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Wrapping Up National Hispanic Heritage Month with Cuban Food

Wrapping Up National Hispanic Heritage Month with Cuban Food


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As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we spoke with chef Stanley Licairac of New York City’s Havana Central about what the month of festivities means to him. For Licairac, the four weeks of remembrances are important because "it’s a shout-out to the entire Hispanic community," he tells The Daily Meal about the all-encompassing celebration of the cultures born from the Caribbean all the way down to Chile.

Not surprisingly, Licairac’s favorite part about his Hispanic heritage is its diverse cuisine. Growing up with a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father, Licairac was exposed to a variety of Latin foods from a very young age. But his experiences with Latin cooking go beyond regular family meals, because he spent much of his upbringing working in his parents’ authentic Latin restaurants. With his extensive experience cooking with Latin foods, the opportunity to run the kitchen at Havana Central was a no-brainer for Licairac, and transitioning from his parents’ Caribbean cooking to Cuban cooking was easy.
"[Cuban food was easy for me to adapt to], because we all eat the same kinds of foods and proteins across the Caribbean," he explained, "and I’m drawn to Cuban food because it’s very flavorful but not too [overwhelming]."

At Havana Central, Licairac whips up authentic yet unique Cuban dishes regularly, drawing upon some of his favorite traditional Cuban ingredients such as pork, black beans, sour oranges, and fresh oregano. While he has many, we were able to get Licairac to decide on just a few of his favorite recipes from Havana Central to share with The Daily Meal. These recipes are a nod to not only Cuban cooking but the entire Hispanic community as well, and are a great way to wrap up your National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.

Ropa Vieja Recipe

"This traditional Cuban dish is true to its English translation of "old clothes," because of the tender chunks of shredded beef that resemble torn clothing."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors

Pernil Asado Recipe

"Originating from Puerto Rico, this pernil asado recipe is given a Cuban twist with manzanilla olives and canned pimento."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors

"The beauty of a traditional Cubano is the balance of meat, cheese, and dill pickles. This recipe from Havana Central is a careful ratio of all of three, and adds a spicy garlic mojo into the mix for an extra kick of flavor."

— The Daily Meal Cook Editors

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce


Cuando Sali de Cuba – Jorge’s Story

Marta here: Welcome to my ongoing celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month: Cuban-Style with a series of stories about Cuban American families and how they ended up here in the U.S.:Cuando Sali de Cuba, stories of courage and hope.

Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Jorge Carmona.

He is one of the Cuban masterminds behind Dos Cubanos Pig Roasts (Texas, you are so darn lucky!) along with Joey Lay, who's story I will also be sharing in the coming weeks. I had the privilege of meeting Jorge and his amazing family in San Antonio during the Cooking With the Troops event.

In his essay, he celebrates the hardships of being new immigrants to this country and also the fun of being Cuban in America. As far as I'm concerned, the Carmonas are just like family to me. Please enjoy.

My story is not unlike the countless stories of Cubans who came to this amazing country in search of freedom and opportunity. Many Cuban families have a similar tale as is evident here. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not take for granted the struggles and sacrifices my family went through to provide a better life for all of us. 

Before my parents left Cuba, my grandmother, Bertha, informed them she would be coming along. She wanted to make sure I was well taken care of and she wanted to be there for her daughter and son in law. Unfortunately, my father’s parents would not leave. As much as my father tried to convince them they just couldn’t leave Cuba. I imagine they all felt it would be temporary and that eventually we would all return.  Heck, I expect many Cubans felt the same. My father would say it all the time “Once the Castro’s are gone, we would return.” 

My family arrived in Miami in 1970. “Una finca.” A farm, as my parents called it. So you know, if not for us Cubans, Miami would still be a “finca." 

 My parents had nothing but a small suitcase and some personal belongings. They had lots of ambition and drive though. Fortunately for us, some old friends who left Cuba before them took us in until we got settled. They also provided my parents with much advice and support. As my parents would say, “Los Oliveras are a gift from heaven”. 

After a few years in Miami, and coming to the realization that no jobs were available, my parents made a decision to pack their bags again and move north to Chicago, Illinois. Why Chicago, you ask? Well as my parents put it, that’s where the jobs were and they would be forced to assimilate into this new world.

When we arrived in Chicago, A Cuban Pastor, Roberto Millan learned of my parents and immediately helped us get settled. It seems that in those days if you were Cuban, other Cubans who went through the same were eager to help. 

Chicago has some harsh winters and coming from a tropical island my parents had no clue what they were going to experience. They had been warned, yet they didn’t know. As with many immigrants, regardless, they worked their tails off. Both my mother and father worked in factories and worked at anything they could. My father, a barber in Cuba, saved enough to buy himself some barber equipment and he soon found a part time job as a barber. They saved everything they could with the ultimate goal of buying a house and a car. In less than three years in Chicago, through hard work, sweat, and determination they accomplished their goals. 

Even though my parents worked all the time and saved money like it was going out of style, they always managed to provide us with anything we needed. We always had food on the table, provided by my grandmother.  We had a roof over our heads, nice clothes and we were able to do things that other Americans enjoyed.

I played little league baseball. We went on vacations. We had picnics at Santa’s Village.

Speaking of Santa, my parents learned of this amazing guy and had him bring me all sorts of gifts on Christmas. Luckily, Santa was around because as my father would always inform my sister and I, money did not grow on trees. This Santa guy brought me almost all the toys from the Sears catalog and it didn’t cost my dad a dime! The point is, we never felt like we were any different than other kids. 

While my parents wanted to assimilate, they never forgot their roots. They would always tell us how proud they were of being in America and having all these amazing opportunities. But like many Cubans would tell you, they still did things, well…like Cubans.

You see my parents were like every other Cuban I know, they were loud, I mean why-you-yelling loud.

 They partied. They moved their arms in rapid motions when talking and yes, they caused a scene almost everywhere we went.  Just imagine the look on the nurses and doctors faces when all these Cubans congregated in the hospital to celebrate the birth of my little sister, Carmensita. I guess a sign informing guests not to bring a cooler would have been appropriate. 

Speaking of crazy, one of my favorite stories was when I was about 8 years old. Cubans love to roast pigs so on Thanksgiving, in addition to a Turkey we roasted a Pig. What could go wrong?

Well in November, Chicago is cold, real “coño que frio” cold. So some crazy liquored up Cubans roasting a pig was a recipe for some good times right? Roasting the pig outside was out of the question. So my father and his other Cuban friends had a brilliant idea. “ Let’s roast it “en el garaje” (the garage). Well you can imagine what happened next. The neighbors immediately called the firefighters and a few minutes’ later firefighters were on the scene. Let’s just say it took a miracle and lots of pleading and yelling when they arrived. Luckily one of the firefighters spoke Spanish and the pig was spared.  

After several years in Chicago, the weather and the crime was starting to get to my parents, we had a nice house, yet our neighborhood was becoming infested with gangs. As my parents tell it, you could hear gunfire at night.

Several of my parent’s friends had children who were recruited and became gang members so my family made another decision so I wouldn’t end up in that situation. They would return to Miami. 

I was now 11 years old at the time and my sister was 6 so it was difficult for us to leave our friends, but we had no choice, really. So we moved back to Miami in 1978. Just like everything else they set out to do, my parents accomplished even more in Miami. 

My mother went to school to be a stylist and my father worked on getting his barbers license. My father realized his dream of owning his own business, Carmona’s Barber Shop in the heart of Cuban territory, off Flagler and 38 th Street. Soon after that my mother realized her dream and opened up her own business, Lily’s Beauty Salon in Pinecrest.

Amazing, they accomplished so much in this country – they did it with hard work, sweat, humility, and pride.  My sister and I are what we are today because of them. You see, my parents are my inspiration they came to a new country, with nothing and became successful Americans, just like they had dreamed of back in 1970 when they left Cuba. 

As with many Cubans they always spoke about the beauty of Cuba. They have watched Cuba go from a prosperous free country to one of oppression and despair. I know it hurt them to know that those who remained in Cuba were struggling while they were enjoying life. 

My dream was to one-day return to Cuba with my parents and my family, visit my birthplace and see all the beauty they so vividly described to us over the years. Sadly, my dad recently passed away and will not be able to return, but rest assured, one day, if God allows, I will visit Cuba and I will remember all the wonderful stories he shared with us. 

God bless you, abuela, for being there for us, for taking care of us when mom and dad were working.

God bless you mommy for always loving Carmen and I unconditionally and teaching us to appreciate life.

Papi, I miss you so much, but I am grateful that I have you always in my heart. I am grateful that you taught me what being a man is about. 

 Editor's Note: If you're in Texas and want a one-of-a-kind authentic Cuban party experience, contact Dos Cubanos and they'll show you how it's done, Cuban-style.

To get your mouth watering and inspire you for the upcoming holidays, please "like" Dos Cubanos Pig Roasts on Facebook. 

It's not too late to tell your story. Send me an email with "Cuando Sali de Cuba" in the subject line to mdarby(at)cox(dot)net. I will keep posting them as long as you keep sending them. Thank you. Seriously. Thank you so much.


Hispanic Heritage Month: Cuban cuisine comes to Johnstown despite challenges in a pandemic

Ortega is serving up the only authentic Cuban cuisine in Central PA.

“Everything’s from scratch,” he says.

“I’ve been planning this for four years but I had to take steps,” explains Ortega. “You know, hustling the food first of all. There ain’t no Cuban food out here so I had to make a name for the Cuban food.”

While he had the plan for Ortega’s Cuban Cafe, he didn’t expect it to happen in 2020.

In February, he had neck surgery. Two discs had to be replaced in his neck.

“I lost my job and I just dove for it, I just went all in,” says Ortega.

In the coming months, as he used his savings to get his restaurant ready, even a global pandemic couldn’t stop him.

“I’m already in too deep. I’m in too deep,” he says. “Why not.”

That leap of faith paid off because the food is unique, authentic, and delicious.

“Flavors, the flavors, it’s all about the flavor,” says Ortega.

But, he wouldn’t know just how delicious his food is.

“Being a vegetarian because you can’t eat your own food, you just gotta make it and you gotta have a passion,” Ortega says.

He’s relied on strangers to give him feedback to find out if his food actually tastes good.

