Feature: Cuban cartoonist wins grand prize at int’l COVID-19-themed contest

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by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, June 14 (Xinhua) — A 56-year-old Cuban caricaturist has won the grand prize at the Anti-Coronavirus International Cartoon Competition hosted online by China’s Qing Jin Technology and Culture & Multimedia International Association.

The contest was held last Monday to pay tribute to doctors, nurses and other frontline workers striving to combat the pandemic worldwide.

Aristides Hernandez, popularly known as Ares, said he has won more than 150 international awards throughout his career, but none of them showed “cartoons to be an effective tool for tackling global challenges” as much as this one.

His winning entry, chosen from some 7,000 entries from 54 countries, portrays people’s deep gratitude to doctors and nurses who put their lives on the line to battle the pandemic.

The award Ares received carries special significance for saluting medical workers’ struggle against the pandemic, said Pedro de la Hoz, deputy president of Cuba’s Union of Writers and Artists.

Hernandez learned cartooning skills during his study at a medical school in Havana. He continued to hone his craft while working as a rural doctor in Cuba’s Sierra del Purial mountain range, some 900 km away from Havana, and as a psychiatrist at a hospital in the capital.

His cartoons have gained a following among locals who read his daily comic strips published by Cuban daily newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

“I drew iconic images of the world’s religions and thanked medical personnel in different languages. I wanted to send a clear message on the importance of healthcare professionals in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hernandez said.

The cartoonist, who lives in a colonial house in downtown Havana, has been working tirelessly in his third-floor studio with a view of a nearby neo-Gothic church.

Beyond depicting the daily life of Cubans during the health crisis, Hernandez’s cartoons highlight social injustices across the globe. He is among the local artists who have condemned the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and the U.S.-involved armed conflicts in the world.

“I think cartoons can help explain the coronavirus pandemic and raise awareness about the necessity to maintain social distancing,” said Hernandez.

“Psychiatry and cartooning have many things in common, because they are related to people’s thinking, something that concerns me deeply,” he added.

Cuba reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, taking its total to 2,248. The death toll stood at 84. Enditem

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