U.S. Congressional Representatives Barbara Lee and Laura Richardson, both Democrats from California, received members of the Cuban children’s theatre group La Colmenita at their offices next to the Capitol building on Friday morning, October 14.
Thanks to the photos taken by Bill Hackwell and the commentary sent to Cubadebate by Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator for the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five, incarcerated in the United States, we’ve been able to reconstruct the group’s first day in the U.S. capital. Laura Richardson invited the cihldren to accompany her to her seat for the moment when she cast her vote in favor of a bill to protect the environment.
The members of La Colmenita unexpectedly found themselves in a hallway with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee and one of Cuba’s most furious enemies. She was being photgraphed, laughing and talking very loudly, until the moment in which she bumped into the children who were dressed in white t-shirts decorated with little bees playing music. Instantly her face froze, bitter with hatred.
Carlos Alberto Cremata, the theatre company’s director, along with a number of the company’s members, spoke by telephone with Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the United States. The troupe also sang and performed at the Cuban Interests Section for the members of the diplomatic corps and their families.
In Washington they will perform at American University, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and then will travel to New York where a performance is planned for October 21 at the Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, and October 22 at the Harriet Tubman Learning Center in Harlem. The last stop on the tour will be in San Francisco.
La Colmenita was founded in February of 1990 in Cuba and now has 21 “colmenitas” in different parts of the country, consisting of groups of between 40 and 80 children of all ages who act, dance or engage in visual arts or music after the school day is over.
Some 14,000 children are part of the project in Cuba, while other groups have formed in Spain, Colombia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, among other countries.
Designated a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2007, the Cuban theatre company will give a private performance at U.N. Headquarters on October 24th, just a few hours before the international group casts its annual vote condemning the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for more than 50 years.