Agosto 30, 2009 at 11:54 · Clasificados en Sin Evasión
A little while ago, a colleague who works at a foreign radio station asked for my opinion about the popular singer Juanes’s announced, possible, and very controversial concert in Havana. At that time, I explained that, while the official press published a brief note about it, the matter has not been mentioned any further in the slightest, and very little anticipation has been created among the people: no one is sure that the concert will take place in the end. As for me, I explained to my dear colleague that I don’t consider myself among Juanes’s thousands of fans on the Island, not because I snub his music, but –simply- because I have not listened to it. I must confess that I do not usually look for the “the most contagious” stuff here on the radio (TV is not worth mentioning, plagued with bad clips and worst music shows), perhaps because the “reggaeton”, which I reject completely, has invaded the waves of most of the sound spectrum in recent years. Therefore, I have unconsciously done something I have always criticized, “tossing the couch”: I don’t listen to the radio or watch musical shows. But, beyond my preferences or habits, the truth is that Juanes is known and liked among young (and not-so-young) Cubans, and I am sure that his show here would receive a warm welcome from his audience.
However, Juanes has stopped being a mere “musical” event for Cubans -especially for those in exile- since he decided to do a concert on the Damn Island, and no less than the most symbolicly onerous title of the decadent Cuban revolution was ascribed to him. So much, and in so many tones has been already said about the subject that –though I include myself among those who approve of his appearance in Cuba as a positive factor that breaks the isolation and extends cultural bridges between Cubans in this prison and the outer world- I will limit myself to clarify to Juanes certain peculiarities that will color his Havana concert which he has never found on any stage in his artistic career for sure. These quirks are:
The places closest to the platform where he will perform will not be occupied by his truest admirers, but by the contingents of young people from the University of Informatics Sciences, communist militants of all graduate schools faculties, students from the Interior Ministry schools, the Latin American School of Medicine, that is, all who are somehow involved with this government, in order to prevent some civic initiative of the protesters (“counter-revolutionaries”, as we are called) that –since it would be sufficiently close- might be captured and disseminated throughout the media.
The entire plaza will be controlled by repressive forces, not to monitor the order, but to prevent undesirable manifestations or unauthorized slogans (something as simple as “Freedom”, for example) and any other spontaneous expression from the crowds. Most likely, although the artist has already stated that it is not a political act, he will see –in addition to the scowling and giant face of Che in front of the monument to the Apostle-, numerous posters of “revolutionary reaffirmation”, with praises to the commander and allegorical images. Some of his guest(s), with prior coaching from the highest power, will introduce the Castrist-communist chanting ritual, or some or other soppy morsel (“I dedicate this song to five brothers unjustly imprisoned…”, etc.). Have no doubt: they will politicize his show.
In short, it is true that art can be an effective tool for peace, for uniting wills and dreams, for shattering ideological fences, for cradling hope. It is also true that Cubans, an extraordinarily warm and loving public, deserve some entertainment, but the effect of a concert should not be overstated: If the Juanes show in Havana takes place on Sept. 20th, the authorities will take advantage of the media event to “demonstrate” the youth’s commitment to the revolution, the disobedient who dare to express themselves will be suppressed -just as what happened during an appearance by Pablo Milanés on the protestdrome- and everything will be as before. It remains to be seen, then, if Juanes has enough aplomb and command of the stage to deal with such demons without contamination. My best wishes to Juanes, with all sincerity.