HAVANA (Reuters) -- Communist Cuba has honored its world famous
ballet star, Alicia Alonso, giving her the title "Labor Heroine" and awarding
her and the Cuban National Ballet company with one of the nation's highest
Cuban President Fidel Castro presented the awards on Friday night at the
Palace of the Revolution in Havana.
Alonso, who is 77 and had kept on dancing until just three years ago,
received the title "Heroine of Labour of the Republic of Cuba" and was also
awarded the Lazaro Pena Order, a civil decoration. This award was also
given to the national ballet company she founded 50 years ago.
Culture Minister Abel Prieto, making the presentation speech, praised
Alonso's artistic genius and paid tribute to "her sense of Cuban identity, her
patriotism, her loyalty to principles, to the Revolution and to Fidel."
"Today we are rewarding not only a life dedicated to art but also an example
of self-sacrifice, of tenacity in adversity, of social commitment and vocation
and of conscious responsibility in the defence of national culture," he said.
Alonso, clearly moved, thanked Castro for his support for the Cuban
National Ballet, which survived and prospered after the 1959 Cuban
Revolution to become one of the world's best-known and admired national
The award ceremony took place during an International Ballet Festival being
held in Havana to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban National
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.