No other place in Toronto compares in natural beauty. From the ample and welcoming terrace of the famous Palais Royale, a dance hag enjoyed by past generations today restored to its former splendor, the shores of Lake Ontario seem to be meandering calmly and lazily as far as the eye can see, momentarily recalling the insinuating cadence of Havana's Malecón.
As at the Malecón, the warm sunset of the first summer day in Toronto brings the vibrant and unmistakable notes of tropical rhythms. In the welcoming area of a section of the terrace, a master of the trade rolls splendid Havana cigars, while in the large hags of the Palais Royale professional dancers entertain the audience. With mojitos and daiquiris in hand, the beautiful people of Ontario engage in lively chat and sample Cuban cuisine. This is a very special, first class event. More than 400 guests from all areas of the province gathered for the official launch of CubaPLUS (www.cubaplus.ca).
Saying that CubaPLUS is a magazine is like saying that the distinguished Canadian writer Margaret Atwood is simply a storyteller. That does not do them justice. CubaPLUS is the culmination of the ambitious project started by its founder and director, Canadian businessman Dominic Soave, and his Taina Communications, from Vancouver in British Columbia, in consultancy with the business firm Soave Strategy Group and assisted by a formidable team of publication professionals. Luxuriously edited, printed and distributed in Canada, CubaPLUS has the support of the editorial services of the renowned Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. Each issue focuses on different and fascinating aspects of Cubans' daily life, sciences, arts, history, geography, tourism, sports, fashion, music, cuisine and the impact of Cuba in the world.
CubaPLUS is effectively a sort of magic carpet, a vehicle with full color illustrations that immediately capture the readers' attention, transporting them to tourist discoveries and the extraordinary achievements of the Caribbean nation.
In the 2008 summer issue, especially selected for the launch of the magazine in Ontario after a successful start in Quebec and British Columbia, the pages of CubaPLUS touch such topics as the creativity of Cuban designers, Orisha fashion, scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa, the world class children's show La Colmenita, archaeological treasures in Havana, the European Cuban city of Matanzas, historic Santiago de Cuba, the luxurious tourist center Jardines del Rey, the colonial House of the Hundred Doors in Sancti Spiritus, Ileana Mulet's art, the Jazz Café where one can often hear pianist Chucho Valdés, the photos of lvian Ruiz Hernández, Cuba's Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, contemporary dance and even karting in Cuba.
Ernesto Sentí Darias, Cuban ambassador to Canada, summarized it well when greeting guests at the launching, "CubaPLUS perfectly shows that Cuba has a great deal to offer besides its beautiful beaches, its marvelous music and the unmistakable warmth of its people. For the 700000 Canadians who travel to the island every year, each visit means new discoveries that make the friendship ties between Cuba and Canada even closer. I would not be surprised if CubaPLUS captures the interest of other nations and reaches global distribution."
Dominic Soave, editor of CubaPLUS, thanked Ambassador Sentí Darias for his speech and acknowledged the presence of Laureano Cardoso, Cuban consul from the team of the Toronto General Consulate, Elias Bestard, director of the Cuba Tourism Board in Toronto, Nieves Ricardo from the Tourism Board as well as representatives from Cubana airlines and Havana House.
Among the invited guests were also Jim Cicci, CubaPLUS Business Development vice president, Ben Soave, Soave Strategy Group president; Belma Diamante, Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble president and Canadian liaison with the spectacular Giselle ballet that the National Cuban Ballet and its Artistic Director Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso will present at Hamilton Place on October 2008; singer Laura Fernández, producer of Café Latino on Jazz FM.91 and participant at the International Varadero 2008 Music Festival; Hanya Vujcuf, president, Sunlight Tour, with offices in Havana and Toronto and a great number of academics, journalists, artists and businesspeople with Cuban ties.
Undoubtedly, the launch of CubaPLUS was a complete success. Besides, for tens of thousands of Ontario residents who year after year make Cuba their favorite destination, the distribution of the elegant and instructive magazine and its excellent content on the extraordinary contributions of Cuba to the world represent a valuable source of information space as well as a fascinating way to familiarize Canadians even more with the island.
A second look at the exotic location chosen for the CubaPLUS launch shows that, despite its undeniable natural beauty, there is a world of difference between the shores of Lake Ontario and Havana's Malecón, the heavenly beaches of Varadero, historic Santiago de Cuba, the colonial treasures of Matanzas or the warm welcome offered by the Cuban people to Canadians for more than half a century. CubaPLUS synthesizes the essence of the close, beautiful relationship between both nations.
Group Photo: Hanya Vujcuf, President, Sunlight Tours; Ernesto Sentí Darias, Cuban Ambassador in Canada; Angela Vage-Garay, wife of our collaborator Pastor Valle Garay; Ben Soave, President, Soave Strategy Group; singer Laura Fernández, producer of cafe Latino, Jazz FM.91.