Cuba has become something of a force on the global ballet scene, and the country’s prominence is, to some extent, thanks to the efforts of Alicia Alonso. The former dancer has run the Cuban National Ballet for decades, propelling the dance community to greater and greater heights. She is revered across the island to this day.
Designer del Rio co-founded the famous Clandestina brand along with Leire Fernandez. After starting with recycled materials, the brand has slowly expanded and recently became the first independent Cuban company to sell its wares online.
Journalism in Cuba is tightly controlled, and deviating from the official line can land you in hot water. Independent journalist Yoani Sanchez set up news site 14ymedio to give Cubans an alternative news source, and it’s well worth following her on Twitter for updates from the ground.
A rising star in the Cuban fashion world, Perez is known for making minimalist swimsuits in bright colours. Despite the difficulties of running a fashion business under the trade embargo, Perez continues to live on the island while her name becomes increasingly well-known around the world.
Singer Arocena combines her Afro-Cuban ancestry through songs with lyrics in Yoruba, Spanish, and English. She has taken her brand of neo-soul around the world on tour, and has become a bright light in the Cuban music scene.
Born into a wealthy family in 1832, Betancourt nonetheless dedicated her life to advancing women’s rights and took a prominent role in the fight for independence from Spain. She was captured by imperialist forces in 1871 and taken to Spain to live in exile until she died in 1901. Today she is known as a national heroine in Cuba and is commemorated by the Order of Ana Betancourt medal, awarded to women who display great revolutionary merit.
Born in 1967, Luis went on to become one of the best female volleyball stars in Cuban history. Despite being only 5’7″ tall, her incredible vertical leap of 11 feet made her a formidable opponent. She went on to win multiple awards at continental, world, and Olympic championships.