Santanagate, it was no big deal.

After much deliberation, consultation and meditation I believe I know how it came to be that Emilio and Gloria Estefan asked Carlos Santana to collaborate on Gloria’s upcoming album, 90 Millas.

It was no big deal, they thought.

I believe that the Estefans have been friendly with Santana for many years. I believe that during those years the Estefans have talked to Santana about the reality of Cuba but that Santana just doesn’t get it. After trying again and again, I believe, they decided that Santana is off in his own little world. It was no big deal.

In February of 2005, when Santana wore his now infamous designer T-shirt to the Oscars in front of a national television audience of 41.5 million viewers, while performing a song for a movie that is an ode to the Butcher of La Cabaña, they thought that it was just another case of the flighty Santana being Santana. It was no big deal.

Two months later, when Santana’s management issued a statement about the incident, a statement that talked about Santana in the third person, a statement that did not even quote Santana, a statement that instead of apologizing for the pain Santana’s actions caused, blamed the offended parties for not interpreting the actions properly, they must have shrugged it off. It was, after all, no big deal.

Just three days after that Emilio Estefan proudly posed for pictures with Santana at the BMI Latin Music Awards in Las Vegas. Why not? Santana did apologize, didn’t he? Besides, they say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And so, it was no big deal.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to us, though it did, that they would invite their old friend Santana, who through his actions and words has proven time and again that he is a denier of the Cuban tragedy, to appear on an album dedicated to Cuba. Who would have a problem with that, they must have thought? It certainly was no big deal.

Perhaps Santana’s management had it right when they issued their statement defending that artist’s actions. Perhaps situations like these are a matter of misperception. You see it wasn’t the Estefans that made an error in judgment, it was us who erred in the interpretation.

All along we thought the Estefans were Cuban-American musicians when they are apparently musicians that just happen to be Cuban-Americans. We thought that when they spoke and acted that they spoke and acted on our behalf, and that it was a big deal. We were wrong.

It was no big deal.

34 thoughts on “Santanagate, it was no big deal.”

  1. You have hit the nail right on the head Henry! That post says it all! People as Henry wrote on his blog and repeated last night on the radio show, please sign the petition to tell the Estefans how you feel and how much it hurt’s what they have done to us. Click on my name below my comments or go to Henry’s blog – Cuban American Pundit to sign the petition. Express your disapproval.

  2. Here’s how I see it, they are friends. I have friends that I don’t always agree with, but we have so much history together that I’m not going to dissolve our friendship over a political disagreement. It’s not like the whole cd is a joint endeavor. CUT. THEM. SOME. SLACK. Tolerating an old friend’s stupid ideals doesn’t make them less Cuban-American, it makes them the EPITOME of GRACIOUSNESS.

  3. Amy,

    The difference here is that your friends “stupid ideals” don’t matter because they are not public figures like the Estefans are. Throughout the years the Estefans have been our megaphone. It’s seems like our megaphone has just ran out of batteries!

  4. There’s a difference when you have friends you diasgree with and friends who aspouse an ideology or murder and human degredation. I have friends with whom I disagree regarding the war in Iraq, taxes, trans fatty acids etc. I don’t have friends that walk around in hitlerwear. Sure these Che t-shitrs are prevalent in our society but that does not make it right. In addition if I had a friend who was wearing a Che t-shirt after I had tried to educate them on who Che was, I would consider that an insult and I would probably dissolve that relationship.

  5. I have liberal friends, but they sure don’t wear che shirts and they don’t hang with Tutu and the ANC.

  6. I just finished seeing the movie “THE LOST CITY” con Andy Garcia! This was my 2nd her first time viewing it. She asked me if the movie was of a real person. I told her the movie represents all Cubans that fled the island. My mom, dad, aunts, friends……y que yo tengo familia todavia en Cuba quen aman a Fidel.

    The bastard really tore up family and split them apart. I see this issue de Carlos Santana now dividing the CA community and it is visible on the blog.

    We were told that santana denounces Fidel in Emilio’s documentary??????? Is this a DVD or a music CD? There is a difference between Fidel y el Comunismo. Fidel has a “red” virus that has devastaed an island. This virus is currently trying to take over South America.

    While watching the lost city there was a part where the communists came and told Andy Garcia that he could not have the Saxaphone in the cabaret because it was capitalist.

    Can you imagine if this happened to Santana!!!!! Some Companero comes in yelling…”stop the music! This band is in a union and if you dont get rid of the fax we will shut you down!”

    I wonder if Santana would sing “oye como va” companera wearing his che shirt. I will tell you what he would do…..he would be singing “I cant drive 55” and leave all that sexy-romantic commi crap in his rearview mirror!

