The Cuba Research and Analysis Group (CRAG) recently initiated a letter to President Obama requesting an end to the “Cultural Embargo” against Cuba. The esteemed Paquito D’ Rivera, exiled Cuban musician and author responds; published with the authors permission:
Music can Wait
by Paquito D’Rivera (English / Español)
It’s been more than 5 decades since Fidel Castro jumped to power, and upon his arrival, a real army of “defenders of Cuba”, carrying on with an uncontrollable compassioned spirit, started to come out of nowhere and everywhere. Direct descendents of those legendary admirers of so out of fashion figures like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, after Che Guevarra’s death in the Bolivian jungle in 1967, the image of the argentine bandit fit them like a glove, in substituting those discredited idols of the past. The problem is that this exclusive “Cuban compassion” package seems to apply only to those that sympathize with the longest–lasting dictatorship on the planet, while ignoring the hundreds of thousand of exiled, separated families, people marginalized for their political and/or religious believes, prisoners of conscience, executed, and those who have died at sea trying to escape Castro’s paradise, actual playground of these tourists of foreign revolutions that so often spent their ideological vacations there (paid in dollars) with or without permission of the America authorities. The psychological embargo, we could call it.
Recently, a group of artists, educators, academics, professionals and American impresarios, have written a letter to President Obama, complaining how adversely they have been affected by the embargo imposed by the US government against the Castro dictatorshi p. They demand their right to freely go to the Island, and to welcome any Artist that the Cuban cultural authorities send to the US without any pre–conditions. Not a single word towards the millions of Cubans who wish to exercise their rights to leave and enter their country freely. What an egotistic and uncompassionate position! To speak of the free flow of art, culture, information, ideas and debate, when it is denied to millions of Cubans the access to the internet and other most basic sources of information, and while dozens of independent journalists live threatened or already are serving long jail terms, just to inform and try to be informed.
This really sounds like a bad joke to me. What Cuban citizen or group on the island could possibly send a similar document to Raul Castro, without ending up in jail, after receiving a Marxist and sovereign whipping? If not, ask the poet Maria Elena Cruz Varela, whom they made her swallow the paper on which she had written her denouncement to Fidel Castro.
That this out-of-place petition be signed by the likes of Harry Belanfonte and Carlos Santana, does not surprise me. But the adherence of some of my compatriots and music colleagues, knowing so well what a “respectful dialogue with the government of Cuba” really means, it seems at most, ridiculous. Much more appropriate would be to send a similar petition to the Castro government, demanding the right of ALL Cubans to express themselves without20coaxing, to travel freely in and out of our country, to democratically elect our leaders, and then, ask for the signature of these artists, educators, academics, professional and American impresarios, that are so interested in the free flow of ideas between our peoples. In the meantime, the music can wait. Don’t you think so?
Cuban exiled musician and author.
In Spanish below: