The “Comandante’s” Carnivals / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

Floats being built for the “Comandante’s” carnivals. (14ymedio)
Floats being built for the “Comandante’s” carnivals. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 12 August 2016 – After weeks of anxieties and rumors, the Havana carnivals are starting tonight. A popular celebration whose date* has again been postponed this year to make it coincide with the eve of ex-president Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday.

For several days, the floats that will parade in front of the stands, bleachers and grandstands along Havana’s Malecon, have been under construction near the site. This Friday, the official newspaper Granma published a note with the names of the streets that will be closed and warned people not to “attend the festivities carrying glass containers, knives or fire.”

The choice of this day for the start of the carnival once again alters its date, which for decades had been moved from its traditional February. The first of these changes happened in 1970, when the celebrations were moved to coincide with the celebrations for July 26 (the date of the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, that is considered the beginning of the Revolution), but over the years it has been postponed again and again.

The increasing scarcity of domestic beers in the retail market and the announcements of economic setback had made many fear that the festivities would not be celebrated in Havana. However, the worst fears have not been realized and now Havana residents say, half jokingly and half seriously: “These are the Comandante’s carnivals.”