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This January that we said goodbye dressed in pandemic costume also marked a special birthday: a quarter of a century ago, the musical group Cumanay appeared for the first time on the scene, although at that time, another was its name.
As current circumstances limit free movement, I use technology to talk to Oslando Chacón Terry, director of the group.
"It was Rubén Rojas Valladares, who was deputy director of 'Lácteo', who came up with the idea of having a musical group in the Company to guarantee recreation. The group began its artistic life as an amateur group on January 25, 1996 at the Escambray Dairy Products Company, and the first performance took place during an emulation check-up at the pasteurizer.
"At that time we were called Lactoson, and the music we played was mainly son and its variants. During that stage we participated in national CTC festivals and won several awards; we also attended national popular art fairs. A very special moment was in 2000, the open forum for the return of Elián González, held in Cumanayagua. It was there, for the first time, that we called ourselves Cumanay.
In its work, Cumanay shares with other peasant artists /Photo: Taken from the Internet
It may seem distant in time and, obviously, that category cannot be avoided; however, each experience is very close and deep in the members of Cumanay whose representation, its director unravels memories common to all:
"In December 2001 we began life as a group of the music marketing company 'Rafael Lay'. Our first contract was in the recreational center of Yaguanabo, and we also did several activities in the municipality and other settlements. We hosted the 'Montaña y son' festival.
But it didn't stop there. With peasant music as baggage, they participated in national events of the Turquino Plan and in assemblies of the National Association of Small Farmers at different levels, both as an independent group or accompanying other artists who also cultivate the genre.
And then came the radio, Radio Cumanayagua to be more precise, and the program "Así es mi tierra" became a sort of magical stage to bring the group's creations to everyone.
"In 2010 we presented ourselves for the first time in Palmas y Cañas," Oslando Chacón Terry tells me, and it seems to me that it is that, another magical scenario, now through images that have brought them closer to all of Cuba. "In that program we have been awarded three times in the Eduardo Saborit contest". Other television programs have also embraced Cumanay.
Hotel facilities such as Pasacaballo and Rancho Luna, here in Cienfuegos, know about their dedication and tenacity, and many people have enjoyed their peculiar style in social meetings and international tourism fairs, among other venues.
The members of Cumanay have many goals, and right now, some of them are "(...) to have the opportunity to record our own album, because we have our own repertoire and it is difficult for us; also to record a new video to defend our Cuban music", the director of the group finally tells me.
Eliover Villalpando Valdés, Yoel Ramos Palmero, Osvaldo Carmona Alonso, Raidel Capote Toledo, Javier Leandro Reyes Castillo and Oslando Chacón Terry are the "staff" members of the group Cumanay, who gladly share with Jorge Félix Roja, guest lute player.
Twenty-five years have passed since the start, but neither time nor the pandemic have been able to tear Cuban music from the hearts of the Cumanay group. They, from the Entre Ríos valley that is Cumanayagua, continue making music to dance and touch the hearts of Cubans.
English version Hector Hdez.
"Renowned singer Silvio Rodríguez is part of the International Committee in charge of promoting the campaign in favor of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the Cuban doctors members of the #BrigadaHenryReeve. #NobelForTheCubanPhysicians," the website Pensando Américas, of the Network in Defense of Humanity, published on its Twitter account.
The Cuban singer-songwriter, widely known in Latin America for his progressive and leftist positions, thus joins the dozens of activists, personalities, parliamentarians and intellectuals who support the petition for Cuban health professionals to receive the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for their solidarity and humanist work in various nations around the world during the confrontation with the COVID-19.
In this regard, the prominent political scientist Noam Chomsky recently said that Cuba is the only country that has shown genuine internationalism during the crisis generated by the coronavirus.
According to the rules, nominations for recognition can only be made by parliamentarians, academics, judges of international courts, persons already awarded and active or retired members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and have a deadline of January 31 of each year.
The Union of Historians of Cuba supported Mincult statement following the incident last January 27, when a group of people positioned themselves in front of its headquarters with obvious provocative and media manipulation purposes, also violating the current sanitary regulations by the COVID-19.
The historians emphasize that these people "showed a defiant and hostile attitude despite receiving repeated calls for dialogue and responsible compliance in the attention to citizens, as established in Cuban government institutions."
"Dialogue cannot take place on the basis of blackmail, imposition and disrespect," they state in their statement, published in La Jiribilla magazine.
They also reiterate that on the occasion of the 168th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of Cuba "Cubans, who assume the homeland as an altar and not as a pedestal, faithful to his legacy, we will continue defending the Revolution and its achievements, in which independence and national sovereignty, social justice, intellectual creation and solidarity prevail, conquered with the sacrifice and blood of thousands of our compatriots throughout the history of the homeland".