News / Arts & Entertainment

Cuban Music Icon Rodriguez Challenges State Censorship

FILE - Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez performs during a concert in Havana, September 2010.FILE - Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez performs during a concert in Havana, September 2010.
x
FILE - Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez performs during a concert in Havana, September 2010.
FILE - Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez performs during a concert in Havana, September 2010.
Reuters
The best known musician in Cuba and a staunch supporter of the island's communist revolution, Silvio Rodriguez, has challenged state censorship by inviting a recently sanctioned colleague to join him at two concerts this weekend on the Caribbean island.

Jazz musician Robertico Carcasses shocked authorities last week when he called for direct presidential elections, freedom of information and tolerance of dissent. He spoke out during a televised mega-concert to demand the return of four Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States 15 years ago.

The Ministry of Culture, which controls music venues and all recording, responded by banning Carcasses and his jazz-fusion group, Interactivo, from state venues until further notice, touching off a debate among artists and intellectuals on social media.

Rodriguez's invitation to Carcasses to perform represents perhaps the most serious challenge in decades to the state's control of culture and thought.

“I took the decision to do this precisely in the next two concerts, after learning that he had been sanctioned with an indefinite suspension from concerts and other public activities sponsored by the ministry,” Rodriguez said in his blog, Segunda Cita (Second Meeting) , on Tuesday.

“I do not agree with the excessive sanction of barring a musician from doing his work,” said Rodriguez.

Soon after Rodriguez extended the invitation, the ministry met with Carcasses and his band. Rodriguez said on his blog on Wednesday that the ministry was expected to lift the sanction on Carcasses, but there was no official word. The controversy has not been mentioned by state-run media.

Despite his gesture of support for Carcasses, Rodriguez was sharply critical of what he termed Carcasses' “stupidity.”

“As a Cuban citizen Robertico has the right to say what he thinks,” he wrote. “I would have preferred that he would do this in another concert, in a record, somewhere else, because the struggle for the freedom of the [agents] is sacred to the Cuban people.”

Carcasses, in a statement issued after his suspension, stuck to his guns, repeating his words at the concert, but he apologized if he had caused further pain to the families of the agents and for not consulting fellow band members before speaking up.

“I want .. free access to information so I can have my own opinion. Elect the president by direct vote and not another way... Neither militant nor dissident, all Cubans with the same rights,” were some of the forbidden words uttered by Carcasses in improvised lyrics.

The Communist Party is the only legal party in Cuba, and presidents are elected by a single chamber parliament.

The concert where Carcasses made his comments was staged in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana, culminating a day of support activities to bring the Cuban agents home.

The agents were sentenced to long prison terms in the United States for spying on violence-prone exiles and U.S. military bases in Florida.

Carcasses' protest and the state's response has touched off a controversy in Cuba reminiscent of that which followed the black power salute of African-American athletes during the 1968 Olympic Games.

Artists and intellectuals appear nearly unanimous in their criticism of Carcasses's choice of time and place to make his statement, while most also have expressed disagreement with his suspension.

You May Like

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”