Hazlo libre de temores
Si del amor mucho se aprende
Se aprende mas de los errores
Ay! “No Llores, No Llores, No Llores, No Llores”
Deja de llorar, Deja de llorar, Deja de llorar
Ay! no llores, no no no que va
Deja de sufrir y suelta los temores
Ay, no llores
Back in March we became aware of a new Gloria Estefan album in the making called 90 Millas that is intended as a tribute to her homeland of Cuba. Both news items that came out at that time made mention of Estefan’s anti-castro position:
A longtime opponent of Fidel Castro’s government, Estefan left the island nation for Miami as a toddler after the Cuban revolution in 1959.
Both news items also made mention that several musicians had been asked to collaborate on the album including the unapologetic Che Guevara worshipper, Carlos Santana.
Now, for those who may not be familiar, Che Guevara is also known as “The Butcher of La Cabaña” for his reign of terror as commander of the historic Cuban military fortress in the immediate aftermath of the castro takeover in Cuba. Che, an Argentine adventurer whose image is very fashionable, was a cold blooded murderer. The castro regime holds Guevara up a revolutionary hero and children are taught to recite, at an early age, the phrase “seremos como el Che” (we shall be like Che). For those of us who find everything about the Cuban revolution detestable el Che is a symbol of hatred and death. If castro is Adolph Hitler then Guevara is Hermann Goring. Which brings us to Carlos Santana. Here he is at the 2005 Oscars wearing a Che Guevara shirt.
Dilo de frente y sin traiciones
Toda la dicha que vivimos
Se queda en nuestros corazones
“No Llores, No Llores, No Llores, No Llores”
Ay! no llores por mi, mi amor
No llores por mi, no llores por mi
No llores mas
Eh! no llores por mi
No, no llores
El dia que yo me muera
Santana didn’t just wear the t-shirt, there’s plenty of celebrities that do that. No he also paid homage to Che by accompanying Antonio Banderas who sang “Al otro lado del rio” a song from the Guevara hagiography “The Motorcycle Diaries.” When asked about Guevara, Santana responded “He’s the man!”.
There was some fallout for Santana who was criticized by Paquito D’Rivera in an open letter that explained exactly why Guevara is reviled by freedom loving people. As a result of the negative press Santana’s management issued a statement. But far from an apology, it is written about Santana and NOT by Santana and expresses that it was a misinterpretation of what Santana was trying to communicate. In other words, it was our error not his.
The image was not intended to project a single note of the hatred, anger or revolutionary ruthlessness displayed when Che Guevara was a revolutionary leader in Cuba. It was worn to honor the soulful young man portrayed in the movie, who awoke to the struggle of the disenfranchised and who had a profound political epiphany during a journey across South America. The image was not meant to be an endorsement about a man who helped to establish the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.
If there was any doubt in my mind about Santana’s true feelings on the subject of Che Guevara they were erased during a chance encounter I had with him almost a year later. Santana praised Guevara for his role in the fight for “blacks, women and native Americans.”
Lo que me des, damelo en vida
No habra razon pa’ que me llores
Ay! “No Llores, No Llores, No Llores, No Llores”
Ay! No llores, no llores por mi
No hay razon para que llores asi
No te preocupes, deja el llanto
Y escucha mi canto que dice asi
No llores, no llores, no llores,
Por mi, por mi
So Gloria Estefan has asked an unrepentant Che idolater to appear on an album that is supposedly dedicated to the country Che was instrumental in destroying. Even more startling was the way that Estefan Inc. responded to the unfolding crisis. They issued a press statement that first of all reminded the readers of their bona fides as anti-castro activists and claiming that they would “never collaborate with anyone that supports fidel castro or Che Guevara,” and referenced the non-apology issued by Santana management as proof of Santana’s repentance. Clearly in crisis control mode, this was perhaps the biggest mistake they made. They insulted our intelligence. Emilio Estefan defended himself on TV saying that Santana appears on film in the DVD that will be released with album and that Santana’s views on Cuba are clear. Someone who has had an opportunity to screen the footage told me it makes no reference to Guevara and simply shows Santana expressing his desire to play in a free Cuba.
One of the things that really upsets me about this situation is that it’s crisis that could have easily been avoided if the Estefans had only stopped to think for one minute. By the time news of the collaboration with Santana became public it was too late. Nobody was going to come out of this looking good. The Estefans will undoubtedly lose prestige among their most loyal fans, Cuban-Americans, and the exile community will be portrayed once again as unreasonable by a media that has never been sympathetic to the cause of Cuban liberty.
Of all of the people the Estefans could have asked to collaborate with them, they chose the one person who has stubbornly been an admirer of one of the biggest criminals in Cuban history. This is the work that the Estefans are dedicating to Cuba.
Nunca podras ser feliz
Ay! No llores, no llores, no llores,
No llores por mi
Que la vida es muy corta, pa’ seguir
To add insult to injury, Santana also appears on the video of Gloria’s new song, No Llores.
I will take Gloria Estefan’s advice. I won’t cry. I won’t cry despite the fact that many have cried due to Santana’s hero. I won’t cry about this betrayal of everything she seemed to stand for once. And I also won’t buy 90 Millas, nor will I look at Gloria and Emilio the same way again.
Ay! la vida es pa’ gozarla na’ mas
Oye mi amor lo que yo quiero es
Tu me digas que a mi tu no me vas a
Llorar Jamas, eh eh