CUBA SLIDE PRESENTATION SCRIPT

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					                     CUBA SLIDE PRESENTATION, FALL 2011

Introduction: Today we will be viewing photos of my trip to Cuba during the second week
of December, 2011. We were there for 8 days under the auspices of CHEP, the Cuban
Humanitarian Education Program, a non-profit organization that brings medicine,
clothing and some financial support to the Jewish community, estimated today
to be about 5,000 down from over 50,000 during the pre revolutionary era. It is a disparate
yet enterprising segment of the total population of 11,000,000 –3,000,000 in Havana. A
thumbnail sketch of Cuban history—an extraordinary mosaic of races and cultures
contribute to a rich national culture with a fierce patriotic pride. The indelible influence of
the United States cannot be ignored and since Cuba’s independence from Spain in the late
1800’s the US has played an important role in the historical, cultural, economic and
political life of the 776 mile long island. Having assisted the nationals in their struggle for
independence from Spain in the late 1800’s, the United States has had many prominent
and wealthy “yanquis” contribute to Cuba’s becoming a “Las Vegas” type tourist
destination during the 1940’s and 1950’s before what we now know as the current Las
Vegas. Cuba was rife with pleasure seekers including movie and sports stars, businessmen,
tourists and mafiosi who controlled the casinos and luxury hotels. Baseball, the national
sport fondly referred to as “pelota”, can be traced to its introduction by the soldiers during
the Independence period in the late 1800’s. In 1959, Fidel Castro with the aid of Ernesto
“Che” Guevarra and others, was successful in overthrowing the corrupt Batista regime.
In 1961 after the failed attempt by a group of Cuban exiles and mercenaries known as the
Bay of Pigs invasion, then US President Kennedy announced the trade embargo which
exists to this day, severing trade and diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba.
Recently, there has been some relaxation of visiting limitations permitting US citizens to
legally travel to Cuba under the aegis and/or sponsored by sports, cultural or
humanitarian organizations.
N.B. Most of the music you will hear is from the acclaimed album The Buena Vista Social
Club which is named after a very famous music club located in Havana. It was recorded in
1996 by the famous guitarist Ry Cooder and has become one of the top 500 most well
known and recognized albums ever recorded. It is a compilation of Cuban son music
popular in Cuba in the 1930’s & 1940’s. The son is a forerunner of salsa and is a
combination of the Spanish canción, the guitar and African rhythms. The other album, is a
collection of songs by the famous Cuban singer and composer Benny Moré who reached
international fame during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

   1. Map of Cuba, Havana located approximately 90 miles from Key West, Florida.
      The song is called “orgullecida” or the proud one sung by Compay Segundo of the
      Buena Vista Social Club with slide guitar by Ry Cooder. There is a pride in Cuba
      accompanying a wonderful indelible spirit of the people despite their daily
      hardships.

   2. Geographical position of Cuba in Caribbean area along with the Cuban flag and
      Crest of Cuba, depicting “the key to the gulf” because of its strategic location
      between North and South America at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, an
      important crossroads since beginning of Colonial period
3. Music is everywhere in Cuba—street corners, bars, shops, hotels. The song is dos
    gardenias a bolero sung by Efrain Ferrer, known as the Nat King Cole of Cuba is
   one of the most famous songs of the 1930’s

4. El Castillo San Pedro de la Roca, also known as EL CASTILLO DEL MORRO,
   It was designed in 1637 by Giovan Battista Antonelli, the same Italian architect who
   designed El Morro in both La Habana and San Juan, Puerto Rico--all of which were
   used to defend the Spanish colonies against pirate raids

5. Self explanatory--they are within city limits, found in all cities and very
    inexpensive. The song is el carretero, or the driver, which is a guajira or country
   lament

6. José Martí known as the father of Cuban independence—an intellectual, journalist
   and author—wrote his well known versos sencillos (yo soy un hombre sincero—put to
   music by Pete Seeger) while exiled from Cuba in the Catskill Mountains in upstate
   New York during the late 1800’s. It is Pete Seeger singing the song.

7. Compay Segundo’s grave site, one of the most famous members of the
   internationally acclaimed recording known as the Buena Vista Social Club heard
   singing his song Chan Chan, which became the most recognized song of the album

8. One of many music clubs in Cuba known as la trova, frequently have 2 or 3 shows
   per day. The song is the title track of the album The Buena Vista Social Club with
   the same name, featuring Rubén González on the piano.