“I have to dive into a meat eater’s mind to what’s tasteful,” explains Ortega. “I would go to the dollar store, I would cook food, I would go up there I would hand out the food here’s try this…I would spend lots of money handing food out, lots of money”

“It has to be ten out of ten, if it ain’t ten out of ten it’s not on my menu at all,” says Ortega.

He’s had lots of dishes make it to his menu and plans to add many more as long as there are willing taste testers.

“It’s the love that you put into the food that makes the Cuban food,” says Ortega.

Ortega’s Cuban Cafe is located at 603 Grove Avenue in Johnstown.

Ortega will create a vegetarian versions of his meals, he just asks you call ahead of time.

You can learn more about Ortega’s Cuban Cafe on their Facebook Page.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Contents

Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [8] [9] His father, Norton Cuban, was an automobile upholsterer. [10] [11] [12] Cuban has described his mother, Shirley, as someone with "a different job or different career goal every other week." [13] He grew up in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon, in a Jewish working-class family. [14] [15] His paternal grandfather changed the family name from "Chabenisky" to "Cuban" after his family emigrated from Russia through Ellis Island. [16] [17] His maternal grandparents, who were also Jewish, came from Romania. [18] Cuban's first step into business occurred at age 12, when he sold garbage bags to pay for a pair of expensive basketball shoes. [8] [19] Some years later, he earned money by selling stamps and coins. [20] At age 16, Cuban took advantage of a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strike by running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. [21] [22]

Instead of attending high school for his senior year, he enrolled as a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he joined the Pi Lambda Phi International fraternity. He is a "beloved" fan of Pittsburgh's NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. [23] After one year at the University of Pittsburgh, he transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and graduated from the Kelley School of Business in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management. [24] [25] [26] He chose Indiana's Kelley School of Business without even visiting the campus because "It had the least expensive tuition of all the business schools on the top 10 list". During college, he had various business ventures, including a bar, disco lessons, and a chain letter. [8] [27] After graduating, he went back to his hometown in Pennsylvania and took a job with Mellon Bank and immersed himself in the study of machines and networking. [28]

On July 7, 1982, Cuban moved to Dallas, Texas, where he first found work as a bartender for a Greenville Avenue bar called Elan [29] [30] and then as a salesperson for Your Business Software, one of the earliest PC software retailers in Dallas. [31] He was fired less than a year later, after meeting with a client to procure new business instead of opening the store. [32] [20]

Cuban started his own company, MicroSolutions, with support from his previous customers from Your Business Software. MicroSolutions was initially a system integrator and software reseller. The company was an early proponent of technologies such as Carbon Copy, Lotus Notes, and CompuServe. [33] One of the company's largest clients was Perot Systems. [34]

The company grew to more than $30 million in revenue, and in 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe—then a subsidiary of H&R Block—for $6 million. [25] He made approximately $2 million after taxes on the deal. [35] [36]

Audionet and Broadcast.com Edit

In 1995, fellow Indiana University alumnus Todd Wagner and Cuban joined Audionet (founded in 1989 by Chris Jaeb who retained 10% of the company), combining their mutual interest in Indiana Hoosier college basketball and webcasting. [37] With a single server and an ISDN line, [38] Audionet became Broadcast.com in 1998. [36] By 1999, Broadcast.com had grown to 330 employees and $13.5 million in revenue for the second quarter. [39] In 1999, Broadcast.com helped launch the first live-streamed Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. [40] That year, during the dot com boom, Broadcast.com was acquired by Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in Yahoo! stock. [41]

After the sale of Broadcast.com, Cuban hedged against the risk of a decline in the value of the Yahoo shares he received in the deal. [42] The Guinness Book of Records credits Cuban with the "largest single e-commerce transaction", after he purchased a Gulfstream V jet for $40 million over the internet in October 1999. [43]

Yahoo's costly purchase of Broadcast.com is now regarded as one of the worst internet acquisitions of all time. Broadcast.com along with Yahoo!'s other broadcasting services were discontinued within a few years after the acquisition. [44] Cuban has repeatedly described himself as very lucky to have sold the company before the dot-com bubble burst. However, he also emphasized that he hedged against the Yahoo shares he received from the sale, and that he would have lost most of his fortune if he had not done so. [45]

Cuban continues to work with Wagner in another venture, 2929 Entertainment, which provides vertically integrated production and distribution of films and video. [46]

On September 24, 2003, the firm purchased Landmark Theatres, a chain of 58 arthouse movie theaters. [47] The company is also responsible for the updated version of the TV show Star Search, which was broadcast on CBS. [48] 2929 Entertainment released Bubble, a movie directed by Steven Soderbergh, in 2006.

Cuban was featured on the cover of the November 2003 premiere issue of Best magazine [49] announcing the arrival of High Definition Television. Cuban also was co-founder (with Philip Garvin) of AXS TV (formerly HDNet), the first high-definition satellite television network. [50]

In February 2004, Cuban announced that he would be working with ABC television to produce a reality television series, The Benefactor. [36] The premise of the six-episode series involved 16 contestants trying to win $1 million by participating in various contests, with their performances being judged by Cuban. It premiered on September 13, 2004, but due to poor ratings, the series was canceled before the full season aired. [51]

In 2018, Cuban was No.190 on Forbes ' list of "World's Richest People", with a net worth of $3.9 billion. [52]

Cuban financially supported Grokster in the Supreme Court case MGM v. Grokster. [53] [54] He is also a partner in Synergy Sports Technology, a web based basketball scouting and video delivery tool, used by many NBA teams. [55]

Investments in startups Edit

Cuban has also assisted ventures in the social software and distributed networking industries. He is an owner of IceRocket, a search engine that scours the blogosphere for content. [56] Cuban was a partner in RedSwoosh [57] —a company which uses peer-to-peer technology to deliver rich media, including video and software, to a user's PC—later acquired by Akamai. He was also an investor in Weblogs, Inc., which was acquired by AOL. [58]

In 2005, Cuban invested in Brondell Inc., a San Francisco startup making a high-tech toilet seat called a Swash that works like a bidet but mounts on a standard toilet. "People tend to approach technology the same way, whether it's in front of them, or behind them", Cuban joked. [59] He also invested in Goowy Media Inc., a San Diego Internet software startup. In April 2006, Sirius Satellite Radio announced that Cuban would host his own weekly radio talk show, Mark Cuban's Radio Maverick. [60] However, the show has not materialized.

In July 2006, Cuban financed Sharesleuth.com, [61] a website created by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigative reporter Christopher Carey to uncover fraud and misinformation in publicly traded companies. Experimenting with a new business model for making online journalism financially viable, Cuban disclosed that he would take positions in the shares of companies mentioned in Sharesleuth.com in advance of publication. Business and legal analysts questioned the appropriateness of shorting a stock prior to making public pronouncements which are likely to result in losses in that stock's value. Cuban insisted that the practice is legal in view of full disclosure. [62] [63] [64]

In April 2007, Cuban partnered with Mascot Books to publish his first children's book, Let's Go, Mavs!. In November 2011, he wrote a 30,000-word e-book, How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, which he described as "a way to get motivated". [65]

In October 2008, Cuban started Bailoutsleuth.com [66] as a grassroots, online portal for oversight over the U.S. government's $700 billion "bailout" of financial institutions.

In September 2010, Cuban provided an undisclosed amount of venture capital to store-front analytics company Motionloft. According to the company's CEO Jon Mills, he cold-emailed Cuban on a whim with the business proposition and claimed Cuban quickly responded that he would like to hear more. Mills credited that sentence for launching the company. [67] In November 2013, several investors questioned Cuban about Mills' representation of a pending acquisition of Motionloft. Cuban denied an acquisition was in place. [68] Mills was terminated as CEO of Motionloft by stockholders on December 1, 2013, and in February 2014 was arrested by the FBI and charged with wire fraud, it being alleged that Mills misrepresented to investors that Motionloft was going to be acquired by Cisco. [69] Cuban has gone on record to state that the technology, which at least in part is meant to serve the commercial real estate industry, is "game changing" for tenants. [70]

In 2019, Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, Steve Watts and Watts’ wife Angela, invested a 50% stake in Veldskoen shoes fledgling US business. [71]

Shark Tank Edit

Cuban has been a "shark" investor on the ABC reality program Shark Tank since season two in 2011.

As of May 2015, he has invested in 85 deals across 111 Shark Tank episodes, for a total of $19.9 million invested. [72] The actual numbers vary because the investment happens after the handshake deal on live television, after the due diligence is performed to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in the pitch room. [7] For instance, Hy-Conn, a manufacturer of removable fire hoses, after agreeing to a deal of $1.25 million for 100% of the company with Cuban, did not go through with the deal. [73]

Cuban's top three deals, all with at least $1 million invested, are Ten Thirty One Productions, Rugged Maniac Obstacle Race, and BeatBox Beverages. [72]

Since Cuban joined the show in 2011, the ratings for Shark Tank have increased, and also during his tenure, the show has won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Structured Reality Program (from 2014 - 2016). As of 2018, Cuban was the second richest of all Sharks to appear on the show, at 4.1 billion, after Richard Branson, at 5.1 billion. [74]

Magnolia Pictures Edit

Cuban owns film distributor Magnolia Pictures. Through Magnolia, he financed Redacted, a fictional dramatization based on the 2006 Mahmudiyah killings, written and directed by Brian De Palma. [75] In September 2007, Cuban, in his capacity as owner of Magnolia Pictures, removed disturbing photographs from the concluding moments of the Redacted, citing copyrights/permissions issues. [76]

Also in 2007, Cuban was reportedly interested in distributing through Magnolia an edition of the film Loose Change, which posits a 9/11 conspiracy theory, with Charlie Sheen narrating. Cuban told the New York Post, "We are having discussions about distributing the existing video with Charlie's involvement as a narrator, not in making a new feature. We are also looking for productions with an opposing viewpoint. We like controversial subjects, but we are agnostic to which side the controversy comes from." [77]

In April 2011, Cuban put Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theatres up for sale, but said, "If we don't get the price and premium we want, we are happy to continue to make money from the properties." [78]

SEC insider trading allegation Edit

On November 17, 2008, it was reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a civil suit against Cuban relating to alleged insider trading in the shares of Mamma.com, now known as Copernic. [79] A stock dilution occurred shortly after a trade in June 2004, giving hints of inside knowledge at the time of the trade, and Cuban allegedly was saved from a loss of $750,000. [80] The SEC claimed that Cuban ordered the sale of his holdings in Mamma.com after he had been confidentially approached by the company to participate in a transaction likely to dilute shares of current shareholders. Cuban disputed the charges, saying he had not agreed to keep the information secret. [81] On his blog, Cuban contended the allegations were false and that the investigation was "a product of gross abuse of prosecutorial discretion". [82] DealBook, a section of The New York Times, reported through an anonymous source that Cuban believed the investigation was motivated by an SEC employee having taken offense to his interest in possibly distributing the film Loose Change. [83]

