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Mercy Correa, director of the Cuban Cultural Goods Fund crafts department, co-sponsoring the event alongside the Asociación Hermanos Saíz, was right when she noted that the new design of the Pabellón Cuba site provides greater visibility, above all in the central hall, where from July 1 through September 18, the 52 different sales stands – which will be changing every month – are located.The 17th edition of the event was inaugurated with the exposition Fidel, soldado de las ideas, by photo-journalists Liborio Noval and Ismael Francisco; its title taken from the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution’s March 11, 2011 speech, during which he stated: “I am and will continue to be, just as I promised; a solider of ideas for as long as I can think and breathe.”

The exposition, a tribute to Fidel on his 90th birthday, includes 19 photographs tracing practically the entire revolutionary period.

High quality leather goods on sale. Photo: Mireya Castañeda

The oldest photo in the collection, taken by Liborio, is from 1960, while the most recent, by Ismael Francisco, is from Fidel’s last public appearance during the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, on April 19, this year.

Liborio Noval (Havana, 1934-2012) was a founder of the newspaper Granma and is considered to be one of Cuba’s best photo-journalists. He received over 30 national and international awards throughout his lifetime, and his photos have been featured in dozens of collective exhibitions.

His photographic works appear in various books such as Instantáneas, published in 1999, which includes 77 images of Fidel taken over 40 years, as well as in Cien imágenes de la Revolución, 15 of which were taken by Liborio.

For his part, Ismael Francisco is one of the most outstanding contemporary Cuban photo-journalists and son of Ismael González also a photo-journalist at Granma. The deserving recipient of various awards, Francisco has worked for Granma, Prensa Latina, La Agencia Cubana de Noticias and currently Cubadebate.

In 2010 the exposition Ismael con Ismael was presented in the Casa de la Prensa. Trained in the rigorous world of press-photography, Ismael Francisco is also renowned for his technical skill, compositions and framing.

On Friday, July 1, it was all about the kids, with the Fair providing numerous offers for little ones, such as the presentation in the Salón de Mayo, of the DVD of the performance of Peter and the wolf by La Colmenita children’s theater company, followed by a rendition of La Cucarachita Martinaby the collective directed by Carlos Alberto Cremata, in the Pabellon’s main hall.The exposition Fidel, soldado de las ideas, is displayed in the tunnel of the Pabellón Cuba. Of its 19 photos, pictured in the foreground is one taken by Liborio Noval in 1961, Fidel con boina. Photo: José Raúl Concepción/Cubadebate

Despite the fact that there are apparently fewer stands this year (with artisans alternating throughout the three-month fair), the high quality of products continues to be maintained, with offers ranging from footwear, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and out-door furniture.

Like always, the summer event again has a cultural agenda, with a special program for children featuring clowns, music, and dance.
Music is without a doubt one of the mainstays of the event, with jazz, trova and repentismo concerts by various musicians and performers, including popular figures such as Polito Ibáñez, Ernesto and David Blanco, Interactivo, Telmary and Adrián Berazaín.

Art on La Rampa is one of the city’s most visited events during the summer. The Fair has many merits including its central headquarters in the Pabellón Cuba, crafts, books, reproductions of art works, albums, and a program which in addition to musical events also features visual arts, film showings and talks, which combine to create a superb Cuban cultural Fair, just as organizers have planned.

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