(Taken from Facebook Oriol Marrero, counselor of the Embassy of Cuba in Greece)
Third part (III): Lefkada: “With Cuba in the heart”.
In two previous ones, the modest series of publications, “Cuba: a sponsor country of world solidarity and humanism, of respect for life and friendship, promoter of peace and cultural encounters between all the peoples of the world”, commented briefly on the well-attended Cuban photographic exhibitions and concerts by Cuban artists residing in Greece that took place in the prison of Thebes and in Athens, between 2018 and 2019. Other exhibitions also took place in Athens in 2020, as will be seen later.
Thus, as part of the cultural program of the LEA Festival, the photographic exhibition “With Cuba in the heart” was presented in June 2018 also on the island of Lefkada, an island that is part of the so-called Greek heptanese (“seven islands”), located in the Ionian Sea, and the following year, at the request of the LEA Festival and Lefkada, the new expo, “José Martí: with Greece in the heart”, which is one of the outputs of the book Martí and “the Greek”, in the publication phase in Greek language, would be presented there.
Each of these exhibitions has had unforgettable moments, especially for the displays of love towards Cuba, towards its people, its historical struggles and its heroes, and for the enriching, open, peaceful and civilized cultural encounter between the peoples, sponsored by that said joint actions. Cuban citizens residing in Greece also attend, in each city, with their Cuban-Greek families. And Cuban artists whose impact on Greek society is proverbial voluntarily act – Greek artists also join in.
New friends from Cuba are met, the bonds of friendship between our peoples are strengthened, there are meetings with the authorities of the cities and regions, as well as with representatives of different sectors, friendship and mutual knowledge between the peoples grows.
There are many examples of people who after seeing the exhibitions have wanted to visit Cuba, or have already been to Cuba. For example, in the high security prison for women in Tebas, several of the inmates wish to visit Cuba with their families when they are due.
In a certain Greek city there are people who saw the expo “With Cuba in the heart” in a neighboring city – from Meteora, Kalambaca, they saw it in Trícala – and immediately, without wasting time, they organized a trip to Cuba, they went, and In addition, they want to repeat it as soon as possible, but with the whole family. Their experiences in Cuba, basically their coexistence with the Cuban people, have resulted in the most interesting and incredible things they have experienced in their lives, due to their virtues, and without ignoring the vicissitudes.
What’s more, two Greek friends went to Cuba, took photos of Cuba and its humble and fighter people, its mountains and streets, its squares and its people, and we shared the honor of being with them in the city of Larissa in the opening of his wonderful photographic exhibition on Cuba. It was a truly exciting act. Thank you once again for this, and for having also contributed to the exhibition in Larissa of the expo “With Cuba in the heart”.
The Greek people have had a deep love for the people of Cuba for many decades, which is mutual. There are roots and common meanings between the two. Only in the last parade for May Day in the Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revolución) in Havana were more than 30 Greek brothers present. In the two years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Greek citizens visiting Cuba had almost quadrupled, and was growing.
In Greece there is a historical colony of Cuban citizens – in not a few cases prior to 1959 – dozens and dozens of common families with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been created. Similarly, there is a Greek colony in Cuba.
So, without a doubt, and without overestimating his contribution, these exhibitions enrich friendship and love between peoples, solidarity and cultural ties, one of whose greatest exponents is José Martí, as well as Heredia, and other famous Cubans, like Guillén. And Greeks, like the renowned poet Ritsos, or the composer Mikis Theodorakis. Or like the immortal anti-fascist guerrillaman Manolis Glezos, recently deceased, who lowered the Nazi flag from the Acropolis, and fervently loved Cuba until the end of his days. Perhaps his last public act for Cuba was to place a flower in front of the monolith to Fidel in Santa Ifigenia, just represented in a photo that is part of the expo “With Cuba in the heart.”
The examples attest to their validity. People look at the images, read the texts, there are exchanges, questions, comments, visits of children and young people, of schools, also of foreign tourists who are visiting Greece, and this occurs during the 15 days that as a rule last the samples, always with free admission.
Obviously, the Greek friends at each site contribute to the continuity of these programs since it is only possible for the organizers – improvised exhibitors – to attend the intense assembly work, which is done with their own hands, and generally the same day, and then the opening. The first mounting experience began at nine in the morning, and ended at three in the morning. It is perfected. The important thing is that there have been unforgettable experiences of joint work, since the dear Greek brothers voluntarily joined the assembly from the beginning, as will be seen in the next publication, with images.
In one of the publications on this wall, a textual reference was made a few months ago to what a Japanese citizen who visited the Cuban expo in Lefkada in 2018 wrote, and wanted to express her opinion in the guest book. To understand it, you have to read her words. It is not possible to describe it, nor to interpret it.
There is an indescribable cultural, geographical and symbolic nexus in this event of the expo in Lefkada – where the important thing is the symbol and not the expo -: an Asian citizen, Japanese, a nation of islands, insular, visits 10,000 kilometers from his homeland the Greek Ionian island of Lefkada, and there he enters a gallery in the center of the city, and finds a photographic exhibition on another island, Cuba, which is more than 9 thousand kilometers from Lefkada, and almost 13 thousand miles from Japan. And in the guest book she writes indescribable words about what she has seen and feels for Cuba and her people, who have seen it almost 10,000 kilometers from Cuba, and also 10,000 kilometers from her home.
Life sometimes …, it kind of calls to read symbols and connections.
José Martí, obviously, spoke about Cuba, his beloved island; but he also spoke about Japan, and also about Lefkada. They are historical, cultural, symbolic links that give these encounters a meaning and an essence: the good of sponsoring love between all the peoples of the world, culture, solidarity, exchanges, peace.
These symbols gave the exhibitions in Lefkada a special feeling, although, as it was seen and will be seen, the same happened in Athens, in Thebes, Trícala, Tripoli, Kalamata, Crete, Ikaría Trílofos, Larissa, Nea Smirna, Syntagma, Manama or the Acropolis.
The existing photographic material is relatively extensive and what can be said about each expo, even in synthesis.
In the case of Lefkada, in order not to simplify or reduce the richness of what happened, and its meaning -as will be seen in the next one-, it is necessary to make two publications: one with images about the expo “With Cuba in the heart” (June 2018), and another with images about the expo photos “José Martí: with Greece in the heart ”(June 2019).
So that in the next (IV) publication, an attempt will be made to explain Martí’s direct literary and cultural link with the Greek island of Lefkada, a link associated with Greek literature, particularly the poet Sappho of Mitiline – although not only – what he would reveal in a letter to his friend and Cuban poet José Joaquín Palma, in 1878.
In pictures: “With Cuba in the heart” expo on the Greek island of Lefkada, as part of the LEA Festival. June 2018. And some images of the island friend of Cuba, Lefkada, quoted by Martí, Cuban National Hero, whose birthday is commemorated on January 28.
(Taken from Facebook Oriol Marrero, counselor of the Embassy of Cuba in Greece)