In July 2009, the U.S. District Court dismissed the charges against Cuban, and the SEC appealed. In September 2010, an appeals court said that the district court had erred and that further proceedings would be necessary to address the merits of the suit. [84]

A federal jury in Texas found in favor of Cuban on October 16, 2013. [85] The nine-member jury issued the verdict after deliberating 3 hours and 35 minutes. [86]

In March 2014, Cuban was on air at CNBC criticizing high-frequency trading (HFT). [87] Those against HFT, such as Cuban, believe the technology is equivalent to automated insider trading. [88]

Dallas Mavericks Edit

On January 4, 2000, Cuban purchased a majority stake in the NBA's Dallas Mavericks for $285 million from H. Ross Perot, Jr. [89] [90] [91]

In the 20 years before Cuban bought the team, the Mavericks won only 40% of their games and had a playoff record of 21–32. [92] [93] In the 10 years following, the team won 69 percent of their regular season games and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons except for one. The Mavericks' playoff record with Cuban is 49–57, including their first trip to the NBA Finals in 2006, where they lost to the Miami Heat. [94]

Historically, NBA team owners publicly play more passive roles and watch basketball games from skyboxes Cuban sits alongside fans while donning team jerseys. Cuban travels in his private airplane—a Gulfstream V—to attend road games. [95]

In May 2010, H. Ross Perot, Jr., who retained 5% ownership, filed a lawsuit against Cuban, alleging the franchise was insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency. In June 2010, Cuban responded in a court filing maintaining Perot is wrongly seeking money to offset some $100 million in losses on the Victory Park real estate development. [96] [97] The lawsuit was dismissed in 2011, due in part to Cuban asserting proper management of the team due to its recent victory in the 2011 NBA Finals. [98] In 2014, the 5th Circuit Court affirmed that decision on appeal. Following his initial defeat, Perot attempted to shut out Mavericks fans from use of the parking lots he controlled near the American Airlines Center. [99] [100]

In January 2018, Cuban announced the Mavericks would be accepting Bitcoin as payment for tickets in the following season. [101]

NBA fines Edit

Cuban's ownership has been the source of extensive media attention and controversy involving league policies. [102]

Cuban has been fined by the NBA, mostly for critical statements about the league and referees, at least $1.665 million for 13 incidents. [103] In a June 30, 2006 interview, Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki said about Cuban: [104]

He's got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can't lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he's got to learn that, too. He's got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don't think that helps us . He sits right there by our bench. I think it's a bit much. But we all told him this before. It's nothing new. The game starts, and he's already yelling at them. So he needs to know how to control himself a little.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Cuban said that he matches NBA fines with charitable donations of equal amounts. [105] In a nationally publicized incident in 2002, he criticized the league's manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, saying that he "wouldn't be able to manage a Dairy Queen." Dairy Queen management took offense to Cuban's comments and invited him to manage a Dairy Queen restaurant for a day. Cuban accepted the company's invitation and worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Coppell, Texas, where fans lined up in the street to get a Blizzard from the owner of the Mavericks. [106]

During the 2005–06 NBA season, Cuban started a booing campaign when former Mavericks player Michael Finley returned to play against the Mavericks as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. [107] In a playoff series between the Mavericks and Spurs, Cuban cursed Spurs forward Bruce Bowen [108] and was fined $25,000 by the NBA for rushing onto the court and criticizing NBA officials. [109] After the 2006 NBA Finals, Cuban was fined $250,000 by the NBA for repeated misconduct following the Mavericks' loss to the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2006 NBA Finals.

In February 2007, Cuban publicly criticized NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade and declared that he would get fined if he made any comments about what he thought really happened in the 2006 NBA Finals. [110] [111]

On January 16, 2009, the league fined Cuban $25,000 for yelling at Denver Nuggets player J. R. Smith at the end of the first half on a Mavericks-at-Nuggets game played on January 13. [112] [113] Cuban was apparently incensed that Smith had thrown an elbow that barely missed Mavericks forward Antoine Wright. [114] Cuban offered to match the fine with a donation to a charity of Smith's choosing. Cuban stated that if he doesn't hear from Smith, then he will donate the money to the NHL Players' Association Goals and Dreams Fund in the names of Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore. [115] In May 2009, Cuban made a reference to the Denver Nuggets being "thugs" after a loss to the Nuggets in game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The statement was geared towards the Nuggets and their fans. As he passed Kenyon Martin's mother, who was seated near Cuban as he left the arena, he pointed at her and said, "that includes your son." This controversial comment revisited media attention on Cuban yet again. Cuban issued an apology the next day referencing the poor treatment of away fans in arenas around the league. The league issued a statement stating that they would not fine him. [116]

On May 22, 2010, Cuban was fined $100,000 for comments he made during a television interview about trying to sign LeBron James. [117]

Despite his history, he was notably silent during the Mavericks' 2011 championship playoff run. [118]

Despite Cuban's history with David Stern, he believed the NBA Commissioner would leave a lasting legacy "of a focus on growth and recognizing that the NBA is in the entertainment business and that it's a global product, not just a local product. Whatever platforms that took us to, he was ready to go. He wasn't protective at all. He was wide open. I think that was great." [119]

On January 18, 2014, Cuban was once again fined $100,000 for confronting referees and using inappropriate language toward them. As with previous fines, Cuban confirmed that he would match the fine with a donation to charity, however, with the condition that he reaches two million followers on his Twitter account. Cuban also jokingly commented that he could not let Stern leave without a proper farewell. [120]

On February 21, 2018, Cuban was fined $600,000 by the NBA for stating that the Dallas Mavericks should "tank for the rest of the season." Commissioner Adam Silver stated that the fine was "for public statements detrimental to the NBA." [121]

On March 6, 2020, Cuban was fined $500,000 by the NBA for "public criticism and detrimental conduct regarding NBA officiating," according to the league. [122]

Major League Baseball Edit

Cuban has repeatedly expressed interest in owning a Major League Baseball franchise and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase at least three franchises. In 2008, he submitted an initial bid of $1.3 billion to buy the Chicago Cubs and was invited to participate in a second round of bidding along with several other potential ownership groups. [123] Cuban was not selected to participate in the final bidding process in January 2009. In August 2010, Cuban actively bid to buy the Texas Rangers with Jeffrey L. Beck. Cuban stopped bids after 1 a.m., having placed bids totaling almost $600 million. He had outbid a competing ownership group led by ex-pitcher and Rangers executive Nolan Ryan, but lost the deal before the Rangers played the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series.

In January 2012, Cuban placed an initial bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but was eliminated before the second round of bidding. Cuban felt that the value of the Dodgers' TV rights deal drove the price of the franchise too high. [124] He had previously said that he would not be interested in buying the franchise at $1 billion, [125] telling the Los Angeles Times in November 2011 "I don't think the Dodgers franchise is worth twice what the Rangers are worth." [126] However, as the bidding process drew near many speculated that the sale would surpass $1.5 billion, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reporting on Twitter that at least one bid in the $1–1.5 billion range was placed in the initial round of the bidding process. Ultimately, the Dodgers sold for $2.15 billion to Guggenheim Baseball Management. [127]

Cuban also previously expressed interest in becoming a minority owner of the New York Mets after owner Fred Wilpon announced in 2011 that he was planning to sell up to a 25% stake in the team. [128]

Cuban has wanted to purchase his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates, but was rebuffed by then owner Kevin McClatchy in 2005. [129]

Other sports businesses Edit

In 2005, Cuban expressed interest in buying the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. [130] In 2006, Cuban joined an investment group along with Dan Marino, Kevin Millevoi, Andy Murstein, and Walnut Capital principals Gregg Perelman and Todd Reidbord to attempt to acquire the Penguins. [131] The franchise ultimately rejected the group's bid when team owners Mario Lemieux and Ronald Burkle took the team off the market.

At WWE's Survivor Series in 2003, Cuban was involved in a staged altercation with Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff and Raw wrestler Randy Orton. [132] On December 7, 2009, Cuban acted as the guest host of Raw, getting revenge on Orton when he was the guest referee in Orton's match against Kofi Kingston, giving Kingston a fast count victory. He then announced that Orton would face Kingston at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs. At the end of the show, Cuban was slammed through a table by the number one contender for the WWE Championship, Sheamus. [133]

On September 12, 2007, Cuban said that he was in talks with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to create a mixed martial arts company that would compete with UFC. [134] He is now a bondholder of Zuffa, UFC's parent company. [135]

Cuban followed up his intentions by organizing "HDNet Fights", a mixed martial arts promotion which airs exclusively on HDNet and premiered on October 13, 2007 with a card headlined by a fight between Erik Paulson and Jeff Ford as well as fights featuring veterans Drew Fickett and Justin Eilers. [136]

Since 2009, Cuban has been a panelist at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. [137]

In April 2010, Cuban loaned the newly formed United Football League (UFL) $5 million. He did not own a franchise, and he was not involved in day-to-day operations of the league nor of any of its teams. [138] In January 2011, he filed a federal lawsuit against the UFL for their failure to repay the loan by the October 6, 2010 deadline. [139]

In June 2015, Cuban invested in the esports betting platform Unikrn. [140]

In February 2016, Cuban purchased a principal ownership stake in the Professional Futsal League. [141]

Cuban is an admirer of author and philosopher Ayn Rand. [142] About Rand's novel The Fountainhead, he said, "[It] was incredibly motivating to me. It encouraged me to think as an individual, take risks to reach my goals, and responsibility for my successes and failures. I loved it." [143] His political views have leaned toward libertarianism. [144] He held a position on the centrist Unity08 political organization's advisory council. [145] While leaning towards libertarianism, Cuban posted an entry on his blog claiming paying more taxes to be the most patriotic thing someone can do. [146]

In 2012, Cuban donated $7,000 to political campaigns, with $6,000 going to Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and $1,000 to Democratic California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. [147]

