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A Great Cuban Humanitarian Mission
It is Monday, almost three o'clock in the afternoon and hundreds of men in gray are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the artists. Suddenly, all the mumbling stops and there is absolute silence. The trova music singer/song-writer faces the audience humbly. ¨I am Silvio Rodríguez, one of the artists who started this project back in 1970. We are here in a great fraternal spirit since you all are part of our people as well.¨

That is how the encounter between Cuban artists and inmates at the Havana Combinado del Este penitentiary began. Time stood still for two hours, in which nostalgia and faith became accomplices. As writer Reynaldo González said, the visit was not inspired by false pride, but a genuine desire to strengthen ties. Books were actually the first to receive the audiences enthusiastic ovation. Some 300 titles were donated to the prison, among them 'Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and 'Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar.

The inmates and their families enjoyed Cuban classics, like 'Créeme, 'Yolanda, 'El papalote, 'Tú mi delirio and 'Te amaré

Members of this faith mission included other renowned artists like Amaury Pérez, Vicente Feliú, Niurka González, Alexis Díaz, Sexto Sentido, Lester Hamlet and Ernesto Rancaño. Added to them were a group of inmates --amateur artists, who participated also with their paintings and music.

At the end of the event, Silvio Rodríguez, the main organizer of this project, was declared Distinguished Adopted Son of Havana and all the other members of his successful project were granted the Giraldilla of Havana award. They fulfilled their mission --that of visiting prisons in eastern and central Cuba to spread faith.


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