Watching, Rooting, & Supporting The New Cuba (Producer / Content Creator)

Posts from the ‘Event’ category

If you know any computer wiz programmers in Cuba, make sure they read this before Friday, April 6th. Google is stepping up their inclusion for Cuba tech by inviting the nations top programmers to compete.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 5.18.34 PM“We are proud to announce that for the first time we have made Code Jam available to Cubans” says Brett Perlmutter, Google’s Head of Cuba Strategy & Operations. “For the first time, the world will be able to see the capabilities of Cuban computer scientists and programmers”.

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What is Code Jam? Think Superbowl for computer programmers, except this game is on a global level. Last year, 2017 drew 42 competitors from 16 countries, with a registered 65,000 participants — which brings me back to the original reason for this post…

REGISTER before Friday, April 6th. You can’t win if you’re not in the game.

If you think you know a Cuban who’s got the chops for a global competition, visit g.co/codejam to register. Worth noting is that the website can be accessed from Cuba too.

The Online Qualification Round lasts 27 hours and begins this Friday, April 6 at 23:00 UTC; Registration is open until the Qualification Round closes. After the online competition, the World Finals will take place at the Google office in Toronto, Canada in August of this year, and the world champion will win $ 15,000 USD.

To watch all things Code Jam, check out their YouTube Playlist. We’re rooting for all emerging Cuban tech talent to come out of the shadows, and into the chair.

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(Supporting stickers by Clandestina)

It’s the end another week in Cuba, and we’d like to give a round of applause to Havana World Music for pulling off these 3 days of global music. Just like the band origins, each visitor represented a spectrum of countries ranging from local Cuban flavor to Europeans, to Americans, to Africans, and beyond. Closing night was the climax, a performance by The Orishas, hometown boys gone big.

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Very early in the night, lines of fans wrapped around the entire Almendares Park. The show took place under the bridge of the sacred Almendares river The band took their time on stage, churning out hits from each album and stage of their career. It has been 18 years, so why not stretch out this glorious moment? They even invited a few guest artists on stage. Singer Yotuel also took a few moments during the night to just talk to the audience, and on multiple occasions, really opened his heart about how much it meant to be Cuban, and perform in the motherland.

The New Cuba wants to thank all the organizers who I can personally declare are some of the hardest working showpeople in business. Seeing these last few months of their pre-production sweat and passion has truly filled me with optimism for the near future.

Here’s a few pics I snapped of the evening. It’s just a drop of water compared to the oceans of people who attended. Hopefully, it’s enough of a taste to bring you back next year as the HWM festival spreads its wings into a power-player for local culture.

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(All Photos by Jauretsi)

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Internet is tricky in Cuba. This is pretty much an understatement, but the “why’s” require a much more expansive conversation to wrap our heads around the stakes.

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(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

I will be visiting LA & San Francisco this month to discuss one of the most fascinating subcultures on the island today – the Tech sector. It’s been a long road for all things New Cuba regarding our gatherings to contemplate contemporary Cuban culture. Three years back, we gathered in the ballroom of The Standard Hotel in 2015 to talk about various creative industries — including music, art, and architecture. This year, it’s all about the Web, which of course affects the fate of all these creative and business endeavors.

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(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

What appears as a fully disconnected country is truly the opposite. Like most things in Cuba, the people have found a way to “inventar”, creating digital solutions, thus turning your average grandma into a hacker, learning to circumnavigate Wifi hotspots in the most unusual ways.

This Feb, two conversations will take place on the US West Coast, focusing on Cuba’s internet and its state of connectivity. RSVP confirmations are required for both.

(1) Annenberg, Feb 10th, Los Angeles

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(Jauretsi, Curator/ Digital Strategist. Photo credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images N. America)

An extension of the Resolviendo Exhibit (which launched in Sept 2017), the Annenberg invited The New Cuba to co-host a special panel in Los Angeles on February 10, 2018 entitled Cuba: Sin Limites that gathers experts on the state of Internet in Cuba.

