The Caribbean Tourism Organization has declared 2019 as the year of festivals in that region, coinciding with the celebration of the 39th Fire Fest in Santiago de Cuba, dedicated to Uruguay and the contagious “candombe,” a rhythm of African drums that makes the carnival of Montevideo so distinctive, and as contagious and passionate as the intense nights and early mornings of the carnivals in Santiago de Cuba and Havana: all the more reason to dedicate our magazine to the carnivals and popular festivals.
Because those events in this hot summer of Iberian-America and the Caribbean are true cultural symbols of centuries-old roots in our peoples and communities. Defending that legacy and passing it on without prejudices to the new generations is also a duty in the 21st century because they are the greatest expressions of our traditional popular celebrations, the same ones enjoyed by our great grandparents and our grandchildren.
According to Guinness, Rio de Janeiro is still the most famous of all the festivities, but since we have published so much about the “Sambodromo,” in this edition we prefer to talk about how the longest carnival in the world originates in the neighborhoods of Montevideo, with its forty-one days and successive evenings, the same one that begins with the classic parade down the main avenue and, just a week later, between the neighborhoods South and Palermo, there is the extraordinary “Desfile de las Llamadas” on “Isla de las Flores” street, the top celebration of the black communities, where the protagonists are thousands of drums that play the “candombe” and brings together thousands of other Uruguayans.
Also in this edition, you will be able to know a little more about the famous “Carnaval de Cádiz” from its enthusiastic historian, and have a vivid chronicle of the always spectacular “Carnaval de Oruro,” in Bolivia; and have a glorious ending with the one from Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, considered the second largest and most important in Latin America, which together with the Bolivian one was declared by Unesco as Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. And even going on a round trip between the two most important Cuban carnivals that have enjoyed an equal international reputation, be it Santiago de Cuba or Havana, the latter immersed in celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Cuban capital.
Wikipedia tries to explain that carnivals has as a common characteristic and that it is a period of permissiveness and a certain lack of control. And it seems likely that the origin of its celebration goes back to the pagan festivals, more than 5,000 years ago, with very similar celebrations at the time of the Roman Empire, the mythical Saturnian celebrations of ancient Rome or the bacchanals of ancient Greece, from where the custom was expanded throughout Europe, being taken to America by Spanish and Portuguese navigators at the end of the fifteenth century.
These and other topics will be discussed in Santiago de Cuba during the 39th Fire Fest, at the Colloquium «The Caribbean that unites us». By accepting Uruguay's invitation as a Guest Country, the Ambassador of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay to the Island, Eduardo Lorier Sandro, said in Santiago de Cuba: "Our main objective is to unite peoples, unite cultures and cultivate solidarity. We have something in common: the culture of our blacks, of our ancestors.
Inaugurated in April 1981 by the unforgettable Cuban writer and researcher Joel James Figarola, founding director of “Casa del Caribe,” the “Fiesta del Fuego” is a cultural event and the ideal space for exchange. When this magazine circulates from hand to hand, more than a hundred Uruguayan delegates will be roaming the streets of the capital of Eastern Cuba, among them groups of Afro-Uruguayan culture, especially “candombe,” with their drums and singers, as well as plastic artists, poets, researchers, representatives of sung and danced tango, the Youth Symphony Orchestra and choral groups.
Welcome, therefore, a new edition of the Caribbean Festival, the largest of all dedicated to the popular cultures of our peoples. And if they get excited, like us in the “Grupo Excelencias” back in 1997, stay until the Carnival begins, in Havana or in Santiago. Surely, they will live the temptation.