November – December 2014 Magazine

One day, one of my daughters asked me, “Mom, how does Cuba sound?” Without stopping to think about what a funny question it was, I answered as if I’d thought of it before: “Cuba sounds like Los Van Van.”

Few artists have taken root in the culture of their people as deeply as Juan Formell did in Cuba’s. Forty-five years ago he founded the band Los Van Van, and he captivated a country; he made it his own, absorbed it, and then gave it back in lyrics and music; he made it dance, sing, and rejoice, and he spread that joy and that way of being to many places around the world.

Early on this year we had planned to devote the last issue of 2014 to Los Van Van, which celebrates its 45th anniversary on December 4. We never imagined then that Juan Formell, the band’s founder and leader, would no longer be with us; the Cuban people bid him farewell on May 1st.

This special issue is a tribute to Juan Formell’s Los Van Van, the emblematic band of Cuban popular music. In this issue, we bring you one of the last interviews granted by Formell; another with his son and the band’s current leader, Samuel Formell, a look at the band’s contribution to culture from the standpoint of a well-known Cuban musicologist; an article on Formell’s special virtue of making us dance while being an exceptional chronicler of the lives of Cubans; and also, we present you with an exclusive and very personal moment with the woman who was his partner in the last years of his life.

We also recommend that you take a look at our article on the influence of Cuban music on Miami; a visit to Up&Down, a fashionable bar in Havana; and the work of Roberto Diago, a well-known Cuban visual artist and a valuable firthand account by a former ¨Peter Pan¨ boy.

The OnCuba team, Los Van Van fans through and through, wish all of our readers a Happy 2015!

September – October 2014 Magazine

I don’t know if it’s the case with you, but for me, the approach of September brings the sensation that I’m about to embark on something. It might be the first day of school effect, which lingers from an enduring memory; every time September rolls around I feel like I should be starting something or setting a new goal, no matter how simple or difficult. Otherwise, I don’t feel complete.

In this issue of OnCuba, we bring you the stories of people who have taken on real challenges: an interview with Rubén Cortada, a young Cuban who has become one of the most successful actors on the Iberian peninsula; an article on the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC), or Cuban Art Factory, a cultural project led by musician X Alfonso and one of the forms taken by the economic opening in Cuba; a look at the artwork of the always-defiant Pedro Pablo Oliva; the story of three people who were born in three different points on the globe but have made Havana their home; and an exclusive interview with artist Sandra Ramos, who—now in Miami—continues to develop the theme of immigration in her work.

We especially recommend an analysis of Cuban exports, provided by a researcher with the Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy; the latest news on self-employment in Cuba, brought to us by two professors from the University of Havana’s Faculty of Economics; a statistical analysis of the main indicators for the export of professional services, the most important line of the Cuban economy, by journalist Mónica Rivero; and an investigative piece by Fernando Ravsberg on what is known in Cuba as the “weekly package,” a local way of passing around information in a digital format.

Everything that we bring to you in OnCuba magazine can be followed on our website,, which is also a way of keeping up-to- date about and connected with Cuba. We wish you happy travels and good reading, and with our magazine, we invite you to set yourself new challenges… and to accomplish them.

July – August 2014 Magazine

CUBA IS AT A UNIQUE MOMENT IN its relations with the United States. A survey conducted this year and sponsored by the Atlantic Council, one of the most representative organizations of the U.S. establishment, found that most people in the USA support a change in Cuba policy. The economic blockade of Cuba maintained by the U.S. government is rejected by almost the entire international community, and that includes major figures within the United States.

In her recently-released book, Hard Choices, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges President Obama to end the blockade against Cuba, saying it “wasn’t achieving its goals” and that it hurts both Americans and Cubans. In late May, Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, visited Havana with the goal of learning firsthand about the Cuban government´s economic reforms.

According to Donohue, “It’s time to begin a new chapter in U.S.- Cuban relations— and the time to begin is now.” Moreover, important Cuban-born business people, such as sugar magnate Alfonso Fanjul, have expressed interest in investing in Cuba. With a growing lobby that supports a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, quite a few people are predicting concrete measures.

However, Cuban- American congress members have maintained a hardline stance toward the Cuban government, and are still against any progress in relations between the two countries. Joe García, the first Cuban-American Democratic congress member in Florida, has taken a distance from the positions of his Republican colleagues, adopting a more moderate attitude.

