100 years since the birth of Oswaldo Guayasamín

Excerpts of speech by Fidel during the inauguration of Guayasamín’s Chapel of man, Quito, Ecuador, November 29, 2002:

I remember the time very early in the Cuban Revolution, when, amidst hectic days, a man with an indigenous, tenacious, restless face, already well known and admired by many of our intellectuals, wanted to paint a portrait of me.

For the first time I was subjected to the torturous task. I was obliged to stand still, exactly as he said. I did not know if it would last an hour or a century…

I was in the presence of a no less than a great teacher and an exceptional person, who I would later come to know with ever-increasing admiration and deep affection: Oswaldo Guayasamín. He would have been around 42 years old at that time…

Guayasamín was perhaps the most noble and human person I ever met. He created at the speed of light, and his dimensions as a human being knew no limits…

I learned a great deal from my conversations with him.They enriched my conscience regarding the terrible drama of conquest, colonization, genocide and injustices committed against the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere: a lacerating pain that he carried among his deepest feelings. He was very knowledgeable about the history of that drama…

None of this escaped the profound thought, warmth and sense of human dignity of Oswaldo Guayasamín. He devoted his art and his life to building consciousness, denouncing, combating, and fighting these injustices.

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Latin America honors 100th anniversary of birth of Oswaldo Guayasamin

Hondored as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, the memory of Ecuador’s Oswaldo Guayasamin was celebrated Saturday on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Across the region and in his home country of Ecuador, events were held to celebrate the centennial of his birth.  The artist's final years were spent bringing the struggles of Latin American history to life with his colorful and powerful paintings.  Guayasamin once described his work as "a painting of denunciation, of great strength, of content.”

"From town to town, from city to city, we witnessed the most immense misery: peoples of black clay, black earth, with children muddied with black mud, men and women with faces of skin burned by the cold, where the tears were frozen for centuries, until not knowing if they were salt or stone," said Guayasamin in a phrase that stands out on the website of the foundation dedicated to the painter.

Born to Indigenous parents in 1919, Guayasamin was sympathetic to the trials faced by the Indigenous communities, and those displaced and abused by “imperialists” throughout the centuries.

As the world wars and regional conflicts filled the headlines of newspapers, Guayasamin took to his art, creating the series “The Age of Wrath,” which, he said, “shows all the tragedy of the twentieth century, the wars kill-men, the torture and pain that produced the dictators, the anguish of mothers who lost their children.  As well as a denunciation of the violence of man against man.”

Guayasamin collaborated with one of Mexico’s greatest painters, Jose Clemente Orozco, in the 40s and completed several murals both in Ecuador and abroad.

Some of his best known works are "The Workers," "The Dead Children," "Mother and Child," "Quito Green Fog," "White Coffin," "The Hands of Protest," "Mutilated," "Tears of Blood," "The Guitarist," “Cabeza de Napalm," “Playa Giron" and “Meditacion I."

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Raúl Torres: I am Proud of my Cuban People

To laws without soul, brave songs, to accomplice silences, rebel voices, as the inheritance running through the veins of Raúl Torres. The author of great songs like Candil de nieve, Cabalgando con Fidel, and Pon la Ley, spoke to CubaSí.

You have just premiered denouncing something as cubanly inadmissible as the Helms-Burton Act and some people attack you and insult you in the social networks. It’s not the first time. How do you feel with those reactions?

I get frustrated on verifying there is so much ignorance in that Fascist command, dedicated to criticize each song with lyrics that upset them, far from slowing me down it gives me strength because the promotion they make me is strong...

However, you are not the only Cuban artist who has experienced that , do you find it casual or perhaps that is the job of some characters in the networks?

Actually your question is the answer, I have no doubt that there’s money and that this is part of the war today in the social networks. It’s a known secret already of how many mercenaries we have within and outside of our country, everybody knows them... We have recently seen the millionaire list of payments to entities that work in this cyber war against our homeland and in fact there are unethical people charging 3 bucks to try to discredit our artists who have been at the front of our revolution, like my brother Tony Ávila said: There’s got to be a bit of everything…

Let’s answer them once and for all: How much did you earn to write that song, for example, and share it immediately? Who pays you to write songs like that? Why do you write them?

