Day 7 in Cuba

Our morning meeting today was with members of a Bufete Colectivo (Legal Services Bureau) that specializes in international matters. One woman was the attorney for Alan Gross. She gave a full and detailed description of that case, including her coordination with US lawyers. She has also been in contact with US lawyers for the Cuban Five. The Bufetes are self-supporting, meaning their budget comes entirely from the fees they generate in representing clients. The reception area was filled with clients waiting to meet with the lawyers of the Bufete.

Lunch today was hosted by the National Union of Cuban Lawyers at an outdoor veranda in their office building. Dra. Dorys Quintana spoke to the students and presented them all with “certificates” of their participation.

The office buildings we have been to were former mansions from the Batista era with large entries, high ceilings and detailed trim work.

After a leisurely lunch, we were driven to Jaimanitas, a small town that is the home of a prolific, famous painter and mosaic artist named Jose Fuster. He is often referred to as the Picasso of the Caribbean. He began tiling neighbor’s stone walls and entryways and has decorated large portions of the area. His home and studio is a fantasy of color and shapes which you will see in the many pictures most students took. Several of our group bought some of his artwork.

After dinner on our own, we were off to meet with a CDR–Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. There are thousands of them. Every small village and every block in urban areas has one. The Committees are composed of several people who are to look out for the welfare of those who live in the immediate area. They also keep watch on everyone to ensure there is no anti-socialist behavior. They are the eyes and ears for the government and Party at the very local level.

The CDR we went to was about a half hour from Havana and was one street in size. When we arrived there was a banner overhead and dancing and singing to entertain us. There was also the obligatory prayer for the release of the Cuban 5. Soon everyone was dancing to the music, and there was much socializing with the young children there. Many pictures later we had to say good bye and headed back to Habana Vieja after a very long day.

Fuster's neighborhood

Fuster’s neighborhood

Inside Fuster's compound where he has his tile and oil paint studios.

Inside Fuster’s compound where he has his tile and oil paint studios.

Bill & Fuster, who has a number of helpers for his mosaic work.

Bill & Fuster, who has a number of helpers for his mosaic work.

Thomas & Kyle talking with youth at the neighborhood CDR gathering.

Thomas & Kyle talking with youth at the neighborhood CDR gathering.

Ally and her dance partner at the CDR gathering.

Ally and her dance partner at the CDR gathering.