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A Canadian cow gets a bronze tribute in Cuba

A Canadian cow gets a bronze tribute in Cuba
by Doug Sarti on May 13th, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Rosafé Signet, a Canadian bull known as the father of the Cuban dairy
industry, will be honoured with a life-sized statue this coming week in
Cuba.

Born in Ontario in 1954, Rosafé was sent to Cuba in 1961 in a $100,000
sale arranged by the Diefenbaker government. A personal favourite of
Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Rosafé would go on to father countless (one
estimate indicates more than one million) dairy cattle and help attain
the Cuban government’s goal of providing one litre of free milk per
child per day.

After Rosafé’s death in 1965, Castro commissioned noted Cuban sculptor
Rita Longa to immortalize the bull. After she fashioned a bronze replica
of Rosafé’s head, a metal shortage prohibited any further work. The cast
head then sat in Longa’s Havana studio until 1977, when it was noticed
by Vancouver lawyer Carey Linde during a reception for the American
Association of Jurists.

“It was just pure whimsy,” he tells the Georgia Straight by phone, “but
it made sense that we complete this.”

Upon returning to Canada, Linde approached the Trudeau government about
funding, without result. The project was then sidelined until he
returned to Cuba four years ago.

“I took it upon myself to find out what happened to the head,” the
72-year-old Linde recalls, only to discover it lost. “In the process, I
came across a number of people who were unbelievably keen to complete
the job.”

Although the Cuban government donated the 600 kilograms of bronze
required, more funding was still needed to finish the statue. Looking
for novel ways to raise money, Linde tried the local crowdfunding
platform Fund­Razr—the company was receptive, but its American-owned
online-payment partner, WePay, was not, due to the U.S. embargo against
Cuba. This, says Linde, contravenes the Canadian Foreign
Extraterritorial Measures Act (FEMA), which ensures Canadians a free
hand to do business with Cuba.

“I’ve written to the attorney general, who handed it off to the minister
in charge of the RCMP, Peter Blaney, and he’s not responding.”

WePay didn’t address the potential FEMA violation, but spokesperson
Marybeth Grass noted by phone that Canadian account information is
sometimes processed in its American data centres. “Accordingly, the laws
of the United States apply to the use of that data.…WePay may not
support transactions with Cuba directly or indirectly.” (As of press
time, Blaney had not responded to an inquiry.)

Despite setbacks, Linde has successfully raised the funds from
individual donors, as well as his own pocket. “I’ve been literally
selling my RRSPs to finish this thing,” he says.

Although Rosafé remains something of a bovine Norman Bethune—both have
much stronger legacies in their adopted socialist countries than in
their native Canada—that may change with the upcoming documentary Rosafé
Siempre. Directed by Rolando Almirante, the film documents both Rosafé’s
story and Linde’s campaign for a statue.

Linde’s 38-year effort clearly represents a labour of love, but he also
notes deeper themes in Rosafé’s story, not just of international
cooperation and Canadian independence but the thought that one being can
represent the will of a nation.

“Rosafé,” Linde says, “is a striking symbol of the Cuban Revolution’s
commitment to meeting the basic needs of its children and people.”

The finished statue, by sculptor Tomás Lara, will be unveiled May 20 at
a studio in Havana.

Follow Doug Sarti on Twitter @dougsarti.

Source: A Canadian cow gets a bronze tribute in Cuba | Georgia Straight
Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly –
http://www.straight.com/news/449276/canadian-cow-gets-bronze-tribute-cuba

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