Time for Definitions

Cuban artists, fear and social networking in Trump’s times. Defend Cuba or pay tribute to “the worst” of Miami?

There was a time when things were so simple that leaving or staying in Cuba could be taken as a political decision. Going to Miami or staying there, instead of another city elsewhere in the world, was also something in people’s mind that seemed to mark some level in the issue.

Of course, it was practically impossible for a Cuban artist to be able to continue his/her career in Miami, without paying the political tribute to the anti-Fidelista tendency –extremely anti-Cuban– that intends to remain dominant in that city.

Gente de Zona: From revered to persecuted.

Then, there came the time of the Cultural Exchange followed by the diplomatic relations with the Obama administration, which enabled a more hospitable Miami for the Cuban artists who live on the island. Competition between shows and channels, more concerned with the rating that the presentation of those artists could provide them, made many keep their composure for a while, and received in their sets every musician, humorist or actor living in Cuba who visited Miami. The “anti-Castro” television industry, whose access to that pie was limited to harass the artists coming from the island upon their arrivals to ask them recalcitrant questions, saw how its commercial product: hatred towards all that Cuba meant, failed to be quoted as before. The relief that came after the traumatizing effect of George W. Bush’s aggressive policy against Cuban families –similar to that adopted by Trump today– with his travel and remittance restrictions, influenced a background atmosphere in which thousands of Cubans living in Florida informally invested in the new possibilities that opened for self-employment in Cuba. In that period, the anti-Cuban rightwing in Miami’s media kept its troubles to itself.

The advance of the second decade of the 2000s, the rise of social networks made the television formats that had benefited from the use of YouTube begin to lose ground due to the growing volume of content directly produced for that platform. The circulation of fragments of panel television shows begin to be surpassed by the production of shows broadcasted via streaming and watched by an increasing number of subscribers to video channels.

Haila María Mompié: Another victim of intolerance in Miami.

A few years later, in 2020, there is a Miami-based political industry with new faces much more installed on the Internet that has moved from the traditional press media and TV –although without leaving them– to YouTube, along with another aggressive circuit of webpages. Unlike television, these shows made for streaming and online viewing assume a greater aggressiveness by complementing themselves with the possibility to comment and share that social networks provide their audience with.

With the artists living in Cuba, this anti-Cuban media positioning that tries to poison the bonds between the Cuban community in the United States and its country also seeks to put an end to the possibilities of presentations in the city of Miami –and their economic benefit–, which opened the period of Cultural Exchange.

Although in Cuba the political ambiguity of some artists perhaps generate indifference, that Miami-based rightwing full of revived hatred isn’t willing to assimilate so: Either you join the anti-Cuban discourse or you don’t enter Miami. But new media and social networking go further, and seek to reach in their persecution those who, from Cuba, defend their right to have their own political criteria. They try, with the terror of the lynching on the social networks, to inflict silence and fear in all the artists who might speak out against the blockade, Trump’s sanctions, vandalism against the busts of Martí or whatever else those media defend.

Just a month ago, singer-songwriter Amaury Pérez talked about this in an interview made by journalist Oliver Zamora Oria: “There are people who should be defending some things they defended, who are scared to death. Because you must be very patient to endure the trash talk some people say about you out there.” [on social networks].

Because of a ten-line stanza posted on his Facebook, in which he strongly condemned the outrage against Martí, the also singer-songwriter Ray Fernández faced with a pack that filled him with all kind of insults, which the cult troubadour replied: “Nobody should doubt these are times for definitions.”

This inevitably remains us what the most defined of all Cubans told the audience gathered in the third year of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, in a defining period before the idea of Cuba’s Independence: “Whoever rises up with Cuba today, rises up forever.”

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Mexican embassy awards Cuban artists

Havana, Nov 19 (Prensa Latina) The Mexican Embassy in Havana granted the Cultural Merit award to Cuban prima ballerina Viengsay Valdes, choreographer Alberto Mendez and Cultural Director of Habana Vieja municipality, Reinaldo Mendez.

