Lidia Hernández Tapia

Lidia Hernández Tapia

Lidia Hernández

Living by myself in New York

For the first anniversary of my arrival in the United States, I decided to treat myself to a visit to Disneyland. I went alone, as I had lived the major part of my days in New York. I took a lot of selfies, and a pic with Batman. Could it be that now I understand better this country? I thought. And instead of running from one attraction to the other, I started writing this essay about my Alice in Wonderland adventure. Arriving in New York a year ago, flying from Havana, was in several ways not just a physical trip but also traveling in time. It was getting to the future, and challenging all logic known until then. I didn’t come looking for the American dream, but rather to study a master’s in Journalism in the City University of New York. I wanted to learn how the journalism of the next 20 years will be. I’ve ended up getting to know myself better through that mirror. NY City has so many rare beauties. If you still haven’t gotten to love it, it’s because you don’t understand this place. You can be the homeless “loser” or you can make your dream...

Cuban rumba in New York

Cuban rumba in New York

There is a dimension where it doesn’t matter where you were born or where you grew up, if it was in Havana or New York, for example. It’s the same in Harlem as in Cerro, the rumba runs in the bodies of those who are Cuban by blood, through shared ancestors, who unite in tobacco smoke and the beat of the drums. Jadele McPherson, Cuban from her mother’s side, dances and sings the rumba as a way of connecting with her identity. It is also a way to open up more space in the United States to the culture of their ancestors. This year, a new event has served as stage for her group, Lukumi Arts, to share with artists who travelled from Cuba for a cultural exchange with the Harlem community. Artists from various fields were invited to participate in the Harlem / Havana Music & Cultural Festival from 14 to 22 August. For over a week they performed in theatres, restaurants and other locations folk company JJ, Cesar Lopez and Habana Ensemble, pianist Jorge Luis Pacheco, artist Eduardo Roca (Choco), fashion designers Mario Freizas and Mariela Orozco. Two chefs were also expected to attend, but were unable to...

Anthony Scaramucci on doing business in Cuba: “Timing is everything”

Anthony Scaramucci on doing business in Cuba: “Timing is everything”

The most exciting event in the economy this year is the reconnection of the economies of Cuba and the United States, and the prospects of that relation. That is the opinion of Anthony Scaramucci, founder and a co-managing partner of one of the most influential investment firms in the United States, SkyBridge Capital. He is also the mind behind SkyBridge Alternatives, SALT Conference, a meeting point for business and government leaders, and a space for networking, attending investment seminars, and doing macro-economic analysis. The last of these conferences was attended by renowned figures such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Nicholas Sarkozy, Tony Blair, George Papandreou, Al Gore, Colin Powell, Paul Singer, Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Magic Johnson, and Francis Ford Coppola. This year the conference will be held in Las Vegas, on May 10 through 13, and for the first time, it will include a panel on Cuba. Now that merely a week has passed since Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Cuba in almost 90 years, Anthony Scaramucci believes that this is the perfect moment for Americans to learn first-hand about this country that is only 90 miles away from the coasts of the United...

Cuba readies for Rolling Stones concert

Cuba readies for Rolling Stones concert

Sonya Schubert is the only woman in the crew setting up of the stage where the Rolling Stones will perform in Havana, Cuba, on March 25. Schubert, German, doesn’t seem to care about the sun that burns her tattoos. She and a team that includes people from different countries have been working for several days, since the early morning until very late at night at a sports ground known as Ciudad Deportiva, where the concert is to take place. “The stage will be ready in a couple of days,” she told OnCuba. “Then the production team will come to install the lights, something that could take some four days.” Preparations for the Rolling Stones concert in Cuba. Photo: Yailin Alfaro There are 25 construction workers from Stage Crew, her employer, in Cuba, plus the staff taking care of catering, and the organizers of the show. The production team, some 50 people, will join them soon. There will be a total of 70 people working on the preparations. “There are no Cubans involved in the construction works, just the catering. The food is amazing,” she said. Schubert has built stages in many other parts of the world,...

Tributo: Havana Club presents its tribute to Cubans

Tributo: Havana Club presents its tribute to Cubans

"The taste and smell of the rum of Cuba is only achievable with the fruits that grow in this land, with our humidity, the climate here, and the human ingredient that puts the definitive touches into making the drink. These will be the ingredients of the formula that is more intuition than pure maths," Asbel Morales, one of the seven master Cuban rum-makers assures OnCuba. In presenting the new rum Tributo, the Ultra Premium 2016 edition, Morales talked of Havana Club like talking about an alchemy thesis. The year they will only produce 2,500 bottles, a thousand to sell in the Cuban market and the rest to sell in other parts of the world at a price of 350CUC. Up to now they have produced bottle number 27. Tributo was exhibited at the XVIII Habanos Festival. This was not a happy mistake of fate, but a careful choice made because of the natural relationship that exists between Cuban rum and tobacco, two cultural expressions of the island. For that reason the drink can be combined with cigars that range from medium to strong intensity, like Partagás, Romeo and Juliet, or Cohíba. The name of the new Limited Edition Havana Club...