I have not charged a cent for none of the songs I have written, it was enough the huge disappointment I have of the capitalist society during my stay in certain countries, that was enough payment to keep denouncing with my songs the lie and manipulation and in this case the imposition of completely unjustifiable laws. For example, Pon una Ley (Pass a Law), from my verses, it’s some sort of translation of what we Cubans feel, we are already used to witnessing this type of behavior from the North American government toward our people, a people worthy of the respect that precedes us, the respect and admiration of most of the world. I am proud of my Cuban people.

I listen to you singing so organically for love and homeland that I immediately think of the songs from Silvio and Pablo, but do I see certain people so astonished that I would like to ask you: Which influences or creative inheritances gave birth to songs like Candil de nieve or Regresamelo todo and Cablgando con Fidel or Pon la Ley?

Firstly my influences are in the Nueva Trova movement, those great ones have been and still are the first inspirers of all my work, however, the one I have turned more to get filled with inspiration it has our José Martí. After him the work of singers like Alí Primera (Venezuela), Victor Jara (Chile) and many more are present, they are part of my altar of great thinkers of the song.

Land for Victoriano

Sixty years ago Fidel Castro signed the Agrarian Reform Law in Cuba. It was a true turning point for many farmers, who for the first time owned the lands they tilled. Among them, Victoriano Cabrera.

Victoriano Cabrera – farmer, father of seven, a circumstantial employee in sugarcane colonies at Violeta sugar factory in the former province of Camagüey- knew that Fulgencio Batista had fled at noon on the first day of 1959.

He had spent the whole morning plowing a small lot of land next to his house, despite festivities for the New Year. His brother-in-law and neighbor Melo brought him the piece of news: "Batista fled on a plane. No one knows who governs now ».

Victoriano reined the oxen to stop, wiped his forehead and hugged his friend: "Now Fidel is going to govern."

Melo was not sure: "The military won’t let him. Nothing is going to change for us. Poor will remain just as poor and rich will become richer. "

Something told Victoriano that this time it was different:

-I think that will change. Those people in the hills are different. Fidel Castro is going to put things in order.

-See that there are many things to be fixed ...

-I say that you and I very soon are going to have lands, we will not depend on the colonists any longer...

-Seeing is believing…

They saw and believed. Just a few months later, Fidel Castro signed the Agrarian Reform Law. The large land owners suffered a deadly blow ... and thousands of poor farmers received for their first time land for their source of revenue.

"The land belongs to he who tills it!" Repeated Victoriano over and over in those days. He was given 84 hectares of lands that belonged to a private company. They were covered with grass, but he was not afraid. He and two of his children, in less than a month, everything was tilled and planted.

Victoriano decided not to return to work on the cane again, it was just a few-months job, those of harvest. «Fallow period was over. Now there is work all the time! "

For thirty years, while he had his little farm, he planted and harvested corn, beans, sweet potatoes, yucca, peanuts ... His wife, Ana Luisa, tended a small vegetable garden, where she grew tomatoes, lettuce, cabbages, peppers ...

They never starved again: they sold part of the harvest to buy what they needed. Soon they had radio, refrigerator, sanitary service... and one day, finally, a TV set, which was Ana Luisa’s dream.

«Who was going to imagine that I was going to be able to watch movies sitting in my living room?»

Victoriano did not want his children to stay working the land, although one of them decided to do it. The youngest went to study, they became professionals.

"What’s important is that you work in the things you want and can do. My life is this land that Fidel gave me, other people’s lives is just their own business».

In the late 80’s, Victoriano decided to sell his land to the State, in exchange for a life annuity for Ana Luisa.

He just kept 21 hectares of land: "Enough to eat." He worked in the field until he was eighty-five years old. Then his children moved him to town, because they wanted to keep him close.

Victoriano cried very few times in his life, but the day he left the house where he had lived for more than half a century he could not hold back the tears.

«I hope they don’t let this get filled with marabou». He got on a truck and never came back.

Until the day of his death, when he was 92 years old, he remembered the day he was given his land:

"Melo believed that Fidel was not going to keep his word, but I always trusted that man."

He kept his membership card of ANAP as a treasure: "I was born a peasant and a farmer I am going to die, even though I finish my life away from my farm".

Victoriano Cabrera, whom everyone called Victorino affectionately, was my grandfather on my mother’s side. And his greatest entertainment was to tell me stories of his life.

Book on Fidel Castro Presented at Cuban City Fair

Sancti Spiritus,  (Prensa Latina) Book ''Fidel in Sancti Spiritus. Cronologia Comentada'', of a collective of authors, was presented on Thursday in this province's chapter of the 28th International Book Fair that will culminate next Sunday.