9. Volunteer orchestra, plaza central Santiago

10. rhythm section of orchestra with a guiro and kettle drums. The song is el cuarto de
   Tula which features a very strong rhythm section

11. a photo of older cars, mainly Chevys from the 1950’s before the embargo still
   running, some with both transmissions and motors replaced with Toyota models

12. unique 2 passenger scooter taxis in metropolitan areas

13. a Cuban tres –a special guitar with 3 pairs of strings tuned to a C chord g, c, and e
   used mostly for single note melodies. The song is y tú qué has hecho has a rich and
   pleasing melody with Compay Segundo playing and featuring a tres

14. Jewish synagogue

15. La defensa de la patria deber supremo de cada Cubano (the defense of the homeland
    is the ultimate duty of every Cuban) an example of a patriotic slogan found
   everywhere, emphasizing nationalism. The song, el pueblo nuevo (the new
   settlement) features Rubén González on the piano.

16. a famous restaurant on the site of Compay Segundo’s house in Siboney—one of his
    expressions being “mientras Ud. sonría de la vida, ella te va a dar la major de las
    sonrisas” (while you laugh at life, it is going to laugh back at you even more). The
    song veinte años is one Compay’s favorites

17. Compay Segundo’s niece—a member of the restaurant staff—a very friendly and
    vibrant woman

18. The Moncada barracks (Santiago) housing the July 26, 1953 museum, where and
    when Castro and his band of rebels failed in their attempt to overtake Fulgencio
    Batista’s army and their weapons

19. Santiago sponsored an international choral competition and we happened upon this
    group while rehearsing

20. Typical Sunday feria street scene

21. El balcón del ayuntamiento de Santiago where Castro declared victory over
    Batista’s forces on January 1, 1959. The song no hay tierra como la mía (there is no
    place like my own) is sung by Benny Moré

22. Jewish synagogue on 2nd floor of a home in Guantánamo—almost all of the
    congregants are named Mizrahi, distant relatives of the famous designer

23. presentation of an Israeli dance by the Mizrahi family

24. our motel styled Hotel La Lupe outside Guantánamo. The song Guantánamo is
    sung by Benny Moré

25. famous song La Lupe done in wrought iron in the Hotel garden

26. Punta Gorda Hotel outside Guantánamo

27. El Cayo restaurant, reached by boat from Punta Gorda Hotel

28. industrious woman on home-made raft asking for $ from restaurant patrons

29. driver Julio and tour guide María from Havana Tours

30. luxurious Hotel Parque Central lobby

31. statue of writer Ernest Hemingway in the Restaurante El Floridita where he assisted
    in perfecting the daiquiri
32. a conservative synagogue in Havana, one of the largest in Cuba

33. the altar of this building

34. an orthodox synagogue

35. José Martí monument in La Plaza de la Revolución where Castro gave many of his
    famous speeches

36. Che Guevarra mural, Plaza del la Revolución

37. Fidel Castro mural, Plaza de la Revolución

38. University of Havana

39. main library of the University

40. La Catedral Jesuita San Cristóbal, built in Colonial time—one of the largest and
    most elaborate in Cuba

41. street vendor, plaza de la cathedral

42. woman smoking cigar

43. street scene, Havana

44. famous Victorian Farmacia Taquechel, Havana

45. ceramic medicine jars, Farmacia Taquechel

46. street chess players, Havana

47. Bar Havana Club, named after famous and best Cuban rum, Havana

48. Muriel Hemingway, head turned in palador (restaurant attached to private homes)
    La Cocina de Lilliam, one of the best in Havana located in embassy district called
    Miramar

49. another political slogan, “saludamos el Día de la Rebeldía Nacional” (we salute the
    National Day of Defiance)

50. cigar shop, Pinar del Río located in the tobacco growing region in the southwest
    corner of the island

51. Valle Viñales—site where Spielberg wanted to film Jurassic Park
52. tobacco barn where tobacco is dried—takes one year

53. young tobacco plants

54. Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, el palenque de cimarrones, used for refuge by
    runaways sugar plantation slaves

55. waves over el Malecón, Havana—frequently have to close the popular promenade
    for a period of time—main road which connects downtown Havana with suburbs

56. famous Riviera Hotel—Copa Room where Desi Arnez played music, known as
    mafia member Meyer Lansky’s center of operations, built in the 1950’s in art deco
    style. He was a famous US mafia person who had relatives here in Buffalo. Song is
    marianao by Benny Moré

57. dining room of Riviera Hotel

58. orthodox synagogue, Havana runs only kosher butcher shop in Cuba

59. enormous stained glass dome in Fine Arts Museum in Havana depicting the 3 ships
    Columbus used when he landed in the Caribbean.

60. Web sites for Cuban travel—any US citizen can go on an escorted people-to-people
    cultural trip under new and relaxed US government rules—approximately 60
    licenses have been issued to date. Typical visas are issued to individuals
    participating with an arts, sports or humanitarian group. UB used to have the only
    graduate student program in Carribean Studies there which was discontinued a few
    years ago. The song is adios palma Soriano by Benny Moré a lament informing the
    Cuban palm trees that the singer will be leaving in the morning.

				
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