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(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

The listing reads:

Moderated by Cuban-American curator and digital strategist Jauretsi, speakers will include Dadne Carbonell (Cuban computer systems analyst), “Dany Paquete” (a kingpin of El Paquete Semenal, an underground weekly distribution of pirated international content via hard drives), and Susanna Kohly (Marketing Lead, Google Cuba).

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(Dany of El Paqeute in his home in Havana. Photo credit: Jauretsi)

Please visit the Annenberg Wifi Cuba Panel page to confirm your attendance or read more on the event. You can learn more about Dany by viewing the documentary Give Me Future, currently downloadable on iTunes (trailer here).

For a proper headstart, you can also now visit the art exhibit at the Annenberg gallery entitled Cuba Is, which contains a section called Resolviendo, an exhibit that The New Cuba helped curate with Commonwealth Projects. You’ll see photographs of Wifi Parks, a spectrum of videos from Cuba’s famous El Paqeute, and some DIY magazine culture Imagine the streets of Cuba’s content networks transported into an exhibit hall in Los Angeles.

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(Jauretsi at “Cuba Is” Launch. Photo Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images N.America)

The original launch event took place early September 2017, with a big bash where I was lucky enough to helm the DJ booth with Matthieu Schreyer, host of the excellent KCRW show on Global beats. It was a bonafide Cuba love-fest in the heart of Los Angeles, complete with a “who’s who” of Cuban arts, film, photographers, curators, gallerists, and fans alike. The full exhibit will be up til March 4, 2018, so don’t forget to book out an afternoon to soak in all the beautiful photography before the panel.

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(“Cuba Is” Exhibit. Photo Credit: Leysis Quesada Vera)

THE PHOTO EXHIBIT:
“Cuba Is” Exhibit
Currently on Display through March 4, 2018
The Annenberg, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles CA 90067
General Gallery Hours: Wed-Sun 11am to 6pm. Mon-Tues is closed

THE INTERNET PANEL:
“Cuba Sin Limites” Panel
Annenberg Space for Photography’s Skylight Studios
Feb 10, 2018
7:00-9:00pm
10050 Constellation Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90067

(2) Media Noche, Feb 11th, San Francisco

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(Media Noche Cafe, San Francisco)

The next evening, Feb 11th, the topic continues nearby in San Francisco at the charming restaurant named Media Noche. This is a more casual gathering in a cafe setting hosted by a a group called Bay Area Cubans, lead by Project Binario’s Eddy Perez who we recently covered in our visit to Techcrunch.

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(Photo credit: Juan Cruz Rodriguez for Resolviendo Exhibit, Annenberg)

We expect our Cuban-American community to come out and celebrate our culture, gather for constructive conversation, and build awareness of future generations. Hermanos unidos. Like most Cuban-Americans, the topic of Cuba is passionate and immersive. Our belief is that it’s imperative for both our cultures, on and off the island, to grow a better understanding of each other for a brighter future. Building bridges, not walls. We invite any curious non-Cubans who would love to be part of the conversation.

Feb 11, 2018
7:30pm
Media Noche
3465 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
To confirm your attendance, please click on the EventBrite page listing. Enter code “givemefuture” for 30% discount

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I’m thrilled to announce a cool music festival happening in Cuba this March called Havana World Music. What’s more exciting is that The New Cuba will be hosting guests from abroad to come attend the festival with VIP access. There will also be a few days of fun to explore Havana’s best and brightest spots.

But first… what is Havana World Music?

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(Eme Alfonso. Photo: May Reguera for Garbos Magazine)

“We were a group of friends, talking one day” said HWM Founder, Eme Alfonso (pictured above). “We thought, in Havana, there is nothing like an event for young people where we can enjoy ourselves and say this is the music that I listen to, this is the music that I want my friends to listen to. Then we said to ourselves, we have to do something. Let’s do something.”

