When Jorge Cuba visited his brothers, who had emigrated to Australia, he liked Melbourne so much he decided to stay, but the professional musicians love of traditional Bolivian music has ensured his connection to his homeland and culture remains strong.

Jorje Rafeala social media image

‘I have loved music ever since I was a child,’ Jorge says. ‘I was 12 years old when I started to learn about music. It's my passion. I could have been a doctor, I could have been anything else, but music is my life,’ he says.

Jorge composes as well as performs songs in the style of criolla, which is music from the people who are descendants of those born from native Bolivians and the Spanish who invaded their land in 1492.

‘My grandmother was indigenous, and my great, great grandfather was a Spaniard,’ he says.

Jorge is involved with United, an organisation that supports Victoria’s Spanish and Latin American communities. United Executive Rafaela Lopez hopes Jorge’s performance will provide Victorian seniors with a greater awareness of the number and impact of Spanish speaking migrants in the community.

‘The first ones to arrive in significant numbers were the Spaniards in the 1960s who came to work in factories and other professions with the growth of Australian industry at that time, then in the 70s we had a growth of the Latin Americans, mainly because of all the political upheaval that was happening in South American countries,’ Rafaela says.

‘Then, in the 80s, we had Central Americans from El Salvador, mainly they came as refugees under the special humanitarian program but not a lot of people know that Spanish speakers have a long history in Australia…the Spaniards came here during the gold rush (mainly Catalans) and they contributed a lot to the development of Melbourne as a city,’ Rafaela says.