Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.B.11

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cuba has nominated Festivity of Las Parrandas in the centre of Cuba (No. 01405) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Held for the first time in 1820 in the town of Remedios, the Festivity of Las Parrandas is now celebrated by eighteen communities in the centre of Cuba, mostly taking place towards the final months of the year. The Parrandas is a cultural competition between the two neighbourhoods or parties into which each town is divided, with ‘spies’ attempting to spoil the surprise of the opposing neighbourhood on the night of the festivity. The two parties work all year long to prepare for the competition, which takes place on the night of the Festivity of Las Parrandas. The festivities involve a wide range of expressions, including: the design and construction of replicas and monuments, floats and costumes; songs and dances; fireworks; and decorations such as lamps, lanterns, banners and emblems allegoric to each neighbourhood. Everyone in the eighteen communities, regardless of their social class, gender, age, religion, profession or background, is involved in the festivities, and the monuments, replicas of monuments and floats constitute a spectacular display of the imagination and creativity of the groups, who recreate and re-enact stories using lights, colours and shapes. Traditional knowledge and skills related to the element are constantly combined with new elements, meaning that Las Parrandas are always traditional and contemporary at the same time.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The Festivity of Las Parrandas involves many different categories of practitioners, whose strong identification with the element is demonstrated every year through their innovative creation of floats, decorations and other associated artefacts. The element is also practised by Cuban emigrants abroad and connects them with their homeland and identity. Since its first appearance in the 1820s, every generation has updated the element in line with their cultural and aesthetic preferences. The principle of the contest between two neighbourhoods develops human creativity and creative art while fostering social integrity and cohesion in the respective communities.

R.2:   The element demonstrates the potential of intangible cultural heritage to integrate different skills, professions and cultural expressions and highlights its variability within a single State. The practitioners have established several cultural societies to facilitate intergenerational communication and cultural dialogue. The richness of artistic expression involved in the practice testifies to human creativity, which is deeply embedded in the element and demonstrated through friendly competition between the communities.

R.3:   In the communities concerned, the viability of the element is ensured primarily through its unrelenting practice and the constant transmission of knowledge. In 2013, the National Council for Cultural Heritage proclaimed Las Parrandas as Cultural Heritage of the Nation, which implies a strong commitment on the part of the Cuban State to protect this cultural expression. A coherent set of safeguarding measures is proposed, stressing the development of knowledge and skills related to the wide spectrum of arts and activities involved, documentation and more in-depth research into the social and cultural context of the element, and popularization and promotional activities.

R.4:   The practitioners of Las Parrandas initiated the nomination process, participated in workshops and educational activities, shared their experience and knowledge and helped formulate the safeguarding measures. Their thorough knowledge of the element allowed them to identify its strengths and weaknesses. The establishment of a specialized museum and the practitioners’ active contribution to the documentation and research of the element demonstrate the community’s commitment to its safeguarding. Their active involvement and desire to see the element inscribed are substantiated by the wide range of individual and collective expressions of consent.

R.5:   The element is included in the Inventory of Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the National Council for Cultural Heritage. Since 2012, it has been systematically documented and monitored in all eighteen towns in close collaboration with the practitioners, who are interviewed by local experts and asked for validation of all the registered information.

  1. Inscribes Festivity of Las Parrandas in the centre of Cuba on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Notes the positive role that can be played by sustainable tourism in generating additional financial resources for the successful performance of community festivities and invites the State Party to develop a strategy that could allow the participation of visitors while protecting the element from the negative impact that may arise from its possible commercialization and popularization following an increased influx of visitors;
  3. Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and further invites it to include detailed information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on the periodicity of updating of the Inventory of Elements of the Intangible Cultural Heritage with the active participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.