Wednesday, September 9, 2009

After Summer Break, CUBA EN TUCSON returns with Fall 2009 programs

A Tucsonan in Cuba
(Un Tucsonense en Cuba)

September 17, 2009

7:oo PM

The Little Chapel / University of Arizona
Tom Miller has been visiting Cuba regularly since 1987 on writing assignments for leading publications, to visit family, and to lead educational trips on behalf of the National Geographic Society.
He is most intrigued with the cultural and political contradictions he has observed over the years, during which he has gained an intimate understanding of life on the island. He will share his expertise with us and answer questions about travel to the island.
Tom is the author of the book
–described by the Lonely Planet Travel Series as maybe “the best travel book
about Cuba ever written.”
Admission is $5
(includes talk and, as always,
delicious Cuban food,
and music)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cuban Cultural Night: APRIL 16, 2009

Join us for the last meeting of our Spring 2009 Season!!!

Las Reinas del Trópico:
Cuban Rumberas in Mexican ‘Classical’ Cinema

Lecture and Presentation
Dr. Laura G. Gutierrez
(Dept. Spanish & Portuguese,
University of Arizona)

( see video clip of Ninon Sevilla dancing Rumba below)

Starting in the 1930’s, thanks in large part to the filmmaker, actor, and dancer Juan Orol, Cuban rumberas began traveling to Mexico to work, primarily, in the emerging national film industry. Although rumberas (female rumba dancers) had appeared in films prior to 1938, it was during this year, with Orol’s film Siboney, which featured the incredible dancer of Afro-Cuban rhythms María Antonieta Pons, that a new melodrama subgenre emerged. For almost two decades—coinciding with Mexico’s so-called Golden Age period (roughly the late 1930’s to early 1950’s)—filmmakers exploited the appeal that these “Reinas del Trópico,”—including Pons mentioned above, but also Rosa Carmina, Amalia Aguilar, and Ninón Sevilla—had over their audiences. Using images and clips from a number of selected films—including La Reina del Trópico, Víctimas del pecado, Sandra, la mujer del fuego—this presentation introduces the Tucson community to these rumberas, which continue to occupy an important place in the Mexican and transnational imaginary of old and new audiences alike.
April 16, 2009
(program starts sharp at 7pm)

The Little Chapel
University of Arizona
(First and Highland: from Speedway,
enter Cherry and then First)

Includes Lecture,
Delicious Cuban Food and
Music by Duo Libre (Yasel y Alejandro)

Ninon Sevilla: Rumbera Cubana in 1950 Mexican film "Victimas del Pecado"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Caldosa: "Cuban Street Stew"

“Noche de Caldosa”
Cuba en Tucson
March 26, 2009

A few interesting facts:

“Caldosa” is a word derived from “caldo” (broth or soup). It is usually thicker than just broth, however. The best way to describe it in English is to call it a “stew.”

The caldosa is a more recent version of a very traditional Cuban dish known as “Ajiaco.”

In the year 1570, a version of Ajiaco was already popular in the island. It is believed that Ajiaco derived from a traditional Spanish stew known as “olla española” (Spanish pot) which consisted of a mix of meats and vegetables cooked slowly.

In 1856 the first published “Manual of Cuban Cuisine” included a recipe for Ajiaco –a country dish made with beef, pork, chicken and a wide variety of tropical root vegetables or tubers (“malanga” or Taro Root, potatoes, green plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and some recipes include chayote).

The word “ajiaco” has come to mean in Cuban vernacular any kind of cultural mix –especially when it refers to music and folkways of the Cuban people.

After the Revolution of 1959, the Ajiaco underwent a transformation –it became “Caldosa,” a public cooking event in which each neighbor brings whatever ingredients they have at hand. Some critics say this came about because of food scarcity; others believe that the change had more to do with the collective emphasis of socialism.

This opinion is supported by the fact that Noches de Caldosa are officially celebrated in each Cuban street and organized by the CDRs (Comite de Defensa de la Revolucion) –a political kind of “neighborhood watch” established in each street.

There is a famous Cuban “son” (traditional song) that honors the Caldosa. It is called “La Caldosa de Kike y Marina” in reference to an elderly couple from the province of Las Tunas. Legend has it that they “invented” the dish, but in fact the history of the Cuban Stew dates back centuries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monthly Meeting FEBRUARY 2009


(Also showing this month at the "Festival del Habano" in Cuba)

Presentation of the Documentary Short...

Con El Toque De La Chaveta

(With a Stroke of the Chaveta)

Image Credit:

Pamela Sporn (USA 2007)

28 min
Spanish with English subtitles

This film takes viewers into the legendary cigar factories of Cuba where we witness the unique tradition of “la lectura de tabaquería,” the collective reading of literature while tabaqueros roll habanos. The film has been described as a poetic documentary that leaves us wondering where to draw the line between "worker" and "intellectual."

Thursday, February 26
6:30 PM (program starts at 7:00pm sharp)
The Little Chapel (University of Arizona)

Admission $ 5
Includes Film, Cuban food,
and music by Duo Libre (Yasel y Alejandro)

About the Film Director

Pamela Sporn is a Bronx based educator and documentary video maker. Since the late 1980s she has guided New York City teenagers in producing videos that reflect the unique perspective of urban youth. She has also produced two other films related to Cubans in New York. The documentary short "Con el Toque de la Chaveta" won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at the festival Cine Las Americas in Austin Texas in 2008. It has been shown at the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival, the London International Documentary Film Festival, the Ybor Festival of the Moving Image in Tampa, Florida, and at the Festival del Habano in Havana, Cuba in 2009.

What is a Chaveta?

It's the knife used in a cigar factory for cutting the wrapper leaf

A long and venerable tradition

In the cigar factories of Cuba, a unique tradition persists: ‘la lectura de tabaqueria’ . Every day, specially employed workers read out loud to the two or three-hundred tabaqueros as they sit rolling the country’s famous cigars.

From classic novels to national politics and local baseball results, for many years this daily tradition has been an education for the workers. But after years of listening, they are now knowledgeable and demanding, and the readers must be at their very best if they are to keep their discerning audience interested.

Cigar makers. One, perhaps two or three hundred sat in rows at wooden tables, skilled fingers rolling moist leaves of tobacco. The lector. Only one sat at the tribuna raised above the workers. Two hands held a book, maybe a newspaper. Words rolled off the lector’s tongue, resonating throughout the factory.

Together, tabaqueros and lectores traveled to the Spain of Don Quijote, the France of Victor Hugo, and the Cuban battlefield of Antonio Maceo. They followed the debates between anarchists and socialists, as well as the local baseball scores.

Sometimes they laid down their tools—chavetas and books—and walked out of the factories to demand their rights . Through 'la lectura' cigar workers were entertained, educated, and developed a sense of class solidarity. The reader's voice is no longer heard in most places. But in Cuba, cigar makers defend their tradition of 'la lectura' with pride.