This issue of OnCuba features an exclusive interview with García, who is in the middle of an election campaign, and who explains some of his positions on Cuba. Also in this issue, we recommend the story of three young friends who reunite every summer on the island; a tour of Havana hotels with unique histories; the inside story on Meñique, the first Cuban movie in 3-D; an analysis of the sites that move the real estate market on the island; and an article on Heberprot-P, a Cuban diabetes medication that has been proven effective and that is being studied for possible distribution in the United States. Our Economy and Business section takes a look at the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry in Cuba.

May – June 2014 Magazine

It must have been about 10 or 11 a.m., or maybe it was in the afternoon. In any case, it was daytime, that I’m sure of, because as I went down the hallway from the ultrasound department to the delivery unit, the reflection of daylight on the floor made a path of bright colors…everything was going to turn out all right.

We had spent the last nine months together; the first things that she knew were my smell, the warmth and music of my womb, blood and voice. She knew right away that my hands were a good place to be, which is why she snuggled close to them every time they were close to my enormous stomach. I had learned to carry her inside; it is a habit that lasts forever.

But when I saw her for the first time, so soft and beautiful, so terrifyingly mine…I learned how to be a daughter. She was out there, and 26 years earlier she had been where I now was, and now she was waiting, feeling my pain and joy. A nurse guided the stretcher that supposedly led to the ward…but we were actually going straight to my mother’s scent, to the eyes that had watched out for me so many times. The only thing I had to d
ring expression, and that is when I gave birth to my daughter.

To the readers of OnCuba who are mothers and fathers, we dedicated this May/June issue. Poet Liudmila Quincoses—the scribe of Sancti Spíritus, the one who writes the best letters—has written a special missive to our readers, and journalist Charly Morales shares with us his special notion of being a father.

Cuba is going through a crucial time as it seeks sustainable economic development. In this issue we provide an analysis of the recent Foreign Investment Law that was passed by the Cuban Parliament on March 29 of this year. We also have an interview with Hipólito Rocha, general director in Cuba of the Brazilian Agency for Promotion of Exports and Investment.

Additionally, for your reading pleasure, we have a visit to Sancti Spíritus, a central Cuban city that is celebrating its 500th anniversary; an interview with Orestes Kindelán, who is considered by many to be Cuba’s best clean-up hitter ever; a tour of 10 of Havana’s best private restaurants; the provocative work of artist Reyneiro Tamayo; and a look at the lives of the fishermen of Cojímar.

Revista Marzo – Abril 2014

Eran alrededor de las 11 de la noche. Caminábamos desde hacía más de cinco horas por aquella ciudad de calles empedradas; yo había perdido –literalmente– la suela de un zapato, y Yoha y Natasha, mis compañeras de expedición, soñaban en voz alta con una palangana de agua tibia donde pudieran sumergir los pies. Alain, nuestro director de fotografía y único hombre en aquella aventura, iba cargando su equipo de trabajo, que él sabe perfectamente pesa 12 kg.

Para acortar el camino a casa –le puede uno llamar así en apenas unas horas– quisimos innovar, y entramos por unas callecitas poco iluminadas. Alain era quien único protestaba: que si aquella calle estaba muy oscura, que nos podía pasar algo, que fuésemos por el camino conocido, que él sabía algunas historias… Una risa estrepitosa rompió el silencio. Gritamos, saltamos, y solo después de unos segundos pudimos identificar la fuente de la sorpresa. El sonido salía de una clásica ventana trinitaria desde donde una anciana, divertida a nuestra costa, nos hizo saber: “oigan habaneros, pueden caminar confiados, sin mirar atrás. Esta es la ciudad más tranquila del mundo”… Y tenía razón.

Preparando esta edición, que dedicamos especialmente a Trinidad en su 500 aniversario, reencontramos una ciudad tradicional y moderna, donde se respira prosperidad y belleza. En Trinidad comparten los oriundos con los visitantes de manera sana, natural, recíproca. Algo de ello contamos en un artículo sobre su historia, su arquitectura y su gente, y también en la propuesta de recorrido por excelentes sitios que no deberían perderse si visitan la Villa.

Recomendamos, además, una entrevista a Alexis Valdés, actor cubano, conductor de uno de los más famosos shows televisivos hispanos en Estados Unidos, quien por estos días se presenta con éxito en los teatros de Miami; un acercamiento a la vida de Yarisley Silva, campeona del salto con pértiga y singular mujer; un análisis del comportamiento de la compraventa de casas en Cuba, y la mirada de un experto a la economía cubana en el 2014. La historia del famoso hotel Capri y la vida de Tania Álvarez, bailarina muy peculiar.

Les ofrecemos esta edición especial con el aliento que nos dejó la visita a una ciudad cubana que uno debe vivir en carne propia. Quede usted, desde nuestras páginas, invitado.