    Like they say in Cuba….YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT TO BELIEVE IT!

  7. Would Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, or Billy Joel be “friendly for years” with anyone who sports a t-shirt with the likeness of ADOLF EICHMANN? Think not!

  8. There’s always the possibility that the record company made them include Santana. That kind of thing goes on all the time. Emilio is a big name and carries a lot of weight, but internal politics in the form of mutual back-scratching is important in the record business.

  9. I think the Estefan’s silence since the response to their “press release” speaks volumes. They should give a care about what Cubans think. They are only digging their hole deeper and deeper.But then again they don’t seem to care. As Henry said “its no big deal”. It may be no big deal to Amy, but its a big deal to me and needs to be a big deal to all freedom loving Cubans who paid a heavy price because of the t-shirt icon. Some people just don’t get it.

  10. I agree with Henry; the Estefans probably did not think it a “big deal” to have Santana on their album, especially after they have had alleged personal conversations with him where he professes his dislike for castro. Take into consideration that not only are they superstars, they are super-wealthy, and you have the recipe for a Cuban-American couple that has lost complete touch with the community: both Cuban-American and non Cuban-American. They live in the Hollywood world of the two salutary kisses on the cheek without actually touching cheeks. They live in the jet-set world that when reality does not conform to their liking, they often have the monetary wherewithal to change it.

    Once in a while, as we are seeing now, they commit an act that no amount of money, or charm, can bail them out of. Instead of coming to grips with and admitting their transgression, they shut themselves back into their “perfect” world where their neighbors there assure them that they did nothing wrong and that those “people” (those of us that dwell in the land of coach seating and Quizno’s coupons) are not sophisticated enough to understand the intricacies of the human mind and soul.

    Regardless of what they think or how they live, us little people do have something they do not. Our integrity. It is an integrity earned by hard work and by the sweat of our brows. We cannot afford to purchase it. If we do something that jeopardizes our jobs, we cannot afford to hire a PR firm to make it right. If we are falsely accused of something and our name and picture is pasted all over the news, we cannot pick up the phone and get the editor of the Herald on the line, or the news chief at channel 10, to get our side of the story out. Our integrity is fought and earned every single day we wake up and head out to the streets to earn enough to eat, keep a decent mode of transportation in the driveway, and a roof over our heads.

    The Estefans made their decision not based on whether we agreed with it or not; the thought never crossed their minds. They made their decision because in their world, there was nothing wrong with it. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Santana is a grammy award winning musician that is enjoying an immense resurgence and would all but guarantee a multi-platinum success for their new CD.

    I do not so much fault the Estefans for their decision to use Santana as much as I fault them for losing complete touch with the community that was the stepping stone for their success. I still remember seeing the Miami Sound Machine in the seventies playing on a make-shift stage in an alley during Calle Ocho; and that was before they hit it really “big” and began to play weddings and large parties throughout Miami! They have forgotten what it feels like to have to chose between going to the movies, or going to dinner. Hell, they probably have first-run movies screened in the comfort of the home-theater while munching on caviar and sipping champagne.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am happy they have achieved that level of success; but don’t get in our faces and act all offended (as Emilio did)when you genuinely screwed up and try and tell us we’re not smart enough to make a judgment on this issue. Perhaps our brains don’t have the computing power to decipher this “complex” issue, but our wallets–as light as they are–do have the power to remain closed when we see their new CD.

  11. I think that something that has to come into play in the loyalty to the Estefans based on their lack of actions is that what they were they were, but what they are they are. Their reputation cannot be expected to carry them through this error. My benefit of the doubt gets thinner and thinner with each passing day.

  12. Paxety,

    If it was that simple I believe Emilio would have said it by now. As of right now, their silence is carries more weight than the words on their press release.

  13. I think that Henry got it right. To them it’s not a big deal if they use Santana in their new CD “90 millas,” actually let me clarify this, its not a big deal that he is a CHE LOVER: it’s a big deal that he is a legendary musician and Grammy winner that will guarantee their CD goes multi-platinum. That’s the reason they are going to use him regardless of how we feel. I remember during the MIDEM controversy back in 1997 when Gloria wrote a letter to the Miami Herald insulting the Cuban community as squelchers of “Freedom of Expression” because we didn’t want MIDEM [an international organization of music producers] in Miami because they wanted to bring official Cuban performers over to Miami. Of course, as music producers themselves, all that they saw was the dollar sign and how beneficial MIDEM would be to them and that’s why they wanted MIDEM in Miami. It was never about “freedom of expression,” though that was a convenient excuse and it guaranteed Gloria accolades from the Miami Herald and other liberal media outlets that started calling her a “moderate.” I remember during an interview, Gloria said, “YO SOY UN HUESO DURO DE MASTICAR.” [translation: “I’m a tough bone to chew”] in other words that she was a bitch-on-wheels who was not going to back down. Lo and behold, she dug her heels and didn’t back down as she and her husband are now doing. Don’t expect anything different from them this time around.

