One of Colombia’s most famous singers, Juanes, is going to sing in Cuba’s capital Havana next Sunday, together with like 10 or 15 other singers from Spain and Latin America. Many have criticized him, because the concert will be on the Plaza de la Revolución and because it can be interpreted as a support of the Castro regime in Cuba. Hardcore anti-Castro Cubans in Miami have even burnt Juanes’s cd’s and in Miami a concert is organized on the same day, to call for liberty in Cuba. On Twitter radicals threatened to kill Juanes.
Others though have said he should go, but that the message of his concert should not be peace (It is called Peace without Borders). It should be freedom.
“I think that Juanes should come and sing. If his subject is peace, he will have to know that this Island is not immersed in bellicose conflict, but neither does it know concord. He will raise his voice before a people who have been divided, classified according to a political color and compelled to confront any who think differently. A population that for years has not heard talk of harmony and that knows the punishment given to those who dare to voice their criticisms. We need his voice, but only if he comes to sing without forgetting any Cuban, without rejecting any difference.
We would like him to accompany his song with the cadence of Willy Chirino, the trumpet of Arturo Sandoval, the rhythm of Albita Rodríguez or the sensual sax of Paquito D´ Rivera… but none of them will be allowed to be there. Juanes will enjoy the privilege of the foreigner, who on this Island is worth much more than the natives. Everything he says between songs—if he says anything—will be interpreted as his support for a system that ebbs away, as the accolade to a group in power.
It was not an innocent decision to choose the Plaza of the Revolution as a stage for his music and he will not be able to shake the political weight that it carries. But if it has to be so, if there is no space in the poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, in my birthplace of Central Havana, on the brink of collapse, if he’s not allowed to immerse himself in San Miguel or Marianao, or even to use the Latin American Stadium, then let him sing under the statue of Martí, facing the image of Che Guevara, but at least let him sing for everyone.”
The critical punk-singer Gorki Águila said: “You cannot talk about peace without taking about freedom.” He warned the Colombian, that if he wouldn’t do that, he would be manipulated by the Castro regime.
Juanes himself has stated that to him the people are more important than politics, which is good. But Gorki seems to be right because the Cuban government has already mentioned the concert as a force of peace against the US economical blockade, which supposedly is a declaration of war.
That puts Juanes in an uncomfortable position. His intentions may be good, but others can use him for their own interests. He cannot hide from that. The only thing he can do is make the Cubans happy with his concert AND make a statement for freedom. As a famous foreigner he has the possibility. They cannot put him in jail.