havana-live-cubanaHAVANA, 17 November At 9:30 am Sunday morning at the Juan Santamaria International Airport the inaugural direct flight of Cubana Airlines landed from Havana. Flights from Cuba have been suspended since 2008 but the airline stated it would be starting this route again.
That time is now.
Cubana will have this flight on Thursday’s and Sunday’s in an Antonov 158 aircraft which has a capacity of 85 passengers. The general manager of Cubana Aviation, Daniel Mendez, said the aim of reviving direct flights to Costa Rica is to strengthen the business alliance and enhance development in both tourist markets of the nations. Rafael Mencia, CEO of Aeris Holding Costa Rica, said the decision to start this route again is to facilitate the arrival of the Russian tourist market.
“It also represents an opportunity for Costa Ricans who decide to travel to that destination,” said Mencia. In 2013 there were 3.372 Cubans that came into Costa Rica and this number is expected to increase with the new service. A total of 4,146 Russian tourists also visited the country.

el-gato-tuertoHAVANA, 15 November (Café Fuerte By Daniel Benitez) A new Cuban initiative to obtain dollars mainly from Miami is up and running: Dining in Havana with dollars from family or friends from abroad.

Starting this month, state officials authorized restaurant reservations for Cubans living on the island made from abroad; people can now make invitations for lunch or dinner for their relatives or friends with all expenses paid. The new service began on November 1 and allows purchasers to select a table and menu, only via the internet, to 43 restaurants and cafes in four provinces: Havana (13), Villa Clara (6), Camaguey (13) and Holguin (11). The website www.bazar-virtual.ca allows those interested to choose dishes ranging in price from $13.83 dollars at the Gato Tuerto to the menu 4 at the Bodeguita del Medio for $ 28.08. Payments with Visa and Mastercard are accepted.


Contribution from Cubans Living Abroad

The service is similar to that established by the State monopoly phone company ETECSA for online payments from outside the country for telephone bills of residents on the island, in force since January. The objective of the ETECSA and restaurant pay from abroad system seems one and the same: tap the potential of the Cuban diaspora as a source of capital for the island’s economy.
The assistance not only comes from outside in the form of shipments of food, clothing, medicine and electronics and more than $ 2.600 billion in annual family remittances, but now begins to branch out into other expenses of daily life. These include payment of phone bills, cash to finance buying houses and cars, supplies for private restaurants and even moments of relaxation and enjoyment, such as footing the bill for stays at resorts and now dinners at restaurants.
The announcement of this new type of food service is promoted by the state company Cubanacan Travel with the attractiveness that reservations may also be made at private business associated with the tourism company.

Diversifying the Offer
Dining at the famous Bodeguita del Medio is also available via online payment form abroad. Dining at the famous Bodeguita del Medio is also available via online payment form abroad. Oscar Mederos Mesa, manager of the Havana Cubanacan office, told the local media that the tourist agency has contracts with 27 private restaurants in Havana, Mayabeque and Artemis, but said that only five are currently visible on the new pay by Internet service.
With this new step to diversify the market for national and international tourism, and in the process attract more dollars, the company also has contracts with private owners of 33 vintage cars, 32 taxis and 13 private lodgings. The manager said that to choose the private cars they took into account many details, giving preference to convertibles … “and the more original cars, preferably with factory engines”, all geared to please the visitor.

The fusion of government with private initiatives started in 2013. At present, 68 percent of the country’s 11,000 food service units have state administration, although the government plans to gradually move them to the private sector. The launching of the pay online service for dining comes on the eve of beginning preparations for year-end festivities, so the invitation to dinner can be a good gift for a family member to say goodbye to 2014 and welcome 2015.

havana-live-enrique-olveraEnrique Olvera

HAVANA, 14 November (Reuters)  They have already earned a place in the firmament of the world’s best chefs. Now Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz and Mexico’s Enrique Olvera have set their sights on one of the world’s toughest markets: Cuba.

The island has seen a restaurant boom in recent years, fed by market-style reforms enacted under President Raul Castro, though ingredients can be scarce. The pair are eager to take on the challenge.
Aduriz’s restaurant Mugaritz, in Spain’s northern Basque region, was named the sixth best restaurant in the world this year by Restaurant Magazine, while Olvera’s Pujol in Mexico City ranked at No. 20. “We’re at a stage where we don’t just want to cook good, creative, avant-garde food,” Aduriz told Reuters by telephone as he prepared dinner with Olvera at Pujol on Wednesday.

“Why not do a project that aspires to be on a hypothetical list of the most fun restaurants in the world?” Since 2011, restaurateurs in Cuba, who previously were limited to 12-seat establishments in their homes, can seat up to 50 people in rented spaces. While state restaurants and joint ventures with the state can import luxury items, Cuba’s private restaurants, known as paladares, often struggle to find ingredients from supermarkets and other retailers.
havana-live-andurizAndoni Luis Aduriz

In keeping with Cuba’s ideals, Aduriz and Olvera aim to create a restaurant that levels the social playing field. “Gastronomy is not a privilege of people with money, but rather of intelligent people. Why not dream of a restaurant in which we manage to mix all social classes of people and no one asks who anyone else is?” Adruriz said.

It is not clear how economically viable the planned restaurant would be. The pair are still at the early stages, with no planned start-up date. Havana’s dining choices now include inventive fusion spots, ethnic choices offering Spanish, Italian or Russian food, and white-tablecloth restaurants serving haute cuisine.

They serve tourists, foreigners including diplomats, and a growing number of Cubans who have access to hard currency from their jobs, small businesses or relatives working abroad. “We are going through the beginnings of something that didn’t exist a short time ago,” said Pilar Fernandez, who opened her second restaurant, Casa Pilar, in Havana a month ago.

“This is going to create a new school in the world of Cuban gastronomy. With time, all these young people learning new skills will end up being good chefs.”
(Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in Havana; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Leslie Adler)

 havana-live-cell-phonesHAVANA, Nov 12 (EFE) Cuban state telecoms company Etecsa said Tuesday it is relaxing its service restrictions and will allow ordinary citizens to obtain up to three wireless phone lines, state-run media reported.

Individuals on the island, where mobile telephony use has grown quickly since President Raul Castro’s government lifted a ban on personal cellphone ownership in 2008, had previously been limited to a single wireless line.
The new policy, set to take effect in February 2015, responds to the need to “relax contracting terms and the use of mobile ground telecommunications service,” Etecsa said in a resolution that the Communications Ministry published in the Official Gazette.