On February 8, 2008, Cuban voiced his support for the draft Bloomberg movement attempting to convince New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run in the U.S. presidential election of 2008 on his blog. Cuban concluded a post lamenting the current state of U.S. politics: "Are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg? For less than the cost of opening a tent pole movie, you can change the status quo." [148] He eventually voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. [149]

In November 2012, in response to Donald Trump offering President Obama $5 million to a charity of President Obama's choosing if he released passport applications and college transcripts to the public, Cuban offered Trump $1 million to a charity of Trump's choosing if Trump shaved his head. [150]

On December 19, 2012, Cuban donated $250,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to support its work on patent reform. Part of his donation funded a new title for EFF's staff attorney Julie Samuels: The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. [151]

At the Code/Media conference in February 2015, Cuban said of net neutrality that "having [the FCC] overseeing the Internet scares the shit out of me". [152]

Cuban formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president at a July 30, 2016, rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During that campaign stop, Cuban said of Republican nominee Donald Trump, "You know what we call a person like that in Pittsburgh? A jagoff . Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?" [153]

On November 22, 2016, Cuban met with the then President-elect Trump's key advisor Steve Bannon, according to reports. [154]

During an appearance on an episode of Hannity in May 2020, Cuban voiced his support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. [155]

On February 2, 2021, Cuban joined Reddit's WallStreetBets "Ask Me Anything" forum with millions of community members and fielded user questions related to the widely publicized battle between retail traders and Wall Street short sellers over GameStop shares. [156] In the previous days, GameStop shares experienced a meteoric rise to as much as $489 on January 28, 2021, up from $17.15 on January 4, 2021. [157] The growth was mainly brought on by an organized group of Reddit users named "WallStreetBets" that noticed GameStop stock was heavily shorted by Wall Street hedge firms and launched an ensuing campaign to buy enough shares to raise share value and produce a GameStop short squeeze. [158] In the aftermath, the stock became heavily volatile as hedge firms repositioned themselves in the market. Firms like Melvin Capital required bailouts exceeding $2B [159] and retail traders experienced excessive but temporary gains, whereas GameStop share value dropped to below $100 within a few days of closing at over $300. [157] The consistent decline into February raised a lot of questions about next steps for retail traders and prompted Cuban to step in and provide advice to the Reddit community. Amid the volatility, Cuban had been an outspoken supporter of the WallStreetBets community alongside other wealthy financial figureheads like Chamath Palihapitiya, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss. [156] In the AMA session, Cuban publicly called the trust of the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission into question as well as the capabilities of zero commission brokerage firms, like Robinhood, that restricted retail traders from purchasing GameStop shares and other shorted stocks which he said crippled demand. [156] Cuban's advice to Reddit users was to hold GameStop shares if they could afford it in anticipation of additional short sales by Wall Street firms, but ultimately acknowledged that the odds were stacked against them and to use it as a learning lesson. [156] He offered insight into his trading technique suggesting that traders know why they are buying something and to "HODL"(hold on for dear life) until they learn that something has changed. [160] Cuban noted a need for policy change to better support retail traders, credited the WallStreetBets community for leading the charge, and expressed optimism about blockchain trading as a more efficient, transparent and trustworthy form of trading for retail traders in the future. [160]

Fallen Patriot Fund Edit

Cuban started the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of U.S. military personnel killed or injured during the Iraq War, personally matching the first $1 million in contributions with funds from the Mark Cuban Foundation, which is run by his brother Brian Cuban. [161] [162]

Speculation of a presidential run Edit

In September 2015, Cuban stated in an interview that running for president was "a fun idea to toss around", and that, if he were running in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, he "could beat both Trump and Clinton". [163] [164] This was interpreted by many media outlets as indication that Cuban was considering running, but he clarified soon afterward that he had no intention to do so. [165]

In October 2015, Cuban posted on Twitter, "Maybe I'll run for Speaker of the House." [166] At the time, there was no clear front-runner to replace the outgoing John Boehner the Speaker of the House does not have to be a member of Congress. [167]

Cuban told Meet the Press in May 2016 that he would be open to being Clinton's running mate in the election, though he would seek to alter some of her positions in order to do so. [168] In the same interview, the self-described "fiercely independent" Cuban also said that he would consider running as Republican nominee Trump's running mate after having a meeting with Trump about understanding the issues, Trump's positions on them, and coming up with solutions. Cuban also described Trump as "that friend that you just shake your head at. He's that guy who'd get drunk and fall over all the time, or just says dumb shit all the time, but he's your friend." [169] On July 21, 2016, Cuban appeared on a live segment on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert entitled "Gloves Off: Mark Cuban Edition" in which he mocked Trump, including referencing the Trump companies' multiple bankruptcies and the failed Trump University program, and questioning the size of Trump's actual net worth. [170]

In a September 2016 interview with NPR's Scott Simon, Cuban effectively positioned himself to support Clinton. He posited that the best strategy to beat Trump was to attack his insecurities, especially that of his intellect. He also added that Trump is the least qualified to be president and is not informed about policies. [171]

Later in September 2016, during a post-presidential debate interview, Cuban criticized Trump's characterization that paying the minimum required taxes 'is smart' and criticized Trump for not paying back into the system that allowed him to amass such wealth. [172]

In October 2017, Cuban said that he would "definitely" run for president if he were single. [173] Later that month, Cuban claimed that if he ran for president in 2020, it would be as a Republican, and described himself as "socially a centrist . but very fiscally conservative". [174] It has also been speculated that he could challenge president Donald Trump in 2020 as a Democrat. [175] However, in a March 2019 interview with the New York Daily News, Cuban stated that he was "strongly considering running" for president as an independent candidate. [176] [177] In May 2019, Cuban said: “It would take the perfect storm for me to do it. There's some things that could open the door, but I'm not projecting or predicting it right now." [178]

In a June 2020 interview with CNN and former Obama advisor David Axelrod, Cuban revealed that he has seriously considered running for president that year as an independent candidate. He went so far as to commission a national poll, which, according to Cuban, showed he would only receive 25 percent of the vote in a hypothetical matchup with President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Cuban also said that the poll showed his candidacy would have pulled votes from both Trump and Biden. [179]

Cuban has two brothers, Brian and Jeff Cuban. [180]

In September 2002, Cuban married Tiffany Stewart in a private ceremony in Barbados. [181] They have two daughters: one born in 2003, the other born in 2006, [182] [183] and a son born in 2010. [184] They live in a 24,000-square-foot (2,200 m 2 ) mansion in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas, Texas. [185]

In April 2019, after missing a taping of The View, Cuban revealed he had a procedure done to treat his atrial fibrillation. His diagnosis was first revealed in 2017 on Twitter. [186]

Philanthropy Edit

In 2003, Cuban founded the Fallen Patriot Fund to help families of U.S. military personnel killed or injured during the Iraq War. [188]

In June 2015, Cuban made a $5 million donation to Indiana University at Bloomington for the "Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology", which will be built inside Assembly Hall, the school's basketball arena. [189]

In March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuban posted an offer on LinkedIn to small business owners who had questions about what to do in order to survive the economic downturn being caused by the pandemic. He said people could ask him anything, but that his preference was "going to be helping small biz trying to avoid layoffs and hourly reductions." There were more than 10,000 comments in response to his offer. [190]

In 2020 Cuban picked up homeless former NBA Star Delonte West from a gas station in Dallas. TMZ reported that Cuban paid for a hotel room for West along with his treatment at a rehabilitation center. [191]


4. Mario Molina: Nobel Prize Winning Scientist

Mario Molina grew up in Mexico loving science. His aunt, who was a chemist, used to make up experiments for him and he was soon doing projects that rivaled university work. He studied in Europe and the United States, and got his PhD. Molina is most known for his Nobel Prize winning work in understanding how the ozone layer is formed and depleted—particularly by chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) this crucial work in atmospheric chemistry had a profound impact on our environment.

Read this Scholastic biography of Mario Molina to discover how he became a scientist and more about his discoveries.


Wrapping Up National Hispanic Heritage Month with Cuban Food - Recipes

The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University will host "MAMBO CALIENTE", a night of explosive New York style Latino Jazz by the NASHVILLE JAZZ ORCHESTRA in the Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2007, at 8:00 pm.

The concert will feature New York pianist and arranger OSCAR HERNANDEZ playing compositions made famous by his classic Spanish Harlem Orchestra. Mr. Hernandez and NJO will be joined by Pearl Percussion artists MARC QUINONES and BOBBY ALLENDE, who will also play Latin style arrangements by Gordon Goodwin, and others.

NJO Director Jim Williamson will also welcome special guests DALIA GARCIA, LALO DAVILA, and GLEN CARUBA on vocals and percussion. Pearl Drums USA and American Airlines are co-sponsors for this event. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors, VU faculty & staff, seniors 65 & over, students with ID, and $5 for VU Students. Tickets will be available at the Ingram Center box office the night of the performance.

OSCAR HERNANDEZ is a major figure in Salsa and Latin Jazz music as a pianist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and producer. His current band, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra has been nominated twice for Grammies, and won for their CD "Across 110th Street". Born in Manhattan in 1954, he got his musical start in a South Bronx boys club and was captivated by the piano style of Eddie Palmieri and the salsa revolution of the 60’s. His talent quickly matured and by the early 1980's, Oscar was responsible for charting the musical course of the Rubén Blades Band, now known as Seis Del Solar. He produced such artists as Willie Colón, Daniel Ponce, Rafael Dejesus, Eddie Torres, Phil Hernandez, and Steve Kroon, etc. His recording and performing credits include world renowned artists like Latin music king Tito Puente, Salsa Music Queen Celia Cruz, Latin Pop Star Julio Iglesias, Juan Luis Guerra, Willie Colon, Ray Barreto, Johnny Pacheco, Ismael Miranda, Pete"Conde" Rodríquez, Oscar De'leon, Luis "Perico" Ortiz, jazz artists Earl Klugh and Dave Valentin, and the bands "Libre" and "Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nuevayorquino". More recently, Oscar has been Musical Director, Arranger, and Conductor for several Broadway musicals, including “The Capeman,” by pop-rock icon Paul Simon. He is currently working on a Broadway production of "The Mambo Kings". Oscar has scored several films, and as pianist/arranger/producer his commercial client list includes the hit show “Sex and the City”, Dunkin Donuts, Waldbaums, General Motors, and many others.

