Cuba reveals the secrets of the saints

Repeating Islands


The African-influenced religion of Santería has long been part of life on this idiosyncratic island. Lydia Bell explores its legacy in this article for London’s Independent.

Rain is beating down on steaming asphalt in central Havana, a hard-bitten patch of town. I am looking for a street-corner rumba and know my destination will call me by the 12/8 slap of a palm on the Cuban batá and cajones – wooden boxes – that distinctive clave sound. Finally I find Callejon de Hammel, a graffiti-plastered alley where, at noon on Sundays, Havana’s Afro-Cuban community worship their gods with bewitching dance and song.

Rumba is more than music and dance – it is the expression of Cuba’s creole identity. The music is a hybrid, blending Congolese percussion and flamenco-style soul-baring singing in the Yoruba language. It is rhythmic, dark, intense – one of the island’s first and enduring sounds, and one…

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Bay of Pigs invasion veterans mark 50 years since release

Repeating Islands


In the days before Christmas 50 years ago this weekend, 1,113 Bay of Pigs fighters captured by Fidel Castro’s forces and imprisoned for 20 months were finally released to a heroes’ welcome in Miami, as Luisa Yáñez reports in this article for The Miami Herald.

The first planeload of POWs arrived at Homestead Air Force Base on Dec. 23, 1962. Gaunt and betrayed by the John F. Kennedy administration, members of the proud Brigade 2506 were bused to Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium, where waiting relatives engulfed them with hugs at a massive reunion that made front-page news. Five days later, JFK and his wife Jackie would be at the Orange Bowl to welcome them, too.

On Saturday, the 50th anniversary of those pivotal days will be observed as surviving brigade members — now in their 70s and 80s — hold a and 11 a.m. Mass and reunion at the…

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