Earlier this month, the company lifted another restriction that had required users of pre-paid cellular service – the only option available to Cubans – to buy a minimum amount of minutes per month or else lose their wireless line.
Under the new rules, users must buy a minimum amount of minutes annually. Among other developments this year in Cuba’s mobile telephony market, Etecsa also inaugurated a new wireless e-mail service, although it does not allow Internet access.

Demand for that local wireless e-mail (located on Cuba’s intranet) exceeded the company’s expectations in just a few weeks, leading to system crashes. The number of wireless subscribers in Cuba – whose population was just over 11 million in 2012 – climbed to nearly 2 million last year, according to official figures.

cabecera_web_marabana4HAVANA, 12 November  A total of 562 foreign riders have already confirmed their attendance at the 28th edition of Marabana to be held on Sunday, said Carlos Gattorno, race director.

Besides that number of foreign representatives, confirmed their participation over two thousand contestants from Cuba. Among the foreign athletes stands a group of over 150 Americans, benefit from a special amateur sports license issued by the Treasury Department of the United States. According to the director, on Monday arrived here a delegation from the Madrid Marathon and the representative of the World Marathon Series circuit.
Gattorno also confirmed the availability of the necessary for the completion of the grueling resources, which this year pays tribute to the 495 anniversary of the founding of the town of San Cristobal de La Habana and the Day of Physical Culture and Sports (November 19).
On November 16 at seven o’clock there will be the Marabana snatch while Maracuba will be race the day before, both with accurate output across Radio Reloj. The official presentation of Marabana-2015 will be held on Friday at the Melia Cohiba Hotel.

 havana-live-jojazz-2014HAVANA, 11 November  Victor Rodriguez, director of the music festival JoJazz 2014 revealed the artistic program of the event that promotes young figures of Cuban Jazz and will be held in Havana from November 13 to 16.

The event will begin with a concert-tribute to renowned Cuban singer Pablo Milanes, where winners of previous editions will perform iconic songs of the singer. As a surprise for the concert Rodriguez said the inclusion of a little known song composed for four hands by Milanes and Chucho Valdes.
Among the winners of the previous contest who gathered at the Lazaro Peña Theater for the opening concert will include Rolando Luna, William Roblejo, Zule Guerra and the female vocal group Sexto Sentido, among others.

“This is an event that over the years has become an essential date in Cuban music, not only of jazz but of national music as a whole,” said Rodriguez, who added that in his opinion the musicians participating in the event have an undeniable quality and proven experience, despite their youth.
The chief of artistic direction of JoJazz 2014, Alexis Vazquez, referred to the primary goal of its organizers: show the strength that is in the young jazz today in Cuba, for-his understand- since you hear a work of an artist their sound is recognizable, which speaks to its authenticity, said.

Former winners of the musical, Michel Herrera and Yasek Manzano, will preside over the jury of the major categories of interpretation and composition, while this year contestants from all provinces are participating concluded one of three musicologists of event Yentsy Rangel. JoJazz, which in 2014 will be dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Jazz Plaza Festival, takes place in Cuba since 1998 and has served as a way to boost the careers of some 500 young talents from the current Cuban jazz firmament
http://www.cubaheadlines.com/2014/11/11/p6/jojazz-2014-readies-its-artistic-program.html

  havana-live-trade-fair2The Cuban government has unveiled a raft of investment projects in hopes to attract foreign capital. But German firms criticize the lack of support from their government, DW’s Andreas Knobloch writes from Havana.

HAVANA, 11 November  Now that Cuba’s economy has made steps to open up to foreign capital, the island’s communist government hopes to lure potential investors with numerous incentives. But doing business in Cuba requires a different approach.
“The Cuban market has many special features,” said Stephan Gruber, one of the directors of Casa Alemania, a German umbrella organization for German companies wanting to do business in Cuba.
“The short term does not work in Cuba.” Gruber said Casa Alemania, which means Germany House, has built up experience in dealing with Cuban businesses through years of discussions, earning what he described as “acceptance through continuity.”

No room at the German pavilion havana-live-trade-fairPeter Scholz German ambassador Peter Scholz (r) visited the trade fair
This experience includes a stand at the 32nd Havana International Trade Fair (FIHAV 2014), which has just come to a close. Some 2,000 companies from 60 countries took part in the week-long show that covered over 18,000 square meters.
Thirty-seven exhibitors traveled from Germany – most of them technology and engineering companies, including heavyweights such as Bosch, MAN and ThyssenKrupp. For the third year in a row, the German pavilion was fully booked. It’s no secret that Cuba is now in transition.
For several years, the country has been undertaking a cautious economic realignment. Under the motto of “updating the socialist model” Raul Castro’s government has lifted restrictions on private sales of cars and real estate, allowed more free-market initiatives and set up a Brazilian-funded special economic zone around the port of Mariel, 45 kilometers west of Havana. The centerpiece of this new openness is a new law on foreign investment that took effect in June. It allows foreign companies to invest in all sectors of the Cuban economy for the first time.

‘Trial balloon for the free market’  havana-live-trade-fair1Cuba enters the smartphone era
The trade fair in Havana and the new law are part of a push that the government hopes will bring much-needed capital into the country. Foreign investors will be offered tax benefits and investment protection. “It’s a trial balloon for the free market,” Tobias Schwab, another of Casa Alemania’s directors, called it. The investment law means Cuba “for the first time can form deeper and more complex economic interrelationships,” said Klaus Hartmann, a former East German ambassador to Cuba who now works as a consultant on Latin America.
Expectations are high on all sides. “Cuba has invested heavily to reap the benefits associated with foreign investment,” Foreign Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz said as he unveiled the government’s 8.7-billion-dollar spending program at the fair. It includes 246 projects – from chicken farming to manufacturing vaccines to constructing wind farms – across the whole island.

Rebuilding power networks
“What’s positive about this program is that concrete projects are finally being presented in detail. Not many investors know much about Cuba,” said Udo Volz, an economics specialist at the German embassy in Havana. “But it can only be a first step.” Cuba, he said, would need to get the word out about its investment law, not least because it is competing with other investment-hungry nations on the world market.
The Caribbean island needs about 2 billion dollars of foreign direct investment every year to increase its overall economic growth to 5 percent from its current 1 percent, Malmierca said. “Governments can do much to create a business environment, but in the end, it’s companies that must make something of it.” And the once-secretive state has changed its approach to foreign business. “The communication from the Cuban side has changed,” Volz said, describing a new “openness.”

