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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings: Nnekai
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
August 26, 2015 2:42 PM
Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.

Nigerian singer, songwriter Nneka sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from her latest CD, "My Fairy Tales" and to talk about her inspirations and influences.