Daisy Valera’s Diary

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.

Cienfuegos: a Tourist and Nuclear City

January 9, 2014 | 8 comments

The collectible stamps that came in Cuba’s EVA-brand cigarette packs, showing nude twenty-year-olds from the 1940s; a “Red Sunday” voluntary work medal issued in Holguin in 1984, the immense Coca-Cola signs, now very much in vogue in the décor of new private businesses on the island – are some of the striking things one can come across in Cienfuegos. (38 photos)

Cuba’s Reinstated Christmas

January 2, 2014 | 10 comments

What does Christmas amount to in Cuba? A day of reconciliation, not among family members (forced to live together in overcrowded homes or torn apart by emigration), but between the State and the generation my grandparents.

Worse educación, more expensive gifts

December 23, 2013 | 2 comments

Every 22nd of December, Cubans celebrate Teacher’s Day and commemorate the conclusion of the island’s 1961 Literacy Campaign. For many families in Cuba, this is a financially complicated date. Giving gifts to teachers has become a tradition which clearly delineates the gap that exists between the purchasing powers of different social sectors.

My New, Old Home in Havana

December 12, 2013 | 5 comments

I hear someone yell in the hallway: “We’re all working class here, the State can’t come along and tell me I can’t replace the window frame!” I make a mental note: class-conscious neighbors? Not possible. I continue to move back and forth with my belongings over the distance separating point A (a beat-up, green Moskvitch car) and point B (the door to my new apartment).

Cuban Design and Private Initiative

November 19, 2013 | No Comments »

“Cuban design ? difficulties” is a simple and useful formula that could well be used to summarize the situation of this practice on the island. The promotional and support strategies which the Cuban revolution developed in many cultural sectors (such as popular music, ballet and others) were scant in connection with the design arts.