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Being the best ambassadors

Being the best ambassadors

By Jose Carlos de Santiago

Almost at the same time that we bestowed, in Madrid, the Destino Más Seguro (Safest Destination) Excelencias Award to Cuba as part of the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Spain, Havana throbbed with the exchange among the dozens of great Cuban, North American and world musicians who participated in the fest that was the 33rd edition of the Jazz Plaza International Festival.

We did not know yet by then -during the FITUR dinner, offered by Cuba´s Ministry of Tourism, and in which the Grupo Excelencias was publicly thanked for its 20 years promoting the Big Island- what had happened the night before to famous De De Roswilde at the Teatro Nacional, after the applauded concert by the great Chucho Valdés at the Jazz Plaza.

She climbed excitedly to the stage and left behind, at the front stalls, a wallet with her personal identification and several hundred dollars in cash, which is required by the current measures demanded by the US government on travelers going to Cuba from the United States. To her surprise, after realizing and reporting the loss to security employees, they returned their belongings intact inside a sealed plastic bag, thanks to a couple of spectators, passing tourists, who returned it to the hotel.

She herself told the press almost with tears in her eyes, with the same gratitude and tranquility that Joe Lobano, known as the Godfather of Jazz, showed during the interview with our editors at the El Atelier restaurant. Or the beautiful evening performance of renowned Victor Goines at the Fine Arts Museum with the young people of "Aires de Concierto". Or the heavily attended jam sessions of Puerto Ricans and Americans of "Ocho y Más" at the Fábrica de Arte Contemporáneo (FAC). Or Ted Nash´s fraternal master class at the Universidad de las Artes...

And the reason is that in Cuba music is on the streets. Guy Andersen, CEO of SONY ATV, said so before going to the airport. To the question of whether he had been able to sleep peacefully, after signing the transcendent contract with EGREM to promote Cuban music in the world, he explained that he had been impacted by the visit to the national art school, when he saw young people learning in community, and sharing the instruments, without differences of any kind. "That's why they have such good artists, and their music is so rich and diverse. It deserves to be promoted to new audiences and platforms, because it is demanded all over the world".

For this reason, the decision of the Kennedy Center to convene the Festival “Artes de Cuba” in Washington during the months of May and June is worthy of applause, which will be attended by artists who either live on the Island or abroad. BillBoard Magazine echoed just a few days ago of this great event that is being prepared in the North American capital.

It is what the great jazz figures affirmed in the lobby, as well as in the main conference table of the Hotel Nacional: "Music will do what our country's politics does not: we are building a bridge, we are ambassadors here..."Art and culture are the best mortar of this immense bridge.

Just because of this, and in our capacity as ambassador of the Iberia-American Academy of Gastronomy, we encouraged the signing of the agreement between Rafael Ansón, its president, and Manuel Marrero, Minister of Tourism, to proclaim Havana as the Iberia-American Capital of Cocktail to argue that no one could, no matter how much it was intended, stop the reach of an authentic rum or an exquisite cigar, let alone obstruct Cuban music.

 A word to the wise...