For the last five years his Spanish Harlem Orchestra has expressed his passion for the sound of the great Afro-Cuban jazz bands of the 1940's and 50's. Their classic sound has won awards and acclaim as one of best salsa orchestras in the world. www.oscarhernandezmusic.com

MARC QUINONES is currently the featured percussionist with the legendary Allman Brothers Band.

Born in The Bronx, New York, he began playing drums and congas at the age of three and was playing professionally at the age of nine. He played timbale with Latin stars like Tito Puente and was an original member of Los Rumberitos. After high school, he spent the next five years in salsa master Willie Colón's band, playing every percussion instrument and becoming musical director of the band for two years. He then spent two years playing with popular vocalist Rubén Blades as well as playing on and touring for David Byrne's Latin music Rei Momo project. In 1989 Quiñones joined the jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra for two years. In 1991, he was recruited to join The Allman Brothers Band where he plays alongside set drummers Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson. In between tours, Quinones plays with various salsa bands, including the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and works as a session musician for albums, television soundtracks, and commercials. www.drummersworld.com/drummers/mark_quinones.html

BOBBY ALLENDE leads the Afro-Cuban jazz band called "Ocho Y Mas", which also features Quinones. Their latest CD is “Juega Billar”. Born and raised in New York City, Bobby's foundation in Afro-Cuban percussion began at the age of three. His performances with Buddy Rich at age 7, with Julio Iglesias at age 10, and with Tito Puente lead to the youth band Los Rumberitos that toured as Puente's opening act. Bobby moved on to work with other Latin musicians such as Hector Lavoe, Jose Alberto "El Canario", RMM All Stars and Ruben Blades among others. Later, he became the Musical Director for Willie Colon, Marc Anthony and La India. He also worked with many jazz and rock artists like David Byrne, Grover Washington, Jr., and Spyro Gyra, and was in the orchestra of Paul Simon's Broadway musical "The Capeman." He is currently the percussionist for Marc Anthony's Salsa band and Pop band, Musical Director for Tito Nieves, and a member of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. http://www.8ymas.com/index.php

From Nashville, Pearl Recording Artists LALO DAVILA and GLEN CARUBA will also be featured on percussion. Davila is co-leader and vocalist of Music City's popular Latin jazz band, "Orkesta Eme Pe", Director of Percussion Studies at MTSU, and leader of the MTSU Salsa Band and Percussion Ensemble. Caruba is a percussionist and teacher, author of several books and DVDs, and has worked with Jimmy Buffet, Barry Manilow, the Mavericks, and "Orkesta Eme Pe". www.lalodavila.com www.pearldrum.com

DALIA GARCIA, from Madrid, Spain, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress. After being crowned Miss South Carolina, she toured for 8 years with Julio Iglesias, performing in 8 of his videos, and appeared in the movie "Lycanthrope". Her singing and songwriting has dominated several charts on MP3.com, and she appears across the US with Al Delory & Salsa En Nashville, and others. www.daliamusic.com

This October 9 concert of Latin Jazz is a follow up to the NJO’s highly successful “Cuban Fire” concert of last season. By bringing world-renowned pianist and composer Oscar Hernandez to Nashville, NJO is giving Music City audiences the chance to experience two important facets of Latin music. One is a unique style of two-handed piano playing that is heard in all Afro-Cuban music. Traditional Latin bands don’t use drumsets, so the piano, using heavy syncopated chording, sets the rhythm of a tune and drives the band, large or small. The second is the classic style of Afro-Cuban jazz created by Latino musicians living in the US in the 1940’s. The music began as a marriage of African percussion, Cuban dance rhythms, and American big band jazz arranging. In 1930 Cuban trumpeter/arranger Mario Bauza moved to New York, joined the Chick Webb Orchestra in 1933, and the Cab Calloway Orchestra in 1938, also bringing in Dizzy Gillespie. In 1941, Bauza put together a new band for his brother-in-law Machito. The concept was to combine big band swing instrumentation with Afro-Cuban percussion for a powerful unique sound that would get them work in jazz clubs as well as Latino dance rooms. With hit records like “Tanga”, and the addition of young timbalero Tito Puente, the band and the sound was a hit, creating enormous popularity for Mambo (created by Cuban bass legend Cachao) and Latin Jazz. Manhattan’s Palladium Ballroom became the center of this new scene and top Latin artists like Machito and Puente played there for years. Helped by Bauza, Gillespie added the Afro-Cuban sound to his big band in 1945, popularizing Latin music among jazz fans as well. With the addition of rock elements in the 60’s and disco in the 70’s, the style became known as SALSA, which now includes many different Latin dance rhythms. On Oct. 9, Mr. Hernandez brings this tradition to the NJO, playing several of his Spanish Harlem Orchestra arrangements, and some for a smaller group, recorded by Seis Del Solar. Contemporary Latin jazz will be represented by recent charts from Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and


September 25, 2013

Arroz con Salchichas Recipe

From the MBFCF Archives. Back by popular demand.

Smells Like Cuban Food

You know you’re in a Cuban home if, when you walk in, you can smell The Smell. You know what I’m talking about - that unmistakable, mouth-watering, oh-so-inviting, my-mom-is-amazing, God-I-love-Cuban-food smell.

It all begins with a simple onion, a luscious green bell pepper and some garlic cloves – The Trifecta of Cuban Cooking Perfection.

Grab your olive oil and sauté those three until the peppers are soft and the onions are transparent, add a can of tomato sauce and you’ve got yourself a perfect “sofrito.” The sofrito is the basis of all that is good and holy in a Cuban kitchen.

The Unmistakable Smell travels upstairs and through the entire house, exactly like in those old cartoons where the smell of a fresh baked pie becomes a long, smoky arm attached to a beckoning hand, and when it reaches the unsuspecting noses of my fortunate family it leads them helplessly down to my kitchen.
“Cuban food!” they exclaim and hover around long enough for me to start giving the “set the table” orders.

They comply quickly and without complaint. Cuban food is its own reward.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

Arroz con Salchichas

  • 2 cups uncooked parboiled rice (Uncle Ben’s is best, but NOT the instant kind)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Olive oil
  • 2 drained cans Vienna sausage cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 med yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 med. green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 small jar diced red pimientos w/ liquid
  • Bijol -just a pinch to color the rice
  • 1 small can peas, drained

(NOTE: You don’t have to add salt, unless you want to. The broth and sausages usually add enough saltiness.)

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.

2) Add the onion, garlic, and green pepper and sauté about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.

3) Add tomato sauce, white wine, pimientos with their liquid and bay leaf and simmer together over low heat for about 10 minutes.

4) In a large stockpot, bring water and chicken broth to a rolling boil.

5) While the liquid is boiling, wash rice and drain well.

6) Color the wet rice with the Bijol powder. (you just add a pinch to quickly color the rice.)

7) Add the rice to the boiling water, stir well, and reduce heat to medium low.

8) Add the sliced sausage to the tomato mixture and stir well.

9) Add tomato mixture to the rice.

10) Continue cooking over low heat for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

11) After the rice is done, quickly add the can of peas, stirring them into the cooked rice - let it sit for a minute or two, just until the peas get hot.

Serve with maduros, galletas and ice-cold Materva. Nope, it really doesn't get any better than this.

This recipe was originally published on Babalú blog. January 17, 2008.


Here is a list of events in Cuba throughout the year.

  • Check the links for tours that include participation in SPECIAL EVENTS.
  • Look for the little info signs tips and/or recommendations from our staff.

Festival de la Trova Longina

This is a music festival held in Santa Clara. It is named after a well known trova song composed in 1918 by popular Cuban musician Manuel Corona. Corona was born in the Villa Clara Province, of which Santa Clara is the capital. One of the events of the festival is a walk from Santa Clara to the town of Caibarién to honor the composer's birthplace. Trova is a style of music that was very popular in Cuba and there are many very famous Cuban songs written in this style that are known around the world, and still very much loved and remembered today.

Despite having a successful career as a musician, Corona's had a hard life and fell on rough times. He was attacked with a knife by a man who was the pimp of his prostitute girlfriend. This gave him an injury to his hand and he was never able to play the guitar very well after this. From that moment onward his only income was royalties from his compositions, and the last years of his life were lived in poverty.

Havana Jazz Festival

This festival is an internationally renowned event that consistently attracts an excellent line-up of jazz musicians - both local and international. Cuba has its own famous genre of jazz, and the importance placed on music by the Cuban Government and the Cuban society means that there is an almost endless supply of new and exciting local talent on offer. Performances take place in the Casa de la Cultura Plaza, Teatro Nacional de Cuba and other venues across the city.

Further reading: this article by travel photographer and writer Howard Axelrod.

Havana International Book Fair

This is a very popular event which attracts people from within Cuba and also from countries all around the world, especially Spanish speaking countries. Although it's called the Havana Book Fair, the event takes itself to many different cities around Cuba. In Havana the fair is hosted in the Cabana fortress, which has a dramatic location on a hill on the opposite side of the bay to Old Havana. The event is attended by book lovers, publishers, writers and celebrities. Apart from book sales, the event includes lectures from some of the authors, some theatre and dance performances, as well as film sessions.

Festival del Habano

The is Cuba's most important festival for cigars. It attracts cigar lovers from all over the planet. The tendency over the last few years for the festival has been to grow year on year, and that trend is only predicted to continue. Cuba's famous brands, including Cohiba, Montecristo, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta, H Upman, and even smaller privately run Robaina, are all involved. Visits to cigar factories and tobacco plantations are on offer, and seminars, cigar rolling demonstrations, and tastings are included. official festival website.

Memorial Guillermo Barreto Festival

A percussion festival in the name of one of Cuba's greatest percussionists. Being a country of rhythms where every musician seems to be an accomplished percussionist, it is no mean feat to be known as one of Cuba's best. Guillermo Barreto was that and more. He was a featured artist at the Tropicana Club in Havana at its height of popularity during the roaring 50's.

Percussion in Cuba is a revered art and taken very seriously. It is even a sacred act in many Afro-Cuban religious ceremonies, where the beating of drums communicates with the gods. The festival features performances, competitions, concerts, lectures and speeches.

Santiago Álvarez Memorial International Documentary Festival

This event comprises a documentary competition, and demonstrates Cuba's support for a film-making genre that depicts contemporary realities and gives a voice to independent journalists, artists and individuals to communicate what they see as interesting and important issues in the world today. It's an alternative to main-stream media that is often sponsored by wealthy individuals or organizations with motives that can be corrupted by business interests. The host city is Cuba's second largest - Santiago de Cuba. Santiago Alvarez was a Cuban filmaker who died in 1998 and who's work included montage techniques that many believe were the original inspiration for the modern video clip style. He was a founding member of ICAIC - The Cuban Film Institute. See the official festival website for more details.