Peter Turnley exhibits in Cuba

Peter Turnley exhibits in Cuba

Peter Turnley, a photographer who worked for important publications such as The New Yorker, LIFE, National Geographic and Newsweek, is the first American artist to exhibit in the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana in over 50 years. The show “Moments of the human condition” is a retrospective of his work, which, in 130 photographs, covers his experiences in his travels around 90 countries. Moreover, this is the first time that an American photographer has put on a personal exhibition since the museum was founded in 1913. His work includes images of the fall of the Berlin wall and the revolutions in Eastern Europe, the famine in Somalia, catastrophes and the majority of the military conflicts of recent years. However, when trying to define himself, Turnley sees himself as a street photographer, of everyday people and their daily life. He is interested in exploring the universal element of the human condition, in places where it suffers due to injustices, but also in sweet and poetic moments where it inspires. Photo: Lidia Hernández Turnley arrived to the island for the first time in 1989, in a trip with Mikhail Gorbachev. Since then he has continually returned, and...

Rock’n Roll legend Ozzy Osbourne would like to perform in Havana

Rock’n Roll legend Ozzy Osbourne would like to perform in Havana

British rock’n roll star Ozzy Osbourne, frontman of Black Sabbath, visited Cuba this week accompanied by his son, Jack Osbourne, to take part in the shooting of a History Channel film. The Osbournes toured Old Havana and paid a visit to a statue of Ozzy’s fellow British musician John Lennon, that shows the ex-Beatle sitting on a bench in a park. The park and a nearby rock'n roll night club have been a traditional gathering place for Cuban rock’n roll lovers. The Godfather of Heavy Metal arrived at the park riding an impressive vintage convertible, followed by the cameramen of the History Channel. Cuba was the eighth stop on a travel itinerary that includes several cities of the world, with stays of around 4 days in each country. Asked if he’d like to give a concert in Havana, he said yes, but a local expert said that the possibility is very narrow. Guille Vilar, a musicologist and rock band manager said that it wouldn’t be as easy as organizing one of the concerts that other foreign musicians have offered recently. “Rock concerts have other requirements,” said Vilar, “big stages, lights, and sound systems we don’t have. And there’s also the...

Cubans a year after December 17

Cubans a year after December 17

A year has passed since Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced, in parallel transmissions, the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. The announcement of December 17th became news of the year, an event that surprised half the world and dusted off the cobwebs ready for the fresh start of a relationship between two countries that has historically been close. On January 20th the countdown begins for Barack Obama. What will be the extent of his legacy? OnCuba sought out the opinions and experiences of some Cubans regarding the events of a year which we are remembering as historic. What do they think awaits us in the coming year? Aimara Fernández, artist’s agent The most surprising of it all was the moment of the announcement. I was walking home and when I arrived at the house I found a heap of people in the street, and then my mother-in-law asks me “Have you found out? They’ve restored relations, everything is going to be really good. Cuba and the United States sat down and talked." We all celebrated, but I think the beginning was a bit naïve’ A change that has directly impacted the family are the direct...

What Christmas looks like in Cuba this year

What Christmas looks like in Cuba this year

Christmas colors and decorations seem to be making its comeback to Cuba. This year many private businesses changed their regular designs to be in tune with the spirit of the season: "snowmen" under the hot tropical sun, brunet Santas, Christmas lights and golden bells could be seen in different parts of the city. Although these symbols of a European tradition seem quite foreign in a country like Cuba, they have been placed in stores, streets, churches and houses. Some decorations are more sumptuous than others, and not all the neighbourhoods celebrate the holiday with the same enthusiasm. But most families enjoy the tradition of putting up the tree and the lights, exchange gifts, or attend mass on Christmas Eve. Cubans enjoy celebrations, and Christmas is a good excuse to celebrate around this time of the year.

Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida

Clandestina: A way of creating “99% Cuban design”

In February of 2015, when the store and design studio Clandestina opened its doors a few blocks from the Capitolio, Idania del Río and Leire Fernández had set out to create a design boutique right in the middle of Old Havana, with San Sebastian, New York and Paris as references. Amid décor that includes pop-art hearts and nods to the unavoidable tradition of revolutionary poster-making, with the epic slogan “On to the sugar cane harvest,” a certain minimalist halo immediately distinguishes this place from the conventional labels framing more popular businesses that spring up all over the city on a daily basis. It’s not an art gallery or a paladar (private restaurant). These two young women have found a way to prosper in a different enterprise, one that is economically sustainable, and with the fearlessness needed to open up a path of creative flexibility for designers whose desire is to offer a different image of Cuba today. Beyond the recurrent souvenirs that dominate the market and legitimize symbols of identity, their concern is for customers to find a certain touch of sophistication, which is often missing in national products. The birth of a brand A declaration of principles identifies the...

The lights and shadows of a convent

The lights and shadows of a convent

More than simply a museum, the Saint Francis of Assisi Convent in Havana is a place where the peace typical of old religious temples can still be sensed. Its tall tower invites visitors to escape the noisy streets of Old Havana, and contemplate the city from the quietness of its imposing baroque structure. Its construction was promoted by the first Franciscan friars who settled in western Cuba. It began in 1548, and ended in 1875. The building came to be a symbol of the presence of the Franciscan Order in Latin America, and its mission to evangelize the locals. In the centuries that followed, the place served as burial ground for renowned figures, a school for monks, a warehouse and customs office, and as Post and Telegraph Head Office. Today it is a museum of religious art, that also hosts classical music concerts and visual art exhibits. From its 42-meter high tower – the tallest in Havana back in the day – one can see the Lions Fountain, the Sierra Maestra Cruise Terminal, the Lonja del Comercio building, and the Havana harbor. And if you are lucky, sometimes a dove will come to eat out of your hand… [caption id="attachment_57542" align="aligncenter"...

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