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Photography by Ernesto Bazan
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Story on the "Parrandas"
Story on the

Santa Clara, Cuba's breadbasket, is the Central province that provides the rest of the country with so much of its domestic produce and exportable sugar. Santa Clara, about mid-way from the country's East and West extremes, best typifies the rural Caribbean, with the overlay of Cuba's singular circumstance. It has a campesino pace to it; what urban Cuba eats and how much commercial Cuba exports can be determined in Santa Clara ahead of time. The province has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the country tanks to the capillary health care program that the government has been able to provide. ItÄs also in this Province that the annual "Parrandas" take place.

Small-town fiestas that have been an integral part of the province's culture for century, regardless of hurricanes, dictatorships, socialism, the absence of American goods or the presence of Soviet ones. These elaborate parties accelerate through the week until the weekend when they become 24 hour bashes highlighted by raucous parades around small-town plazas. In each town, rival neighborhoods prepare elaborate floats in the months leading up to the parranda, competing for extreme outrageousness, blinding color, and sheer audacity. Noisy fireworks, strong aguardiente entwine to make for conspicuous celebration.

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