To Protect Nature is to Protect Humanity
By Mercy Ramos Photos: Courtesy of Osmel Francis, José Meriño
It is no secret for anybody that the future of humanity is in the hands of man himself; hence, the need to make the right decisions now and to change our lifestyles to be able to ensure the preservation of the human species and the planet in general in the near future. That is the sentiment of many people around the world who have become followers of Cubanos en la Red, a rap group that has become an environmentalist project. The mission of this group’s members is to raise awareness everywhere about why we need to protect the environment as our only alternative for the survival of future generations our species—human, animal, and plant. In an exclusive interview with Cubaplus, Osmel Francis, manager of Cubanos en la Red, provided an overview of the group, which was created a little more than 10 years ago in Spain with a focus on rap music. However, “our first hit was an environmental song, and since then we have developed two repertories: a commercial one and another with environmental themes,” Francis said.
“In 2003 we launched an album called Casiguaguas, the name that Cuba’s indigenous people gave to the River Almendares (in Havana), and we began carrying out community work in neighbourhoods on the riverbanks to help clean up the environment,” he said. That is when “our environmental career began,” he explained. “In 2004 we won 2nd Place in the National Community Work Award contest.” After a little more than two years of international tours, “we returned to our environmental work and extended it to other cities outside Havana, such as Matanzas and Pinar del Rio.”
Beginning in 2010, the group devoted itself completely to its environmental project, not just with music, but also with other artistic expressions, and “we were able to get them to designate a venue for us, a little island on Santa Fe beach, in western Havana, that we named La Isla Verde (The Green Island),” he explained. “At first, it was an illustrative environmental park, and then we began carrying out actions throughout the country, such as cleaning up rivers and the Havana coastline, and reforestation in the countryside, all of it with the collaboration of different government institutions such as Cuba Solar, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Institute of Floriculture,” Francis said.
All of this work has been very well-received by the population, which has made it possible to expand the project. “In fact, this year, we are holding the first Mother Earth Festival, which will feature concerts, visual arts expos, and other cultural expressions, along with a conference where different speakers will address issues related to climate change and good living,” Francis said.
This year, Cubanos en la Red is organizing a contest about the presence of indigenous cultures in Cuba, which will award prizes in the categories of music, audiovisual productions, visual arts, theater, and literature, and a scientific category for children and adults. The contest is sponsored by the Guatemalan Embassy in Cuba, and its main purpose is to help foster awareness about the indigenous cultures of Latin America and their traditions, many of which are still present in the region’s different countries. The idea is to hold this contest every year, and in 2014 its theme will be Maya cultures. The Mother Earth Festival will be held April 11-May 15 in several venues around Cuba, including in Havana, Pinar del Rio, Mayabeque and Guantánamo, with the support of different Cuban agencies, such as the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment; the Pro Naturaleza Foundation and others.
“All of this work is designed for people to become aware of the need to change their lifestyles so that we can take care of the world that we live in, and so that future generations can enjoy a better world and preserve not just the human species, but also all living things on the planet.”