Whereas the government in Havana once understood foreign capital to be “complementary,” it is now expected to play a “fundamental” role in some sectors, especially food production, agriculture, tourism, construction and energy. In the latter case, Cuba wants to move from fossil fuels to renewable energies and cannot do so without foreign expertise
Germany could be a valuable partner, especially in this field, Ambassador Peter Scholz said during his visit to the trade fair. Renewable energies are also a priority for Casa Alemania. It held initial talks with the Cuban government on wind power in 2004, its director Mathias Schultze said. “But in the years that followed, German policymakers scaled back their commitment to Cuba.”

‘Germany is holding back’  havana-live-trade-fair3Casa Alemania directors Klaus Hartmann, Stephan Gruber, Tobias Schwab, Mathias Schultze fly the flag for Germany
Today, Schwab said, Chinese companies were taking the lion’s share of Cuban foreign trade, not least because of aggressive state-backed Chinese financing. “In contrast, German companies have to fend for themselves in Cuba.” Schwab said the German government needed to offer more support to its companies, because there was clear rethinking on the part of the Cubans.
Quality and sustainability now played a greater role and German engineering still enjoyed an impeccable reputation, he said. But, he said, any financing schemes would require stronger backing from Germany, especially in light of the US economic boycott of the island: “German policy is too focused on the United States.” Investment in Cuba was overshadowed by this political and cultural agenda, he said.

And while countries such as Spain and Canada have shown it is possible to follow a different course, Schwab said, “There’s no political desire for that in Germany.” Even the German embassy in Havana had done little to encourage economic cooperation, he said. This is a criticism that Volz is unwilling to accept. He said efforts were being made to support German companies with consulting advice.
But he also acknowledged that Cuba is not a priority as a business partner. “Cuba is not just on the agenda.” This is made clear by the fact that Cuba lacks an independent German chamber of commerce – the German Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala is responsible for Cuba – or even a German trade office. “Other countries have done much more,” Schultze said. “Britain, Portugal and Italy sent ministers to the fair.” Germany, however, didn’t even send an undersecretary.
http://www.dw.de/german-firms-explore-investment-in-cuba/a-18053755

havana-live-diazHAVANA,10 November (AP)  Havana is asking international firms to invest more than $8 billion in the island as it attempts to kick start a centrally planned economy starved for cash and hamstrung by inefficiency.

Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz has announced a list of 246 projects Cuba wants that would require $8.7 billion in investment, ranging from farms to a light auto plant. Cuba says foreign investment must reach $2 billion annually to increase an economic growth rate not expected to exceed 1% this year.
The list announced at Havana’s International Fair on Monday is the latest step in Cuba’s push for foreign capital that also includes a law relaxing conditions for investment and the creation of a special trade zone in the Mariel port west of Havana. It’s looking to push growth to 5% annually, but the reform effort appears to have had few results so far.

Cuba has yet to announce any foreign investment projects for the Mariel trade zone nearly a year after the port opened with $600 million from Brazil — two-thirds of the project’s cost. Chinese executive George Yan said he asked in May for permission to build a $1 million plant at Mariel that would employ 100 Cubans to assemble energy-saving LED lights

. Despite receiving initial approval three months later, he has not been shown potential sites for the factory or received other indications the project can proceed. In China, he said, “this would take 24 hours.” “The Cubans have a certain fear that if they go fast they can’t reverse any decision, so they prefer to go more slowly and do all the studies,” he said.
Yan nevertheless said he was optimistic Cuba would move faster in the coming year. “Many people complain about the time in which we do things, but everyone’s got their own pace,” Malmierca said. “We’re going to do this our way and we want to do it well.”

1544989_1475880302701041_6486563876273891526_n

imagesHAVANA, 2 November (By Olly Wehring)  The president of Bacardi has reiterated the company’s intention to return to its native Cuba once the US embargo of the country is lifted.

The Bacardi family – and its rum company – was expelled from Cuba in 1959 following the country’s revolution, led by Fidel Castro. Since then, the US authorities have imposed an embargo on the country in protest against the revolution. Bacardi has subsequently set up a head office in Bermuda, a distillery in Puerto Rico and other operational offices in Miami.

US president Barack Obama has long been thought to be keen on ending the embargo. Speaking to just-drinks at his company’s Puerto Rico facility, Joaquin Bacardi confirmed that the firm will return to Cuba in some capacity at the earliest possible opportunity. “We are hopeful that the facilities (Bacardi owned before the revolution) that exist in Cuba will be returned to us,” he said.

“We have all the documentation to prove that that property is ours. “Because that property has been abandoned for so many years – although it is being operated to produce other rums – we know that the conditions of that operation are very poor; they don’t maintain it very well.

So, it’s going to require a significant capital investment.” Joaquin Bacardi, who is a member of the fifth generation of the family that set up the company, flagged that it is unlikely that Bacardi would produce all of its namesake rum portfolio in Cuba, if the embargo is raised.
“We have a lot of (distilling) assets around the world,” he said. “It’s going to take a balance between what products should come out of Cuba and what products should come from our existing facilities – there will likely be a combination of those.

“Rest assured,” he added, “when the embargo lifts, Bacardi is going to have a presence in Cuba again some day. There is absolutely no question of that.” The Cuban Government, through its Cuba Ron unit, jointly owns and produces the Havana Club rum brand in the country with Pernod Ricard.

The two spirits companies have been in long-running legal disagreement over the Havana Club trademark, with Bacardi selling a rum by the same name in Florida. Pernod and Cuba Ron own the trademark in almost all markets outside the US.

see also : https://www.havana-live.com/news/cuba-and-his-rumhavana-live-Bacardi

wtm-london-2014HAVANA, November 1 (PL)  Cuban recreational attractions will be present at the 35th edition of the International Tourism Fair World Travel Market (WTM) 2014, London, United Kingdom, in early November, local authorities of the sector reported. A statement from the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) stated today that such meeting is one of the major events of this sphere in the world.
The note states that the Cubas delegation will be led by Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, and including commercial director, Maria del Carmen Orellana, and representatives from hotel chains such as Gran Caribe, Islazul Cubanacan, Gaviota and Habaguanex.

Executives from companies associated to the Cuban tourism such as Iberostar, Barcelo, Blue Diamonds, Super Club, Accor, Melia Hotels International and Roc Hoteles, along with receptive agencies Viajes Cubanacan and Gaviotatours, Palmares and Caracol, will be also present in that group. The delegation will be accompanied by representatives of the Cuban embassy in the United Kingdom, among other executives. The Cuban presence this year in the WTM responds, among other objectives, to the interest for strengthening ties with important English partners for tourist operation from that market to Cuba, states the report.

During the fair, the Cuban delegation will show the latest news of the recreational industry in this country, such as the openings of new facilities and services and, above all, the important work in the field of local brands and products. The official statement also aims to spread the real estate development associated to golf with emphasis for the project named Carbonera, near the western resort of Varadero. The Summit of Ministers WTO-WTM (World Tourism Organization-World Travel Market), with the issue “Tourism and Mega Events: Building a lasting legacy,” will be held during the Fair.

Thinkstock-Street-dog-465915751-573px-resizedHAVANA, 31 October   Ask any professional in the animal protection field how to reduce the population of homeless animals in a city, and you’ll likely get the same answer.
The only effective humane way to reduce the homeless animal population is through massive, long-term spay and neuter campaigns. Nothing else has permanent results.
Such sterilization campaigns are primarily what THE ANIPLANT PROJECT has been helping our friends in Havana to do. We got started early in 2006 after my first trip to Cuba, and we’ve been helping with anesthetics and medicines ever since.Each year Aniplant must report its progress in sterilizing animals to Cuba’s Ministry of Agriculture. Now, with several years’ results, we can draw conclusions about Aniplant’s humane work and how many animal poisonings it has saved through low cost sterilizing programs.

IMG_2781THE CRUEL ALTERNATIVE
The Cuban Government has an old fashioned, inhumane way of dealing with homeless animals—they poison them. Work crews in trucks prowl the city in search of vagabond, sick, and injured animals.
They are taken to a killing center miles east of the city where they are kept without food for a few days to check for rabies. As soon as the rabies quarantine period has lapsed, the hungry animals are finally given a meal—lamentably, their last one. The food is laced with strychnine, and there begins a slow, painful decline and death for thousands of dogs and cats every year.

MEASURING OUR RESULTS
The killing center produces statistics to show how many animals they kill. After a year of asking we finally got some general information. We were told that in the 1990’s the average number of killings was 13,000 to 15,000 per year.
Today, that nUmber (the kill rate) has fallen to an average of 9600 per year. If we take 14,000 as the 1990’s rate, it is fair to credit Aniplant’s saving animals from cruel poisonings with a rate of 4400 animals a year—or a 31% reduction in killings. Those saved animals were never born, but result in a real reduction in animal suffering.

AN EYE TOWARD THE FUTURE
 havana-live-noria-garciaNora Garcia, Aniplant’s President, is talking with those who control the killing center to urge the use of humane euthanasia drugs in place of strychnine.
There are resistances to change and major cost issues. No one now Saving one dog 3 can know if that will happen, but it’s an effort worth making. Unless or until Cuba’s procedures are modernized and made humane, the best hope the animals have is continued high numbers of sterilizations.

WHERE YOU FIT IN
You, the friends and supporters of The Aniplant Project, can take a bow for the very real improvement we’ve made in the lives of Cuban animals. The sterilizations accomplished since 2006 are the central reason for this improvement. Those 4400 animals avoiding poisoning this year are repeated every year so long as we can continue our massive sterilization programs. This is real animal suffering stopped because of you.

269338_635154757714_128123297_nOUR ANNUAL FUNDRAISING APPEAL
Cuba 309 3 At this time of year we make our yearly appeal to you, our supporters, for donations. Your gift to TAP is one of the biggest humane bargains you’ll find.
In Cuba, they do the hard work—educating the public, advertising the campaigns, conducting the sterilizing sessions which move through Havana’s neighborhoods, doing the vet work, etc. Here, all we have to do is support them.
Won’t you please make a donation to TAP so we can continue helping Cuba’s animals? They deserve our efforts to give them decent lives and to militate against cruel extermination methods.

For Cuba’s animals,
Les Inglis, Founder

https://www.theaniplantproject.org/

 havana-live-pontus-lidberg HAVANA, October 30 (acn) Pontus Lidberg Dance Company, from USA, will debut today with a show scheduled for 5:00 pm at the National Theatre , as part of the 24th International Ballet Festival of Havana.

About eight artists are included in the delegation, headed by the Swedish dancer and choreographer Pontus Lidberg, who will lead the group in the interpretation of his choreography Faune, Within and Tactile, which have not been presented in Cuba. In addition, the public can see the world premiere of the play This was written on water, also by the Nordic creator, settled for some time in the North American country.
At the same time, but at Mella Theatre, there will be a concert program which will involve Cuba’s Camagüey Ballet, the Joburg Ballet, from South Africa, Hong Kong Ballet, Winter Guests Company, from Norway, and the National Ballet of Uruguay, with several premieres at Cuba.

Later, at nine o’clock in the evening, the show of the Sleeping Beauty, with Yanela Piñera and Arian Molina, prima ballerina and leading dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba, is scheduled. This festival will last until November 7, event that is included since two years in the calendar of many dance lovers who traditionally come to Havana to enjoy the best of this art.

 havana-live-LEDHAVANA, October 30 (acn)  China is exploring business opportunities in the Cuban electricity sector through sales of LED street and domestic lighting.

The sales director of China’s Zhejiang Yabao Limited corporation told reporters that the lamps may last up to 50 thousand hours as they are made out of materials appropriate to withstand the island’s high temperatures.

The Chinese company has already made contacts with several Cuban enterprises in the electricity sector, the executive said and added that the upcoming Havana International Trade Fair, opening November 2, will offer opportunities to make contacts and relations with Cuban companies and with foreign entities.

LED technology contributes a considerable energy and fuel saving, said Raul Yhebra, chief of the technical group with Havana provincial office for the rational use of energy. The new lamps have already been installed along Havana’s sea front drive and others will soon illuminate important Cuban thoroughfares.

havana-live-derrumbe HAVANA, 29 October The precarious situation of many constructive buildings in Havana was evident last Thursday when the second floor of the building at the corner of Galiano and Virtues in Central Havana collapsed after a heavy rain.
The three balconies and façade fell to Galiano Street. The collapse did not charge victims because the inhabitants of the building had been evacuated by firefighters shortly before the events.
Debris are still in the street, but is expected to be collected in a short time because Galiano is one of the busiest streets in Havana, both vehicles and pedestrians. Another similar event, but where people were not so lucky, was the one in the street corner 41 and 54, in Playa.
It was there five deaths and dozens of families were resettled in collective shelters after collapsing the building where they lived. Construction of the 30s had delayed collapse: bearing walls had been affected by the multiple divisions requiring the families that lived there. The humidity did the rest.
http://www.cubaheadlines.com/2014/10/29/p6/collapses-are-the-result-of-heavy-rains-in-havana.html

havana-live-ballet.festival.havanaHAVANA, 29 October  Today, when the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) celebrates its 66th birthday, the artistic presentations of this festival that runs until November 7, dedicated this time to the English playwright William Shakespeare start.