In the evening, historian Barbara Perez stressed that this is an extremely important text to capture 'the historical memory of the province of Sancti Spíritus and its relation with Commander in Chief Fidel Castro (1926-2016)'.

The writer also described this book as a chronology of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution walking through this territory, whose head is about 350 kilometers east of Havana.

He explained that the work deals with Fidel's stay during the Freedom Caravan up to other moments, including those in which he was not physically present but in which he kept in constant contact with the central province and cited examples.

At dawn on January 6, 1959, as part of the Freedom Caravan, Fidel went to the town of Sancti Spiritus.

What is related to the so-called fight against bandits, which arose after the revolutionary triumph of January 1959 and the operations carried out to fight them, appear in this book, he said.

It covers from the political and social point of view to the economic one as when he visited Trinidad, in the south coast, declared by the UNESCO in 1988 Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity next to the Valley of the Ingenios.

In the Ancon Peninsula, located in that area, said the presenter, the Commander in Chief had the vision of a future tourism potential.

Perez explained to the audience, mostly young people, that the volume also includes fragments of comments, anecdotes and speeches, such as the one offered on July 26, 1986, when Sancti Spiritus hosted the central act for the National Rebellion Day.

'It is profusely documented and is Fidel's imprint and work in the Spiritual province,' he concluded.

The 28th International Book Fair began in this central city last Wednesday, dedicated to renowned Cuban writer Eduardo Heras León and has Algeria as its guest of honor.

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Ana Fidelia: Fidel Castro cried for me

We arrived at her house around 9:30 in the morning. Ana Fidelia was taking a shower, after her daily run, because, in her opinion, it makes her feel well and prevents diseases. In a room full of medals, trophies and photos with the Commander in Chief, there began the interview, which lasted a bit over an hour and made me hear a fully different voice that could not hide her emotion, since Fidel’s name was mentioned. There were tears on Fidel’s face the day he decorated her, and there were tears on Ana Fidelia’s too, when she referred to Fidel.

-When did a young woman from Palma Soriano manage to become a sports heroine?

After the triumph of the Revolution, under the doctrine of our Commander that sport is a right of the people, there began the possibilities to practice sports, for both health and high performance. I am a result of that well- thought-out, staggered and inverted-pyramid  system of our Revolution, like so many thousands of athletes who were attracted through talent selection of Physical Education. It was just in that subject that I started to stand out and the professor took me to the sports area of my hometown, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and they saw that I was a talented girl. There they started to follow me up and I went through the different schools existing here in Cuba: EIDE (Sports Initiation Schools), ESPA (Higher School for Athletic Improvement), until reaching the national team.

It’s necessary to highlight that coming from a sporting family helped me too. My sister was a member of the national basketball team, my brother practiced sports too and my father was a professional boxer in the 1960s. I did not have the chance to see him; his friends told me that he stood out in his specialty, but could not reach a bit further because discipline is fundamental for whatever thing in life.

-And how disciplined were you? When did you understand you had a future in sports?

When I started in sports in my home town, my first trainer, Juan Heredia Salazar, used to go to see my mother every day and told her the conditions that I had and that I had to practice, but when you are a child, you only want to play, since you are still unaware of what you want in the future. So, I used to go to the training two days and missed it three, and my trainer used to look for me and talk to my mother. He told her that I was a talent and that I could participate in the pioneer games, which were held in Hungary in 1975. Participating in that competition and winning the bronze medal was what made me start to become aware of what sports could mean to me, and I focused there until reaching where I reached.

-In 1993, life set you a test that, in my opinion, you overcame by far, and in that trance of your accident, Fidel addressed the doctors and told them to do everything possible to save you and that you meant a lot to both Cuba and him. What does Fidel Castro mean to you?

In my professional and personal life, I have gone through ups and downs, life isn’t all roses, and everything you intend to do entails discipline, commitment and perseverance. The people of Cuba and many people in the world know about that fatal accident I had in 1993 with 2nd and 3rd degree burns in 38 percent of my body, and I was always accompanied, since the first hours of my accident by that person who has been unconditional to the human being: our Commander in Chief. He arrived earlier than my mother at “Hermanos Ameijeiras” Hospital, where I was hospitalized. Fidel encouraged me to fight for my life, I am aware that all the Cuban people too accompanied me, followed the news through the media and there were people who showed up at the ward to hear from me, and that was something very positive, which made it possible that I did not die and reappeared like the Phoenix.