Revista Enero – Febrero 2014

Era domingo, la ruta 174 que hacía el recorrido desde La Víbora hasta El Vedado había llegado, milagrosamente, pronto y vacía. Bajamos por la calle G hasta el malecón y nos sentamos en el muro. Ese recorrido, cada paso de lo que estaba ocurriendo aquel día, constituía en muchos sentidos, mi primer acto como persona adulta.

Mi hermana, aunque algo menor que yo más avezada en asuntos del amor, me había advertido que, o le daba el primer beso “de verdad” a Carlos, mi novio de hacía ya el prolongadísimo tiempo de dos meses, o lo perdía. Aquel portento, envidia de todas las muchachas de mi secundaria básica, no esperaría más por mi pazguatería.

Así que allí estaba yo, con 14 años, sentada en aquel muro, con un miedo que espantaba, junto a un caballero decidido a agenciarse el famoso primer beso de mi vida. Lo logró, y así quedó marcado uno de los “hitos” de mi historia, a pesar de que, a decir verdad y después de más de veinte años de experiencia, el beso no lo mereciera.

Como los recuerdos amorosos, imperecederos, y bajo el influjo del año nuevo y del Día de San Valentín, hemos querido regalarle a nuestros lectores una edición enamorada, inolvidable…

A la historia, colmada de pasiones, de una de las primeras villas fundadas por los españoles en Cuba, entonces nombrada Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, que cumple en febrero 500 años, reservamos varias páginas de nuestra edición e incluimos, además, una ruta por lugares que recomendamos visitar. La entrevista a Mariela Castro, directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (Cenesex), y el reportaje sobre la Zona de Desarrollo Especial del Mariel, llamada a convertirse en centro económico de la Isla y punto de mira para inversionistas extranjeros, son otras de nuestras especiales propuestas.

Recomendamos, además, la singular historia de “La Bayamesa”, considerada la primera canción de amor cubana; la entrevista a Fernando Ravsberg, corresponsal de prensa extranjera en Cuba desde hace más de veinte años, y un testimonio del trabajo que realizan de conjunto especialistas norteamericanos y cubanos a favor de la protección ambiental.

En este inicio de año, le sugerimos siga a Cuba de cerca, desde nuestro sitio web, actualícese diariamente de lo que acontece en la Isla, no deje de visitar nuestro canal en YouTube en el cual ofrecemos entrevistas exclusivas, y sea parte de nuestra tropa en Facebook que ya suma más de 37 000 amigos. Comience su año con OnCuba, y que nuestro aché esté con ustedes.

Revista Noviembre – Diciembre 2013

Desde que iniciamos la publicación de OnCuba nuestro propósito ha sido abordar la realidad cubana, su belleza y sus desvelos, un proyecto que exige mirar con los ojos del corazón pero conservando los pies en la tierra. Es de suponer entonces que, entre las personas que hemos querido entrevistar, haya estado Silvio Rodríguez. Si algo ha caracterizado a este creador que moviliza multitudes ha sido su amor probado por la tierra que lo vio nacer y la consecuente terquedad de sus principios. Ángel o demonio, sus apariciones siempre provocan debate, porque sus criterios no dejan lugar a los términos medios.

Era de suponer que debíamos ser pacientes, no es tan metafórico aquello de que su “puerta está comida donde la ha golpeado el mundo”, pero los azares, y sobre todo las causas, hicieron posible nuestro deseo. Le pedimos a Julio César Guanche, intelectual cubano, que debatiera algunos temas que le apasionan y preocupan, con Silvio. Compartimos hoy con ustedes dicho intercambio.

En esta edición estrenamos, además, una sección dedicada a un asunto que ha vuelto a la palestra: los bienes raíces. Abordamos también algunos aspectos de la ganadería en Cuba, desde la experiencia de una mujer con resultados sorprendentes; nos acercamos a la obra del artista Esterio Segura, y les proponemos especialmente un recorrido por paladares que nos recomiendan cenas especiales para Navidad y Fin de año.

Otra propuesta relacionada con la música llamará la atención de nuestros lectores. Paola Guanche, la niña de origen cubano ganadora de la primera edición del programa La Voz Kids de la cadena Telemundo, nos recibió en su casa de Miami y compartió sus vivencias con nuestro equipo.

Este ha sido un año de trabajo duro para OnCuba, de alegrías y perseverancia. Les deseamos un feliz 2014 a todos nuestros lectores, que pongan la mirada en las más anheladas metas y se dediquen a conseguirlas; el amor engendra maravillas, damos fe.