[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Juanes' Concert For Peace

Monday, September 21, 2009

Juanes' Concert For Peace

The Concert for Peace in Cuba is over. As the workers clean off the stage and sweep up the debris at the Plaza de la Revolución under the intense glare of El Che coming off the adjacent building façade, the obvious question is this: did the concert make a real difference? One hopes that Juanes' vague and abstract mentions of freedom for Cuba reached the hearts of the multitude at the plaza. But if Pope John Paul II's not-so-abstract message of freedom in that very same plaza 11 years ago couldn't deliver, why think any differently of this event today?

Yes, I'm glad that the Cuban people got to participate in something different today, a genuine "event". The fact that this is the most we can expect and realistically hope from the concert clearly illustrates that despite Cuba being 90 short miles from Key West, it might as well be in another galaxy. A galaxy where freedom for its own people can only be spoken in the vaguest of terms by a foreigner on the best of days, while expressing freedom for foreigners in a far-away jungle comes through as clear as day.

One of Juanes' concluding chants was "One Cuban Family". Nice sentiment, but it sounds hollow when part of that family is excluded. Hollow just like the event itself.

I have heard lots of passionate opinions on the concert, both pro and con. Some have been well expressed, some not so much. However, this column published in the Herald yesterday by Damian Pardo represents at least 95% of my feelings about the concert expressed in a way I only wish I could:

I find it striking that the one event closely associated with the fall of another arcane and dysfunctional system -- the East German government -- was Ronald Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall demanding Mr. Gorbachev ``tear down this wall.''

It was an indignant message calling for greater morality and justice, as well as a decisive call to action. It was not a concert with government-endorsed artists joining hands in Red Square.

Unfortunately, the only victims here, as usual, are the Cuban people. They will have one or two nights of anticipation, excitement and possible hope, only to return to the same oppressive, hostile world where they spend every day trying to survive or escape.

Please read Pardo's entire column. It's short and well worth your time if you want a greater understanding of the conflicting emotions many, I dare say, most Cuban-Americans feel.


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