Cuban Americans

COURTESY OF CESAR ALVAREZ

Arturo Alvarez, trailblazing Miami trial lawyer and co-founder of the Cuban American Bar Association, died Monday at the age of 71.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Alvarez was one of a handful of Cuban law students at the University of Florida when he graduated in 1972. He entered his field at a time when South Florida firms were in dire need of bilingual attorneys, but they still lacked a community to rely on.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Andy Vila’s mother remembers her son as a bright, rebellious child who enjoyed Harry Potter books and dressing up as the U.S. president. But when he began to embrace the same ideology his family had fled in socialist Cuba, she pleaded in vain for him to stop his political activism.

Ariel Cecilio Lemus / Www.Granma.Cu

For 60 years, the U.S. government has sought to punish Cuba's communist regime through a commercial, economic, and financial embargo – known on the island as the bloqueo. But in that same time, a group of U.S. citizens has also traveled every year with aspirations to work alongside Cubans in sugar cane fields and praise their communist institutions. 

Roberto Koltun / El Nuevo Herald staff

In a move to end a "one way cultural exchange" with Cuba, the Miami city commission unanimously passed a resolution last Thursday asking Congress to allow states and local governments to ban contracting with Cuban artists and performers who do business with or are funded by the Cuban government. 

The commission seeks legislation that would prevent Cuban artists from performing in city-owned venues as a reciprocal response to Cuba’s policy of prohibiting American artists or Cuban expatriate artists from performing on the island. 

Estudio Massaguer, The Wolfsonian-FIU, Promised Gift of Vicki Gold Levi

As an illustrator and publisher, Conrado Wilson Massaguer helped sear the image of Cuba as a tropical paradise into the minds of American tourists in the first half of the 20th century, until the Cuban Revolution. It's an image that lives on in reprints of his works that line the walls of countless Cuban-American family homes.

Take for instance, the timeless image of a Cuban woman dressed in puffy white clothes, eyes closed, head back, shaking her maracas. “Visit Cuba,” the tourism advertisement reads. “So Near, and Yet So Foreign.”

Designed by Guzman Labs. Courtesy Andrew Otazo

When Andrew Otazo decided to write his version of Miami’s origin story, he didn't draw from history, but from Greek mythology and the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

“Almost every civilization has their own creation myth. I wanted to do that for Miami because it deserves its own obviously completely ridiculous and hyperbolic set of myths," he said.

The Colony Theatre / Courtesy

A new play in Miami explores the implications of Cuban politics on art.

"FAKE" takes place in an auction house in Miami where curators have received an extremely rare painting from prestigious Cuban artist Amelia Pelaez. Immediately, they face questions about its authenticity.

Playwright Carmen Pelaez, the artist's great-niece, wrote FAKE to explore the lengths people will go to protect what they love.

"Art is the only real history that we have," Pelaez said on Sundial.

FAKE is at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach until Feb. 17.

Jennine Capó Crucet / Courtesy

Cuban-American author Jennine Capó Crucet has taken her “very Miami” teaching style and pineapple tights to Nebraska.

Her book, “Make Your Home Among Strangers,” is the first title of the Sundial Book Club. It follows a young Cuban-American woman, Lizet Ramirez, as she goes from her life in Hialeah to an elite private school in the Northeast. Ramirez is then pulled between life at college and home, finding herself in the middle of a national immigration debate in Miami. 

Abel Padron / ACN via AP

In recent weeks Cuba’s communist government has been rolling out a revision to the island’s 1976 Constitution. The regime is now making an unusual outreach for feedback – across the Florida Straits.

University of Miami

Scholarship on Cuba at the University of Miami has been the subject of controversy lately. But at least one part of UM’s Cuban studies is getting a fresh start on Monday.

Associated Press

For Rene, Miami has been a lonely place since his wife died eight years ago.

Although the 78-year-old from Guantánamo, Cuba, lives with his daughter and granddaughter, he’s alone most of his time. So in July, he asked for Cuban government permission to return.

“The loneliness kills me,” said Rene. “The end of the road for old people here is an institution because the family cannot take care of us,” he said. “And that would be the worst that can happen to me.”

Florida officials say the number of Cubans registering for government assistance dropped dramatically after a longstanding migration policy ended in January.

Mario Ariza for WLRN News

Hurricane Irma has left Hermés Castro feeling lucky. Before the storm, this stocky former butcher turned outsider artist had to scavenge far and wide for the shells, scraps of string and pieces of bark and branch he uses to build his multicolored, multifaceted boat sculptures. And now that the storm has come and gone and man-high piles of refuse litter Miami’s streets, Hermés is enjoying a bit of a bonanza.

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

In 1985, the Miami Sound Machine exploded onto the popular music scene with the Latin crossover hit "Conga," introducing many English-speaking listeners to salsa and Latin rhythms. Sung in English but maintaining all the musical elements of salsa — complete with multiple percussion breaks — "Conga" changed the game for U.S.-based Latin music.

Omar Cruz / Estefan Enterprises

Miami is set to represent at Washington’s glittering 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors in December when singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan becomes the latest hometown icon to receive the prestigious award and the first Cuban-American to earn the distinction.

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