The Karl Marx Theater serves as headquarters for the first time this type of encounter, during which it will host the opening and closing galas, in addition to other proposals such as the magic of dance, an anthology in which the public can appreciate scenes of classic main attraction.
At half past eight p.m. will be the opening of this meeting, which is held every two years and includes the traditional parade with all generations of dancers trained in the Cuban School of Ballet and opening remarks.

To close the play Shakespeare and his masks, choreography by Alicia Alonso with orchestral adaptations of Juan Piñera and libretto by Jose Ramon Neyra, inspired by the story of Romeo and Juliet is announced. In the lead roles are the first figures of the Cuban company Anette Delgado and Dani Hernandez.
During these days, dance lovers will enjoy the action of first figures of five dance companies and soloists joint US and other from Belgium, Hong Kong, Uruguay, France, China, Denmark, South Africa, Chile and Santiago Italy.

Also performing dancers from Puerto Rico, Portugal, Betraña, Germany and Norway and the host country, represented by members of the BNC and Camaguey. The foreign guests pass through the Mella Theater and the two chambers of the National cede its space to the combined and concert programs and the entire Lake swans.

havana-live- peopleonbench Havana, 28 October  (AFP) Cuba is encouraging its rapidly aging population to have more babies, state-run media reported Monday. The daily Granma newspaper reported that President Raul Castro called the communist island’s graying population “one of the greatest challenges facing the nation because of its impact on social, economic and family life.” Castro’s cabinet has adopted a slate of policies to boost the fertility rate, including financial incentives, the daily reported. The government also announced plans to increase care for the elderly, Granma wrote. By 2027, the number of deaths in Cuba could surpass births, and overall population will not only get older, but also smaller, a state official said at the meeting. Lower birth rates and a steady stream of migrants leaving the island has caused the population to drop 11.2 to 11.1 million in the last decade, according to census data. Around 45,000 Cubans have left the island every year in the last decade, official statistics show. Cuba currently has 2.4 million people over the age of 60, a demographic, which, by 2045, is expected to make up more than a third of the island’s population, posing serious economic challenges. Officials said limited access to housing, the high costs of child care and a lack of family support services have contributed to the low fertility rate.  View Comments (100)

 havana-live-exhibitionHAVANA, 28 October (Cubarte)  An innovative artistic approach to the city of New York and Havana is the proposal of the exhibition NYC 1950: bitácora de La Habana by photographer Juan Manuel Cruz, which will be displayed until November 1st at the Gallery Julio Larramendi of the Conde de Villanueva guesthouse, in Old Havana.

This exhibition includes 29 works in black and white that refer to buildings and landmarks of the New York City, through the visual representation of the Havana space. These pictures include references to iconic places of the northern metropolis such as Times Square or Central Park City.
“The main goal of this series was, starting from important referents of New York city, searching its counterpart here in Havana and transport people to the American city through these images “, explained the author of this creative proposal.

According to Julienne López Hernández, curator of this exhibition, NYC 1950 helps us to get close to a cultural space par excellence, in which Juan Manuel Cruz clearly shows his desire to make visible Cuban environment on the basis of the American referent.

groene_montserrat450HAVANA, 27  October The Catholic Church says Cuba has allowed construction of the country’s first new Catholic church in 55 years.

Experts say it’s a sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba’s government. The church is being funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, and will be built in the town of Sandino in the western province of Pinar del Rio.
The church publication “Christian Life” says it will have space for 200 people. The Cuban Catholic Church had tense relations with the government for many years after the 1959 revolution, but relations have been slowly improving in recent years.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the island, the government recognized a Christmas holiday and began allowing masses or homilies to be broadcast on official media.

 cuba_usa-flag HAVANA, Oct 25 (acn) The number of Cubans living The United States and their descendants has been calculated at 1.8 million, standing for 3.6 percent of all Latin Americans in that country, according recent demographic statistics.

Statistics from reports and studies by the US Census Bureau and the Pew Hispanic Center, cited by journalist Andres Gomez, editor of the Miami-based Areito Digital magazine, say that out of the 1.8 million persons, 1.044 million(58 percent) were born on the island and 756 thousand (42 percent) were born in the States.
An estimated 1.2 million Cubans (70 percent of the total) and their descendants are living in the US state of Florida, whose population reached 19 million in 2012. And 75 percent of those Cubans are located in Dade County. Some 80 or 90 thousand live in the states of New Jersey, New York and California, and little over 50 thousand live in the state of Texas.

The annual growth of the Cuban immigration between 2000 and 2010 was estimated at 17,300 people. The average age of the Cuban population in the U.S. is 40 years of age, while that of other Latin Americans there is 27 years, while the average age of the general US population is 37 years.
According to the statistics, 25 percent of the Cubans and their descendants have got a university diploma, compared to only 13 percent all other Latin Americans in that country. Their average annual salary was calculated at 24 thousand dollars, against 20 thousand dollars for other Latin Americans, while the general annual average salary has been estimated at 29 thousand.

As to poverty levels, 19 percent of the Cubans live under the poverty line, compared to 26 percent of the rest of the Latino population and 16 percent of the general US population. According to estimates, 60 percent of all Cuban born on the island now living in the States are US citizens, with 90 percent of them having arrived in the country before 1980.
Pew Research Center says that 47 percent of the Cuban-origin voters in 2013 favored the Republican Party and 44 percent took sides with the Democrats.

In 2012, the Latin American population and descendants was calculated at 53 million out of a total US population of 311 million. The largest Latin American population groups are the Mexicans, 34 million; Puerto Ricans, 5 million; Salvadorans, 1.9 million and the Cubans with 1.8 million.

 havana-live-Paloma-HerreraHAVANA, 25 October  The next 24th International Ballet Festival will bring together for eleven days in the main theater stages of Havana an important representation of American ballet.

