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“La Propuesta de Ovidio” Brings Cuban Spirit to Ecuador

The radio show offers rare insight into Cuban culture and music

QUITO, Ecuador — Twenty-two years ago, Cuban singer and actor Ovidio González arrived in the Ecuadorian capital. As he was adapting to his new surroundings, he noticed that Ecuadorians weren’t very familiar with Cuban culture, music and musicians, but they were eager to learn.

González thus launched the radio program “La propuesta de Ovidio” (“Ovidio’s Proposal”) in May 1996 to help educate Ecuadorians about his native island.

“I launched the show before the film ‘Buena Vista Social Club’ was released, and my program was already featuring music from Omara Portuondo, Compay Segundo, the Cuarteto Patria with Eliades Ochoa, Ibrahim Ferrer with Los Bocucos and so many Cuban music legends,” he said.

Initially, González thought La propuesta de Ovidio would be aired for about a six months. Today however, 22 years later, the program continues to attract a loyal following, with its listeners still enjoying their weekend meetings. Public broadcaster Radio de la Asamblea Nacional airs the show every Saturday and Sunday from 2–4 p.m.

“My show discusses Cuban roots and offers the audience a vision into the essence of being Cuban,” explained González, who considers himself “never far or outside of Cuba” artistically.

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The program, in fact, provides insight into Cuban music produced and released on the island and often ignored — or unknown — by the mainstream music industry elsewhere.

Over the years, González has interviewed many Cuban musicians and singers for his show. His work is praised by many fellow countrymen in Ecuador.

“Ovidio is a Caribbean breeze on Ecuadorian radio, I always listen to him to listen to Cuba,” said Cuban painter Luis Alberto Saavedra, who is also a Quito resident.

“I think he is one of the main Cuban cultural figures abroad, and I hope he gets the institutional acknowledgement he deserves,” Saavedra added.