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International Jazz Festival begins in Havana

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 01:33

Dec. 19 - Jazz festival in Cuba sows seeds of hope for cultural thaw between the U.S. and Havana. Nickie Omer reports.

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It's one of the most important cultural dates in Cuba and this year a large number of Americans were also able to attend Havana's International Jazz Festival. They were given special permission to fly to the island, in one of a growing number of cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba. SOUNDBITE: Gregorio Rodriguez, from Colorado, United States, saying (English): "For the love of the music and mostly for the love of the Cuban people. They're amazing, they're wonderful, they give a new appreciation for life, love, and music." SOUNDBITE: Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Cuban Pianist, resident in the United States, saying (Spanish): "I am very happy [to participate in this festival] and hopefully this will be the start of a chain of actions [in Cuba], because I believe the Cuban public deserves it." The United States and Cuba are of course long-time adversaries, but it's hoped the common ground they've found through music, could help the relationship between the two countries. SOUNDBITE: Arturo O'Farrill, U.S. pianist originally from Cuba, saying (Spanish): "If [the relations between Cuban and the United States] are to change, it is because culture is more important than politics. People are more important than ideology and if we have the chance to put Cuban people here in contact with my people, that will change the world, I swear, and it will change jazz too." The musicians are optimistic that U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba may be lifted completely in the future, making it easier for the two cultures to meet. Nickie Omer, Reuters.

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International Jazz Festival begins in Havana

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 01:33