A battalion of tolerant bears in Havana

Imagine that an army of two meters high bears, with the most unequal costumes that have been imagined, to stroll around the world in the manner of the Guardians of the Galaxy celebrating difference and understanding. These unusual superheroes exist, at least in the form of sculpture; and in an amount exceeding fifty may be appreciated by the Cuban public from Friday January 16 (4:30 pm) at the Saint Francis of Assisi Square, in Havana , Cuba. The project, sponsored by the UN and UNICEF, is called United Buddy Bears, and is the result of the work of many sculptors from around the world, from the idea developed by Roman Strobl, Klaus Herlitz and Eva Herlitz. These three artists flooded in 2001 the squares and main streets of Berlin with 300 of these pieces and a year later they thought in expanding the experience and what is known as the circle of United Buddy Bears emerged.

With the motto of “We have to know each other better ( …) to understand us better, having more confidence in each other and to live better,” the bears are a message of peace and understanding among peoples.

Buddy Bear sculptures (Buddy Bär in German) represent a bear-size, and are made of synthetic material reinforced with glass fibers. In the case of the circle of United Buddy Bears, each piece corresponds to a state recognized by the United Nations and is painted with a unique design by an artist from the country it represents. The idea, according to the event organizers, is that “different styles of international artists to come together in joyful fellowship to form a collective work of art conveying the joy of living”.

As part of its particular design, the Cuban bear, work by the artist Nancy Torres, holds a cigar in the mouth and was baptized by her creator as Siboney, in a tribute to the natives of the archipelago, whom showed the tobacco to the Western world. “Currently these tobacco leaves, the best in the world, are rolled by the hands of the Cuban cigar workers, which can be seen in the belly of my bear. By this I want to make remembering that the Siboney aboriginals did not resist European civilization, but left for mankind one of the most coveted native delicacies. “

With a list of traveled cities able to provoke envy even to James Bond (Pyongyang, Sydney, Berlin, Cairo, Montevideo, Kuala Lumpur, St. Petersburg, New Delhi, Paris, Buenos Aires … and the list goes on), the exhibition has been visited by about 30 million people on five continents. According to Clarin newspaper, merchandising and auction actions of the sculptures have raised about two and a half million dollars that have been allocated for the work of UNICEF and other aid organizations for children.

Probably the next stop for these guys is already agreed, but how nice it would be that when leaving Cuba they to travel to the lands of Eric Garner, Boko Haram and Charlie Hebdo to see if they manage to impose a bit of joy and frighten away fear of this world.

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