Paquito D’Rivera explains the twisted logic behind “Cultural Exchanges”
Thanks to the inimitable Paquito D'Rivera for shedding light on this phenomenon, because I've been unable to understand how it is beneficial for Americans to spend their hard-earned, and increasingly hard to acquire dollars on propaganda shows produced by tyrannical dictators who enslave their people and hate us. While it's easy to understand why the dictator's agents of influence would promote such events, I have a hard time understanding why respected institutions of culture agree to participate, or why someone who escaped the plantation is now willing to dance for the former master, or why a son of an exile would dishonor his father.
By Paquito D'Rivera
Years ago, Miami’s Willy Chirino had a hit song—a cute Cuban Guaracha— with a chorus that went: “If she wears a Bikini… punish her!, If she wears a mini-skirt… punish her!” The song was about a tycoon whose wife was kind of loose. Each time she slipped, her husband would “punish” her by buying her a mansion, the latest model sports car, or a vacation with her girlfriends in The Bahamas.
Apparently the US government has taken Chirino’s parody too seriously, or perhaps someone has convinced them to apply such a peculiar disciplinary concept to the most cruel and dangerous of dictatorships in this convoluted world of ours. In a friendly and conciliatory gesture, on February 2008, the Bush administration sent the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to a gala concert in North Korea. Naturally, the despotic Kin Jon-Il didn’t even bother to attend. His answer was to increase even more his threatening atomic arsenal. Two years later, among a myriad of atrocities taking place in Cuba, pacifist Afro-Cuban doctor Oscar Elias Biscet, a devoted follower of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ideas, was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Orlando Zapata-Tamayo’s death in a hunger strike; the physical and mental abuse of his mother Reina Luisa Tamayo and to the self-sacrificing Ladies in White; the incarceration of hundreds of dissidents and even the arbitrary detention of American citizen Alan P. Gross.
It seems like to celebrate such horrors, the New York City Ballet, the Wynton Marsalis Orchestra, and also Chico O’Farrill’s orchestra, under his son Arturo’s direction, traveled to Cuba. The Ministry of Culture of the oldest (and most ridiculous) dictatorship in the hemisphere invited them. “Ours is not a political visit. It is strictly musical”, the travelers simply affirmed as if in a totalitarian country like Cuba, everything, absolutely everything, didn’t have markedly political intentions.
The examples of “friendly aggressions” of Americans against ill-governed nations by never ending tyrannies have been quite many. Of the shameful case of China business affairs we better not even talk about. But we must recognize that the massive repressive escalation of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship, finally gained the support of many more nations that united to condemn these five decades plus of abuse and arbitrariness. In the meantime, President Obama’s administration, following the Chirino song’s chorus, “punishes” the repressor by encouraging travel and cultural exchanges (unilateral of course) of American artists and their counterparts (in what is left) of the island in ruins. This basically translates into considerable new revenue of extra cash for the Castro government. Also the sponsorship of a huge Cuban festival in the city of the skyscrapers, facilitating the free use of US territory as an enormous exhibit warehouse, where they will showcase only what they decide people should see.
As we expected, in the expo named “¡Sí Cuba!”, or Yes Cuba!”, the valuable contributions of Celia Cruz, Cachao, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Zoé Valdés, Andy García, Gloria Estefan, Olga Guillot, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Bebo Valdés and so many other giants of our national culture will be absent. They have been systematically deleted from our suffering country’s history books because they oppose communism.
So, following the above mentioned examples, now that the Libyans, with the support of the civilized world, are liberating a crucial battle against Muhammar Gaddafi (or however the hell it’s spelled), I propose that –through the Libyan Embassy in Washington DC– we request that the Bedouin Coronel’s Ministry of Culture, organize the “Yes Libya!” festival. It’ll be pretty much like Fidel’s, but instead of mambos and rhumbas, they can play their own nawbah and takambas; musical styles danced by Libyans (at least by those who are still alive).
I suggest the festivities to begin with a great demonstration on camelbacks and dromedaries, loaned by the nation’s zoos that house those particular species. The camel riders, dressed as they do in the dessert, will be carrying curved swords, daggers, hand-grenades, anti-yankee placards, life size posters of the brother leader of the revolution and AKG rifles, fired occasionally by the cavalry men. (About the possible throwing of hand-grenades and other explosives against opposing demonstrators, we would submit this option to a democratic vote from the Libyan government’s organizing committee).
The cavalcade, preceded by the RPSBB (Retired Palestinian Suicide Bombers Band) and by women covered with veils and burkas, would march from Times Square to Ground Zero’s esplanade, where counting on the voluntary assistance of Casa de las Americas, Pastors for Peace, the Venceremos Brigade and the diplomatic representation of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, would put up the dictator’s (pardon me, the leader’s) legendary Bedouin tent. Once in the neighborhood, there will be a prayer on the site of the mosque that was to be built there and had caused so much controversy among the intolerant families of the twin towers’ victims; little incident that occurred so long ago. At the end of the prayers, there will be free shish kebab, couscous with chickpeas and barbecued goat testicles. Passages of the Koran will be read and there will be a give-away of the famous green book, autographed by the remarkable author, father of the revolution. A Libyan boy, wearing a Che Guevara T-Shirt, machine gun in hand, will unveil a beautiful statue of Benjamin Netanyahu hanging from an olive tree in the heart of the historical plaza, once home of the twin towers, a symbol of capitalism. At the end of the ceremony, Mayor Bloomberg will read a proclamation declaring the official day of Tripoli in New York. As evidence of Islamic tolerance, accompanied by the Retired Palestinian Suicidal Bombers Band, Louis Fahrakan will interpret the Arab version of Willy Chirino’s “Punish Her,” especially orchestrated by Robert Mugabe for this occasion. To close with a golden seal, 100 members of the Palestinian band, activating their explosive vests at the cry of “Yes Libyaaa!” would blow to pieces and in the name of the eternal brotherhood between our people, 40 American flags will be burned along with 49 Israeli flags and a Cohiba cigar. Allah-Akbar!