    For them money is the primary mover and that’s why they are worth 1/2 billion dollars. A few years ago, there was this biography that came out on Gloria Estefan and I believe that among other things it talked about how avarice she is.

    The ca-ching, ca-ching and the $$$ signs dancing in their eyes are the only thing that interests them. Oh, Cuba? Oh, yea, that. When it’s not inconvenient.

  14. Was just over at Henry’s site and read where someone was basically saying that we have to separate music from politics (Henry by the way rightly disagreed). Really? Then we should allow American performers to travel to Cuba as we should separate the entertainment industry from politics. We should also open travel to any and all who have relatives in Cuba as we have to separate family relations and politics. We should also open free trade with Cuba as we should separate business from politics. I guess we need to ask the question of what is politics? Does not standing for a forgotten people mean anything? Isn’t it bad enough that liberals and the msm don’t give a rip about Cuba that now there are some Cuban Americans that are basically saying the same thing by saying that they don’t want their “sacred” music messed with. People wake the heck up! Is our politics so watered down and are selfishness to great that we can separate what has and is happening in Cuba from our daily lives and conveniently set it on a special shelf or file it under “other”? Separating things pertaining to Cuba from music, business, etc. is the epitomy of selfishness. May those choke on their music, business, etc. Then perhaps they will see the pain and suffering of Cuba. I have a new slogan I can see in the horizon. If you don’t like communism then don’t be one. Sorry, it goes further than that.

  15. Conductor,
    Doesn’t your post go against what you said about the Estefans in the Babalu Blog Radio hour?

    I believe that the Estefans not not just musicians who happen to be Cuban-American. They fully believe in the cause, I know this to be true from my conversations with Gloria.

    If they screwed up, fine. They screwed up. Haven’t we all sometimes? I recall someone saying that he worked for a company that does business with Cuba, and later corrected it.

    MY FEAR: How mainstream America will see this. Instead of saying “wow, that Cuban American community really has a lot of good reasons for believing what they believe,” our in-fighting will have the Mainstream American population saying “those people are a bunch of wackos.”

  16. Dave,
    and they will see our convictions by us tolerating those who as Val said are tearing down evrything we are trying to do?
    Henry, I fear that I am seeing among the Cuban Americans that its no big deal. That should be condemning. I am sorry, but if this is no big deal then why don’t we just have music blogs about the rich heritage of Cuban music and drop any opposition to castro after all its no big deal. We’ve talked about it enough after all isn’t it just about talk anyway?

  17. Moderator, please delete my post, I acted in much anger and I am not thinking rationally right now. Really pissed off about this incident.

  18. Mandingo For president !!!!lol

    After reading so many post about the subject for days, he says what i was thinking all along. Their music sucks. Gloria has what, 2 songs maybe?

    Fuck all three of them. I never bought a cd from them and never will. They fucked up and they deserve all the shit they are getting for this. We are not talking to college kids here people. They knew what they were doing.

  19. I fully expect that, over time, the Estefans have consciously done certain things, and not done others, to avoid being lumped (even erroneously) with “those people,” to use Clinton’s dismissive phrase for “typical” Miami Cubans (very much like his phrase “that woman” for Lewinsky). To be fair, there is clearly a price to be paid for being perceived that way (right-wing) in the entertainment industry or the media, and that price is not trivial.

    Despite copious lip service paid to tolerance, fairness and equal opportunity, the so-called liberal establishment is clearly biased, clearly gives preference to those who sing its tune, and just as clearly penalizes (however covertly or indirectly) those who don’t. Emilio Estefan, who’s not in business to be frustrated or marginalized, and who woke up and smelled the coffee long ago, is perfectly aware of what it takes to play the game and win. I understand all that, but there is such a thing as stepping over the line, and this Santana business is an instance of it.

    I know Santana means little or nothing in and of himself. He’s really pretty pitiful, and if someone like that wants to run around acting like an ignorant clown, well, it happens. Diego Maradona is another case in point–talk about pathetic. This is not about Santana or his frigging shirt. I mean, look at the stupid photo: the guy looks like a cheap, two-bit pimp. If you want to go the pimp route, at least do a Puff Daddy number, all right? But I digress.

    This is about Guevara, a murderous psychopathic bastard who caused incalculable harm in Cuba–and he wasn’t even a CUBAN psychopathic bastard, but an Argentine asshole who acted like he could walk on water when he was really a deluded asthmatic prick. This is even more about Cuba and what her children owe her after so much tragic suffering and death.

