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Casa de las Americas will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary
Founded on April 28th, 1959, Casa de las Americas was one of the first cultural projects undertaken by the Cuban Revolution.

The primary objective of the non-governmental institution, with legal status, was to carry out activities aimed at developing and strengthening Cuba's cultural relations with rest of the world, especially with other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

To that end, Haydée Santamaría (1922-1980), founder of Casa, set the guidelines that have guided the institution's work to this date, preserving the common history of Latin American and Caribbean peoples and helping to make and write our continents new history.

When all Latin American governments, except for Mexico, broke relations with Cuba shortly after the 1959 revolutionary triumph on the island, the Havana-based Casa de las Americas contributed to maintaining cultural ties between Cuba and all the other Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Conceived as a space for frank, open dialogue and exchange, Casa promoted the work of the Cuban Revolution, as well as the visit here of many intellectuals from around the world who learned first hand about the island's reality.

Among many other activities, the institution conducts research and promotes, sponsors, rewards and divulges the work of writers, artists, musicians, scholars and expert in art, literature and social sciences from our region.

To many intellectuals, Casa de las Americas owes what it is today to Haydeé, her great sensitivity and talent, her generosity and her strong ideals of Latin American integration.

After Haydeé died in 1980, painter Mariano Rodríguez (1912-1990) was president of Casa de las Americas for nearly six years. Since 1986, poet and essayist Roberto Fernández Retamar (1930) has been the President of the prestigious cultural institution.

"I' ve spent most of my professional life here, so I can hardly think of any experience I've had that is not related to Casa de las Americas," stressed Fernández Retamar who is also a National Literature Prize laureate.

In July 1959, he gave the second conference ever held there. In 1962, he was a member of the jury of the Casa de las Americas Literature Prize in the poetry category and from 1965 on, he has directed the institution' s magazine -Casa de las Americas- the latest issue of which (#250) will be presented shortly.

The prestigious Cuban intellectual stressed that he is a true follower of Haydee, whose policy was directed toward adding peoples and voices.

Every year, Casa de las Americas grants the Literary Prize with the same name -the longest-running contest of its kind in all of Latin America. The 49th Casa de las Americas Literary Prize, held last January, had 472 unpublished works in competition from 24 nations.

Among Casa' s main publications are the Casa de las Americas magazine, created in 1960 as the institutions organ, to which several of the world' s most prestigious intellectuals contribute.

"La Ventana" is a website that promotes news, articles, commentaries and interviews, fomenting reflection and debate on issues of common interest like the ongoing efforts towards regional integration, the resistance movements and other regional alternatives.

"ArteAmérica", for its part, is a digital magazine created in 2003 to promote visual arts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Just one year away from Casa' s 50th anniversary, Fernandéz Retamar affirmed that the institution will continue "preserving the cultural values upon which it was created with a forward-looking approach."


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