Enter Havana World Music. Three days of unfettered music, art, culture, diversity, people, emotions, and energy. It’s a mix of artists both inside and outside the island, bringing fresh sounds to the forefront while honoring ancestral roots. This March 22,23,24 marks the 5th year of this gathering of international music buddies throwing it all down hard in Havana.

This years lineup includes:

The Orishas
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The Orishas are Cuba’s most globally known Cuban Hip Hop band, having exploded onto the scene in 2000 with their premiere album, A Lo Cubano. The record defined the sound of what Cuban rap would be — a mix of local flavor, traditional Afro-Cuban nodding & rhymes on the motherland. For those that haven’t heard the album yet, give it a listen here.

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Gato Preto is a tropical bass thunderstorm. The booty shakin’ beats are produced by Lee Bass, who rolled out the perfect sound carpet for the Emcee Gata Misteriosa and her Portuguese power punchlines. The collective members members unveil African sounds reflecting their roots in the polyrhythm of Bass from Ghana, the Portuguese slang of Gata’s Mozambique and the incredible Djembe Power of Moussa Diallo from Senegal. Dive into their sound here.

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If you’ve been hanging out in the Havana music scene the last few years, it’s impossible to have missed Interactivo, who hosts one of the most well attended weekly parties, a live jam featuring a rotation of band members.

Interactivo is a music collective begun by Roberto Carcasses, Yusa, Francis de Rio, William Vicanco and Telmary Diaz. The bands Director, Roberto, prides himself on Interactivo’s free-form, experimental, and collaborative nature. The mix of Jazz, Funk, Salsa, Hip-Hop and general Cubaneo is swirled up into an audio feast.

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Hailing from Spain, Marinah dons a flamenco skirt and head wrap representing Afro-Cuban spirit — think Flamenco Latin Jazz. She is the ex-singer of the Catalan band Ojos de Brujo for over a decade. In 2016, Marinah & Chicuelo launched the album “Sintonias” where, with his flamenco guitar, they infused sounds of rumba, flamenco, Afro-Cuban and Caribbean music. More here.

…And now for The New Cuba Travel package to attend festivities.

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Our weeks program will be held from March 21-26, with 3 of those days attending the Festival (22,23,24). The trip includes 5 nights & 6 days of sight-seeing, music, art, culture, and the best food spots in town. The advantage of our package is that we will schedule you to be at the right place at the right time every day this week.

Price: $2,200 per person. Payment must be complete 3 weeks prior to trip.

Price Includes:
_5 Nights stay in a Casa Particular
_VIP Access to Music Festival & After parties
_Full Time Guide/Concierge, English Speaking
_Curated activities for the week (please reach me for specific itinerary)
_Welcome Package
_Private Transfer to and from Havana International Airport with Guide
_Private Transportation for all activities of the week
_Pre-Trip Concierge (Additional pre-trip planning such as flight purchase assistance and pre-departure information)

Price does not include:
_Airfare & Visa  (we can assist/advise this process)
_Tips for Vendors – Driver, Waiters, Housekeeping, Guides, etc
_Rooming Incidentals – Minibar, etc.
_Meals/Drinks – Note: From past experience with seasoned travelers, I’ve noticed that NOT including dinner fees is a better offering for the traveler. It means the guests can avoid “cookie-cutter” price fixes, and order more luxuriously to their liking. We reserve you at the best restaurants, and you order as much or as little as you’d like.

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Special Deal:
For the first 8 people to confirm, I will offer a 15% discount, and personally guide the crew myself all week.

To assure proper attention for all visitors, anyone beyond the first 8 reservations will still be guided by an expert and cool local from our crew of “new Cuba” tour leaders. Groups are capped at 10 people to insure best attention. Keep in mind, all groups will be celebrating together anyways for opening cocktail event, as well as all Festival events & after parties.

