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Father Claude

As I was saying.....

I embrace the world from my backyard at the University of Portland, January 1, 2018. I again invite you to "clod-hop" with me on my journeys to Latin America via this blog. More...

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NEW BLOG FROM EL FRANCO-YUMA--Cuba Bound (Category: Cuba)

The Spirt of the Cuban People--Centro Habana (Patricia Pomerleau 2013)
I open my next blog with the title of “Franco-Yuma”.  Let me explain. I have joined a group that will travel to Cuba in a few days, organized by my cousin Patricia Pomerleau and consisting of 15 others. We travel under the administration of “Marazul” travel agency, led led by Batia Plotch. There will be more specifics in future blogs. Since Cubans prefer the more gentle and civil term of “yuma” to “gringo, I use it as the title of this new phase of my blog. To distinguish my own background as Franco-American, I invented the heading “franco-yuma”. So, lectores,  adelante y arriba.

Newcomers will notice that my blog is under the heading of Ceoexpress and the guidance of Patricia, its creative and energetic founder and director. She is my muse. She guides my “pen” and illuminates the blog with her fantastic photos. Her previous travels to Cuba will become obvious from the depth and precision of her photography and suggestions. 

As a specialist in the politics of Mexico and the Southern Cone, I must confess that my knowledge of Cuba was previously limited  to general introductions and superficial generalizations. I expect to become a more serious observer of Cuba after this trip.  Of course, I studied the big events from the Spanish-American War to Castro, from the Cuban missile crisis to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and tried to keep up with the significance of the appointment of Raul Castro as President of Cuba in 2008, I watched, amazed, as two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the island. I can only imagine what a fture visit by Pope Francisco will be like. I read Frei Betto’s talks with Fidel on revolution and religion.  Cuba is still a huge mystery to me.

However, I am now discovering some exciting scholarship on the recent transformations in Cuban society, on the great expectations for the future and on the renewed expectations for improvements in relations between Cuba and the USA. In addition, there’s increased interest in the role of religion for Cuba’s future, from Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, to popular, Afro-religious expressions like Yoruba, or Santería.

My own experience and interests will lead me to pay special attention to religion and music. Patricia’s suggested itinerary dramatically opens up for me the rich world of human geography. While I won’t claim that geography is destiny, I can appreciate that it is fundamental to understanding Cuba. Ted Henken, blogger and scholar (Sociologist at City University of NY) begins his insightful and recent study, Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook, by reminding us that Cuba has been considered the geographical hub o all the Americas since Cortés. It is nestled in the center of Haiti, Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Jamaica and Key West Florida.  So, call it a hub, a portal, a stepping stone…your call.

From that geographical perspective, I will also be looking at the resulting transcultural Cuban musical “stew”, as a result of the prodigious cultural production (to use the expression of Henken) that has emanated from Cuba. Cuba’s mixture of West African, Spanish, Chinese sources, and its transforming impact on jazz, blues, salsa, tango, high-life (from Ghana, including Afro beat), bachata, merende, cumbia and nuevo flamenco, all of this is mind-blowing and unparalleled.

So, Cuba, here we come.

Permalink | Saturday, February 1, 2014