Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.28

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cuba and Mexico have nominated Bolero: identity, emotion and poetry turned into song (No. 01990) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Bolero is an indispensable part of the Latin American sentimental song, with a strong lyrical character deeply rooted in Cuba and Mexico. A cultural amalgam, it combines the language used in European poetry, with African rhythms of enslaved peoples and the sentiments of the native peoples of the Americas. Bolero lyrics allude to daily life, and the songs are performed in a variety of spaces, from households to public areas and large concert halls, as well as in festivals and as serenades. The practice is generally passed down within families, through oral tradition and imitation. Researchers and academics (such as historians, musicologists and cultural managers) also contribute to its transmission. Today, new boleros continue to be composed, and the lyrics and music give room to an ever-evolving dialogue with the tradition of both countries. The prestige achieved by Bolero and its appropriation by different sectors of the population have led to its expansion to other parts of Latin America and to other Spanish-speaking countries. As a strong cultural symbol for Cuban and Mexican societies, especially in urban areas, it has served as a means of expressing emotions and feelings.

  1. Considers 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:   Instrumental and vocal ensembles and soloists interpret bolero. The element is practiced and transmitted in family, neighbourhood, community and social environments and expressed through behaviour codes and dressing styles. Its bearers take on different roles, from writing to performing and dancing. Bolero is an identity marker and a means of expressing emotion and feelings. It is a key part of secular and religious celebrations. It is also a source of livelihood for professional performers. Its presence in Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries around the world, via radio and cinema, testifies to its appreciation.

R.2:   Inscription would show youth how redefining and adapting heritage to ever-changing conditions and circumstances is a means of safeguarding it and appropriating it. It would also illustrate how urbanization can positively contribute to living heritage, while adding to the prestige of music as living heritage. As its historical development has shown, dialogue is part of the element’s growth and evolution. Inscription would lead to increased dialogue among practitioners in the two submitting States, as well as in other States where the element is practiced. Its inscription would highlight human creativity and cultural diversity.

R.3:   The element is safeguarded by its continued presence in events and festivals in both countries, as well as its wide promotion through media platforms, competitions, international festivals and conferences. The file presents a detailed and well-structured safeguarding plan, which explains the current challenges, objectives and programmes to address them. Measures have been jointly developed by bearers and practitioners from both submitting States. They include: (a) education and promotion of bolero; (b) identification and awareness-raising; and (c) strengthening the capacities and recognition of Bolero performers. A team composed of the Cuban Ministry of Culture and the Institute for the Preservation and Promotion of Bolero in Mexico will coordinate the safeguarding measures, to be implemented by a range of relevant government bodies and institutions. The involvement of the communities in designing the safeguarding plan is well-elaborated in the file.

R.4:   A team with representatives from Cuba and Mexico has worked on compiling the final nomination form. Community participation for the nomination differs across the submitting States, and has been a long-term process involving workshops, congresses, research, inventorying and communication campaigns. The participation and consent of the communities, groups and individuals concerned in the nomination is attested for, both in Cuba and in Mexico, with letters from governmental and non-governmental bodies, and from individuals expressing their support and consent to the multinational nomination. A large range and amount of consent letters accompany the nomination.

R.5:   The element has been included in the national inventories of intangible heritage in Mexico and Cuba since September 2018 and August 2021, respectively. Clear information is provided as to how the element has been identified and described in both countries, with the involvement of practitioners and relevant government and other bodies or institutions. In Cuba, updating of inventories takes place every year with the participation of bearers and practitioners. In Mexico, the national inventory is permanently updated. The nomination file adequately describes how the inventories are updated in Cuba and in Mexico. In Mexico, the updating process is currently under revision.

  1. Decides to inscribe Bolero: identity, emotion and poetry turned into song on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the submitting States Parties for a good quality video that provides a detailed visual presentation of the cultural practices associated with the element;
  3. Further commends the submitting States Parties for a well-prepared file with clear and well-structured safeguarding plans.