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|Las Tunas lies 690 kilometers from Havana and, since the 1970s, has been known as the Capital of Cuban Sculpture.
During the 17th century and into part of the 18th century, the Spaniards used this zone, famous for rich prickly pear plantations, for its cattle ranches. But, due to neglect by the Spanish farmers, the soil deteriorated, and the region suffered economically until 1959.
Since the 1959 Revolution, a concerted effort was made to revive the soil and begin agro-industrial production in Las Tunas. It’s perhaps why the people of Las Tunas, known as los tuneros, have always had a special love of culture. Since the 19th century, la décima (a ten-line stanza of poetry) employed in poetry as much as in music, has always been best practiced in Las Tunas. The main poet of this region was called Juan Cristóbal Nápoles Fajardo (El Cucalambé) and each year the province celebrates the Jornada Cucalambeana to pay homage to this writer as well as to the décima as a genuine form of Cuban expression.
The Las Tunas Sculpture Movement was launched at the end of the 1970s after a meeting of different Cuban artists from across the region.
Names such as Rita Longa Aróstegui, sculptor and National Arts Prizewinner in 1995, and then President of the Advisory Council for the Develompent of Monumental and Environmental Sculpture (known by the acronym CODEMA in Cuba) in Las Tunas, Ángel Íñigo from Guantánamo, José Antonio Díaz Peláez from Havana, as well as Rafael Ferrero Lores and Armando Hechavarría Guerrero from Las Tunas, among others, created works to position in various public spaces of the city.
The result is that 135 sculptural works, and the largest collection of small and medium-sized sculpted works in the country (around 300), can be enjoyed in the streets of Las Tunas.
The city holds the annual Sculpture Bienal, and places such as the Footprints Cultural Centre, the ice cream parlor Las Copas, and the Café Bohemio exhibit some of the works of the participating artists. Every time the event is held, European and Latin American artists also visit the city.
The Gallery Workshop Rita Longa is unique in Cuba in being the only workshop dedicated to the restoration of sculptures.
The Jornada Cucalambeana is held every year at the end of June, and beginning of July. One of its characteristics is that children, youngsters and adults from all over the country prepare for this event. During the bienal, many Cuban traditions are celebrated including clothing, cuisine, musical instruments, dance, music and children’s games. There’s also an emphasis on repentismo (improvisation in song) in music and poetry.
Las Tunas is a place to enjoy Cuban culture and traditions.