Cuban cigar ‘readers’ touted for UNESCO heritage honor



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 26 November 2012

Last update 26 November 2012 3:56 am

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HAVANA: The shifts are long and dull at Cuba’s cigar factories, with workers cutting and rolling leaves known around the world for their top quality.
For 150 years, it has been a tradition to have someone read aloud to them as a way to ease the grind — anything from great works of literature to cooking recipes. Now, an idea has emerged to make that custom part of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage. Miguel Barnet, a poet and ethnologist and president of the Cuban writers federation, said some day Cuba hopes the UN cultural organization will honor the custom by declaring it one of the world’s intangible treasures, the newspaper Granma reported Saturday.
Flamenco in Spain is another example.
It all started in a cigar factory in Havana in 1865 and spread rapidly.
These days some 300 people work as readers, reciting classical literature, political, social or legal texts or even how to cook certain dishes.
The cigar makers, working with trademark curved knives, bang them on their work tables if they like what they hear, or toss them to the ground if they do not.

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