Some important figures of American ballet share the stage with talented Cuban dancers. Besides the joy of artistic quality, this event will strengthen ties through dance between Cuba and United States. 

Nominated by Dance Magazine in 1999 as one of ten dancers of the century, the ABT figure star Paloma Herrera will dance on November 6th at the Mella Theater in Havana, next to NYCB Principal Dancer Gonzalo García. Together, they will dance for the public Chaikovsky pas de deux, a piece to be included in the concert program that will take place that day.

It is not the first time for Herrera in the Festival of Havana, in editions of 1996 and 2010 she was also invited and in 2012 she served as a member of the set named “José Manuel Carreño and American ballet stars”. At age 15 she joined to the ABT in New York and when she was 20 years old she holds the rank of Principal Dancer.
It was not a surprise that she quickly ascended in that company; the teachings of the prestigious figure from Argentina ballet Olga Ferri and her elegant technique led her to major venues in the United States, Europe, Asia and America. Her repertoire includes major awards: Gino Tani,Italy Award; Ion Platinum Award andMaría Ruanova,Prize of Argentina; and Gold Medal of Arts, awarded in 2008 by the Center for Artistic Submissions John F. Kennedy, Washington, United States.

Meanwhile, the Spanish Gonzalo García was promoted to Principal Dancer of the NYCB in 2002. With that company he has taken the starring roles in the works of classical-romantic tradition as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, among others. He has also starred in contemporary works of Balanchine, William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon and Mario Bigonzetti creators. Among his most notable awards include the Gold Medal which won at the Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the most prestigious events in the world.

Also appearing on this 24 Ballet Festival the Cuban dancer Xiomara Reyes, who dances with ABT of New York since 2001. Like Herrera, Reyes in 2012 acted as a member of the set “José Manuel Carreño and American ballet stars”. In this edition of the Festival will star a number from ballet Coppélia, and Great Galloping Gottschald with the First Spanish Dancer Carlos López.
The First Dancers Joaquín de Luz and Ashley Bouder, from the NYCB, also traveled to Cuba. Luz, from Spain like García, holds the rank of NYCB principal figure since 2005 and for top honors is considered one of the most brilliant exponents of the current male dance. American Ashley Bouder, meanwhile, is a creditor of important awards such as the Mae L. Waimn Award for Most Outstanding Promise and Janice Levin to featured dancer in the year 2000-2003.

One of the most anticipated moments will be the piece Diana and Acteón, November 2nd, at the Covarrubias Hall of the National Theatre, which will be led by the renowned First Dancer of the National Ballet of Cuba Viegnsay Valdés and the first figure of the Washington Ballet Brooklyn Mack. Critics have high expectations about Mack’s performance for being selected as a Valdés’s dance partner, who does not lack merit from.
It will also be interesting the proposal of the Hispanic Ballet of New York. This Havana Festival will present Celeste on November the 1st at the National Theatre, a work of Annabelle López Ochoa, a Colombian-Belgian creator. They will also present Asuka, a piece of Cuban-American choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, director of the Hispanic Ballet. Asuka will be a tribute to the late Cuban salsa queen Celia Cruz.

The acts will be Yemaya, Tu Voz, Te Busco, Pa’ la Paloma, Agua Pa’ Mí, Guantanamera and Drume Negrita; this last one by the renowned Cuban musician Bola de Nieve. This company describes itself as the “leading dance company representative of Hispanic culture in the United States.”
Its choreography and the talent of its dancers have earned rave reviews in the New York Times. In addition to the ABT, the NYCB, the Washington Ballet and the Hispanic Ballet of New York, the companies Pontus Lidberg Dance and Cincinnati Ballet will be presented. No doubt this 24th Ballet Festival of Havana, although it coincides with other major international events, has brought together figures from the most prestigious companies in United States.

 havana-live-gabriel-davalosHAVANA, 23 October (OnCuba)  The relationship between classical dance and Havana is the main theme that captures the photo book Sensual Havana, conducted by the Cuban journalist and photographer Gabriel Davalos.

The photographs exhibited some of the qualities that put the Cuban school of ballet in a prominent position globally. Sensual Havana will be presented on Saturday October 25 at the National Museum of Dance.
The artists display naturally and casually their talents, sometimes as never before have been seen on stages and is precisely what Dávalos’ lens captured. “This dance is about the traditions and lifestyle of the people. The Cuban ballet mirrors are the inhabitants of this city,” said the author.

The book will show 60 photographs about the skills of students from the National School of Ballet and soloists, principal dancers and leading figures of companies as the American Ballet Theatre, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba and other foreign companies where Cubans had worked.

 havana-live-fihav2014HAVANA, Cuba, Oct 22 (acn) More than 160 Cuban companies will bring their products and services to the 32nd Havana International Trade Fair to take place November 2-8 at the Expocuba exhibit ground.

Cuban Chamber of Commerce president Orlando Guillen told reporters that the local companies have already rented five thousand square meters in the central pavilion of the exhibit facility, though a total 360 Cuban entities will be represented at the event, which is aimed at promoting foreign investment on the island.
Main stands at the Cuban pavilion include those set up by the Special Development Zone of the Mariel harbor and its container terminal. As usual, the fair will include business forums with the attendance of delegations from Venezuela, China, Russia, Switzerland, Mexico and Hungary.

Also on the agenda are bilateral meetings between local and foreign representatives of trade promotion entities from around the world. Nearly 30 governmental delegations are expected to attend the trade fair.

 havana-live-cuban-cigarsHAVANA,October 21 (acn) The vice-president of Habanos S.A. international corporation, Jorge Luis Fernandez, said in Havana that if the US trade restrictions were lifted, Americas could make up the main market for Cuban Habano cigars.

Speaking to Trabajadores newspaper, Fernandez said that from 1949 to 1958, just before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the US was a natural market for the Cuban product as Americans would buy 33 percent of the Cuban cigar production,
which translated into 35 percent of the total income of the sector. But the US trade restrictions imposed on Cuba in the 1960s not only deprived Cuba of a stable market, but also prevented US cigar smokers from having access to the Cuban product.

In normal conditions, Cuba could sell from 150 to 170 million Premium Cigars, those hand-rolled and weighing over three grams, which would translate into 380 million dollars a year.
At present Cuba sells its Premium Cigars in 25 European countries, meaning 58 percent of its production, disregarding the cost of the freight, and this compares to a previous commercialization of 33 percent of the production in only one country.

 havana-live-Eulalia de Lucia HAVANA ,October 21 (acn)  The Spanish creator Eulalia de Lucia presented her fashion brand at the National Museum of Decorative Arts in Havana.

