Robaina's

Robaina's
Robaina's plantation

Friday, 20 October 2017

Parque de La Fraternidad (Havana)

                  Right next to the Capitolio Building in Old Havana is a lovely park called the "Parque de la Fraternidad". It was originally set up in 1892 to be a parade ground for the Capitol Building next to it and to commemorate the "Fourth Centennial" of the Spanish landing in the Americas.
                  In 1927 the park was changed and renamed to what we know it as today to mark the Sixth Pan-American Conference that was being held in Havana the following year. The name was to signify American brotherhood and therefore busts of Latin and North American leaders are scattered all around the park. A Ceiba Tree, considered to be holy by African slaves, was planted in 1928 using a mixture of soils from all the countries of the Americas as a show of friendship. It sits in the middle of the park encased within an iron gate showing a plaque with the participating countries. The "Fuente de La India", the fountain of the Indian Queen was added in 1931 when it was sculpted by Giuseppe Gaggini and dedicated to the city of Havana. The sculpture is made of marble from Carrara Italy.
                   The park sits in a very busy part of the city. On one side you have a major bus stop that always seems to be packed with waiting passengers, another side exits to nearby Chinatown. There used to be a long taxi stand at one time which made for great pictures. Lots of benches scattered around and a good spot to people watch....very safe. This is a good place to begin your excursions into Old Havana. Hopefully one day they'll finally re-open the old Capitol building.


All information below courtesy of wikipedia 





Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, paved the way to the abolition of slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.



Ramón Emeterio Betances y Alacán (April 8, 1827 – September 16, 1898) was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Since the Grito galvanized a burgeoning nationalist movement among Puerto Ricans, Betances is also considered "El Padre de la Patria" (Father of the [Puerto Rican] Nation). Because of his charitable deeds for people in need, he also became known as "El Padre de los Pobres" ("The Father of the Poor"). Betances was also a medical doctor and surgeon in Puerto Rico, and one of its first social hygienists. He had established a successful surgery and ophthalmology practice. Betances was also an abolitionist, diplomat, public health administrator, poet, and novelist. He served as representative and contact for Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Paris, France. An adherent of Freemasonry, his political and social activism was deeply influenced by the group's philosophical beliefs.


Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad de Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), generally known as Simón Bolívar and also colloquially as El Libertador, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a leading role in the establishment of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama as sovereign states, independent of Spanish rule. Bolívar was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Creole family and, as was common for the heirs of upper class families in his day, was sent to be educated abroad at a young age, arriving in Spain when he was 16 and later moving to France. While in Europe he was introduced to the ideas of the Enlightenment, later motivating him to overthrow the reigning Spanish. Taking advantage of the disorder in Spain prompted by the Peninsular War, Bolívar began his campaign for independence in 1808. Despite a number of hindrances, including the arrival of an unprecedentedly large Spanish expeditionary force, the revolutionaries eventually prevailed, culminating in the patriot victory at the Battle of Carabobo in 1821, which effectively made Venezuela an independent country.

Following this triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Latin America, Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Through further military campaigns, he ousted Spanish rulers from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (named after him). He was simultaneously president of Gran Colombia (current Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador) and Peru, while his second in command Antonio José de Sucre was appointed president of Bolivia. He aimed at a strong and united Spanish America able to cope not only with the threats emanating from Spain and the European Holy Alliance but also with the emerging power of the United States. At the peak of his power, Bolívar ruled over a vast territory from the Argentine border to the Caribbean Sea. Bolívar is, along with Argentine General José de San Martín, considered one of the great heroes of the Hispanic independence movements of the early 19th century.