Legalities:
Our itinerary and program is compliant with US Treasury Department regulations. This trip is permitted through the “people-to-people” general license category authorized by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Our program of activities offers meaningful interactions with the Cuban people under an authorized tour leader according to US regulations. For more details, visit US Treasury Gov.

Questions:
For any further questions, I’d be happy to get on the phone and discuss deeper. Please email jauretsi@gmail.com to open dialogue.

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(Eme Alfonso. Photo: May Reguera for Garbos Magazine)

“That’s it” in the words of Eme, “Music is the excuse. We are going to meet and we will have a great time.” About the musician herself, having been raised in a legendary family of recording artists, and part of the successful band Sintesis for two decades, Eme is formally breaking out on her own this month with a fresh solo album. To read about Eme’s vision and voice for music, download the latest issue of Garbos Magazine.

We look forward to celebrating the best of this new Cuba together.

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(Un Traductor. Foto: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini)

It’s that time of the year again, where we shout out Cuban filmmakers being featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Given the fact that there is really not much of an independent film scene in Cuba (more on that later), I find it miraculous when I discover a new name risen from obscurity, defeating all odds, slaying dragons, and making it to the top of that film mountain…. Park City, that is. Bravo to these mavericks.

In 2018, the Cuban stories screening seem less about the changing country today, and more about backstories drawn from their childhood. Specifically, both these tales were inspired by their father (this is an unrelated coincidence, and just an observation).

Last year, 2017 Sundance saw many more stories about Cuba TODAY, from short docs at the Wifi Park, to the new home-buyers market, to a well-attended English language school awaiting “la Yuma”. Let’s not forget Give Me Future, about the Havana concert performance by Major Lazer. The 2017 Cuban slate were all about the future.

This year, however, Sundance selections force us to view Cuban narratives from the inside, that is, personal stories. Here’s two to keep an eye on.

Un Traductor (A Translator)

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(Un Traductor)

In Competition for International Features is Un Traductor. Director Sebastian Barriuso tells the brave (and soul-crushing) tale of his father in Cuba during 1989, “a professor of Russian literature who was ordered out of the classroom and into the hospital”, to serve as a translator between dying children, their parents, & medical staff after the Chernobyl explosion. Rodrigo Santoro (of Westworld) plays the lead. In those years, Cuba developed a program for hospitalizing and treating the children from this international tragedy. If you don’t know about the real life incident, read about the Chernobyl Disaster, which is a cautionary tale on Nuclear accidents. Un Traductor is the story of a family man pulled into the center of this trauma. “Whether Malin’s life was enriched or destroyed by his assignment was never part of the greater equation” reads The Hollywood Reporter (read the full review here). The film was a Canadian-Cuban production, produced by Creative Artisans Media.

Screening Times at Sundance:
Fri. 1/19, 2:30 p.m., Prospector, PC
Sat. 1/20, 1:00 p.m., Redstone 2, PC
Sat. 1/20, 11:59 p.m., Tower, SLC
Mon. 1/22, 6:00 p.m., Sundance Resort, Provo
Thu. 1/25, 6:00 p.m., PC Library, PC
Fri. 1/26, 10:00 a.m., Holiday 4, PC
For more info on cast & crew, visit Sundance listing.

El Pescador (The Fisherman)

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(El Pescador)

El Pescador is a short film about a fathers love and sacrifice to put his daughter before himself. Of all the information I’ve sought on this film, the most striking overview was an article and Q&A by Remezcla. “Well, my dad is a fisherman. This is a story that’s very much about us.” says the Director. “So this was a way to give my father a kind of gift because he sacrificed so much for us. In fact, he’s an economist but in the 90’s things were so difficult here in Cuba that professionals everywhere had to find other sources of income.” And so this short story begins…

Fri. 1/19, 9:00 p.m., Temple, PC
Sat. 1/20, noon, Broadway 6, SLC
Sat. 1/20, 9:30 p.m., Redstone 1, PC
Fri. 1/26, 1:00 p.m., Holiday 4, PC
Will play with a few other shorts, details here.

