HAVANA – International celebrities have flocked to Cuba in recent months to experience the attractions of an island previously off-limits, but which is now open to the world after renewing relations with the United States last July.
Over the past few weeks Havana natives have seen more of the world’s entertainment and sports stars strolling their streets than in the past 50 years, a fad that Cubans believe is only just beginning, as they watch with hope and incredulity the flood of the rich and famous like Mick Jagger and Katy Perry, the latest to join the trend.
The American singer took a break this month, halfway through her “Prismatic World Tour” of Latin America, to visit Havana – not once but twice – to the surprise of the usual patrons of the popular culture and leisure center Fabrica de Arte Cubano, a must-see for anyone visiting the Cuban capital.
Perry included in her visit the juvenile theater company La Colmenita and a meeting last Thursday with sexologist Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and promoter of campaigns against homophobia on the Communist-ruled island, with whom the singer conversed at a private bar.
The “Roar” vocalist’s visit was widely covered by the state press – which previously tended to ignore such news – and which also reported the Oct. 13 stopover in Cuba of one of the greatest boxers of all time, Floyd Mayweather of the United States.
Mayweather visited training centers and chatted with sports fans, as did Spanish soccer players Sergio Ramos and Raul last June, along with Brazil’s Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, better known as Pele, the latter two as part of an unprecedented New York Cosmos delegation to the island.
Though few were able to glimpse legendary British rocker Mick Jagger in Havana, Cuban musicians and later Jagger himself posted pictures and notes on social media recounting his time in the Cuban capital, a visit that boosted rumors of a possible Rolling Stones concert here in March 2016.
Other photos recently revealed that American singer Usher traveled to the island in early September with a group of friends including the rapper Ludacris.
Cuba fever is just beginning: the scoop of the week in local media was that haute couture brand Chanel has picked the island for its first fashion show in Latin America, specifically for the unveiling of its latest Cruise collection on May 3, 2016, by the firm’s head designer and creative director, Germany’s Karl Lagerfeld.