Fidel and I are united by many things. Because of my great achievements in sports I was always lucky enough to coincide with him several times: at a decoration, a welcome to a head of state or accompanying him to the inaugurations of presidents; for example, when Fernando Alfonso Collor de Mello took office in Brazil. And at that crucial moment of my life he played a key role in my recovery, not physically, but psychologically, to fight for my life. Fidel was the medicine that I needed to save myself, he was the doctor who I needed to heal my wounds. According to some of my friends, he said at meeting: she won’t die, she and I made a pact with death and she won’t die. His help kept me alive to continue contributing achievements to my country. They were tough moments, hard moments, and that made me stronger than I was before and say: I will continue.

In a moment of so many visits that he made to me and I was awake, I told him: Commander, I will continue running, and now, to tell you the truth, I did not know if I was going to run the same way I had done before the accident. But I knew I had strength in my legs to continue representing Cuba, and I did.

I underwent countless reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries at “Ameijeiras” Hospital with great Cuban doctors who saved my life and returned me back to society again. Running again after the accident has been the greatest achievement of my sporting career, having defeated death. That can only happen in a country like ours, where everything is in favor of and for the sake of society, perhaps, in another country I could have lived, but I could have also had to show my credit card to be assisted or to pay out thousands of dollars.

I went every other day to the (operating) room to be cured under anesthesia, and so the doctors performed skin transplants. In the first stage, I remained in the hospital a year and a few months and later I went home on Fridays and returned on Mondays. I had a companion and that undoubtedly costs some thousands and therefore I should always say thank you so much to both Fidel and this people.

-Which was your first participation in an international event?

When I overcame my seriousness in the hospital and could manage on my own, I started to think about running again. I had a very strong rehab program with doctors from the Ameijeiras and the Institute of Sport Medicine and exercised in the morning and in the afternoon, but also when they were not there, I supported myself on my friends who went to visit me so they helped me do the exercises and massaged me, because the scars of the burnt grow during a year and you should always keep exercising so the damaged parts of your body begin to gain elasticity.

Before the accident I had in mind to take part in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Ponce and then I asked the Athletics Technical Commission to participate. They created all conditions for my training, which was from 7:00 to 10:00 at night, because I could not take the sunbeams. Leandro Civil Jarvés designed a preparation program for me five months before the Central American and Caribbean Games, in which I participated with many limitations, I could not move my arms, my armpits, or my neck and in spite of that, I won the silver medal with 2.05, which meant the gold medal to me, the medal of dignity, of courage, because my race only involved my legs, I couldn’t do the required movement for it.

After achieving that result in those circumstances and without the adequate preparation I convinced myself that after the surgery, I would begin my training to see what would happen. And so I did, I underwent surgical operations, which loosed my neck, my armpits, my arms and my hands, because I could hardly close them to grab the weights. When I realized that I could do all those things I told my trainer: let’s work, I will not disappoint you and we will compete.

All the tests showed that I really could, I should say that there were many people who believed that I could not accomplish it, so I said that if I could not achieve the required time, I wouldn’t participate, because of the prestige I have worldwide. But I was improving in every competition, so much so that I made a mark, which gave me the endorsement to compete in Gothenburg 1995. I also competed in Montecarlo vs my eternal rival María de Lourdes Mutola, she ran 1.57.49 and I (1.57.59), and that made me confident to strive for a medal in the world championship, which final was held on August 13 and I clinched the gold medal. Life gave me the pleasure to thank and congratulate our beloved Commander the day of his birthday with a gold medal for my country, for him and for me. I feel really proud for having given him that present in acknowledgement to all the support I received from him in the toughest moment of my life. One knows people in those circumstances and Fidel was unconditional to me in the moment I needed him. During the period when I was reported as critical every day, he used to go to the hospital, sometimes he went and when he passed through my room I was asleep, because it was the day when they cured me and I was under the effects of anesthesia, even if someone called me I could not reply. He went there many times, when I was already in an open room, and talked to my family, to me and his visit was something very special for me and my family.

-How many Russian female runners were needed to defeat Ana Fidelia?

Imagine that a country can take around three or four runners and there were three Russians who developed a team race in the 1996 Olympic Games and I had to settle for the silver medal, but I can tell you that when they ran individually I was invincible.

-From the point of view of the best athlete of Cuba for several consecutive years, what did Fidel Castro mean for Cuban sports?

