Reggae Grooving in Cuba.

Cuban Reggae
Reggae in Cuba

With the end of the 55-year United States embargo against Cuba in sight, the land of Fidel Castro is once again romantic.

Many travel experts expect the entertainment and lifestyle scenes there to explode once the US normalizes relations with the Communist country. That could be this year.

Jamaica is Cuba’s closest neighbor, so it seems inevitable that the very small presence of reggae that is there now will grow exponentially.

Cuban reggae is, perhaps, surprising, given its location so near to Jamaica and the Caribbean, a very small scene indeed, especially in the capital. The majority of Rastas and reggae musicians are in the eastern part of the island where, historically, there was substantial Jamaican migration and where, today, there is still a considerable Caribbean influence. However, in Cuba in general, reggae is a tiny movement and the lack of good instruments along with the general lack of connection to this music, all serve to reinforce this.

Still, two groups are well worth a mention – Paso Firme and Remanente. Paso Firme are what might be called reggae fusion and, being without a label, they produce their own music. They do, however, have a recording which was licensed in Europe but not distributed on the island. We hear that both Remanente and Paso Firme participated in the celebrated film Havana Blues.

From May 18-22, the exhibition, ‘Bob Marley Time Will Tell’, took place at Casa De Las Americas, in Havana, Cuba’s capital.

On show were 36 Bob Marley posters, selected from the International Reggae Poster Contest of 2013 and 2014.

Viewers in two salons — Manuel Galich and Contemporianea — saw images of the reggae king done by artistes from a number of countries including Cuba, Sweden, Iran, Mexico, South Korea, the United States, Norway, Canada, Egypt and Croatia.

A Jamaican contingent was invited by officials of Casa de Las Americas to participate in their Coloquio Internacional La Diversidad Cultural en el Caribe, held annually by the Cuban government since 1959.

The Jamaican party included Pat Chin, co-founder of VP Records, Richard Lue, that company’s director of business development, Michael Thompson, co-founder of the International Reggae Poster Contest and University of the West Indies lecturer, professor Carolyn Cooper.

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