Cuban Choir defections

Read this review of the performance by the National Chorus of Cuba (with the Vancouver Chamber Choir on Saturday, October 29) nd marvel at how the writer mentions that over 25% (!) of the members of the Cuban National Choir defected in Canada — and fails to note why they defected. I really like the last paragraph:

If there?s one thing North Americans learned from the Buena Vista Social Club, it?s that no matter how down-and-out they are, Cubans know how to party. The question is, how much of this was solely for our benefit? After all, we got to return to our cozy homes and pop Ibrahim Ferrer into the stereo?while the Cuban singers had to make do with $20 a day for meals, their performance pay having been withheld until their return home. Viva la revoluci?n!

Ain’t that nice?

(H/T J. Scott Barnard)

12 thoughts on “Cuban Choir defections”

  1. George, this is the money quote: “The Globe and Mail reported that she held an emergency meeting after she discovered the sudden shrinkage of her chorus, warning the remaining singers that their families back home would face retaliation from the Cuban government should they attempt to escape.” She was caught threatening her choir members. This should be printed on every ticket folks buy during the tour.

  2. George,

    Your criticism isn’t very clear. You don’t think the last paragraph is some pretty blatent criticism?

  3. I was only commenting that the writer, instead of focusing on the “why” of the defection, instead of writing on the almost-half-century of oppression in Cuba, chose to be cavalier in her criticism in that last throw-away paragraph. All that is important is the withheld $20? And the quote Scott refers to above? She doesn’t even comment on it. I mean, the remaining members’s families are being threatened and the writer just goes on to the next paragraph as though it meant nothing? Come on, Fielding, you can read between the lines better than that.

  4. I think a decent write-up including that pay withheld bit would have included the word “prisoner” or maybe even “hostage” in it somewhere.

  5. In defense of this writer, it was a review of the choir performance, not a political column. I think the sarcasm at the end of the article accurately stated the situation. Sure you could extrapolate, or write a book on the situation if one wanted to, but within the realm of a music review I applaud the writer for taking a shot at Fidel.

  6. Seems that whenever anyone gets a chance, the first thing that he or she does is get the Hell out of Castro’s inferno!! Today’s New York Times [11/8/05] has another blurb about yet another defection. Read below:

    Cuban Dancers Defect

    Two more dancers from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba have defected. Octavio Mart?n, a principal dancer, and his wife, Yahima Franco, who ranked slightly above the corps de ballet, left after the company’s final performance at a festival in Villahermosa, Mexico, on Oct. 30. “I want to begin a new chapter in my career,” Mr. Mart?n said by telephone from Miami, where he and Ms. Franco, who uses the stage name Vanessa Franco, are staying with his brothers. Mr. Mart?n, 31, and Ms. Franco, 25, took a bus from Villahermosa to Matamoros, where they crossed the border to the United States, then took a 38-hour bus ride to Miami. He said he had asked Alicia Alonso, the company’s general director, for permission to dance abroad permanently, but she said no. Both dancers have applied for asylum and plan to audition for ballet companies in the United States. ERIKA KINETZ

  7. George,

    You’re setting your expectations too high. How can you expect someone, especially from a market like Vancouver, to go into an anti-Castro essay in the middle of a music review? I think you are being unfair and unreasonable. So in Miami, when a Bolivian folk group is in town, do you expect musical reviews to include at least a few paragraphs on the racism and exclusion of Indians in Bolivian society?

  8. Fielding, I’m ashamed of you. You, of all people, who always take us to task in this blog.

    So here is my question to you: Is it too much to ask a journalist to expose the truth (or ask serious questions) about a regime in the context of an article that mentions that 11 out of 40 members of a choir chose to defect in the middle of a tour? Isn’t that what the press is supposed to do? I can guarantee you that some political statement would be in the middle of an article written here if it favored the left.

    Any comments on this folks?

  9. “Isn’t that what the press is supposed to do?”

    No, because it is a music review. There are people here who comment about other parts of Latin America, or world, without going into an essay about all the problems in that particular country. You can’t expect everyone to know everything. You are taking a music critic to task who in a very, very non-Cuban market had the decency to at least state that Canadians are lucky to live in comfort, to which many Cubans do not. This author isn’t required to do a research paper. People defected, it was mentioned, and subsequently there was a shot at the lack of freedom for Cubans.

    It’a a music review for god’s sake! Give her a pat on the back for criticizing Cuba, and throw in some more info she may find handy. There are people here who always like to write nasty e-mails, how about a friendly one with the aim to further inform this writer?

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