Fidel means a lot for Cuban sports, since he was young, Fidel loved sports and practiced different games at the university. He played basketball, over there I have a photo of him winning the 800 meters, he also run 1500. In the few hours that he had to rest at midnight, he used to go to the Sports City (Ciudad Deportiva) to play basketball in a sort of guerrilla warfare with players from the national team and the game was never over until he picked the victory, he disliked to lose in anything.

Fidel has meant a lot for all the results of the Cuban sporting movement, he has been the main promoter of all the achievements of our sporting movement. He is not physically today, but he is still present, because his example is alive, his legacy is alive in our country, his deed is intact.

-Of the moments of satisfaction experienced with the Commander, which is the one you remember the most?

I remember them all, they are all very beautiful and have a great meaning, but the one that marked me the most and the one that makes me cry whenever it comes to my mind, and I cry because it moves me to remember that he is a person of flesh and blood, with feelings towards any human being, although he/she does not belong to his family, happened in 1993, after I returned from the Central American and Caribbean Games at the Universal Hall of FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces), which brought together all the delegation that participated in Ponce Games and he decorated me with the Order of Sporting Merit. It seems that when he saw me, he was very sad because of the conditions in which I competed, he gave me a hug and when I went to my seat I turned around and saw tears running down his face and that’s the moment I keep with more affection, to see that he cried for me.

-Does your name have any relationship with Fidel or is it chance?

No, it’s no coincidence: my mother named me Fidelia because of Fidel. I come from a purely revolutionary family, we have a humble origin and my grandmother, my mother and my aunt were always closely linked to the causes of our Revolution.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuba is Fidel and Fidel is Cuba

He was capable of stirring feelings in crowds and his popular summoning of forging a nation he was supported by majorities that is poor, humble, deprived.

Like that unintentionally and without thinking it, he became great. He understood workers, and stood next to peasants, he listened to intellectuals, dignified women, he filled the dreams of children with books, pencils and schools.  

The fight began in the cities and in the Sierra Maestra mountains crowned the victory that later took him to lead the destiny of a nation through the paths of right to schooling, to own lands, to factories. After that Cubans were the true owners of their Homeland, without distinctions, putting aside social classes, skin color, or the place where one was born. No more Yankees on the road, neither traitors, neither those serving the empire.

From his position as statesman looked after his people and it was this people that gave him the greatest of joys. He opened the school doors to teachers, classrooms to students, he raised awareness of scientists, the knowledge of doctors, he elevated the honor of women to unheard of heights, fields and sectors they never treaded before.

Cuba is Fidel and Fidel is Cuba, and to millions of men and women, of children and old men, he is the greatest of Cubans.  

He continued the path of the most illustrious and committed patriots, he learned from Jose Martí, and in that struggle for the definitive independence he brought along the most valuable men of his time.

I always wondered how he managed to join wills and crowds, fill squares, unite Cubans in the first call. Certainly, Fidel was not a god, he was as wonderful as real, also authentic as inexplicable. But undoubtedly, he was a giant of humility and moral, of courage and dignity that he knew - as no other - to assume that the all the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn, like Martí said and being his most faithful pupil.  

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Photo Exhibition in Turkey Remembers Fidel

The mayor of the Turkish district of Kadikoy, in Istanbul, and Cuban ambassador to Turkey inaugurated on Sunday a photo exhibition about Fidel Castro, on the second anniversary of his death.

The municipal councilor, Aykurt Nuhoglu, referred to Fidel as the leader of the Revolution and its people', stressing the importance of passing his legacy on to the future generations, and drew a parallel with the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

He praised Cuba's advances in the fields of education, culture and art, thanks to the revolutionary process led by Fidel, and also cited the important social advances that women experienced in gaining responsibilities and rights on the island.

Nuhoglu criticized the long economic blockade that the United States applied against Cuba, which still maintains all its harshness, and regretted that the current administration in Washington decided to abandon the process of normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Cuban diplomat Luis Alberto Amoros thanked the mayor for celebrating this act of tribute to the historic leader of the Revolution and explained to those present the importance of Fidel's legacy at a time when a process of constitutional reform is taking place on the island.

Liliam Mendoza, parliamentarian and representative of the Young Communist League, and Marta Carvajal, journalist and director of Mundo Latino, members of the delegation that will participate in the Cuba Week organized by the solidarity movement in Turkey, were also present at the presentation of the photographic exhibition.

  • Published in World
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