Daisy Valera’s Diary


Havana’s “Cuban Art Factory”: Poetic Consumption for the New Middle Class

July 14, 2014 | 2 comments

I arrived at the main entrance of the Fabrica de Arte Cubano when the establishment had ceased being news and been in operation for about four months. A man over 6 feet tall addresses me. “Yes?” he asks me. Standing less than a foot from him, I really don’t feel like saying anything to him, because his question gives me the feeling one typically gets at State establishments: I feel like someone who is trespassing on someone else’s property.




Cuban Culture Fair at La Rampa, Havana

July 2, 2014 | No Comments »

The music of Cuba’s renowned Van Van issues from Havana’s Pabellon Cuba and echoes across La Rampa, Vedado. This year, the Cuban Culture Fair pays tribute to the work of musician Juan Formell and visual artist Ivan Soca who exhibits a series of photographs titled Formellmania.(30 photos)




The Fading Splendor of Havana’s Chinatown

June 13, 2014 | 2 comments

I had my first contact with Chinese culture thanks to a childhood friend, Javier. He was a Chinese kid who would invite kids around the neighborhood to his house and make his grandfather read old newspapers. What he read was in Chinese, of course, which is what made the experience so much fun for us.




Cuba’s Telecommunications Company: The Vanguard of Socialist Reform

June 5, 2014 | 9 comments

The Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA), born in the worst years of the Special Period crisis, looks back on twenty years of operations this 2014. More than three years ago, it ceased being a joint-venture company. ETECSA seems to be swimming against the current.




Used Clothing Disappears in Havana

May 27, 2014 | 7 comments

Flowery spandex pants and blouses with open backs are invading the streets of Havana. The striped-shirt craze seems to be blowing over. Cubans seem to go insane over clothing and fashion, and the whole city seems to be one huge masquerade at times.




Sancti Spiritus: A Cuban City Turns 500

April 15, 2014 | 1 Comment »

One would think the city has been bombed out. Sancti Spiritus, Cuba’s City of the Holy Spirit, will turn five hundred in June of this year, and the heart of its old town has all but vanished. (18 photos)




Two Pedestrian Boulevards, Two Havanas

March 24, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Havana’s Parque Central and the terrace between the old Asturian Cultural Center and the future Manzana Hotel are the spaces separating the San Rafael and Obispo pedestrian boulevards. The two walkways are connected by what is perhaps the city’s one continuous urban corridor.




My Opening Day at Havana’s Book Fair

February 19, 2014 | 1 Comment »

This year, I went to Havana’s International Book Fair like someone who believes in miracles: with my fingers crossed behind my back, hoping something had changed. I thought it a good sign that, this time around, the entrance tickets weren’t made of newsprint. (36 photos)




A Havana Bookstore and Space for Philosophical Debate

February 5, 2014 | 6 comments

The long journeys in search of the rissole snack and carbonated drink that mitigated the hunger of my university years would usually take me to the intersection of Havana’s Infanta and San Lazaro streets, before a sign that pointed the way towards the then non-existent Alma Mater bookstore.




AZCUBA: Sugar for Growth?

January 23, 2014 | 21 comments

It would seem the issue of Cuba’s sugar industry is caught up in an endless process marked by intermittent stages of silence and controversy. As of the close of November last year, with the start of the 2013-2014 harvest, we appear to be entering a boisterous, propagandistic period.