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(El Pescador)

Manuel Betancout interviews director Ana A. Alpizar about the deeper context of indie filmmaking in Cuba. “Well, the short was financed by money coming from foreign — actually European — embassies. That’s what is mostly financing independent cinema in Cuba right now.” says the aspiring female Cuban director. “The Netherlands embassy gave us some money. A contest called GO CUBA!, it’s a very famous contest. Then, there’s a fund set up at the Norway embassy which also gave us some financing. And there was also some money from a fund for young Cuban filmmakers. The thing is, as an independent producer, you don’t really exist at the legal level. You’re not accredited that way.”. To read more details on this conversation, visit Remezcla’s Q&A.

So just like that, in an effort to dive inward into people’s backstories, we find ourselves once again faced with Cuba TODAY. In order to understand how each filmmaker actually made their film, you have to understand the legal barriers they face today.

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(El Pescador)

For example, by todays law, a non-Cuban and a Cuban are not allowed on a boat vessel together in Cuba (this obviously posed a conundrum for Ana’s shoot schedule, thereby disallowing her sound guy to jump on board). Also, in order for both these films to have been made, Cuban filmmakers had to seek financial support from outside. Independent Cinema is not quite recognized according to Cuban Institutions, yet it is this exact indie scene on the island that is bubbling with creativity. “But what is happening still is that the Cuban government still won’t recognize them; they won’t play their movies. They have no legal standing. You, as an independent producer, don’t exist. You can’t apply to any kind of grants or funds [in Cuba]”, she tells the writer.

So how easy is it to just apply for outside grants? “These Dutch funds — you actually have to apply to them as an individual, not as a film producer. You can’t apply to these bigger funds unless you partner up with a foreign producer or set up a production company outside of Cuba” says the diligent filmmaker who finally formed a film collective outside of Cuba called Fila20. She loves her homeland and stresses that she’d like to tell more stories from inside the island. There is supposed to be an official body called “Ley de Cine” (Law of Cinema) to oversee all filmmakers but she mentioned that the government doesn’t really adhere to those standards. “And in that sense, Cuban independent cinema is wholly excluded, which is very sad. Because what happens is that a lot of talented people just end up leaving”.

The other director Barriuso moved to Toronto Ontario while his brother Rodrigo still spends lots of time in Cuba. So after wrapping my head around both these films, I actually walked away with a deeper understanding of their struggles. Not only the yesteryear struggles, but todays struggles.

Welcome to Sundance, aseres. To infinity and beyond.

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If you’re a fan of Major Lazer, here’s a doc you’ll appreciate. If you have no idea who Major Lazer is, yet have a deep curiosity for Cuban youth culture, then this doc will equally intrigue you. In full disclosure, I worked on this film as one of the Producers, with the excellent team of Matador films (shout-out to Director Austin Peters), who visited Cuba to document this band on their most epic journey.

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Let me say that working on this project, as a Cuban-American, has been the most therapeutic process in facing my proverbial brothers (and sisters) on the other side of the pond. For me, it has been a long soul journey returning to the motherland, with an insatiable appetite to better understand the future of this country through the eyes of its youth. What we discovered was an island nation in transformation, full of curiosity and creativity, with an equal appetite to absorb American culture as well. For one shining day, ideologies didn’t matter, and instead, music was the glue.

As Major Lazer entered Cuba, our whole team expected maybe 20,000 to 50,000 fans to attend. As you will discover from watching the film, approximately half a million cool young folks showed up on on the streets that day, eager and excited to enjoy the show.

Here’s 3 reasons you should watch the doc:

(1) Meet Young Cubans

Artists like Iliam Suarez are bold, eloquent, and have something to say. Give Me Future enters their home and minds… a portal into youth culture that is generally overlooked.

