Actuality in Cuba


Onaisys Fonticoba Gener

Cuban light rum appeared for the first time in Santiago de Cuba, around 1862. Then, a "rough and heavy rum" was well-known: Tafia, which was consumed by corsairs and pirates, and it is also necessary to mention the traditional sugarcane, processed without refining its elements. The truth is that since those first moments of this "light" drink, its presence has been inextricably linked to the idiosyncrasy of the island, its artistic manifestations, and even popular healing remedies.

Besides it is "the liquid taste of the Cuban" -as the First Cuban Rum Maestro, José Navarro, has stated- Cuban rum is currently commercialized in more than 120 countries and its exports get four million cases every year, although it is expected to get more than six million by 2020. Perhaps, those are the main reasons for having a visit to the rum factories of Santa Cruz del Norte and San José de las Lajas. Besides being a direct meeting with that industry, it is also a trip to the origins of the Cuban essence.

The first of them –the exclusive producer of the line Havana Club ‘Añejo Blanco’- is among the oldest in the country and is also the larger producer of sugarcane. As the First Maestro Juan Carlos González Delgado explained, these facilities were inaugurated on an old distillery, built in 1919 and nationalized in the sixties. Upon being visited by Fidel Castro in 1971, it was decided to begin an investment process that concluded two years later, following a directive from the Cuban president: building "Cuba's largest rum factory".

Although Santa Cruz's production represents Havana Club's majority sales line, it is under an intense recovery process since the end of 2013 –which most last until 2021- and it includes infrastructure, technology and human capital.

About 30 minutes away is the San Jose rum factory. This is the newest of all Cuban rum factories –it was inaugurated in 2007-, but its facilities store all the necessary bases to be headed to the line of dark rums of Havana Club. Called "the new house of the ancient rum ", these facilities produce three million nine-liter cases a year, with a distillery (capable of processing 30 hectoliters per day), six aging cellars (and two more under construction) and the most recent leading technology.

"This is possible - Cuban Rum Maestro Asbel Morales Lorenzo said- because at the same time the factory received the bases which are reserved for the production of ‘Añejo 7 Años’, new bases were created, and it allowed it to be independent in 2012. From 17 hectares with which this installation began, today it includes 23, and it has become the largest factory for the production of dark rums in Cuba” .

"These storehouses keep all they need to guarantee production levels until 2032. Sometimes people think producing rum is an industrial process. And it is not like that. It is necessary to have a lot of patience and foresight to know how the sales will behave at national and international level and to calculate them correctly, because after 15 years, we will only be able to sell what we are able to dispose of now. There is no time machine”.

"This factory was also designed to repatriate the bottling of dark rums. Some time ago, they were bottled in Spain, and now they are produced and bottled in origin. For Cubans, who always talk about natural and traditional aging, San Jose is an example of how this method can be combined with the most advanced technologies".

During the tours, the President of the Cuban Bartenders’ Association, José Rafa Malém, declared the Cuban Rum Maestros Manuel Calderón and Tranquilino Palencia, members of honor of that society, because of their contributions to the development of the Association and the Cuban culture in general.

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  • The Cuban government has begun to pay ahead of schedule the debt which was renegotiated with more than a dozen international creditors, in a first step to settle outstanding accounts that historically has been dragging, reported Reuters. Havana sealed in December 2015 an agreement with the Paris Club countries and managed to get 14 governments to forgive him 8,500 of 11,100 million still pending. The repayment of the remaining amount was structured over 18 years and the first payment of about $ 40 million, was made before October 31. "The Cuban government has paid the first installment and has done soon", said the French Ambassador to Cuba, Jean-Marie Bruno. Under the agreement with the Paris Club the 14 countries had a year to sign restructuring pacts that could include the establishment of local accounts, where a percentage of the money owed would be earmarked for development projects.

  • At the fairgrounds Expocuba more than 75 countries and 4 500 exhibitors have gathered since this Monday to seek business opportunities in the Caribbean largest shopping bag. Until November 4 Cuban entrepreneurs can showcase their results in the production of goods and services and present their interests in the search of foreign investment. Aiming for this, the Ministry of Tourism has arranged a larger exhibition area at the fair, for which presents a portfolio of 127 investment projects, including 25 for the construction of hotels, 97 in the form of hotel management with or without external financing and five dedicated to marine management. United States, Spain, France, Italy and Japan increased their participation, and Venezuela, China and Russia are the partners of the island most represented at the meeting.

  • The Roswell Park Cancer Institute, based in the city of Buffalo, will hold in the United States a clinical trial of a Cuban vaccine against lung cancer. The goal is to test the CimaVax-EGF, a treatment developed by the Molecular Immunology Center in Havana. The institute, one of the most important of its kind in the world, becomes the first American medical institution to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test a Cuban medical therapy in that country. The clinical trial is expected to begin in November and to involve roughly 60 - 90 US patients. Although CimaVax-EGF does not provide a cure of the disease, it contributes to slow the growth of tumors and is less toxic than chemotherapy. In this regard, it has already shown promising results in Cuba, and other countries like Peru, Colombia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  • One of the most important groups in the contemporary world scene will tour Cuba. Odin Teatret will carry out from October 30 to November 25 a tour through several provinces. Based in the Danish town of Holstebro, Odin Teatret is led since 1964 by the Italian master Eugenio Barba. During his stay in Cuba they will present eight shows, which include one-person and group shows as well as a program of lectures, workshops, work demonstrations, audiovisual presentations, master classes and other exchanges. The tour will cover the cities of Las Tunas, Sancti Spiritus, Matanzas, Santa Clara, Camagüey, Pinar del Rio, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

  • 25th edition of International Ballet Festival of Havana Alicia Alonso has started. The event, one of the most prestigious in the world of dance- will take place until November 6. Among the guests are the company Buenos Aires Ballet, under the direction of Federico Fernández; Dance Americanana -group composed of figures of the New York City Ballet and the Miami City Ballet-; Ballet West, also American, and the Canadian company Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Also integrate the list Vlovajob Pru, led by François Chaignaud & Cecilia Bengolea; Martha Graham Dance Company, founded in 1929 by the celebrated dancer and choreographer Martha Graham; and Irene Rodriguez’s (Cuba). Also attending the Festival are choreographers Daniel Proietto and Demis Volpi, both Argentinian; Colombian-Belgian Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cuban Alberto Mendez and Ely Regina Hernandez, who created especially for the event, the pas de deux Winter.

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