Current News and Upcoming Events



Armando Peraza: Lord of the Drum

(photo by Tom Ehrlich)


Armando Peraza, one of the most exciting bongo and conga players of all time passed away on April 14. Peraza rose to the top of his trade in several distinct rhythmic genres.


He excelled as a percussionist in traditional Cuban music, Latin jazz and Latin rock.


The "younger" generation knew Peraza as the conga drummer for SANTANA for whom he played for 17 years.


Before his Latin rock days Armando Peraza excelled in the Latin jazz combos of George Shearing and Cal Tjader in the 1950s and 1960s.


He was the famed bongo drummer for the Conjunto Kubavana in the 1940s in Havana.


Because of the inexactness of birth records Armando age was a bit of a mystery. A best guess is that he was born sometime between 1914-1916, thus he was probably 98 or 100 at the time of his death.


A resident of the Bay Area since the late 1940s Armando's playing was known to have impressed and influenced the poets of the "Beat" generation
in the San Francisco Area.


Among bongo and conga drummers, Peraza was regarded as a true virtuoso, unequaled as a bongo player and capable of amazing, flashy solos on conga drums.

Article by Dr. Louis Perez - April 2014

Dr. Pérez is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and Director of the Institute for the Studies of the Americas at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and editor of Cuban Journal. His research and award-winning publications examine the history and identity of the nineteenth and twentieth century Caribbean, with a special focus on Cuba. Professor Perez just wrote the article attached, Cuba as an obsessive compulsive disorder, which deserves careful reading. RF.


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UC CUBA AT CHC March 20-21, 2014

Two of our UC-CUBA colleagues presented papers at the recent CHC conference at the University of Miami. You should be able to id Susannah Rodriguez Drissi and Anita Casavantes Bradford in the picture.


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April 18-19

Race in the Americas conference at the Claremont Graduate University. Several members of the UC-CUBA community are panelists and/or will be attending. Conference organized by the estimable Professor David Luis-Brown.


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Arts talk at UCLA - April 29


UCLA's School of the Arts and Architecture, along the UCLA Latin American Institute and department of World Arts and Cultures | Dance, presents doctoral student Andrew Martinez and University of Michigan professor Ashley Lucas in a performance lecture about their respective careers in performance and research.

During the summer of 2013 these two scholars traveled to Rio de Janeiro to research improvisational theatre practice inside two Brazilian prisons. For this presentation, Dr. Ashley Lucas and Andrew Martínez will perform a version of their journeys through arts practice and research - tracing the intersecting lines of scholarship, activism, theatre, rhythm, and dance-grappling with what performance can achieve within spaces where a government restricts its subjects' language, movement, and freedom of expression.


Join us for a Homeboy Industries pre-show reception hosted by the Center for Brazilian Studies at 6:30 PM in Glorya Kaufman Hall's Rainbow Lounge.

About the presenters:


Dr. Ashley Lucas is one of the world's leading experts about issues surrounding incarceration and theatre happening inside prisons now.


Andrew Martínez, a Culture and Performance PhD student, is writing an history of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. He is interested in investigating how the arts function symbolically and culturally within a national context.



Lecture by Leonardo Padura - February 18


The Cuban Researc Institute (CRI) at Florida International University, School of International and Public Affairs will host a lecture by world renown Cuban author, Leonardo Padura, on Feb. 18th at 3:30pm in the GC Ballroom of FIU's Modesto M. Maidique Campus. We hope you will join us and advise anyone who may be interested of the same. RSVP is requested to attend, please click on the link below to RSVP. If you should have any questions, please call us at











Remembering Katherine Hagedorn - November 15, 2013


In 1994 I was invited to give a lecture at Pomona College on some aspects of Cuban music. As it often happens in these kinds of events, there were some problems with the audiovisual equipment, with the arrangements of seats, etc. Fortunately there was a person there who ran around quickly, got all the equipment to work, rearranged the seating, made sure my microphone was clipped in the best place and got me water. At the end of my lecture that same person was busy re-organizing the room, helping the tech people with the equipment, picking up. I thought it was really nice of Pomona College to assign a person, probably a staffer, to basically attend to my needs so I walked up to her, after all the questions were answered and the session was finished, to thank her. I found out that her name was Katherine Hagedorn and that she was a faculty member in the Music Department at Pomona College. That first encounter captures for me something I will remember about Katherine: a most helpful, caring, and generous person, who always thought of others before she thought of herself. As a child I was told that “quién no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir,” which is difficult to render into English, but could be translated as “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” That is the life that Katherine lived.


