The Quisicuaba Town Hall religious and cultural Association inaugurates the “Love Seasons” photograph exhibit.
Source: CubaMInrex. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/es/asociacion-religiosa-y-cultural-cabildo-quisicuaba-inaugura-exposicion-fotografica-estaciones-de

Cuba, February 14, 2014. The “Quisicuaba Town Hall” Asociación Espiritista Kardeciana Cruzada in coordination with the National Center for STI-HIV/AIDS Prevention inaugurated the “Love Seasons” photograph exhibit at the Centro Habana House of Artists and Creators.

This cultural activity was attended by representatives from the PCC (Communist Party of Cuba), the municipal government of that locality, the national press, and members of the Association.  Specialist Carmen Maury Toledo, representing the UNESCO Cuban National Commission was also present.

The welcoming speeches were delivered by Dr. Rosaida Ochoa, Director of the National Center for STI-HIV/AIDS Prevention and Dr. Enrique Alemán, President of the Quisicuaba Town Hall Association, who was also the curator of the exhibit.

As pointed out by the speakers, this initiative is in line with a thematic line in which both institutions are working together, namely, health prevention, especially the incidence of STI-HIV/AIDS in the Centro Habana Municipality. (For more information please visit:
http://www.cubaminrex.cu/es/asociacion-religiosa-y-cultural-cabildo-quisicuaba-inaugura-exposicion-fotografica-estaciones-de

A Town Hall in Los Sitios
By: Eileen Sosin
Source: La Jiribilla. http://www.lajiribilla.cu/articulo/7245/un-cabildo-en-los-sitios

A passer-by asked for something to eat. “Wait a minute; they will bring you breakfast right away”. It was just after dawn. The house usually provides lunch but, this time, there was an exception: next time you should bring a bowl and your identification card. Many persons –sick, elderly, social cases- come at noon to taste Isabel´s seasoning. Yet, soul´s nourishment is the “main course” served by the Quisicuaba Town Hall (Cabildo Quisicuaba). 

“Inside the house, we are a religious association, outside the house we are community workers”, explained the President of this social and cultural initiative, Enrique Alemán, known to everybody as the “Doctor”, not only because he is a doctor by profession, but also as a token of respect.

“To what extent does the religious aspect have a bearing on your social work? On the promulgation of human values, for it is the expression of the generosity and altruism of the religious Cubans of today; but the paths of faith are others. Otherwise, our project would have been an excluding project”.

The house, located in Maloja No. 22, in Los Sitios neighborhood, welcomes children and grandparents, men and women, people of all skin colors. Exhibitions, workshops and dance, literature, theater, music and plastic arts clubs become a “pretext” to have a bearing on the life  projects of both individuals and families. Their influence is mainly exerted there, where it really hurts, where it is badly needed: to contribute to the reinsertion of former prisoners, to modify delinquency-prone attitudes, to counsel alcoholics, HIV patients, and single mothers.

Such a civic-minded endeavor must avoid paternalism, compassion and messianic intentions. “The project is made up by the people, the human being to be transformed must be the transformer of his/her own work. We do not provide solutions. We get involved in the problems we face in order, first of all, to study them and, then, to trigger tangible actions”.
In accordance with the texts on which the Town Hall is grounded, the goal is to create a space for socialization and to spur collective creativity and intelligence, always bearing in mind the specificities of the territory. Its objectives intend to promote values and spirituality, health and self-responsibility.

Therefore, participation becomes a premise and finality at the same time. “I am a neighbor, we are the community. Thus, this is not an intervention project. No one has come to instill in us the idea of a working plan. The community, committed with its environment and its historical moment, gathered and realized that a change was needed”.

If we talk about empowerment, traditions, history and local culture, popular education is the tool par excellence, since it “provides us with a premise and a methodological resource for a prompt action.” The gender perspective, in turn, permeates most of the work, particularly in the intra-generational and domestic fields.  Here we include actions to prevent and reduce family violence and “transactional sex”, as well as conflict mediation with LGTB groups.

Its motto is respect for cultural diversity, broadly understood as “skin color, oral expressions, the way we act, the food we eat, the way we dance, walk and behave, …” Each first Sunday of the month, our streets boom with such heterogeneous expressions, as part of the activities we regularly hold, in a great gathering, where songs and dances are always present.
All this is accompanied by academic and research actions at the Andrea B. Zabala Seminary (Dr. Aleman’s grandmother and founder of the religious institution in 1939), where courses, seminars, diploma papers and lectures are held.

Strategic alliances with numerous institutions like the “Fernando Ortiz” Foundation, the Psychological and Sociological Research Center (CIPS its acronym in Spanish), the House of Africa,  the Juan Marinello Institute, the  Havana University, and he Cuban Institute of Anthropology, among others, come into play.  The President of Quisicuaba confirms that a cross-cutting and interdisciplinary approach is also an important goal.

Likewise, links with the Culinary Association and the Association of Cuban Artists and Artisans (ACAA its acronym in Spanish) has created job opportunities for several participants in the project, providing them also with training and upgrading.
Working together with municipal authorities has also redounded in resurfacing of streets, renovation of facades, and educational murals.  “We try to teach decision-makers what we have learnt so that they can replicate it, while learning also from them.”
Among the 70-member managing group, there is a sociologist whose task “may seem obvious, but is not”.  Andres Hernández says that sometimes the programs are not properly focused, thus “the most important role of the sociologist is to guide and design community diagnostics and device a plan of action accordingly.”