Fuente de la India ("Fountain of the Indian woman") is a fountain by Giuseppe Gaggini in Havana, Cuba, at the south extreme of Paseo del Prado, about 100 m south of El Capitolio, between Monte and Dragones Streets, in front of the Hotel Saratoga. The figure represents the Indian woman "Habana" in whose honor Havana was named. The fountain was built at the initiative of the Conde de Villanueva Don Claudio Martinez de Pinillos. It was brought from Italy in 1837, and was modeled in Carrara by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Gaggini. About 3m high, India is a fountain of white marble on a rectangular pedestal with four dolphins, one on each corner, whose tongues are dispensers that pour water on the huge shells that form its base. On a marble rock sits the beautiful young Indian woman looking to the east as if searching for some long-lost thing on the horizon.



Joaquim José da Silva Xavier (November 12, 1746 – April 21, 1792), known as Tiradentes, was a leading member of the Brazilian revolutionary movement known as the Inconfidência Mineira whose aim was full independence from the Portuguese colonial power and to create a Brazilian republic. When the plan was discovered, Tiradentes was arrested, tried and publicly hanged. Since the 19th century he has been considered a national hero of Brazil and patron of the Military Police.


Juan Aldama (January 3, 1774 in San Miguel el Grande, Guanajuato – June 26, 1811 in Chihuahua) was a Mexican revolutionary rebel soldier during the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. He was also the brother of Ignacio Aldama. At the beginning of the War of Independence, Aldama was a captain of the cavalry regiment of the Queen's militia. He attended the conspiratorial meetings for independence in Querétaro, organized by Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, despite having to travel from San Miguel el Grande (now San Miguel de Allende) in neighboring Guanajuato. Aldama was in San Miguel when he heard news that the conspiracy had been betrayed by a supporter who informed the Spanish colonial authorities. He traveled to Dolores (now Dolores Hidalgo) to inform Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Ignacio Allende. He witnessed the Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") on the night of September 15, 1810, which started the armed conflict. Aldama was later captured by the Spanish colonial authorities in 1811. He was court-martialed for insubordination towards the Spanish Crown and executed for treason, by firing squad on June 26, 1811, together with Allende and other members of the rebel army including Mariano Jiménez and Manuel Santa María.

Aldama's body was decapitated and his head taken to the Alhóndiga de Granaditas where it was shown to the public inside a cage hung from one corner of the building. In 1824, his remains were moved to an altar in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. Finally, in 1925, his remains were moved one last time to the mausoleum in the Independence Column in Mexico City.


François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803), also known as Toussaint L'Ouverture or Toussaint Bréda, was the best-known leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military and political acumen saved the gains of the first Black insurrection in November 1791. He first fought for the Spanish against the French; then for France against Spain and Great Britain; and finally, for Saint-Domingue against Napoleonic France. He then helped transform the insurgency into a revolutionary movement, which by 1800 had turned Saint-Domingue, the most prosperous slave colony of the time, into the first free colonial society to have explicitly rejected race as the basis of social ranking.




Benito Pablo Juárez García (21 March 1806 – 18 July 1872) was a Mexican lawyer and liberal politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca. He was of poor, rural, indigenous origins, but he became a well-educated, urban professional and politician, who married a socially prominent white woman of Oaxaca City. He identified primarily as a Liberal and he wrote only briefly about his indigenous heritage. He was a key figure in the group of professional men in Mexico's indigenous south, and his rise to national power had its roots in that power base. He was not an intellectual star of Mexican liberalism or strict ideologue, but he was a brilliant, pragmatic, and ruthless politician. He held power during the tumultuous decade of the Liberal Reform and French invasion. In 1858 as head of the Supreme Court, he became president of Mexico by the succession mandated by the Constitution of 1857 when moderate liberal President Ignacio Comonfort was forced to resign by Mexican conservatives. Juárez remained in the presidential office until his death by natural causes in 1872. He weathered the War of the Reform (1858–60), a civil war between Liberals and Conservatives, and then the French invasion (1862–67), which was supported by Mexican Conservatives. Never relinquishing office although forced into exile in areas of Mexico not controlled by the French, Juárez tied Liberalism to Mexican nationalism and maintained that he was the legitimate head of the Mexican state, rather than Emperor Maximilian. When the French-backed Second Mexican Empire fell in 1867, the Mexican Republic with Juárez as president was restored to full power. In his success in ousting the European incursion, Latin Americans considered his a "second struggle for independence, a second defeat for the European powers, and a second reversal of the Conquest."

