CubaFest Returns in March

By Jesús Aguado

Music, films, literature, and dance will be featured at CubaFest in San Miguel from March 7 to 15. This year, the twelfth annual CubaFest will pay homage to one of the most outstanding song writers and musicians in Latin America in the 20th century, César Portillo de la Luz.

CubaFest is a multidisciplinary event and, according to its artistic director, Lupita Meza, it is inclusive due to its essential universal language—culture. For that reason and also because all the events are free, everybody—locals and visitors—has the chance to attend these Latin American cultural expressions. For 12 years, the festival has strengthened the cultural offerings, not just of San Miguel, but of the state. For anyone who has missed the festival events and needs more information, Meza comments “There is a varied array of attractions that will provide happiness, joy, fun, and entertainment to the attendees, and as the Cuban song goes, ‘Music is the most sublime for providing joy to our souls.’”

The director comments that it is important to know the Cuban culture because it defines and identifies us as human beings of this world region due to the Spanish, African, and Hindi mix, “which is the genetic code running through our veins that gathers a legacy of cultural emotions and expressions that we live daily and share with Latin Americans.” Meza points out that in the Caribbean region, Cuba and Mexico are territorially two important spots in the history of the cultural development of the continent, and that is why it is not a coincidence that the most prominent Mexican singers and musicians have started their success on this island and vice versa. This includes singers like Benny Moré, Bola de Nieve, Compay Segundo, and Rosita Fornés. It is the same with Pablo Milanés and Silvio Rodríguez, who have Mexico as their second homeland. Meza also comments that Spanish singers, including Alejandro Sanz, Julio Iglesias, and Rocío Durcal, started their musical careers from Mexico to Latin America and the Caribbean.


This year’s festival will be a tribute to songwriter César Portillo de la Luz, the musician and singer who provided music to Latin America for more than 50 years. Portillo is well known for songs like Contigo en la Distancia (With You in the Distance) and Delirio (delirium) and for one of the most danceable themes, Son al son, which is also the slogan of CubaFest. In homage to Portillo de la Luz, the short film Cubanos en primer plano will be projected, giving the audience an appreciation of Portillo’s work.

CubaFest will also feature Mexican writer Carlos Vejar Pérez, who will present the book Las danzas del huracán, Veracruz y la Habana en los años 30 (The Hurricane Dances, Veracruz and Havana in the 1930s). The presentation will be at the Casa de Allende museum at 7pm on Saturday, March 8, and will also include an inaugural cocktail. After this event, at 8pm on the same evening, Nova Rumba Dance Company will present impressive and exciting choreography in the Jardín Principal.

To celebrate International Woman’s Day, Dr. Irina Wilkins, a Cuban medical specialist, will give a lecture on new medical science discoveries to benefit adult and older women. This event will be held at the Parque Juarez on Sunday, March 8, at 7pm.

Films and the premier of Fátima

The CubaFest, along with the Casona de Allende, located on Salida a Celaya, and the Cuban Institute of Arts and Cinematographic Arts, will present two premieres in Mexico on Monday, March 9 from 6 to 10pm. Fátima is a film based on Miguel Barnet’s novel, Fátima o el parquet de la fraternidad. The movie was directed by actor Jorge Perogurría, who played the main character in the film Fresa y Chocolate. Fátima tells the story of a young transvestite peasant who abandons his city to seek a different lifestyle and follow his dreams. His decision will lead him along a path full of danger. The director has commented that the movie is “a chant to the freedom of dreaming.” The author of the script, an outstanding poet and writer, Fidel Antonio Orta, will attend the premiere.

The short film Todos somos música (We All Are Music) was filmed at Casa de la Trova in Santiago de Cuba with the participation of more than 100 Cuban musicians. For this, the festival will present Eliades Ochoa, singer and member of Buena Vista Social Club, who in 2013 won a second Grammy for his production Un bolero para ti.

Tickets for this premiere will be free. They will be available (maximum two per person) at La Casona de Allende on Salida a Celaya 78. For this occasion, the Casona will open its VIP movie theater with comfortable chairs and a bar. The tickets will be given out March 7 to 9 from 11am to 8pm. Check the entire program in Festivals and Events in Qué Pasa.

The roots of CubaFest

On May 30, 2000, local authorities and representatives from La Habana Vieja signed a sister cities agreement to take advantage of opportunities for cultural, commercial, social, and touristic exchange. Guadalupe Meza, director of CubaFest, said that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recommends forming citizens’ committees to promote and continue activities to preserve this kind of arrangement when the parties who formed the original agreement are no longer involved.

When the alliance was first formed, a group of citizens, including Meza and Adolfo Rubio, artistic director of the festival, began holding private events with Cuban lecturers and musicians. Because so many people became interested, these gatherings grew each year until the organizers decided to open the activities to the general public in larger, public venues in 2003. The Festival de la Cultura Cubana en San Miguel de Allende (Festival of Cuban Culture in San Miguel de Allende) changed its name in 2011 to CubaFest, a multidisciplinary celebration that sponsors academic, cinematographic, gastronomic, and musical events.


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