Then, an analysis of the impact on the different populations throughout its implementation must follow.  Attention must be paid to how the practice evolves; there must be a follow-up.  “One faces a new challenge everyday!”
During the 16th century, the kissis Negroes settled down in what today is known as the Centro Habana Municipality. They lived in hamlets called cuabales. The combination of both words produced the name Quisicuaba, which is the name given to this area located in the outskirts of the city.

A whole string of decorations (2011 Living Memory Award,  2012 National Neighborhood, 2014 Honoring Honors Acknowledgement…) endorse the experience of the Town Hall, not without some very tough aspects. “Most certainly, you are affected physically and psychologically, it wears you out, but it is a lofty endeavor”, says Dr. Aleman.


The Epiphany Town Hall tours across the streets of the Havana Historical Center
By: Teresa de Jesús Torres Espinosa
Source: OHCH.
http://www.ohch.cu/noticias/cabildo-del-dia-de-reyes-recorre-calles-del-centro-historico-habanero

This Monday, moving to the beat of dances and the contagious rhythm of drums, trumpets and other musical instruments, the Afro-Cuban Town Hall celebrated the Epiphany drawing big crowds of local inhabitants and national and foreign visitors.

Departing from the San Francisco de Asís Square, the procession went all over the Oficios Street up to the Templete, burst into the Cathedral Square and then altered the daily life of Mercaderes to conclude at the Old Square with a cultural gala.

The eagerly awaited festivity, celebrated every January 6th, included the performance of the Componedores de Batea comparsa, the JJ folk dance company, the Quisicuaba Town Hall social and cultural project and Old Havana Bankers group. (For more information please visit:
http://www.ohch.cu/noticias/cabildo-del-dia-de-reyes-recorre-calles-del-centro-historico-habanero)

Cuba-Brazil Meeting on Community Cultural Tourism and African Heritage
Source: UNESCO.
http://www.unesco.lacult.org/noticias/showitem.php?lg=1&id=3454

The House of Africa from the Havana City Historian Office provided the space for a meeting between a Brazilian delegation and the Cuban Committee of the Slave Route: resistance, freedom, and heritage, held on the afternoon of October 9th as an xxchange of experiences between both groups.

The Brazilian delegation, coordinated by Dr. Jordi Treserras, explained the founding roots of the several actions carried out in Salvador de Bahía due to its current African-origin cultural wealth which forms part of the valuable traditional culture and how it serves as a basis for the community development, since it has been simultaneously interwoven into the cultural tourism.
They are working for social inclusion, especially of children and youngsters, through music and classes of percussion, dance and capoeira associations, culinary knowledge, artistic creation projects and the local history of emancipating struggles as incentives to promote local cultural tourism. (For more information please visit: http://www.unesco.lacult.org/noticias/showitem.php?lg=1&id=3454)


The “Quisicuaba Town Hall” Social and Cultural Project
By: Jorge Milanés Despaigne
Source:Havana Times
http://www.havanatimes.org/sp/?p=61922#sthash.dDkfU44i.dpuf

The “Quisicuaba Town Hall” Social and Cultural Project is a project headed by Dr. Enrique Alemán in collaboration with the Centro Habana municipal community, specifically Los Sitios community, aimed at rehabilitating the traditional popular culture bearing in mind the spiritual, cultural and material needs of this population.

Due to its qualitative and multi-disciplinary nature, this project is of extreme social importance, since it attempts to rescue and rehabilitate the tangible and intangible values of a locality facing serious social problems. Besides, its implementation has a bearing on the enhancement and sustainability of their quality of life and, therefore, on the community as the main target. (For more information please visit: http://www.havanatimes.org/sp/?p=61922#sthash.dDkfU44i.dpuf).


The Anthropology of Cuban Spiritualism: Multimedia Disk & CD with Spiritual Chants and Prayers
Source: http://www.descarga.com/cgi-bin/db/25200.10

A new contribution by Dr. Enrique Alemán Gutiérrez, President of the Quisicuaba Town Hall and BisMusic is the two-volume multimedia syntetizing one part of the long journey of this house-temple located in the Havana Los Sitios neighborhood in the Cuban capital.

As I mentioned in my brief introduction contained in the back page of this work, the spiritual prayers and chants included in this multimedia represent an important selection of praises, actions, ceremonial openings and closures, confessions, evocations, prayers, and clairvoyance… destined for the most diverse functions of this religious practice with the purpose of improving the significant and daily life of people involved and conducting, from the social viewpoint, the ethical and aesthetic values identified as favorable for bearers and transmitters of that living cultural heritage of the Cuban popular religiousness as in the Quisicuaba Association.

In the multimedia we can find the works of several Cuban  spiritualism  promoters  mentioned in a lecture given by Dr. Alemán, together with a collection of sixteen chants and prayers.  The multimedia is now nominated to the  2013 CUBADISCO Award and it will most probably win one of the well-deserved prizes.  (For more information please visit: http://www.descarga.com/cgi-bin/db/25200.10).