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Benny More in memoriam
Santa Isabel de las Lajas would be one of the many towns o the island, if the hazardous fate would not have planted the More Family seed there from which germination brought the most illustrious of its sons, Bartolomé Maximiliano, Benny.

For Magda Chavez, Director of the Patrimony Provincial Centre at Cienfuegos province, Bennys figure is ancestrally linked to this community that saw him grow where he also gave his first steps as an exceptional musician.

What places in Lajas would you point out as fundamental in Bennys life?

"There are several places in which Bartolos influence is kept, as he was called in Lajas, among them the Casino de San Antonio o Cabildo de los Congos, located at the Guinea neighborhood, where Benny learnt the religious mystique that accompanied all his life.

Being here, he once asked his grandfather and mother to support him in order to enter the risky world of music.

This is how he begins singing and dancing. This was his folklore and life music.

His home was just a few meters away, built by his great- grand father who was also a mambi, Colonel of the Liberation Army, Simeón Armenteros Calvo.

Benny ordered to build a much modern house in the same land a few years later, but he never saw it finished, it is still the family patrimony.

"Another important site was the José de la Luz y CaballeroPublic School that today is the site for the Coloso Cigar factory. That was the only teaching center where he studied and only until fourth grade, since the familys unstable economic conditions forced him to work since he was a boy.

There is a also corner at Real Street, where you may find the Café Cuba, where Benny used to spend hours, sharing with his friends and singing on the albums he himself played at the local record machine. This facility would deserve to be return to what it used to be before, since it is a deteriorated warehouse now and its patrimonial value is based not only in the construction, but also that it used to be one of the most visited places by Benny, every time he came to Lajas.

"Some people say the Wildman of the Rhythm had his first loves at Lajas park, in its benches he shared with his friends then and sang for all of those who could not pay the Lyceums fees, which is another of the places we should mention. There the people claimed him in a concert also after being dead.

His remains were honored there and from it they went towards the most visited place at the Cemetery, Bennys tomb.

"We expect some of these places will be added to the list of national monuments."

And on the so called intangible patrimony, what would you mention?

"The world of Bennys intangible heritage would deserve a deeper research which surely would, lead us to some responses that Benny left Lajas being very young, he worked in Havana and abroad, he always came back to his native town. It is outstanding to say just a few days before dying; he went there, as if he were saying, good bye."

What does Lajas feel being the site of an event such as the Benny More International Festival on Popular Music?

"When the idea showed up, Lajas cultural institutions were very depressed and the Festival has contributed to revert this situation, but I think the moment has come to reassess the goals of an event of this kind and activities to be scheduled. "

What would Lajas be without Benny?

"It would probably be a beloved place.....just for Lajas inhabitants.

Source: Yimel Díaz Malmierca, Trabajadores

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