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(2) People Power in Action

The big question we always get is, “How did Cubans know about Major Lazer?” and “How did you promote the show?”. Enter the Paquete. If you understand the birth of Paquete, you can better understand the ingenuity, resilience, and innovation created by the younger generation. By the middle of the documentary, we arrive to the actual day of the show. We see the crowds beginning to collect on the streets in droves. Slowly but surely, it was evident this was going to a BIG show. Finally, while gazing at the crowd of 450,000 fans, the bands manager, Andrew McInnes, says, “Well, the Paquete worked!”.

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(3) Real US/CUBA Cultural Exchanges

During Major Lazer’s quick sojourn into the country, the director of Musicabana, Fabien Pisani, brought the band to the Ludwig Foundation to introduce Cuban DJ’s and Producers to the trio of DJ’s for a discussion on software, production resources, and give an overall general pep talk. It was a lovefest exchange between Cuban and US artists. The wholesome interaction acted as a bit of healing balm between two nations previously estranged for half a century. The concert and DJ panel occurred during Obama’s reconciliation days (March 2016), however now that Mr. Trump has iced our relations yet again, it is important to continue these healthy artistic exchanges more than ever.

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The Synopsis of the film is as follows:

In March 2016, following the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, electronic dance music trio Major Lazer made history, becoming one of the first major American acts to play in the communist state. Unsure how their descent on Havana would be received and hoping to reach a few tens of thousands, the epic concert unexpectedly drew in close to half a million fans. Much more than a garden variety music film, “Give Me Future” begins as a behind-the-scenes look at the historic concert and evolves into a masterful exploration of Cuba’s inspirational youth movement and its ingenious DIY information culture. Capturing exhilarating performance footage and authentic stories highlighting the country’s cultural growth and desire for inclusion in the global community, director Austin Peters conjures a transcendent, rhythm-laced depiction of the powerful catalysts driving a country on the brink of change.

To watch the whole film, download here: APPLE MUSIC.

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As a foreigner in Cuba, I’m always fascinated with the trends taking hold of the once isolated island. Halloween, for example, is only recently catching on the last few years. If you google Halloween in Cuba, you’ll see zilch, maybe a few scattered pieces, but really, it’s not a big thing.

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(Trump finally makes a “better deal” with El Comandante)

In Havana, children certainly don’t wander the streets dolled up in outfits, ringing doorbells, amassing buckets of candy. In Miami, however, Cuban-American culture strongly embraces “Hah-Low-Weeen” with a latinized “Tric o Tri!”.

Just a mere 90 miles away from the States, but feeling like on another planet, I found myself crippled with ideas after being invited to a local bash. “Getting a costume can be a problem because there are no specialty stores and such parties are not a habit in Cuba”, resident Yunior explains to OnCuba Magazine about the usual limitations. “In the end you always manage to invent and some put on makeup that mimics a film character, others create a mummy with toilet paper or a ghost with sheets”.

This particular year exhibited laugh-out-loud archetypes clinking rum glasses in Roma, a breezy rooftop bar in Havana Vieja, with a party-train that followed to Bar EFE afterwards. The outfits were in full force. Here’s just a tiny taste of the faces out that evening.

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(Bank robber Robin Pedraja of Vistar Mag with Celia Mendoza as Blink 182’s naughty nurse)

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(Anonymous representing the Hackers)

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(Marla Recio Carbajal of Havana Reverie w/CET’s Collin Laverty)

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(Unidentified Ogre)

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(Plot Thickens. Russians in the house)

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(Cuba Educational Travel’s Isabel Albee doing her Amy Winehouse)

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(Religion is Back. And it’s pissed)

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(Airbnb provider Yasser, who offers Bike Tour experiences, and his wound to the chest)

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(The Bartending Squad)

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(Filmmaker Joey Carey & soon-to-be “cuentapropista” in Havana Vieja, Lauren Fajardo)

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(Luisa Ausenda of Arte Continua as Helen of Troy)

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(Twin Fridas. P.S. That’s me on the right. )

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