In the years that followed Katherine and I became very close professionally. We read and critiqued each other’s work, met frequently to discuss the scholarly and popular literature on Cuban music, salsa and jazz, attended a wide variety of music and dance events, worked jointly on a variety of projects, and wrote supporting letters of evaluation for each other. She showed me new and different ways to listen to and appreciate music. I watched in amazement as she mastered the batá drums under the tutelage of Francisco Aguabella. Personally I became aware of Katherine’s profound spirituality.


In December of last year (2012) Katherine and I traveled to Cuba for a week to continue our respective research agendas. We spent many hours together. Presumably we were going to make progress on a joint manuscript on contemporary Cuban music we’ve been working on for a year or so. We did make some progress but not much because being in Katherine’s company a great deal of the time was spent laughing and telling stories. That trip to Cuba captures for me another thing I will remember about Katherine: her sense of humor, her uncanny ability to mimic other people in a funny yet totally sympathetic way, her smile, and her laughter.


Katherine was kind, generous, funny, simpática, and very spiritual.


Katherine was one of the most soulful persons I have ever met.


Raul Fernandez




“Tu santita” By Elba Capote (Translated by Daniel Whitesell)


I have many memories of “Katy” [“Kathy”], but now that I realize that I will only be able to see her again through my soul and my heart, images come to me of “Katy” riding all around Havana on a bicycle, and she had a yellow bicycle in honor of the patroness saint of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity (Our Lady of El Cobre), and one time she told me:


“Elbita, if I disappear on the streets of Havana, I want you to take care of the bicycle, because you are my ‘santita’ [protector or guardian angel],”


And I don’t know if I have remained at her side as her “santita,” but I do know that she has become a very important part of my life; we have been together for all of the many times she came to Cuba to research music and drumming, and all of the times she couldn’t come to Cuba. Our friendship was tested at times and we also enjoyed great moments together and “Katy” was always so nice and friendly, so good, and strong minded, and so intelligent.


“Katy,” I’m very sorry (you don’t know how much so) that I did not have the opportunity to say good bye to you, that I wasn’t able to be by your side like the real “santitas,” but even though you’re far away, you will always be at my side, and we will laugh again together about everything, because you will always be with me, you remain with me as my dear friend in my heart, and this for me is enough.


Good bye, dear “Katy,” you have already joined those little angles who protect us.


I love you so much.


Your “Santita”



Original Spanish Version


Tengo muchas imágenes de Katy, pero ahora que sé que no la veré de otra forma que no sea a través de mi alma y de mi corazón, me vienen imágenes de Katy por toda La Habana en bicicleta, y ella tenía una bicicleta amarilla en honor a la virgencita de la Caridad del Cobre, y una vez me dijo,


"Elbita, si yo desaparezco en las calles de La Habana quiero que me cuides la bicicleta, porque tú eres mi santita,"


Y yo no sé si he permanecido a su lado como su santita, pero sí sé que ella se ha convertido en una parte muy importante de mi vida, hemos permanecido juntas durante todos sus estudios de música, de tambor, todas las veces que estuvo en Cuba, y todas las veces que no pudo llegar a Cuba, y nuestra amistad pasó grandes pruebas y disfrutó grandes momentos y Katy siempre tan linda y amable, tan buena, y cabeza dura, y tan inteligente.


Katy: lamento mucho, no sabes cuánto, no haber podido despedirme de ti, no haber podido estar a tu lado como las verdaderas santitas pero, aunque lejos, siempre estarás a mi lado, y nos volveremos a reír de todo, porque yo nunca voy a aceptar que no estés, tú te quedas como mi amiguita de mi corazón, y eso para mí es suficiente.


Chao, Katy querida, ya formas partes de esos pequeños ángeles que nos protegen.


Te quiero mucho,


"tu santita"






Afro-Cuban Culture at the CRI - November 20, 2013




Professor Nancy Burke

Cuba's health system - October 17, 2003



The Cuban healthcare system is evoked as a symbol of revolutionary success and counterhegemonic possibility for health practitioners, scholars, journalists, and politicians around the world. Cuban government statistics on infant mortality, infectious disease control, and physician/patient ratios are heralded as “first world numbers” emerging from “third world conditions.” Experienced firsthand by those in countries hosting Cuba doctors and returning medical students trained at the Latin American School of Medicine (Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina or ELAM) outside of Havana, the Cuban model travels both practically and ideologically. Building upon the recently published Health Travels: Cuban Health (care) on and off the Island (UC Medical Humanities Press 2013), Dr. Burke will discuss how ethnographic accounts of the daily lived reality of the production and reproduction of this healthcare system lend complexity to exceptional claims and illustrate the creative labor involved in the provision of care in the context of scarcity and rapid change.