9 Colombian Rhythms Declared Cultural Heritage of the Americas

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A Colombian musician playing the arpa llanera.

“Colombia, Land of Sabrosura,” the country’s new musically focused tourism campaign, has its international launch in Washington, D.C.

Nine Colombian rhythms have been declared Cultural Heritage of the Americas by the Organization of American States.

Bambuco and torbellino, from Colombia’s Andean region; the Caribbean cumbia, vallenato, and mapalé; the Pacific curralao, berejó and contradanza; and indigenous rhythms from the Amazon region were named as cultural treasures by Andrés González, Colombian ambassador to OAS. He made the announcement at Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Theater on Tuesday, coinciding with the international launch of Colombia’s musically focused tourism campaign, “Colombia, Land of Sabrosura.” The  campaign kicked off with a weeklong Colombian cultural celebration in Washington that culminates Sunday (April 22), with a scaled-down version of Colombia’s traditional Black and White Carnival celebration at  the city’s Union Market.

"This declaration of the American States Organization of some Colombia rhythms as heritage of the Americas acknowledges and aims to preserve their legacy for the Americas and the world," Camilo Reyes, the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, said during the event.

Vallenato, the country style that that has gained global recognition through the pop fusions of Carlos Vives and the music of other Colombian artists, was also recognized by UNESCO, in 2015, when it was named an Intangible Cultural Heritage whose traditions must be preserved.

Colombia’s diverse rhythms have been tallied at 1,025, grouped in 157 genres that are found, respectively, in five regions: the Andean, Amazon, Caribbean, Orinoco and the Pacific.

The “Colombia land of Sabrosura” campaign is designed to highlight the attractions and diversity of the country’s different regions through music. (Sabrosura can be translated as deliciousness, or simply, enjoyment.)

“Ours is a country where people not only listen to music but live through it,” said Felipe Jaramillo, president of the country’s international tourism office ProColombia. “This is the reason why music is the focus of our international tourism campaign: 'Colombia Land of Sabrosura.' Through it we are now singing to the world the reasons why to visit Colombia's multiple destinations."

Colombian artists Sebastián Yatra, Piso 21, Maía, Martina La Peligrosa, Herencia de Timbiquí and Alex Play are featured on the campaign’s theme song, “Sabrosura,” and in a video for the campaign.