Enrique does Cuba

See video HERE.

It may or may not be his first time, but it hardly matters. The music video for “Súbeme la Radio” (Turn Up the Radio), the lead single for a new album by Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, was filmed in Cuba and released this February. I have no interest in the song or the singer, whose musical merits or lack thereof are beside the point (though his performance in this video strikes me as faintly ridiculous, but maybe it’s a Spanish thing). What interests me is the chosen setting.

Like any such venture, this required the approval and support of Castro, Inc., which was no doubt delighted to cooperate (and it only ever cooperates when it benefits from it). The resulting footage, regardless of what may have been intended, is eminently suited to promote foreign tourism and, even more importantly, to foster the image of normalcy and native joie de vivre in what is, in fact, a miserable totalitarian dystopia. Yes, it does give some idea of the pervasive physical decay in what was once a great city, but that comes off as quaint and picturesque, not to say “shabby chic.” Besides, foreign visitors apparently love slumming in primitive “revolutionary” squalor.

The video, to me, is not significantly different from Conan O’Brien’s carnivalesque Cuba show in 2015, and for all I know it may have been influenced by it. The approach is certainly highly predictable if not de rigueur: Cuba as a colorful Caribbean street party full of happy, dancing noble savages, I mean natives. The only surprise is what could possibly be taking the likes of Madonna so long to do the same thing (except Madonna definitely ain’t what she used to be). Come to think of it, assuming I haven’t missed it and that he has enough of a career left, why hasn’t the Juanes person shot a music video in Cuba? He could call the song “Everything is normal.”

Well, I know this is just another case of “same shit, different day,” but we should recognize Enrique for his work, such as it is. Being Spanish makes him even worthier of recognition, not to mention being the son of Julio Iglesias. Ah, Julio, all that gooey, cloying melcocha, whom my mother dismissed as “ese pujón”–but I digress. In 2001, he was invited to a reception in Caracas with Hugo Chávez and China’s then-dictator, Jiang Zemin, who’d come directly from visiting Fidel in Havana. The media reported it with photos of everyone having a great time, which included the three amigos singing “Cuando salí de Cuba” (When I left Cuba), a 1960s hit which became an anthem for Cuban exiles. Considering Julio had lived in the Miami area some 20 years by then and could hardly claim cluelessness, let’s just say it was not a good move–and neither was his support for the notorious 2009 Juanes “peace concert” in Havana. So yes, there’s a backstory to this new music video, certainly for those keeping score.

A case could be made for ignoring or “rising above” this sort of thing, which is common as dirt and equally unlikely to disappear. I am perfectly aware that the target audience virtually never includes “those people,” and that if “doing Cuba” sells or seems marketable, it is inevitably going to be put on the market. Alas, I would not make a good Buddhist, and Zen is not my bag. So bear with me, and don’t hate me because I cannot help feeling a certain sympathy for Dickens’s Madame Defarge.

2 thoughts on “Enrique does Cuba”

  1. Public Service Announcement:

    Castro, Inc. only plays ball when it benefits from it, so any collaboration with Castro, Inc. amounts to screwing Cuba and its people. Yes, “everybody does it,” but everybody is not equally culpable. It depends on track record, degree of pretensions and relationship to the victims. Even though the worst offenders are unequivocally Cuban ones, there are gradations of guilt among foreign collaborationists, and Spanish ones are at the top of the list (except, arguably, for “His Holiness,” the titular Vicar of Christ).

    In other words, as vile as the Canadians, the Latrines and quite a few Americans may be, for example, the Spanish have zero, repeat, ZERO margin for “error,” and Spanish collaborationists should be viewed and treated accordingly by any decent, self-respecting Cuban. No excuses should be accepted, for the simple reason that Spain is not entitled to any–except, I suppose, hijeputez, which is an admission of guilt.

  2. Speaking of old Julio, his new album called “Mexico & Friends” features several people singing duets with him, including the ancient Omara Portuondo (now 85). The woman couldn’t be more of a Castro regime figure if she tried, as documented by her long career, most notoriously her signing of the 2003 public letter justifying the imprisonment of 75 dissidents and the summary execution of three men (of her own race) for hijacking a boat to flee Massah Castro’s plantation. Just a few days ago, she received some official award called the “Orden Lázaro Peña” with the dictator himself in attendance. Again, Iglesias has been living in the Miami are since 1980 or so, and ignorance can hardly be his problem. The song he sings with Portuondo on this album happens to be titled “Put the blame on me.” You’d better believe I do, Mr. Melcocha. Disgusting.

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