International Electroacoustic Music Festival

Previously known as the Varadero Spring Festival, the Electroacoustic Music Festival is now held at different venues in Old Havana. It is and international event that attracts prominent composers and personalities of this genre from around the world. The event is put together by Juan Blanco, who is one of the leading figures of this music genre in Cuba.

International Pepe Sanchez Trova Festival

Santiago de Cuba is the host city for this festival which celebrates the Trova music genre. Trova has a few different styles and sub-genres, and many of these are represented at the festival by musicians who are passionate about this romantic form of musical expression. There are exponents of more traditional Cuban Trova - which involves the troubador style of voice, but incorporating song as well as poetry, and normally accompanied by a guitarist playing a classical nylon string guitar. Filin is a popular style that is represented in the festival. It is Cuban Trova combined with the bolero rhythm. Nueva trova is the style that is influenced by British, US and Brazilian popular music where the lyrical themes can vary from romantic to social commentary and critique.

The festival began more than 50 years ago - way back in 1962 - and was named in honour of a local composer from Santiago de Cuba Jose ('Pepe') Sanchez who died in 1918. He was considered the father of the Cuban style of Trova. The festival culminates on March 19 which is known as Troubador Day, and is the date of Pepe Sanchez's birth in 1856.

Havana World Music Festival

A popular new music festival held in Havana each March and organised by the new rum label Black Tears by Vigia which is marketed at the younger party generation of Cubans and foreigners alike. Interestingly though, Black Tears is named after an old and traditional Cuban ballad, very popular among Cubans of all generations - the 1929 Lágrimas Negras (literally "Black Tears" in English) by Miguel Matamoros, which was composed in a combination of the traditional Cuban rhythms of bolero and son. The music on offer at the festival is also a mixture of the the traditional with the more modern.

Trinidad Cross Procession

The Way of the Cross Procession is a religious tradition that passes through the spectacular colonial streets of Trinidad, on Cuba's south coast every year on Good Friday. As part of the Easter celebrations, the procession was apparently designed originally to trick looting pirates, and it follows a route marked by crosses.

Old Havana: City in Movement

Known colloquially among dancers as "El Callejero" this annual event sees national and international dancers and dance companies performing in the squares, parks and museums of Old Havana. The UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial sector of Havana makes a spectacular setting for the artists who perform both traditional and contemporary dance. Workshops, exhibitions and conferences run alongside the dance performances.

Havana Biennial

The Havana Biennial is one of Cuba's, and in fact Latin America's, most important and inspirational art festivals. It draws participation from hundreds of contemporary artists from around the globe, and is a magnet for many more art lovers and observers. Artworks are on display in innumerous galleries, museums, and public spaces throughout Havana. If you are in Havana at the time, even if you are unaware of the event being held, you will soon find out as you are most likely to end up seeing some of the exhibitions just by accident. The art presented is not limited just to paintings and sculptures but includes performance art as well.

The event was first held in 1984 as a competition for artists. It has since grown in both magnitude and statue, and has evolved into something more meaningful - perhaps the purpose the festival now serves is a coming together of creative minds and one of reflection - something which is no doubt enhanced with the setting of the streets and buildings of Havana, and the story behind them.

Highly recommended - Operations manager Clarita .

International Cuban Dance Festival

Dancers, choreographers, teachers and students from the Caribbean and other parts of the world meet during this event as a way of promoting dance in a historically, ethnically and linguistically diverse region. The event is held annually in Havana and is an excellent opportunity to enjoy performances important soloists and companies from other countries of the region, and also to learn and participate.

May Day Celebrations

The 1st of May is a special day in Cuba. It's when Cuba honours workers of all classes and occupations, celebrates it's socialism, and national pride. The parade begins at sunrise and culminates in each city in the Plaza de la Revolution. There are cultural and musical performances and leaders make speeches. People gather in their work groups or study groups and march to the square carrying banners and symbols supporting the Revolution. A large proportion of the population participates and supporting organisations from overseas come to join in.

Weather you are a supporter of Cuba's politics or not, the occasion is worth seeing. Every year we have tours that include participation in this event in the Havana parade. The following tour includes this event:

See more information and photos of the May Day parade from our travelers who have participated in the past!

Highly recommended by all our staff.

Romerias de Mayo

Despite its name, this event is more pagan in character than its Catholic veneer. It does involve a pilgrimage to the top of the hill next to the Eastern Cuba city of Holguin, however the participants are predominantly artists, dancers, actors, and intellectuals rather than religious devotees, and they celebrate art and Cuba's mixed cultural heritage (including Indian and African) instead of a particular deity's death, birth or apparition.

The first recorded occurrence of the week long festival was in 1790, and many traditions from that first celebration of cultural diversity are maintained.

Cubadisco

The annual Cubadisco is an excuse to show off Cuba's musical flair. Local musicians perform in different theatres and venues throughout Havana, prizes are awarded to notable figures in the industry, and the hottest new records are unveiled. Every year there is a different theme, often a specific musical genre, and a country of honour.

Festival Internacional de Poesía

A meeting ground for poets from every continent, the International Poetry Festival includes a number of activities, such as seminars, readings and exhibitions. The World Meeting of Poets in Defence of Humanity is also celebrated during the festival.

International Ernest Hemingway Needlefish Tournament

This is a fishing tournament held off the coast from Havana, for the big needlefish species such as wahoo, marlin, and tuna whose natural habitat is in these nutrient rich waters. Catching these fish was one of Ernest Hemmingway's most passionate pastimes. It can be said that loved to fish as much as he loved to drink, and it was he himself that established the event in 1950 and hosted it for a decade until his unhappy exit from Cuba. The festival has its headquarters at the Hemmingway Marina, and attracts hordes of fisherpeople from many different countries.

Festival Internacional Boleros de Oro

Venue: Mella and America theatres and UNEAC - HAVANA. The International Golden Boleros Festival celebrates the popular bolero genre of music. This genre has had a marked influence in other countries of the area, including places as far away as Spain and Japan, and its first festival, held in Havana in 1987, is considered the oldest of its kind in Latin America. What started as a celebration in Havana, the festival spread across the country due to Bolero being such a popular and most loved music genre throughout Cuba.

Trinidad Carnival (Fiestas San Juaneras)

Known locally as the Fiestas San Juaneras this party runs for 4 days every year between June 24 and 27 in the streets of the beautiful colonial city of Trinidad. It involves street parades, elaborate costumes, floats, games, and competitions. There are also displays of horsemanship from the local guajiros, and a local carnival queen is chosen and ceremoniously crowned.

Read more about the Fiestas San Juaneras.

Camaguey Carnival (San Juan Camagüeyano)

Much like the Trinidad carnival on the same dates, the Camaguey event starts on June 24 - San Juan day. It is a very traditional and long standing festival and probably one of Cuba's oldest of this kind, with historians knowing of its existence since the 1700's.

Despite, or perhaps partly because of its conventional nature, the carnival is celebrated every year in Camaguey with great energy and fervour with highly adorned floats, costumes, and musical groups playing the traditional conga rhythm. Much like the Festival of Fire in Santiago de Cuba, the San Juan Camagueyano culminates in the burning of a statue of St Peter

Highly recommended - Tour Leader Roger.

International Corhabana Choir Festival

Through song, this festival seeks to foster international friendship and solidarity. Both Cuban and international choirs participate and there are also choral workshops to attend. perform concerts throughout Havana City. Choirs perform in major venues such as the Basilica de la Habana and the Teatro Amadeo Roldan as well as in local neighborhood venues and in schools.

Festival del Caribe (Festival of Fire)

Santiago de Cuba hosts this week-long festival that celebrates music and dance from all over the Caribbean area. Called by some the Festival del Caribe and by others the Festival del Fuego it aims at being a forum for exchanges between the diverse cultural manifestations of the region and is dedicated to strengthening ties between peoples and nations by highlighting common cultural elements. It features free outdoor concerts, indoor shows, processions of decorated vehicles, and parades of spectacularly attired dancers, food stalls, beer stands, and goat powered cart rides for children. This year's festival is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Revolution. Festival del Fuego

Highly recommended - Operations manager Clarita.

Gibara Low Budget Film Festival

The small, windswept, and usually quiet coastal town of Gibara in Eastern Cuba, plays host to this film festival that showcases some of the worlds best low-budget, independent, and alternative films.

It doesn't have the glamour of other well known independent film festivals, such as Sundance, but that also means it is largely free from the commercial side of the industry that can make for a less artistic and less attractive experience.The festival involves music concerts, and theatre, as well as fashion shows and exhibitions of other arts such as photography, painting and sculpture.

Highly recommended and a favorite festival- tour guide Tony

Santiago de Cuba Carnival

The Santiago de Cuba carnival is widely regarded as Cuba's best, biggest, and most traditional. Apart from the size and scale of the celebrations across the city, the main parade is impressive its colour and expression of joy, and the dancers and musicians display a high level of ability. This all happens during the hottest time of year in the hottest city in Cuba. The combination of the heat and the passion of the celebrations makes for a very intense experience.

The carnival pauses midway to honor the national date of July 26 (see the following event below), making for a peculiar sentiment of reflection and solemnity before the event returns to its exuberant raucousness.

Read more about the Santiago de Cuba Carnival

26 July Celebrations

26 July is the most important date on Cuba's revolutionary calendar. Patriotic and revolutionary fervour grips the nation, and streets are covered with communist banners, posters and official graffiti. The date is the anniversary of Fidel Castro's ill-fated 1953 assault on Santiago de Cuba's Moncada Barracks, and also the birth of Cuban writer and patriot Jose Martí. Fidel's attack in 1953 failed and the dictator, Batista, was not actually overthrown until 1959. However the date is when the movement started that eventually became the Cuban Revolution. At the Moncada barracks in Santiago, the names of the martyrs of the revolution are read out and guns are fired. Speeches from Cuba's leaders are broadcast on all national television stations.

