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Cuba based rap duo, Zona Franka, blends traditional rhythms with the grit and swagger of hip-hop and rap vocal phrasings. Their clever shout choruses create instant tropical dance classics using their unique self-titled "changui con flow" style.

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New CubaAbsolutely issue is available!

April 08, 2008

By Latin Pulse Music

Absolutely the BEST magazine about Cuba: CubaAbsolutely. The new 08/09 issue is here! I am delighted and honoured that the Embassy is among the sponsors of this edition of Cuba Absolutely. This extraordinary publication burst upon us a year ago and filled a longstanding need with style, professionalism and panache. Cuba is indeed a fascinating place to visit, live and work. But we all need a guide as good as this one to make the most of it. I could not do without it, and its website."
-- John Dew, Ambassador British Embassy Havana

248 pages -- Euro 6.95 -- US$ 12.95 -- CN$ 12.95

A relic of the past or a glimpse of the future?
"Two days ride and you are still on my property" is a boast you might hear quite frequently from South American landowners. But not in Cuba. Although this island was once famous for its huge ranches, many of which were in American hands before the Revolution, those days are long gone. So, when a friend told me that 47 years after all that, there is, still, one private farm in Cuba where the owner really can ride for two days and not leave home, I found it difficult to believe. It had to be worth a visit.

Running on a wing and a prayer
Driving through Holguí n province recently, I passed an antediluvian automotive abuelo, dead as a dinosaur, stopped in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere. Time itself seemed to have stopped on the carretera midway between Bayamo and Veguitas. The curvaceous Chevy Bel-Air stared me down with its acres of bechromed grinning grillwork. Its hood was propped open while two men peered into the engine. A third lay half-hidden beneath the car. They were still there, frozen like museum pieces, when I zoomed by in the other direction three hours later.

Havana deserves its reputation as a mecca for cigar smokers.
Amir Sarony talks you through the best cigars out there now and where to savour them. First off, Fidel Castro no longer smokes cigars, he gave them up in 1986 in an effort to promote non-smoking in a country with one of the highest rates of lighting-up in the world. Havana nonetheless remains a mecca for cigar smokers on an island where cigars play an intricate role in the country's history, culture and everyday life.

Sunday rumba afternoon in Central Havana
La rumba" Barely 200 meters long, Callejó n de Hamel bursts every week with the movement of hips and shoulders, jiving to the rhythmic pounding of the conga. The alley itself is a wild and colourful backdrop to the music. Its most famous resident, artist Salvador Gonzá lez, has decorated the entire block with murals and sculpture.

Towards the end of the 1980s, Cuban art reached something of a crossroads as the relationship between individual artists and the institutional system came under strain. At this time the position of the government towards certain artists whose works raised questions and doubts regarding Cuban culture and society was widely perceived as having reached the limits of its tolerance, which, prior to this time, had been very open and accepting towards artistic expression.

Stark havana a different light
Not many photographers arriving in Cuba manage to elude the island's exuberant natural scenery and spectacular colonial architecture. Postcard-perfect beaches, clear cobalt seas and buildings of exceptional beauty and splendour will usually take hold of the photographer's lens.This is why Charles Johnstone's scenes of Havana are surprising and unexpected, as they explore inexplicably deserted streets and parks-familiar environments photographed beyond any significance conferred on them by regular usage.

La Nueva Má quina de la Timba Cubana
Salsa Mayor is directed by Maykel Blanco Cueva, a Havana native who studied percussion at the conservatories. Directing his first group at the age of 15, Maykel taught himself to play piano in order to write and arrange his own songs. At 23 he founded Salsa Mayor acting as composer, arranger, pianist and backing vocalist. A year and a half later Salsa Mayor exploded on the timba scene with its first CD: Recoge y Vete. Then in October 2007, Maykel Blanco y su Salsa Mayor celebrated their third anniversary with a special concert at Havana's Salon Rosado de La Tropical. This came on the heels of their first European tour and the eve of their next CD, Anda Pégate, Salsa Mayor's third album release. Salsa Mayor has established itself as "La Nueva Má quina de la Timba Cubana" -one of Cuba's newest music-making-machines.

This drawing was inspired by the most stunning and beautifully written novel published in Cuba in the last ten years, "Cien Botellas en una Pared" by the prizewinning young Cuban novelist Ena Lucí a Portela. Published in 2002, it has been translated into French, but not yet into English. It paints a sharp, compelling tragi-comic picture of the heroine's progress from school in the 1980s to maturity in the 1990s, against the background of a mansion long given over to multi occupation in Havana's louche but still distinguished Vedado district.

Cuba Absolutely is:
a classy, new annual magazine which is passionate about Cuba and packed with stunning pictures and articles, ranging from the light and humorous to the more serious and heavyweight. We are proud that many of the very best Cuba writers and photographers have contributed pieces for our print and on-line versions and would welcome further contributors.

New issue, Cuba Absolutely 2008/9:
Our second edition, Cuba Absolutely 2008/9 is now out in Canada and the US. Copies will be available in Europe from April 15, 2008.