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  • 11 / 09 / 2006

80 Years Fidel
THE Guayasamín Foundation confirmed in an announcement in Havana that it is organizing the celebration of Fidel Castros 80th birthday, previously scheduled for August 13 and postponed due to the Cuban presidents health.

Saskia Guayasamín, vice president of the Foundation and daughter of the emblematic Ecuadorian painter for whom the foundation is named; one of the artists grandsons, Santiago Guayasamín; and Alfredo Vera, director of international affairs for the institution, held a press conference where they confirmed that the events planned to pay tribute to Fidel are set for November 28 to December 1.

The foundations director emphasized that the decision to confirm the celebration was made "in the name of the 45 honorary members of our institution," including Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Felipe González, Thiago de Mello, Danielle Mitterand, Rigoberta Menchú, Hugo Chávez, Eusebio Leal and Miguel Rojas Mix.

"Everythings going ahead," she said, including the exhibition Un abrazo de Guayasamín para Fidel (An Embrace from Guayasamín for Fidel); the concert Todas las voces todas (All the Voices Together) and the colloquium Memoria y futuro: Cuba y Fidel (Memory and Future: Cuba and Fidel).>

The complete list of those who plan to perform in the concert (including Lilia Vera of Venezuela, Margarita Lazo of Ecuador, Miriam Makeba of Sudáfrica and Silvio Rodríguez and Omara Portuondo of Cuba) and speak at the colloquium (Jorge Enrique Adoum, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Rodrigo Borja, Ignacio Ramonet, Federico Mayor, Tomás Borge, and Volodia Teitelboim) is extensive and appears on the web page

Some who originally planned to come - Vera explained - will not be able to do so because of commitments made after August 13, such León Gieco, Víctor Heredia and Quilapayún.

"There are other circumstances as well for President Hugo Chávez, given that the Venezuelan elections are on Dec. 3, and for Daniel Ortega, who has just been elected president of Nicaragua," she noted.

With respect to the presence of Fidel himself, Vera explained " reflecting a statement included on the press release handed out at the end of the press conference " that "at the appropriate moment, in the midst of the disciplined process of recuperation that Fidel is carrying out, he will decide the circumstances under which it will be possible to accompany those of us who will be here, in Havana, participating in this tribute to his 80th birthday."

In the press release, it is noted that it was the Cuban president himself who had made the request on the dates: "I ask that my birthday observance, which thousands of prominent individuals so generously agreed to celebrate this coming August 13 (his birthday), be postponed until December 2 of the present year," which is the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma yacht.

A total of 2,364 people had signed up to come to Havana in August, and it was necessary to suspend requests because they exceeded the number of available spaces at events, Vera said. "Now, however, we are going to re-register, because we need to know the exact number, given that the Foundation is going to present each participant with a small plaque, a reproduction by Guyasamín, the book Un abrazo para Fidel (A Hug for Fidel) and several publications that describe the glorious path taken by Fidel with his characteristic seal of rebelliousness, creativity, generosity, solidarity and experience," she explained.

In addition, in the colloquium, "we will discuss above all the significance of his example as the leader of great ideas to confront the powerful interests of neoliberalism in the world and about so many concrete examples of solidarity that he has given us... Projects that are so extraordinary, so charged with humanism, like those called 'Yo sí puedo (I Can Do It!) and Operation Miracle."

She noted that all of these reflections will be gathered together and published, and that also, the "extensive and very valuable interview of Fidel with Ignacio Ramonet," the book Cien horas con Fidel (One Hundred Hours with Fidel).

She announced that the Guaysamín Foundation "has had the privilege of receiving thousands of messages in many languages, from every corner of the Earth, to tell Fidel about the harvest of love that he has sown among humanity.">

In 1961, Oswaldo Guayasamín painted the first portrait of the Cuban president, and it was the forging of a solid friendship. Later, the great Latin American and universal artist made other portraits of Fidel, the last in 1996.

Source: Granma Internacional

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