Festival Internacional de Rap

This festival is a competition held over several months throughout Cuba, leading up to the gran final Battle of the Masters (Batalla de los Maestros or BDM) which in 2019 will be held on August 24 in Havana. The festaival has witnessed impressive growth over recent years having started in the 1990's when hip hop and rap suddenly became very popular among Cuban youth. One of the reasons perhaps was that at this time, economic conditions in Cuba were quite desperate and access to musical instruments was even more difficult than normal.

The themes of this genre in Cuba can be critical in nature and the lyrics often centre around social topics, racism, and injustice. So for some people, it is a pleasant surprise that this genre is given an official place on the Cuban cultural calendar and recognized as a legitimate artform, especially considering the sometimes controversial nature of the lyrics. It has been suggested that the CIA has secretly helped fund the festival and some of Cuba's rap artists in an attempt to foment protest against the Cuban government.

The festival welcomes international performers as well as showcasing the talents of local Cuban artists, and as the festival grows it is starting to incorporate other related forms of expression such as rap dancing, graffiti, and even short films.

Havana Carnival

While a poor cousin to the more traditional Santiago de Cuba version, Havana's Carnival still provides a spectacular display of music, dancing, conga lines, colourful costumes, fireworks, beer, and rum. Parades run the length of the Malécon and rich traditional music competes with more contemporary sounds. Look out too for the Muñecones - huge masks worn by dancers, in the parades. They are accompanied by the faroleros - dancers who carry a multi-coloured accessory resembling a streetlight, which they rotate constantly. Cuba's renowned carnivals were discontinued for a while during the "special period" in the 1990's (when the collapse of the USSR ended the enormous subsidising of the Cuban economy, and which combined with the US trade embargo, created a severe economic crisis in Cuba). Now that the situation has improved (partly due to the government's new emphasis on tourism), Carnival in Havana is back on the menu.

CDR Anniversary

The CDR (Comite de la Defensa de la Revolution) is the neighbourhood level socialist organisation of the Cuban populace. Every Cuban resident is part of a CDR which may constitute just a dozen houses on one block of city street. The CDRs have regular meetings to communicate news and changes from the Cuban government, and to coordinate their neighbourhood to protect it against crime and to discourage antisocial behaviour. Each CDR has specific local residents appointed in positions of authority and responsibility, such as a president. CDR meetings can be serious and sombre, but also involve activities and fun to help neighbours get to now each other and to gel the neighbourhood.

The CDR anniversary is one of the most festive CDR meetings of the year and can be a great opportunity for visitors to Cuba to meet and interact with everyday Cubans, especially if you are staying in a local guesthouse. It plays out more like a veritable street party. A caldosa stew is cooked in a big pot on the street over a wood-fire and games are played by the children.

Matamoros Son Festival

The Festival of Son is set in the city of Santiago de Cuba - the birthplace of much of Cuba's music. The festival is a tribute to one of the most famous names and most important composers in Cuban Music - Miguel Matamoros - who was born Santiago de Cuba in 1894. This festival is a meeting of many famous traditional music musicians in Cuba who are joined by international artists from all over the world.

The festival involves a multitude of seemingly endless concerts, lectures on music Cuban music, dances, workshops, book and CD launches, and dance competitions in traditional Cuban styles such as cha-cha-cha, son, salsa, casino, mambo, and danzon. Performances take place in many of the well known venues around the city including: Casa de la Musica, Casa de la Trova, Teatro Heredia, Salon del Son, and Casa de los Dos Abuelos.

Click here - to read more about the Festival.

Havana Theatre Festival

This little known festival is a great event to attend in Cuba if you are a theatre buff, although a vast majority of the performances are in Spanish. There are theatre presentations for both adults and children, and the event welcomes international theatre groups. Venues are in many of Havana's theatres across the city and also in open cultural spaces. There are some dance performances incorporated, as well as theatre workshops, conferences, and exhibitions. You can see more details on the festival website.

Havana Ballet Festival

Ballet is a very important art form in Cuba, and Cuban Ballet is of a high international standard. The Havana Ballet Festival is Cuba's premier ballet event and is of international renown. It was founded in 1960 by Cuba's iconic Prima Ballerina, Alicia Alonso, and is held every two years. Famous dance companies from around the world come to perform and of course the outstanding Cuban ballet companies are also on show. The main venues are the Gran Teatro, which has recently been renamed as the Alicia Alonso Gran Teatro de La Habana, and the Teatro America. As the festival grows in statue and prestige, it now incorporates art exhibitions, film screenings, and conferences, and has spread to other cities in Cuba. More details can be found on the official festival website.

Festival Internacional de Coros

The International Choir Festival has been held in Santiago de Cuba since 1961. Choir groups from around the world gather here to perform in a huge variety of venues across the city, including public squares, schools, and even hospitals and factories. The principal venue however, and the original venue for this festival, is the Santiago Cathedral. It was here that the first choir compositions where known to be written in Cuba by Esteban Salas, who was the chapel master of the Cathedral during the second part of the 18th century.

Music at the festival, however, is not limited to the ecclesial, and all choir styles are welcomed and celebrated.

Marabana Marathon

This sporting event held in November every year, attracts an attendance of between 1 and 2 thousand walkers and runners, including locals and international athletes from nearly 30 different countries. The marathon route goes through some of the more scenic areas of Old Havana, Central Havana, and Vedado. Participation is offered for distances of full-marathon (2 laps), half-marathon, 5km, and 10km. Prizes are awarded in male, female, and handicapped categories. One day before the Marathon, the internationally recognized running project Maracuba takes place. It mobilizes over 1 million participants and is said to be the largest running event. Simultaneously participants of all ages from hundreds of communities, remote areas, and mountain regions take off for the 3000 and 4000 meter tracks, becoming part of a memorable running experience.

Each year we have a Cuban Adventures team that participates in the Havana Marathon. Anyone is welcome to join us. Included is a team celebration lunch and we donte $1 for every km the team runs to CeDA - a Cuban Animal Welfare charity. Sign up here!

Havana Jo Jazz

This Jazz festival features outstanding young talent in this genre of music, and is held in the Amadeo Roldán Theatre Iconic Cuban pianist Chucho Valdez is the main force behind the establishment of the festival on the international jazz circuit, for musicians and composers over 16 years but under 30 years of age. In a noble gesture to pass on his legacy to future generations, winners in their different categories are offered the chance to record with Chucho himself.

Habana Clasica Music Festival

Formerly known as the Esteban Salas Early Music Festival, this annual classical musical event, celebrates the life and works of 18th Century Cuban composer Esteban Salas. It started in 2003, which was the year that represented 200 years since the composer had died. Salas worked in many classical music styles including Medieval, Baroque, and Renaissance . Venues include some of Havana's most impressive churches, chapels, theatres, and cultural centers. More information can be found on the event's offical website.

Havana Film Festival

Popular among film lovers and cinematographers alike, this festival is also known as the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema or the Festival de Nuevo Cine Latino Americano. Films from film-makers across the Caribbean and Latin American region are shown in cinemas throughout Havana. Several different categories are welcomed including short films, animation, documentaries, as well as feature length films. There is a special category for Cuban film-makers. The festival has been running since 1979. In that inaugural year the festival was blessed with the presence of the celebrated Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez who participated as one of the judges.

Parrandas de Remedios

The small town of Remedios is famous for its Christmas festival, called &ldquoLas Parrandas de Remedios&rdquo. The celebrations are considered the oldest in Cuba, and by those who are familiar with them, the most wild and crazy. Events include street parades with rumba percussion ensembles, music and verses, a float display and the very dramatic fireworks competition.

This event coincides with the following tours:

  • 11 Day New Years Tour - December 22 to January 1, 2022
  • 11 Day Holiday Rumba - December 22 to January 1, 2022
  • 11 Day New Years Tour - December 23 to January 2, 2022
  • 11 Day Holiday Rumba - December 23 to January 2, 2022

Charangas de Bejucal

The small town of Bejucal, on the outskirts of Havana (about 50min from the center), is host to this festival that is known as Havana's oldest. The festival has seen better days, however, as recently it has known to have degraded to little more than a disorganized street party with predominantly recorded music. It is still pretty lively, however the glory days seem to be long gone, when internationally recognized bands such as Los Tambores de Bejucal graced the event with their stirring rhythms. Much like the Parrandas in Remedios, the Bejucal festival centers around a traditional rivalry between two conga groups. See more. about this festival.

New Years Eve in Havana

The biggest New Year's Eve party in Havana is a special dinner/show put on at the impressive Cathedral Plaza in Old Havana. The square is filled with tables for a massive al fresco dinner for 300 party goers. An open bar is available with wine, champagne, beer, and a variety of spirits on offer. A full dinner is also served. A spectacular Tropicana club style cabaret show is performed.

You can see this event on the following tours:

  • 20 Day Complete Tour - December 17 to January 5, 2022
  • 11 Day New Years Tour - December 22 to January 1, 2022
  • 11 Day Holiday Rumba - December 22 to January 1, 2022
  • 11 Day New Years Tour - December 23 to January 2, 2022
  • 11 Day Holiday Rumba - December 23 to January 2, 2022
  • 5 Day Cuba Tour - Havana + Vinales - December 30 to January 3, 2022
  • 20 Day Complete Tour - December 31 to January 19, 2022
  • 15 Day Original Tour - December 31 to January 14, 2022

This celebration is very popular and is recommended by all our staff if you are in Havana.
STAFF TIP: purchase your tickets early as they sell out.


December 24, 2012

In Key West, the 'Hemingway Home' Battles the Feds over Cats

Michael A. Morawski, chief executive of the iconic Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida, has spent nearly 10 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting the feds - all to stop them from regulating the 43 resident cats that roam the museum's grounds to the amusement of visitors. His dealings with the United States Department of Agriculture - in meetings, administrative hearings, and the courts - ended earlier this month at the Atlanta-based United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District.

He lost his appeal.

Yet he had reason for hope, because this was a rare case in which federal judges suggested the laws they were obligated to follow had produced an unjust outcome. In its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel ruled that federal authorities may regulate the 43 cats roaming the grounds of the Hemingway Home - the residence of novelist Ernest Hemingway in the 1930s, and now Key West's most popular tourist attraction. The decision reaffirmed an earlier district court ruling.

From the start, the issues for Morawski were not only about his cats but the proper role of the federal government specifically, this was about the USDA's contention that it had the authority to regulate the Hemingway Home's felines that are thought to be decedents of Snowball -- a polydactyl cat (meaning it had extra toes) that Hemingway owned. The six-toed feline was said to be a gift from sea captain Stanley Dexter, a Hemingway friend.