    Anything that even remotely whitewashes or glosses over Guevara’s enormous guilt, anything that somehow tries to rationalize it, is at the very least a serious insult to the Cuban people, and simply unacceptable. The published Santana “apology” is such a thing, even if Santana actually believes what it says. It is a major slap in the face to any decent Cuban with dignity and self-respect. Regrettably, the Estefans apparently accept it as valid and sufficient to make everything OK. They’re entitled to their opinion and motives, but it is not and will not be OK. That’s the problem.

  20. Every day that goes by without the E$tefans disavowing their ties with Santana the more convinced I become that they value money more than the dignity of the Cuban people. Right now they are probably strategizing with their neighbor and good friend Rosie O’Donnell on how to get these crazy intransigent Miami mafia Cuban Americans to shut up already. We have not shut up in 48 years and the E$tefans will not be able to bully us like they have others.

  21. Dave,

    I admitted what I did and realize that it was wrong. Have the Estefan’s done so?

    Secondly, the situtation is very fluid because Emilio Estefan is out of the country and trying to do damage control by remote control.

    But since it is fluid, details are coming out all the time and the details that I have been made privy to support the theory in my post. That they didn’t think this was going to be a big deal.

    Of course the close of the post was a bit of hyperbole. It is meant to shock these people that I admire and respect into realizing how much this hurts.

    And of course you are right about how the rest of the world perceives this. That’s why it’s such a huge error on their part to put us in this situation.

  22. Dave,

    I admitted what I did and realize that it was wrong. Have the Estefan’s done so?

    Secondly, the situtation is very fluid because Emilio Estefan is out of the country and trying to do damage control by remote control.

    But since it is fluid, details are coming out all the time and the details that I have been made privy to support the theory in my post. That they didn’t think this was going to be a big deal.

    Of course the close of the post was a bit of hyperbole. It is meant to shock these people that I admire and respect into realizing how much this hurts.

    And of course you are right about how the rest of the world perceives this. That’s why it’s such a huge error on their part to put us in this situation.

  23. She did it during the MIDEM controversy, she will probably do it now. Simply call it freedom of expression, use concepts like separation of art from politics, and make arguments like she did back then when she made an odious comparison between Miami Cubans and the Castro regime. Remember by her own description, “shes a hard bone to chew.” By the way, I agree with Mandingo, her music is pretty bad. I have to admit that I liked a few of her pop tunes before she split off from Miami Sound Machine, but her other CDs have been so lame and repetitive. What was it with “Mi Tierra?” I could be wrong, but even though “Mi Tierra” was supposed to be an ode to Cuba, it was basically an ode to any land that is left behind. Brilliant marketers that they knew that if they called the CD “Mi Cuba” it would lose potential buyers from other countries. Contrast that to Willie Chirino and Lissette. Now here are two entertainers who have unequivacally gone out on a limb for Cuba and constantly criticize Castro and that horrible diabolical regime. What’s more, all of Chirino’s CD’s have at least a few blatantly anti-Castro songs. Who can forget the classic, Nuestro Dia viene llegando?” And Chirino and Lissette have so much talent. Lissette unlike Gloria has a voice and star quality. She’s not wooden.

  24. Again, to be fair, when it comes to the entertainment business, there’s a lot of pressure to play along in order to get along–and get ahead. People who buck the party line enough WILL pay for it, just as those who “play nice” will be rewarded. This ain’t no level playing field.

  25. My only point: we should really be cautious and pick and choose our battles. Even if this was someone else’s mistake, our community is the one who will pay the price. Fighting this battle may do us more harm than good.

    Let’s maintain a respectful and dignified tone — and not throw dumb accusations around. Santana may be a fan of Che, but the Estefans are not.

    Regarding Biscet: I’m with you 100%.

  26. I totally understand where you’re coming from Henry. But is it truly wise to fight a battle that will leave you worse off in the end?

    Look, I am with you on the anti-Che thing. To the point where I stop people on the street when I see them wearing the Che shirt and ask them if they know about the man behind the image.

  27. I “resolve” these issues very simply.

    1) I don’t buy anything produced by Santana.
    2) I don’t buy anything which includes anything
    done by Santana.
    3) I try to convince as many as possible not to
    waste their hard-earned Benjamins on any
    Santana “products.”

    Call it a “Santana Embargo,” if you like.

    Someone commented it is difficult to separate music and politics. Yes indeed. There is a reason why the Badenweiler Marsch is banned in Germany.

    As for the Estefans, they are as free to associate with Santana as those of us who disagree with said association are to critizise it and refuse to support it, monetarily or otherwise. That is why we live here. No apologies are necessary.

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