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Cuba Libre

or "En contra del Bloqueo"

(INTRO) Esta historia es inédita... Sus protagonistas no fueron solamente las grandes figuras de la revolución cubana. Mas algunos retratos seran contados en alta fidelidad, sacando apuntes por la calle.


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HURRICANES

A few days ago the #HurricaneIda  was approaching western Cuba.
Cuba? That country, largely forgotten, was surprisingly on the radars of the (social) media. I landed in Cuba when I was thirty-four-old and, being born in 1959, I share with Cuba the year of that revolution!
I have never told about the trip by now. Many consider Cuba a joke of geopolitics, a classless society wittingly standing before the coasts of the capitalism, a reminiscence of earlier nuclear threats. The moment I got off the plane and inspired from the Cuban air, I was hit by a smell of tropical fruits mixed to Carribean breeze and human sweat: for the very first time I had arrived to the Americas! After two weeks on the island my back flight would have taken off with a long delay due to a hurricane moving around Cuba. But that time nobody frightened it.
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HAVANA CLUB

I have not been a photographer at all. Just one time I bought a cardboard camera with a ready-to-use spool, in order to take pictures on my own. I was leaving to Cuba for an all alone journey. Cuba? That country, largely forgotten, was undoubtedly on my mind that time. I was acting like a typical tourist when he wants to bring home the evidences of getting along in a remote place. Now I'm going to browse through these 10x15 photos, collected on the printer's free album, that are not shots of Elliott Erwitt but are essential to look back on Cuba. My photos deliver anonymous uncultivated landscapes, palms and pink flamingos, sky and sea of intense colors exposed to the Gulf (1st week in Varadero); old houses devoured by the age, groups of students met in the street, tired promenade of the capital, sedans from another epoch (2nd week in La Habana). On a single picture I had taken a rare advertising billboard that reads
#HAVANA CLUB - EL RON DE CUBA .
Another reproduces a socialist message: Los Azucareros Cumplirán.
Beyond the images I recall the U.S. trade blockage that was normally active. From the shop windows everything was more than in short supply. And the slight possibility to give up with all the rest of a life and become a defender of the Cuban revolution...
When I did get home, I brought with me a wooden box of Cohiba, los populares puros. For some weeks I was smoking one of them, watching from the balcony to the sun vanishing below the horizon, and thinking of my first intercontinental flight.
#CUBALIBRE

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CONNEXIONES 1959-2021

  • #PonleCorazónACuba  "A las estrellas no se sube por caminos llanos"—el recuerdo de José Marti. The Cuban revolution anniversary dates back to January 1st. Another meaningful remark: 28th October, "una flor para Camilo Cienfuegos".
  • #TenemosMemoria  Main facts causing the nearly uncontrollable increase in dispute between the barbudos, who led the Cuban revolution, and the yanquis, who didn't like any revolution except their own: confiscation of the private banks and major industries active on Cuban soil; commercial treaties intercoursed with the Eastern countries bloc; Fidel Castro's decision to put Cuba under the Soviet shield (source: some neutral historians). And Cuba always felt the hostility and paid with its severance.
  • #Che  April 1963, LOOK magazine issued the most revealing word-and-picture report on Cuba since the Missile Crisis, actually an interview to Ernesto Che Guevara. That magazine, just available as rare edition on Ebay, became famous for the pictures taken by René Burri during the conversation of the newswoman with Commandant Che—see also 'Photo Icons - The Story Behind The Pictures', Taschen, 2008.
  • #Zafra  How much sugar did Cubans harvest in 1970? A rough estimate of 8.5 million tons. It's rumored that they were using as implement just the machete, para cortar cana!
  • #RadioCubana ¿Qué debo hacer para escuchar Radio Cubana por Internet? Radio Progreso "la onda de l'alegría", Radio Reloy "...las dos y cinco minutos...las dos y seis minutos...", Radio Rebelde "al ritmo de la vida", y más "transmite Radio Enciclopedia desde La Habana, Cuba, Territorio libre en América!".
  • #ChanChan  While you are singing "Chan Chan" and would be asking who were behind that song: Cuban musicians! Depues de la jornada en un Circulo Social, Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Juan de Marcos González, Rubé González, la popular y querida cantante Omara Portuondo..., they all took part in the album/tour/film, Buena Vista Social Club. Now it's time for the 25th album anniversary edition!
  • #Guantanamera  Fue un gran triunfo de la música cubana, esa estraña mezcla de alegría y de tristeza: "Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera", canción de Joseíto Fernández—by the way I knew how to play that tune on the saxophone.
  • #Emojito  La Habana Vieja es patrimonio cultural de la humanidad (Unesco, 1982). Its middle point recalls a downtown bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, where everyone takes a drink of the legendary mojito. But what I share with the Cuban kitchen is something else. I don't get bored with beans and rice, moros y cristianos, I would be always eating atún and croquetas de pollo—luego quisiera una cerveza, por favor!
  • #Soverana  ¿Los cubanos? Hay que quidarlos, compa! Más de un millión de niños cubanos vacunados con dos dosis de Soberana 02 contra la COVID.
  • #DeZurdaTeam  "Twitter admite que sus algoritmos benefician a la derecha pero no sabe explicar la razón". Gracias, compañeros de la familia tuítera...
  • #EnContraDelBloqueo  I keep my promise to write this story on Cuba and for Cuba against the bloc established by a superpower willing to ruin the daily life of people all across this 777-mile-long island.
  • (OUTRO) Los turistas iban a Varadero por quince días. Pero yo no. Yo me fui después de la primera semana para ir a La Habana en ómnibus. ¿Quién es el último a subirse? Este es el final de mi crónica desde Cuba.  
    —Editor, e: DONRO@DMLR.ORG.

    ©2021 Roberto Dondi :: www.dmlr.org
    DMLR B-SIDE y CUBALIBRE (banner) • k®ea'ti:v • DonRo • •
    Issued {November 1st, 2021.