He is now "a preeminent symbol of Mexican nationalism and resistance to foreign intervention.


Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco (January 6, 1766 – September 20, 1840) was a Paraguayan lawyer and politician, and the first dictator (1814–1840) of Paraguay following its independence from the Spanish Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. His official title was "Supreme and Perpetual Dictator of Paraguay", but he was popularly known as El Supremo. He is considered to be the chief ideologue and political leader of the faction that advocated for the full independence of Paraguay from the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata and the Empire of Brazil.


Alexandre Sabès Pétion (April 2, 1770 – March 29, 1818) was the first President of the Republic of Haiti from 1807 until his death in 1818. He is one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.



José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda, widely known as José Rizal (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896), was a Filipino nationalist and polymath during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period of the Philippines. An ophthalmologist by profession, Rizal became a writer and a key member of the Filipino Propaganda Movement which advocated political reforms for the colony under Spain. He was executed by the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion after the Philippine Revolution, inspired in part by his writings, broke out. Though he was not actively involved in its planning or conduct, he ultimately approved of its goals which eventually led to Philippine independence.

He is widely considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines





José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva (13 June 1763 – 6 April 1838) was a Brazilian statesman, naturalist, professor and poet, born in Santos, São Paulo, then part of the Portuguese Empire. He was one of the most important mentors of Brazilian independence, and his actions were decisive for the success of Emperor Pedro I. He supported public education, was an abolitionist and suggested that a new national capital be created in Brazil's underdeveloped interior (effected over a century later as Brasília). His career as naturalist was marked by the discovery of four new minerals.


José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras (25 February 1778 – 17 August 1850), known simply as José de San Martín or El Libertador of Argentina, Chile and Peru, was an Argentine general and the prime leader of the southern part of South America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire who served as the Protector of Peru. Born in Yapeyú, Corrientes, in modern-day Argentina, he left his mother country at the early age of seven to study in Málaga, Spain.

San Martín is regarded as a national hero of Argentina and Peru, and one of the Liberators of Spanish South America. The Order of the Liberator General San Martín (Orden del Libertador General San Martín), created in his honor, is the highest decoration conferred by the Argentine government.


Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor (8 May 1753 – 30 July 1811), more commonly known as Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla or simply Miguel Hidalgo, was a Mexican Roman Catholic priest and a leader of the Mexican War of Independence. He marched across Mexico and gathered an army of nearly 90,000 poor farmers and Mexican civilians who attacked and killed both Spanish Peninsulares and Criollo elites, even though Hidalgo's troops lacked training and were poorly armed. These troops ran into an army of 6,000 well-trained and armed Spanish troops; most of Hidalgo's troops fled or were killed at the Battle of Calderón Bridge.


José Gervasio Artigas Arnal (June 19, 1764 – September 23, 1850) is a national hero of Uruguay, sometimes called "the father of Uruguayan nationhood".


Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme (1778–1842) was a Chilean independence leader who freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. He was a wealthy landowner of Spanish and Irish ancestry. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817–1823), he is considered one of Chile's founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state.


Leoncio Prado was born in Huanuco on August 24, 1853 and entering the College of Lima Guadeloupe at the age of 9 years. He was the son of General Mariano Ignacio Prado (president of Peru in the periods 1865-1868 and 1876-1879) and Mary Avelina Gutierrez. At the age of twelve, Leoncio Prado was already out in the Lanceros Regiment of the Union. For thirteen years he left the College Guadeloupe to fight against the Spaniards in the fighting at Abtao,  was promoted to Guardiamarina and later Ensign.
At age 21 went to Cuba to participate in the struggle for independence of the Caribbean country, becomes a soldier of the so-called war of the decade. It was then under the command of Maximo Gomez and beside heads like Antonio Maceo and Jose Guillermo Moncada and others in the front of the East.


