Cuban Constitution Update: An important moment for Cuba.

Written by Izzy Valdés.
There are a lot of changes going on in the top levels of Cuban government right now. (Read our article about the recent elections here.) The first special session of the Cuban Parliament IX Legislature started in Havana on June the 2nd.
The 572 delegates of the Parliament gathered at the Havana Convention Center in order to analyze and approve the results of an administrative experiment: the integration of permanent decision-making commissions in the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament). This administrative experiment was carried out in the provinces of Artemisa and Mayabeque from 2012 to present.
Responding to the new transformations of the Cuban socialist model, they approved the process of constitutional reform and the commission integrated by delegates in charge of writing and presenting the new constitutional project.
The commission to update the Constitution is increased by 33 parliamentary members that belong to different backgrounds of the…

The History of Salsa Music and Dance

Written by Sophia Bass 

I've always wanted to trace the origins of Salsa music. When I was traveling through Havana in 2017, I learned that Salsa is one of the most dynamic and important musical phenomena of the 1900's. Salsa combines Afro-Cuban dance, Spanish guitar, and complex rhythms that have become internationally acclaimed in cities such as New York City to Barcelona, Spain. While New York actually created the term "Salsa," the United States did not create the dance.

Historically, Cubans gave birth to the origins of what is referred to as Salsa. The term became popular to refer to the variety of music from Latin American countries including Mambo, Rhumba, Bomba, Cumbia, Charanga, and many other forms of dance. The most famous musicians of the 1950's were Tito Puente, called the King of Mambo, and Celia Cruz, known as the Queen of Salsa.

To trace the roots of Salsa music we can look to West Africa where slave trade thrived between the 16th and 19th century. T…

Cuba's Education System (traducido al español)

Written by Sophia Bass, translated below by Izzy Valdés 

When I first arrived in Cuba I was intrigued when I learned that public education is one of Cuba's top priorities. Ever since 1959 when President Batista was in political power, he was determined to eliminate illiteracy throughout Cuba. According to the World Bank, Cuba reported 12.84% of GDP in 2010 for public spending on education. Today, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

As I was perusing the streets of Old Havana, I met young men and women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty waiting tables or playing music on street corners. One man named José who served me coffee said, "Would you believe me if I told you I was a dentist?"

I replied, "Yes, but why are you serving me coffee then?"

José stated, "I make more money waiting tables than I do working as a dentist in Cuba."

José explained that the joke about Cuba is that there is a doctor or lawyer on every street corn…

The Forbidden Shore: A Documentary about Cuban Music (Traducido al español)

Written by Sophia Bass, translated below by Izzy Valdés.
Cuba is known for its diverse music scene that combines European, African, and  Caribbean sounds. While you may be familiar with Cuban band, Buena Vista Social Club, the majority of the international world has not been exposed to Cuba's wide array of musicians and artists that play regularly on the streets of Old Havana. 
The documentary, The Forbidden Shore, showcases over 40 performances and interviews by Cuba's top artists. This film highlights how little the global world knows about Cuba and Latin America. Director Ron Chapman wanted the international community to know about the diversity of Cuban music. Chapman explains that he was in awe when he traveled to Cuba for the first time because he was unaware of the musical diversity on the Caribbean island.
Artistic Director, Diana Vargas states, "We wanted to show a snapshot of the work that is being produced in Cuba today." As many people wanted to learn why Ch…

Elections in Cuba: How it Works

Written by Ian Sergeant and Sophia Bass

Cuba’s presidential elections having just passed, we thought we would help alleviate any confusion that there may be regarding Cuba’s electoral process.

In 2007, Raul Castro assumed power when his brother Fidel Castro fell ill. He was officially elected president in February 2008. After his reelection in 2013, Raul promised that he would only hold power for this second 5-year term, and then step down as president. This was extended by a couple of months after Hurricane Irma, in order to ensure the stability of the republic. On April 19th, 2018, Cuba’s National Assembly elected Miguel Diaz-Canel president of Cuba.

The National Assembly of People’s Power is Cuba’s Parliament and is made up of 605 members, chosen on a local level through democratic elections. The last election was March 2018. They are the only body in the Republic invested with constituent and legislative authority. This means that when it is time to choose new leadership, the respo…

A Lesser Known City in Cuba: Camagüey

Written by Sophia Bass and Izzy Valdés.
The majority of international travelers may not know about the lesser traveled destinations in Cuba. There is a special village right in the very heart of this island that is worth discovering.

Camagüey, formerly called “Santa Maria Del Puerto del Principe” is one of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba and also one of those places you should not miss when traveling to this Caribbean Island.

Founded in 1514 in the northern coast of the territory, the town became an urban center for the sugar and cattle industry.

Known for its beautiful colonial architecture, you can find endless labyrinthian alleys, numerous squares, and ornate cathedrals, as the city is known for its Catholic history.

Exploring a city like Camagüey is quite a challenge. When it seems you have reached the end of a street, it merges with the beginning of another, totally unexpected - right before your eyes you have suddenly reached a new maze. However, rat…

Muraleando: A Community Project in Havana, Cuba (Traducido al español)

Written by Sophia Bass, translated below by Izzy Valdés

The first time I traveled to Havana, I immediately noticed a variety of artistic expression throughout the city. From local art markets and galleries to murals, I wanted to learn the story behind Cuba's innovative art scene. I quickly learned of the Muraleando Art Project founded by Manuel Diaz Baldrich and Ernesto Quirch Paz in 2003. Founder of Soltura Cuba Travel, Ian Sergeant, assisted in funding the creation of the project through the not-for-profit organization, Cuba AyUUda. Situated on the outskirts of Havana, the project has transformed an area of rubble and destruction into a thriving art collective.

The goal of Muraleando is to bring children off the streets of Havana and inspire them to contribute to a community project. In a country where nothing is disposable and everything is useful from telephone wires, iron, to old typewriters, artists in Cuba sought an opportunity to utilize these materials and create somethin…

An Unforgettable Journey

Written by Allison Viaja 

Dear Momma,

I have run the Malecon at sunrise, talked politics with people from around the globe in front of kitchy Trump art nuevo at Fabrica de Arte, whose line stretches 1,000 people long, but which the gift of a VIP card allowed me to bypass. I've biked 40km through fishing villages along the northern coast with doctors from Belgium, and free climbed the magotes of Viñales. I've sat 3rd row center at the Cuban National Ballet and been reduced to tears. I've been paraded around cobblestone streets in a horse drawn carriage while men yelled, "You're beautiful!," and "I love you!" up to me like adoring subjects. I've refreshed my salsa skills on crumbling rooftops to sunsets that last longer than my legs do, and to the music of everyday life. I've scuba'd the Bahia de Cochinos and played dominos in the streets of Havana, smoking cigars with men 10x my age and been schooled and taught a thing or two right back. …

Recent Election in Cuba Makes History

Written by Sophia Bass

If you're traveling to Cuba in 2018, you may want to learn about the recent election that occurred on March 11th. Cuba's election will open a final chapter of the Castro era. This is the first time in nearly 60 years that a member of the Castro family will no longer be in charge of office. As President Raul Castro will be stepping down in April of 2018, this election marks a critical time in history for Cuba as a nation. President Raul Castro will continue as the head of the Communist Party after stepping down from office.

"They're the most important elections of recent years, because we are going to vote for new people who will govern from then on," day-care center guardian Ramon Perez told AFP news agency in Minute by minute: General elections in Cuba (II).

Thanks to special polling stations, every Cuban eligible to vote was able to participate in the voting process wherever they were in the national territory on March 11th. People voted…