Cat Fight

The USDA contended Congress gave it - not Florida or Key West -- the ultimate say regarding the cats under the Commerce Clause and Animal Welfare Act of 1966. Although the appeals court agreed, its sympathies were with Morawski and his cats. "Notwithstanding our holding, we appreciate the museum's somewhat unique situation, and we sympathize with its frustration," Chief Judge Joel Fredrick Dubina wrote earlier this month for the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit in his 13-page ruling. "Nevertheless, it is not the court's role to evaluate the wisdom of federal regulations implemented according to the powers constitutionally vested in Congress."

"I'm still dumbfound. This is overreach by the federal government," said Morawski, during an interview this week with American Thinker. Morawski said he ran up $500,000 to $600,000 in legal fees over most of the decade in his futile efforts to get the feds off his back and force it out of the cat-regulating business.

Not long after Hemingway died in 1961, his sons sold the Key West property for $80,000 to Bernice Dixon, a local jewelry store owner and Morawski's great aunt. The cats were already there, and like Snowball many of them were polydactyls. "The cats provide a link to the past," said Morawski. Some of Hemingway's sons have recalled as boys that their father had cats at his home in Cuba, not Key West but the appeals court accepted as fact that the cats were descendants of Snowball.

Dixon turned the home into a museum in 1964, and upon her death in the late 1980s left the property to her family. The Southern colonial house - where Hemingway wrote masterpieces such as " For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" - now attracts some 250,000 people annually. Beautifully maintained, the family-run museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the writer's life in Key West. This includes the fact that Hemingway - a man's man according to the norms of his day - was a cat lover.

As for museum's cats, Morawski said neither Key West authorities nor the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have ever complained about how they were being treated some were given away over the years, he said, but none were ever sold. The appeals court panel acknowledged as much, also noting the museum had cared for them, fed them, and provided weekly visits from a veterinarian. But nearly 10 years ago, one Key West resident contacted the USDA and raised concerns about the cats, thus setting off Morawski's battle with the feds. A USDA official investigated. Hemingway Home was subsequently classified as an "animal exhibitor" under the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 - all for exhibiting its cats as part of the museum's admission fees ($13 for adults, $6 for children) and for featuring them in advertising. Under this classification, Hemingway Home's cats fell under federal control because they were regarded as being the equivalent of animal performers in circuses, zoos, and carnivals.

As Judge Dubina recounted in his ruling, the USDA then issued a number of edicts to the museum: "obtain an exhibitor's license contain and cage the cats in individual shelters at night, or alternatively, construct a higher fence or an electric wire atop the existing brick wall, or alternatively, hire a night watchman to monitor the cats tag each cat for identification purposes construct additional elevated resting surfaces for the cats within their existing enclosures and pay fines for the museum's non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act."

To Morawski, it all ignored the nature of cats - especially the option about caging them up. "Obviously, cats are roamers. I don't know of any community that has a leash law for cats." Interestingly, the Illinois legislature did in fact adopt a state-wide leash law for cats in 1949, but Gov. Adlai Stevenson, a Democrat, vetoed the "Cat Bill" with a famous rebuke , including that lawmakers "have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency."

Morawski, for his part, initially protested the federal edicts. USDA officials then refused to issue an exhibitor's license and threatened to confiscate the museum's cats. The impasse ended when Dr. Chester A. Gipson, a USDA deputy administrator for animal care, granted an exhibitors license to the museum in 2008, without prejudicing its right to contest in court the USDA's authority to regulate its cats, which Morawski was anxious to do. "I kept wanting to get this in front of the federal court, and I had to get a license before we did that," he said.

One of the USDA's concerns was that the museum's cats might jump the 6-foot-high brick wall enclosing the property - an issue that come up during a visit by a USDA official. "She saw a cat sitting on a fence and said, 'Oh, that's a problem,'" Morawski related. So an 8-foot-tall black mesh fence was put up next to the brick wall. Morawski also registered each of his 43 cats with the USDA and made minor modifications to their abode, a "cat hotel" that resembles the Hemingway Home.

Despite making changes, he said he'd rather not be dealing with federal officials regarding his cats.
During his dealings with the USDA, Morawski solicited help from Florida's U.S Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican. "She helped us and assisted us the best she could."

One issue still puzzles Morawski: How come his cats can be regulated under the Commerce Clause which, after all, is only supposed to regulate interstate commerce? "We're a local business," he pointed out. "Our goods don't go outside of Key West. So how can we be involved in interstate commerce?"

But Judge Dubina, after some erudite legal reasoning, explained that Congress can indeed regulate the museum's cats under the Commerce Clause. He wrote, "The Museum invites and receives thousands of admission-paying visitors from beyond Florida, many of whom are drawn by the Museum's reputation for and purposeful marketing of the Hemingway cats. The exhibition of the Hemingway cats is integral to the Museum's commercial purpose, and thus, their exhibition affects interstate commerce. For these reasons, Congress has the power to regulate the Museum and the exhibition of the Hemingway cats via the Animal Welfare Act."

What's next for Morawski? Getting justice in the courts has become too expensive, he said. "We're better off investing our money back into the business and employees. So I think we're probably dealing with a legislative issue now." Accordingly, he plans to enlist the help of like-minded members of Congress, starting with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, to introduce legislation that would "rein in the scope of the federal government."

So how many cat lovers are members of Congress? That may be the best indicator of whether Morawski has a fighting chance in shooing the feds away from his cats.


August 02, 2011

Cuando Sali de Cuba - Anna's story

Editor's note: One of the best things I love about blogging is hearing your stories. When I do a comment giveaway, I read each and every one of your comments. A while back I was doing a giveaway for the Mariel DVD and asked you to share your Leaving Cuba stories. I was at once astounded and deeply touched. If you're a Cuban living in the U.S., you have a story. And most likely it is an amazing one.

I'd like to start sharing your stories here on My big, fat, Cuban family. So please enjoy the first in what I hope will become a regular series here: Cuando Sali de Cuba, stories of courage and hope.

The first in this series comes from my friend, Anna Tang Norton. It's the story of how her parents met in Cuba and how they started with nothing and managed to thrive here in the U.S. Enjoy.

Cuando Salieron de Cuba.

I was born in the USA, but my parents came from Cuba in 1968 and 1970.  Their story is just as incredible as the many I’ve heard over the years, and like those stories, I am never tire of hearing it.  In fact, I’ve romanticized it in my mind I think it’s incredible and only my parents could have experienced it.

When my parents met in Havana in the mid-60s, they both knew they did not like the government there and were looking for a way out of the country.  My father had already started working toward his goal of leaving the country, and when he learned of my mother’s similar intentions, they set toward that goal together. 

They were both sent to work in the fields - La Agricultura - for months, as punishment for declaring their desire to abandon their country.  Finally, in early 1968, my father received word that he would be leaving the country, heading to Madrid.  Quickly, he and my mother married and four months later, my father received his visa to leave Cuba for Spain in his first steps to obtain asylum in the United States. 

He went to Spain, and two months later, arrived in New York City.  They figured it would be a short period of time before my mother’s visa arrived, and she would follow the same trajectory.  However, it was two years before she reunited with my father in NYC.

The two years they were apart were difficult, to say the very least.  For years, I have been told the stories, so many times in fact, that I can recite them from memory.

Living in Brooklyn, my father spent two years doing his own laundry, which was all dyed blue, as he didn’t know to separate colors in the wash.  He also learned to walk on the street side of the sidewalk on his way home from work, to avoid hold ups.

One of my favorite stories is when he would pass a nun every morning and she would say, “Morning!”  He simply replied, “Sorry” and would continue walking.  I remember asking why he would say “Sorry” and he told me, “I didn’t know that she was saluting the day.  I had always learned to say ‘Good morning’ and I thought she was asking for ‘money.’  I felt terrible that I didn’t have any money to give her, so I would apologize everyday.”

When my mom arrived in 1970, my father picked her up at the airport and took her to a brand new apartment he had rented in Queens.  He withdrew all the money he had in the bank, took my mother to buy a coat for the winter and spent the rest on groceries. 

If it had been me, at this point, I think I would have been spent.  But for my parents, their journey was really just beginning.  With nothing to their name - no family, no money, no language - they dove right into work, trying to assimilate into this new world.

A few years later, my sister was born and a few years after that, I arrived.  By the time I came along, in 1975, they had traveled across the Hudson and settled in New Jersey.  I can’t imagine how they did it - they became citizens, they bought a home, they raised two daughters, provided the best they could for us, took us on vacations, celebrated our birthdays and holidays. 

They did it all - they did it with hard work, sweat, humility, and pride.  I am fortunate to have been raised with their example.

Years later, they have lived a full life, with joys, sadness, and everything in between that comprises a life.  A good life, overall.

They still talk about Cuba, about how it was when they were little, how it changed when the Revolution started, and how frightened they were when they left. 

They also talk about their visits back to Cuba.  In 1987, I had the privilege of traveling to Cuba with my mom for the first time.  I was 11 years old, and while my mother had been born there and I had not, it was a brand new experience for both of us.  I was able to witness my mother seeing her father for the first time in 20 years, witness the beautiful dynamic and love of family, even though they don’t know you or you them. 

Years later, I was able to travel to Cuba again, this time with both  my parents.  I was older this time, 23, and spent hours with my cousins (many which have been able to come to the United States themselves), aunts, uncles, and again, my grandfather.  I am fortunate to have parents who have continued to love their country of birth, even though that country closed the doors on them so many years ago.

But at the same time, they are American.  They have spent more than half their lives here, learning American customs.  Loving American customs. 

They taught me to be American - to have dreams and fulfill them. They opened doors for me, encouraging me to educate myself.  They always came around to my American thinking, even though sometimes it took a little more prodding and convincing than I wanted (I specifically remember my teenage years during this time - ha!). 

They encouraged me to stand up for myself, to take care of myself, and to never expect that someone would take care of me.

Now that I have my own son, I always carry the lessons they have taught me close to my heart.  For some, it’s a terrible nuisance to have immigrants for parents.  But for me, it’s their experience, their lessons, and their example that lead me to be a good daughter, wife, mother, and overall person.

I am grateful for my parents and their story on leaving Cuba - and no, I don’t roll my eyes when I hear it:  "Cuando salimos de Cuba. "


Watch the video: Learn Spanish in 10 Minutes - ALL the Basics You Need


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