Francisco Morazán (October 3, 1792 – September 15, 1842) was a Honduran politician who was president of the Federal Republic of Central America from 1830 to 1839. Before he was president of Central America he was head of state of Honduras, He rose to prominence at the legendary Battle of La Trinidad on November 11, 1827. Since then, and until his execution in 1842, Morazán dominated the political and military scene of Central America.
In the political arena, Francisco Morazán was recognized as a visionary and great thinker, as he attempted to transform Central America into one large and progressive nation. He enacted liberal reforms in the new Federal Republic of Central America, including freedom of the press, speech and religion. Morazán also limited church power by making marriage secular and abolishing government-aided tithing.
These reforms made him some powerful enemies, and his period of rule was marked by bitter infighting between liberals and conservatives. But through his military skills, Morazán was able to keep a firm grip on power until 1837, when the Federal Republic became irrevocably fractured. This was exploited by the conservative leaders, who rallied around the leadership of Rafael Carrera and in order to protect their own interests, ended up dividing Central America into five nations.





Friday, 13 October 2017

El Floridita (Havana) Landmark & Major Tourist Attraction

                The 'El Floridita' restaurant and cocktail bar, known as the cradle of the daiquiri, is 200 years old this year. It's almost impossible not to find this place full of tourists regardless of how much of a trap it is....cocktails here cost several times more than elsewhere in the city (country). However, to be in the place that was once the hangout of the famous writer Ernest Hemingway is priceless. 


According to wikipedia:

It opened in 1817 with the name "La Piña de Plata" (English: The Silver Pineapple) in the place it still occupies, on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate streets. Almost 100 years later, the large number of North American tourists persuaded the owner to change the name to "El Florida", but with time it became popularly known as "El Floridita".

In 1914, the Catalan immigrant Constantino Ribalaigua Vert started working in the bar as cantinero (bartender). Constantino, nicknamed Constante, became the owner in 1918. Constante is credited for inventing the frozen daiquiri in the early 1930s, a drink that became linked to the fame of the place, whose motto is now "la cuna del daiquiri" (the cradle of the daiquiri). The bar became a school of highly skilled cantineros (bartenders) specialised in cocktails prepared with fresh fruit juices and rum, whose traditions are still preserved by the disciples of Constante.

The Nobel Prize-winning American writer Ernest Hemingway frequented the bar, which is at the end of Calle Obispo (Bishop Street), a short walk from the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway maintained a room from 1932–1939. Hemingway's children also noted that in the early 1940s Hemingway and his wife "Mary" (Martha Gellhorn) continued to drive from their house outside Havana (Finca Vigía) to the Floridita for drinks. The establishment today contains many noticeable memorabilia of the author, with photographs, a bust and, more recently (2003), a life-size bronze statue at the end of the bar near the wall, sculpted by the Cuban artist José Villa Soberón.

Hemingway wasn't the only famous customer of the bar. The establishment was frequented by many generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and artists. Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and Graham Greene, the British novelist who wrote Our Man in Havana, were also frequent customers.

Ernest Hemingway used to say, "My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita."

The place still preserves much of the atmosphere of the 1940s and 1950s, with the red coats of the bartenders matching the Regency style decoration that dates from the 1950s, although now most of its customers are occasional tourists. Besides the cocktails, the place is reputed for the (expensive) sea food.




            In my opinion, if you've never been to El Floridita, you should make the trip for the historical value at least. If it's just to have a drink, there are much better places around the city to do that. As far as the expensive food goes, I've never eaten here but friends of mine have. I was told that the food wasn't bad but wasn't that great either....once again, there are lots of places that make a better lobster, cheaper and with nicer ambiance. 


PS...,so far, smoking is allowed inside. I was able to smoke my cigar in the bar area.


El Floridita
Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate 
Habana Vieja, Havana 
tel: (7) 867-1300