The bolero, a musical genre originating in the 19th century Cuba, has been declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This declaration, a result of a joint proposal by Cuba and Mexico, marks the first binational declaration of its kind in the region. The announcement was made during a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kasane, Botswana.
The Bolero: A Blend of Cultures
Known for its vocal, instrumental, and dance expression, the bolero is a vital part of Latin American sentimental song with a strong lyrical character. It melds the language of European poetry, African rhythms of enslaved peoples, and sentiments of the native peoples of the Americas. Bolero lyrics often allude to daily life, and the songs are performed in a variety of spaces, from households to public squares and grand concert halls, as well as in festivals and serenades.
The practice of Bolero is generally passed down within families, through oral tradition and imitation. Today, new boleros continue to be composed, providing an evolving dialogue with the tradition of both Cuba and Mexico. The genre's prestige and appropriation by different sectors of the population have led to its expansion to other parts of Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries.
Recognition and Reflection
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez expressed their pride in this recognition reflecting the cultural ties between the two nations. The bolero strengthens a sense of collective identity in both Cuban and Mexican cultures and has served as a means of expressing emotions and feelings for over a century. With this inclusion, six Cuban cultural expressions have been recognized by UNESCO. The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity seeks to promote cultural diversity and encourage the safeguarding of these cultural practices and knowledge.