[Marxism] Havana celebrates 216th anniv. of French Revolution

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 1 05:35:04 MDT 2005

(Celebrations of the French Revolution of 1789 are virtually
Unheard of on the United States. I attended one such event in
Los Angeles not long ago, sponsored by the French Consulate at 
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was a joyous event and 
when I mentioned my interest in Cuba to participants and vendors, 
a very enthusiastic response was evoked. French independence from 
Washington in foreign affairs has long been troublesome to the US, 
but it can't really stop the French from being who they are.

(France re-affirmed its independence - gently - by making the 
public announcement it was distancing itself from the dissidents.
France openly disinvited the dissidents from attending Bastille
Day events at their embassy in Havana. Yes, they invited them in 
a day earlier, on July 13th, but the symbolic importance of the 
reduction in rank was clear for all to see. Cuba's Foreign 
Minister congratulated the French publicly with enthusiasm.

(Commemorations of the French Revolution didn't just begin in
Cuba, where a well-maintained museum devoted to Napoleon has 
been a feature close to the University since well before the
Revolution's triumph. Read a transcript of comments made by
Fidel Castro at a meeting with French journalists in 1983,
which is but a single example of close French-Cuban links:
http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/castro/1983/19830810 )

Havana. July 29, 2005

Havana celebrates the 216th anniversary of the French Revolution

BY MIREYA CASTAÑEDA —Granma International staff writer—


IT would have been unthinkable otherwise. Casa Victor Hugo,
inaugurated this year on O’Reilly Street in Havana’s
historic district, had to be the focal point of cultural
celebrations for the 216th anniversary of the French

This is because this 18th century Casa ("house") which
bears the name of the legendary writer, has become a 
symbol of Cuban-French friendship, and a location for 
many meetings, conferences, exhibits and fashion shows.

That precious link becomes palpable the moment one crosses
the threshold of the restored colonial mansion (labors that
began in 2002, the bicentennial of the birth of the man who
wrote Les Misérables, among other novels). There, the
bright painting generously bestowed by artist Marie Hugo (a
descendant of the great novelist) sits in triumph.

Present during the Casa’s opening, Marie Hugo reflected on
the meaning of her large-sized creation. "Trees are a
beautiful and true symbol of freedom. Freedom has its roots
in the hearts of the people, like the tree in the heart of
the earth. The branches of this tree/river are like arms
stretched out to others, and the water’s currents are the
paths toward freedom. I hope that all the currents meet,
and that this Casa may be a bridge between the island of
Cuba and France."

The July 14 celebrations began with a unique fashion show.
The well-known Cuban designer Abraham was inspired by
French buildings and monuments. Models from La Maison filed
down the improvised catwalk, evoking the Eiffel Tower,
Moulin Rouge, The Louvre Pyramid, the Arc de Triomphe, and
– paradoxically perhaps – that of the guillotined Marie

There was always a moment for meditation. The visit to the
vault that holds the death mask (a copy of course) of
Victor Hugo. The mask is jealously guarded – literally –
given that the vault was the safe for the bank located at
311 O’Reilly from 1861 to 1886.

In one of the Casa’s second-floor rooms, there is an
exhibit of La revolution à l’affiche (two centuries of
imaginary republic), on loan from the Council of Val de
Marne, which will be on display until September.

The events ended that day with the laying of a wreath in
front of an urn that holds the ashes of Jean Baptiste
Vermay, the French painter who five years before he died
(in 1833), created the three canvasses for the mural that
today adorns the neoclassical monument erected in the Plaza
de Armas to commemorate the founding of the city in 1519.

Havana, at its Casa Victor Hugo, has celebrated the French
Revolution, which contributed one of humanity’s greatest
documents, that which begins by saying, "Men are born free
and remain free and equal in rights"

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