to Havana for the montage of the piece with the Cuban dancers. Love, Fear, Loss by Brazilian Ricardo Amarante, inspired in the life and songs of Edith Piaf will also be danced to convey three feelings: love, fear and loss. The premier dancer also stressed that the performances of the two weekends at Havana’s Grand Theater Alicia Alonso will also include important pieces from the company's repertoire, such as Les Sylphides and El poema del fuego by Alberto Méndez.

Edited by Damian Donestevez
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Cuban and Galician rhythms to celebrate Havana on its anniversary

FotoPL: Manuel Muñoa
Havana,  (Prensa Latina) After a hundred concerts and as a gift to this capital on its 500th anniversary, Galician singer Roi Casal today presents the show 'Son galego, son cubano,' at the Alicia Alonso Grand Theater of Havana.

The concert, including works from his homonymous album, winner of the Cubadisco Award in 2014, is the result of the joint efforts of writer Xose Neira Vilas and the musician, and includes guest appearances by Cuban instrumentalists.

According to Casal, 'Son galego, Son cubano' is part of a more comprehensive project that makes visible the Galician influence on this city, based on audiovisual creation, literature, history, visual arts, among other manifestations.

The album stands out for its way of harmonizing the traditional rhythms of Galicia and Cuba, and its peculiar symbolism on evoking distinctive elements of the Galician identity, such as the anthem, flag and Academy of the Language, all founded in Havana.

As part of this tribute to the 'Wonder City,' the final part of a documentary by journalist and director Natasha Vasquez will be filmed, work on which has been ongoing since 2015, to bring together in images and sound the different stagings of the show, curiosities related to the production process and the relations between the two countries.

The premiere is planned for the beginning of 2020, and according to its producers, the documentary will hit screens simultaneously in Galicia and the Caribbean nation.

The presentation constitutes a cultural platform to which are added elements that bring to the surface the common history between Galicians and Cubans, such as the book 'Gallegas en Cuba,' by researcher, essayist and professor Julio Cesar Gonzalez-Pages.

The edition gathers the history of a group of Galician women who founded Havana's Hijas de Galicia Hospital in 1912, which still functions today as an institution specialized in maternal and child care, and which was the first non-governmental organization that welcomed women from all social strata at the time.

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Havana’s 500th Anniversary: Rutas y Andares in the Greatest Birthday

This is how we’re living it in the capital, a huge birthday that began since the first day of 2019 to celebrate the 500 years of our wonder city.

And, of course, the “Rutas y Andares” (Routes and Wanderings) program of the City Historian’s Office also brings special proposals.

The hidden treasure? Well, actually it is neither so hidden nor so secret: the families that make ten routes and wanderings, workshops or combinations of all modalities, will receive guided tours of the National Capitol Building, shows at Marti Theater and the accreditation as “Rutas y Andares” Family, with free access during a year to museums, concerts and other cultural events.

And it won’t be difficult to love the project, which keeps a growing range of proposals to tour Old Havana throughout the summer, actually the families begin to win since they decide to enjoy and learn: the perfect combination.

On Wednesday, June 3, at 10:00 am, visitors will gather at El Templete to begin the first “Wandering” through Havana’s Musical Heritage. The Director of Cultural Management of the City Historian’s Office, Katia Cárdenas, also announced that history museums would bring visitors closer to the monuments and spaces that marked the foundational ceremonies of the old village of San Cristobal de La Habana, to unravel rituals and symbols that accompany this city for 500 years.

How was art made and lived in Colonial Havana? The cultural practices of this city that we figure out with umbrellas and that we can’t wrap our heads around them with so much dress clothing and coats on in this current hot weather will be unveiled by art museums, which will also guide us through the cultural life of Havana’s republican society.

The Hispanic American Culture Center will open a space for the visitors to meet Havana’s most interesting writers and poets, maybe the first ones enchanted by this creative little witch known as Havana. On the other hand, the ethnographic museums propose “Route” Migrations, religiosity and traces that allows them go to the roots, which we live on.

The institutions that preserve the pharmaceutical heritage will recall for the walkers the work of the old drugstores of the city, with the exhibition of the old instruments used in them.

A special route will reach the main fortresses of the city. There will also be tours and visits to public buildings and places where visitors can appreciate Havana’s architectural evolution and, of course, recently restored works in the historic core.

According to the director of Cultural Management, there are 8 walks, 4 wanderings, 136 virtual wanderings and 169 summer workshops. Meanwhile, Adriana Díaz, specialist from the Cultural Management Center, especially invited walkers to the children’s route “By the hands of heritage children guides, which will visit the Palacio del Segundo Cabo and the now renovated National Capitol Building, as well as what they’ve called children guides of the natural heritage that will tour the Quinta de los Molinos.

Teenagers will have special proposals this summer in the Routes and Wanderings: photography safaris, creative workshops and “Wandering” We’re more with you. Youngsters will pedal through Havana with bike tours of such Citykleta and Ha’Bici projects.

And as Havana is for everyone, these Rutas y Andares leave nobody out of their proposals, so they foresee intergenerational programs for elderlies in which they will be able to share with their grandchildren, as well as the traditional virtual wanderings. In addition, hearing impaired people will enjoy the Rutas y Andares program thanks to the “Culture between the hands” project that will offer the service of their sign language interpreters.

The Havana Puppetry Festival (Festival Habana Titiritera) returns this summer as part of the Rutas y Andares, which according to Adriana Díaz will be especially dedicated to the influence of foreign cultures in Havana’s map, with an emphasis on the traditions and customs that have remained in the city forever.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translated Staff

Tribute to Havana for its 500 Years from Cuban Culture

Prestigious Cuban singers and musicians joined their talents in a video clip to mark the 500th anniversary of the founding of this city, producers announced.

In a press conference, musician and director of Surcaribe group, Ricardo Leyva, considered that the audiovisual had as its first objective to illustrate beautiful, romantic and nostalgic Havana, which opens her arms to visitors.

Titled 'Forever Habana mía', the clip song is signed by Leyva and has the collaboration of artists such as Frank Fernández, Beatriz Márquez, Ulises Aquino, Isaac Delgado and Alexander Abreu, among others.

In addition, the video brings together various music genres and styles, tinged with lyric and reggaeton, the latter through the incursion of Yomil and Dany duo.

Directed by young Asiel Babastro, the material offers a fresh look of the Cuban capital with breathtaking aerial views and runs through emblematic sites such as the Capitol, built in the first half of the last century.

The presentation was attended by the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in Havana, Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, and Cuban Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso, among other authorities.

On November 16, Havana will celebrate its 500th anniversary in memory of that day of 1519, when Spanish conqueror Diego Velázquez established his third and definitive settlement.


  • Published in Culture
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