De Lucia told ACN that her relationship and attraction for Cuba date back many years when her father established his business here and since then she always dreamed of making a production of top quality fashion clothing and accessories with Cuban designers and craftsmen.

She praised the designs line which is characterized by simplicity and by having bright pastel colors as its emblem, with patterned fabrics that make reference to Cuba’s nature and its various manifestations.
The collection is made up by female attire for daily use and top dressing, complemented with fine jewelry and accessories such as leather wallets and belts.

Elegant cuts and apparent simplicity of the clothing, the harmony of the colors of the prints, some bold by their contrasts or designs that make allusions to Cuban flora and fauna, also distinguish these garments.
The dressmaker is confident of success of her line of products by their beauty, simplicity and utilitarian nature of each piece, based on the requirements of today’s woman, her dynamic life and the need to always be with an appropriate and appealing image.

As a guarantee to achieve these purposes, she trusts in the talent and creativity of her designers, craftsmen and artisans, whose works remain on display all this month at one of the transitional rooms of the National Museum of Decorative Arts in El Vedado neighborhood.

havana-live-tampa_aquariumHAVANA, 21 October (by Paul Guzzo) Leaders from Tampa’s Florida Aquarium visited Cuba over the weekend to discuss a possible partnership with the island nation’s National Aquarium in Havana.

No official agreement was signed but those representing The Florida Aquarium on the trip believe that day is coming. It would mark the first time such a deal is struck between Cuban and U.S. aquariums since the U.S. travel and trade embargo was imposed over five decades ago. “The trips and the talks exceeded my expectations,” said Margo McKnight, vice president of biological resources at the Florida Aquarium.
“We spent a lot of time sharing information with their aquarium’s officials and agreed that working together makes sense. Now we need to talk it over with the overall leadership at The Florida Aquarium and move from there.” A return trip to Cuba has not been planned.

Nor has bringing officials from the National Aquarium of Cuba to Tampa. While the two sides discussed a variety of ways they could collaborate, McKnight said, the primary focus was on coral reef restoration research. Scientists predict that by 2050, all the world’s coral reefs will be threatened by pollution and changes in water temperature.
Florida’s coral reefs already are dying at an alarming rate, McKnight said. Coral reefs protect coasts by reducing wave energy from storms and hurricanes. And as home to more than 4,000 species of fish and countless species of plants, some support up to 25 percent of all known marine life.

The Florida Aquarium, McKnight said, is actively searching for ways to reverse the decline. Cuba, she added, has the most pristine coral reef in the world — one yet to feel the effects of the changing marine environment. Called “Gardens of the Queen,” the reef is in southern waters off the provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila.
“Just 90 miles off Florida’s coast is a look back into time at what a reef should be like,” McKnight said. “We want to study it to understand why its ecosystem is so healthy and learn if we can extract any lessons from it that we can apply.” Under the preliminary talks, the Florida Aquarium would get access to the Gardens of the Queen. In return, the Florida Aquarium would keep the National Aquarium of Cuba up-to-date in its research on restoring coral reefs.

“This would be their way of proactively protecting their reefs,” McKnight said. “They don’t have a problem now but they want to be prepared in case it is threatened in the future.” McKnight was unsure if this would be the first collaboration between a U.S. and Cuban aquarium since the embargo was put in place.
But last week, Jeffrey Boutwell, board member with the Latin America Working Group Education Fund in Washington, D.C., told the Tribune it would be. Boutwell’s organization carries on the work of author Ernest Hemingway on a shared U.S.-Cuba approach to maritime resources. He recently met with the National Aquarium of Cuba to discuss such collaboration with the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

He has no connection to The Florida Aquarium or the delegation that traveled to Cuba. Tampa has been part of a historic maritime alliance between the U.S. and Cuba before. In March, an international oil spill agreement was signed by five nations with Caribbean shorelines — Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the United States and Cuba.

The agreement circumvents the U.S. travel and trade embargo, which would have slowed the process of sharing resources to clean up a spill in Cuban waters that could reach Florida shores. Albert A. Fox Jr., founder of the Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, introduced U.S. oil and environmental leaders from the private sector to members of the Cuban government in 2010.
These people later successfully lobbied the U.S. government to work with Cuba on the cleanup and containment protocol. In a similar way, David Guggenheim, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Cuba Conservatory, said he believes a partnership between the two aquariums could help persuade the U.S. government to support collaborative research on coral reefs between U.S. and Cuban scientists.

“If enough research partnerships are happening between private U.S. organizations and the Cuban government, the U.S. government may take notice and get involved sooner,” Guggenheim said. Guggenheim helped establish the Tri-National Workshops — meetings between researchers from the U.S., Cuba and Mexico on issues affecting turtles, sharks, dolphins, fisheries, coral reefs and protected marine areas.
Sarasota-based Mote Marine Laboratory is among the private research institutes that regularly attends the annual meetings, held since 2007. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has sent representatives to observe the meetings, Guggenheim said, while Mexico and Cuba send government representatives who actively participate.

Guggenheim said he is talking to members of the U.S. State Department about increasing federal involvement. He welcomed news of talks between the two aquariums. “Collaborations like that one could kick what we are doing to a new level.” The future of the marine ecosystem shared by Cuba and Florida depends upon college students from both nations studying the waters without concern for politics, Guggenheim said.

“Marine life does not know borders,” he said. “The students need to be trained as leaders who work together. Ultimately, they will inherit this issue.” The Florida Aquarium has an internship program, but it is too early to discuss sending those students to Cuba, McKnight said. If that day does arrive, it may be the only opportunity for students from the University of South Florida to study Cuban waters.
Under Florida law, money that flows through a state university cannot be used for travel to a nation on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba is on that list. “I realize nothing is ever easy to do between these two countries,” McKnight said.
“But ultimately I think everyone will agree this is not about politics but about doing what is best for the environment. Cuba offers us an amazing opportunity for our research her.
http://tbo.com/news/business/aquarium-leaders-visit-cuba-20141020/

 havana-live-german-teaterHAVANA, October 18 (acn)  The 9th edition of Havana’s German Theater Festival will bring three world premieres and two revivals, in addition to a cycle of lectures and panels, on October 18-26.

