The Herald published a front-page Sunday article on Yoani Sanchez today
, spanning a total of three pages (not something they do very often, BTW). For anyone familiar with Yoani and her work on Generation Y, most of the article is standard "who is Yoani and why does she do it". An interesting section in the third page addresses the Juanes concert controversy. Lydia Martin quotes part of a recent Generation Y post
"(Juanes) will raise his voice before a people who have been divided, classified according to a political color and compelled to confront any who think differently,'' (Yoani Sanchez) recently posted. ``We need his voice, but only if he comes to sing without forgetting any Cuban, without rejecting any difference.''
Sounds fairly innocent and pro-Juanes sounding, doesn't it? It appears, however, that Lydia Martin was just showing her thinly-veiled attempt to show support for the Juanes concert by taking a small part of Yoani's post which portrays the concert in a rather favorable light.
If you want to get the full picture of Yoani's thoughts, here's the entire post titled Juanes and the Plaza
A grey place, of concrete and marble, that makes people feel tiny and insignificant. I pass near the Plaza of the Revolution every day on my way home and cannot stop feeling overwhelmed, seeing myself crushed before that architecture so reminiscent of fascist megalomania. I was there once with a white and yellow banner shouting “freedom,” in front of a dove-shaped altar designed for the Pope. I’m not Catholic, but I wouldn’t have missed the chance for anything in the world to say another kind of slogan in that Plaza.
It appears that on the September 20th, Juanes will try to put a human face on an architectural ensemble where no one is going to go and sit placidly. I have never seen a couple or a Cuban family there who—without being called—find a corner to talk or laugh. A space without trees, designed to gather, overcrowded, for the leader to shout at us from his height, some meters above the pavement, and wait for us to respond with some repetitive slogan of, “We shall conquer!” “To the wall!” or “Viva!”
I think that Juanes should come and sing. If his subject is peace, he will have to know that this Island is not immersed in bellicose conflict, but neither does it know concord. He will raise his voice before a people who have been divided, classified according to a political color and compelled to confront any who think differently. A population that for years has not heard talk of harmony and that knows the punishment given to those who dare to voice their criticisms. We need his voice, but only if he comes to sing without forgetting any Cuban, without rejecting any difference.
We would like him to accompany his song with the cadence of Willy Chirino, the trumpet of Arturo Sandoval, the rhythm of Albita Rodríguez or the sensual sax of Paquito D´ Rivera… but none of them will be allowed to be there. Juanes will enjoy the privilege of the foreigner, who on this Island is worth much more than the natives. Everything he says between songs—if he says anything—will be interpreted as his support for a system that ebbs away, as the accolade to a group in power.
It was not an innocent decision to choose the Plaza of the Revolution as a stage for his music and he will not be able to shake the political weight that it carries. But if it has to be so, if there is no space in the poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, in my birthplace of Central Havana, on the brink of collapse, if he’s not allowed to immerse himself in San Miguel or Marianao, or even to use the Latin American Stadium, then let him sing under the statue of Martí, facing the image of Che Guevara, but at least let him sing for everyone.
*I wonder if the same thing will happen as at the last two concerts of Pedro Luís Ferrer, where they didn’t let some bloggers in.
A totally different picture is painted when the entire post is included. Yoani knows that Juanes won't be able to fulfill her request, that is, to "sing for everyone". It's a classic set-up, and exactly the reason why this concert will end up being just like all the ones that have preceded it: nothing to see here. Move on.
If Juanes wants to play in Cuba, go right ahead. I don't agree with it, but I would rather use this opportunity to remind people of the truth in Cuba and the people Juanes is "buddying up" with who have either directly or indirectly imposed the five-decade long suffering on the Cuban people, not to mention the hypocrisy of the whole "concert for peace" thing. It's much more effective than smashing a pile of Juanes CDs in Little Havana or tweeting death threats. The former approach makes people think. The latter approach doesn't.
UPDATE: Carlos Miller writes an piece at the pathetic NBCMiami.com site that does absolutely nothing to advance the dialogue one bit (including a shout out to a local lefty Miami blogger). And I thought journalists were at least supposed to give the impression of being impartial, even if they're really not.