Frank Curbelo

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Frank Curbelo

Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church/Cuba

Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church has long been connected to Cuba. January 11th 2015 there was a free concert at the church by Cuban-American jazz pianist Nachito Herrera.

Before the start of the concert itself, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison made brief remarks. He said that President Obama’s December 17th announcement of the historic changes in the relationship of the two countries demonstrated the importance of persistence and hope for all who have been urging such changes for many years, as had most of the people in the audience. He congratulated us for having this persistence and hope. This lesson also was demonstrated, he said, by the current movie, “Selma,” which the Congressman recently had seen with his children. His parting injunction to us all: now we all need to keep the pressure on Congress to end the embargo and support the reconciliation.

Nachito Herrera was introduced by Rev. Dr. Timothy Hart-Andersen, Senior Pastor, who said our church has had a partnership with Nachito. We take things to his family in Cuba on some of our mission trips, and Nachito plays music at our church. Implicitly Tim was saying the church had the better part of that understanding.

To a capacity-crowd in our Great Hall, Nachito played Cuban music with great passion. He also told us that he was surprised and overjoyed by the December 17th news of the historic change in the two countries’ relationship and wanted to celebrate this important change by sharing his music with Westminster, which he regarded as part of his family. He also was very happy with the U.S. release from prison of the remaining three members of the Cuban Five, and in recognition of this event he returned his “Free the Cuban Five” button to two members of the Minnesota Cuba Committee, Prof. August Nimtz, and Frank Curbelo.

Nachito Herrera concluded the concert by saying that he and his wife (Aurora Gonzalez) recently had become U.S. citizens and by playing a beautiful jazzy rendition of “America the Beautiful.”[1]

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