Cuba asks officials to wear traditional shirts

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Havana, Oct 13 (IANS/EFE) The Cuban government has asked all its officials to dress in guayaberas - the traditional shirts - for all diplomatic programmes on the island.

With its cool fabric, large pockets, and embroidered or pleated fronts, the lightweight shirt will now become part of the uniform of the Cuban diplomatic corps and other officials.

The shirt, which the island’s presidents have sported, is an icon in Cuba and is considered the “national garment”.

“The guayabera has been linked for a long time to the history of our country and constitutes one of the most authentic and legitimate expressions of Cubanness, having been worn with pride and satisfaction by all segments of our population,” says the resolution published in the Gaceta Oficial.

Ciro Bianchi, a journalist and promoter of the “La Guayabera” project, says that in the 1940s then president Ramon Grau San Martin introduced the garment into the Presidential Palace, six decades before the current government of Raul Castro decided to rescue the shirt’s official status.

Even Fidel Castro appeared in 1994 during the Ibero-American Summit in Cartagena, Colombia, wearing a white, long-sleeved guayabera that, for the first time at a public event, replaced his traditional olive green uniform.

That particular shirt is perhaps the most important item in the collection of guayaberas at the Provincial Museum in Sancti Spiritus, a city located 350 km southeast of Havana.

The museum’s collection includes shirts worn by prominent personalities like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Angel Asturias, Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Museum director Carlos Figueroa said Sancti Spiritus celebrates the “Day of the Guayabera” every July 25.

He said it is believed that it was in the mid-1930s that a president granted it the status of a “national garment”.


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