Among world premieres to be enjoyed by theater lovers are El camino de las hormigas, by Roland Schimmelpfennig, in charge of the Cuartel Company, at the Adolfo Llaurado Hall on October 25.
El mal gusto, by Rogelio Orizondo and Marcos Diaz, directed by Moritz Schonecker, at the Tito Junco Hall of the Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center on October 18.
Idomeneo, by Schimmelpfenmig, directed by William Ruiz, at the Cafe del Bertolt Brecht on October 22.
In the case of revivals, we find Palabras y cuerpos, by Martin Heckmanns, directed by Eric Morales, by the Escambray Theater Group at the Raquel Revuelta Hall on October 21-23.
La mision, by Heiner Muller, directed by Mario Guerra, also at the Raquel Revuelta on October 24-26.
The cycle of lectures, by H. T. Lehmann, will focus on post-dramatic theater, on October 20-22
and there will be a workshop on docudrama, by Sarah Israel, on October 21-24 at the Festival Center of the New Latin American Cinema.
Panels are entitled on Cuban-German production and Where is theater heading? on October 20 and 25, respectively, at Cuba’s Ludwig Foundation.

havana-live-hispanic-balletHAVANA, Oct 20 (acn) Prestigious companies of the world will perform in the 24th edition of Havana’s International Ballet Festival, to be held from October 28 to November 7.

The Hispanic Ballet of New York, based in Manhattan, in the United States, founded by Venezuelan-American ballerina and choreographer Tina Ramirez and currently directed by Eduardo Vilaro, will be among these companies.
The Hispanic Ballet of New York will perform at the capital’s Mella Theater on November 1st and 2nd, at 5:00 p.m., with a program that includes two pieces that will be presented on the island for the first time: Asuka, by Eduardo Vilaro; and Sortijas, by Cayetano Soto.

Completing the artistic suggestion are the works Sombrerisimo, by Annabelle López; and El beso, by Gustavo Ramirez. Another important company to perform at the Festival will be the Linga Company from Switzerland.
This group was founded in 1992 when Katarzyna Gdaniec, main ballerina of the Bejart Ballet of Lausanne; and Marco Cantalupo, a choreographer and a dancer of the aforementioned company, joined to materialize their dreams of independence and creativity.

Linga creates one or two pieces a year and in its repertoire we find Concert-O, choreographed by Katarzyna Gdaniec and Marco Cantalupo, which will be presented at the Covarrubias Hall of Havana’s national Theater on November 2nd, 5:00 p.m.

havana-live-id-cardHAVANA, 17 October (EFE) Cuba will gradually introduce a more modern, durable and secure ID card starting Oct. 29, the island’s media reported, citing government officials.

The new ID cards, which are to be made of polycarbonate, a plastic-like material, will be similar to a magnetic stripe card and their dimensions will be in keeping with international standards, Interior Ministry authorities said.
The new cards will be more durable and reduce the possibility of identity theft, while also allowing “administrative processes to be conducted with greater integration and speed as the country progresses toward an information society,” Communist Party daily Granma said.

The new cards will leverage the latest technologies and feature, among other elements, biometric data, a hologram overlay, a digital signature and photograph, security patterns and a machine readable zone.
The Interior Ministry said that in the coming years the ID card may contain voice prints, iris scans and DNA data, “all of which will result in an ID document that is more reliable and difficult to falsify,” the official daily Juventud Rebelde reported.
The cost of the new cards will be 25 Cuban ordinary pesos (approximately $1). Current Cuban ID documents, which will not have to be renewed immediately if they are in good condition, are handwritten and in the form of a booklet or laminated card. 

  havana-live-violine-maker7HAVANA,15 October  (AP Michael Weissenstein ,Andrea Rodríguez )  In a light-filled workshop cluttered with tools and pieces of old string instruments, three men carve strips of imported wood and silently measure the angles of violin pegs and viola necks bent out of tune by years of use.

Here in the heart of old Havana, Andres Martinez and his two apprentices wage a daily battle against one of Cuba’s lesser-known economic problems: A country famous for its music is running low on musical instruments.
Cuba’s dozens of free music schools turn out thousands of skilled young musicians each year, many of whom play imported instruments that can only be repaired and maintained with hard-to-find materials from abroad. havana-live-violine-maker

Delicate and complex, string instruments are among the hardest to keep in tune. Before Cuba’s 1959 revolution, many students played violins, violas, cellos and bass from European workshops. After it, the Soviet Union provided violins and cellos, along with many other goods.
Now, as Cuba struggles to revive its stagnant centrally planned economy, students must make do with violins from China that too easily pop strings and lose their tone. Sponsored by Cuba’s city historian and a Belgian nonprofit group called Fiddlemakers Without Frontiers, Martinez and his apprentices repair dozens of instruments a year, make a handful from scratch and train aspiring young violin makers in an attempt to create an indigenous Cuban violin industry.  havana-live-violine-maker4

“We do everything here from minor repairs to major renovations,” said Martinez, 41. “It’s a profession that requires a lot of dedication.” Martinez began as a furniture repairman for the historian’s office, a city agency in charge of caring for Havana’s cultural heritage, most importantly restoring the historic heart of the colonial city.
Since the opening of the workshop three years ago, he has overseen the repair of more than 400 violins, violas, cellos and bass violins, the restringing of some 200 bows and the manufacture of a dozen high-quality violins for professional musicians.

  havana-live-violine-maker8Using high-end imported tools and varnishes, Martinez takes pride in a quality of work that he says can’t be found among amateur repairmen who use hammers to fix violins. “Fiddle-making isn’t carpentry,” he said. The workshop lends instruments to musicians who need them for concerts or competitions, and has come to fill a gap left by the death or emigration of Cuba’s handful of world-class violin repairmen in recent decades, musicologist Miriam Escudero, said. “This workshop fills a great need,” she said.  havana-live-violine-maker9
Cuba opened a violin factory in the eastern province of Camaguey in the 1970s but the native cedar didn’t have the quality and resonance approaching that of European rosewood and maple. Martinez and his apprentices say their next challenge will be converting the workshop into a financially self-sustaining operation. They are considering applying to be a worker-run cooperative, a new form of business that the Cuban government hopes can be more efficient than many faltering state industries.

  havana-live-violine-maker5The future of Cuban music may depend, in a small way, on their success or failure. “It’s like with people,” said workman Juan Carlos Prado, 25. “If you feel bad, you need a doctor. The same thing happens with a musical instrument. If it isn’t working well, you can hear it in the music.”  havana-live-violine-maker1  havana-live-violine-maker3

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