Valdes, deputy artistic director of the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC), has shined with her dance in all five continents and has been the guest artist of several galas, companies and festivals in many countries, a Mexican diplomat noted at a gala in Havana's Cathedral Square.

Cuban Deputy Culture Minister Fernando Rojas and Russian Ambassador Andrei Guskov were present at the ceremony, at which the Mariana de Gonitch Singing Academy, the Okantomi group and the BNC performed.

During the event, Valdes was also presented with the Gitana Tropical distinction, which is granted every year by Havana's Provincial Culture Directorate to those who contribute to the development of Cuban culture.

'I would like to express my deepest gratitude to those who appreciate art and all the organizations involved in such a beautiful event. It is a great honor for me to receive this award and above all to dedicate it to all those Cuban women who are also heroines of the dance we have today in Cuba,' Valdes said.

  • Published in Culture

Cuban Artists to Pay Tribute to The Beatles

Havana, May 26 (Prensa Latina) With a concert next Thursday, Cuban artists will pay tribute to legendary British band The Beatles on the 50th anniversary of the recording of the LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, considered one of the best and mostly sold in history.

The concert will be at 18:00 local time at Havana's John Lennon Park, with the participation of 7 national bands.

The tribute to the young guys from Liverpool is organized by Cuban musician and composer X Alfonso, musicologist Guille Vilar and the Ministry of Culture.

Formed originally by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, The Beatles is one of the most acclaimed bands of all times, with many followers around the world.

Released on 1 June 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is their eighth album, with which they won four Grammy Awards in 1968.

The LP sold 32 million and drew favorable reviews from the critics and the public.

For its quality and innovation, specialized Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one on its list of the 500 best albums.

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Cuban artists arrive in Las Vegas for Latin Grammy Awards

The delegation of Cuban musicians to attend today the 17th Latin Grammy Awards 2016 arrived yesterday in the city of Las Vegas, United States, reported the Cuban Music Institute (ICM by its Spanish acronym).

Accompanied by Marta Bonet, ICM vice president, and Ela Ramos, manager of Bis Music record label, the nominees attending this ceremony will represent the broad talent of the Caribbean nation, which each year makes its way in the international music industry.

The official list includes, this time, diverse Cuban groups like Charanga Habanera, Ignacio Piñeiro National Septet and Gente de Zona; as well as musicians Tony Ávila, Jacob Forever Omara Portuondo, Leo Brouwer and Francisco Céspedes,.

The latter three compete, respectively, in the categories of Best Latin Children´s Album, Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Singer-Songwriter Album.

The director David Calzado with his Charanga Habanera managed to be included in the category of Best Contemporary Tropical Album with the phonogram Vivito and coleando, under EGREM Record Label; while Ignacio Piñeiro National Septet will opt for the award for Best Traditional Tropical Album, with the CD El más grande y universal.

Tony Ávila, author of La Bala, song performed by singers Johnny Ventura and Gilberto Santa Rosa, competes for the prize in the category of Best Tropical Song.

The popular duet Gente de Zona will again appear on the list of nominees, this time competing for the Best Tropical Fusion Album with its phonogram Visualizate.

In addition, Hasta que se seque el malecon, a song composed and sung by Jacob Forever, will be present in the section of Best Urban Fusion/Performance.

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Cuban Artists Nominated for Billboard Music Awards 2016

The Buena Vista Social Club and Gente de Zona are among the Cuba artists that have been nominated to the Billboard Latin Music Awards 2016.

The Buena Vista Social Club competes in the categories Tropical Album of the Year and the Tropical Group or Duet of the Year with the CD 'Lost and Found'.

The album includes unreleased recordings by Compay Segundo, Omara Portuondo, Eliades Ochoa, Ibrahim Ferrer and Cachaito Lopez, among others.

Gente de Zona is vying for awards in Tropical Song of the Year, Digital Song of the Year, Artist of the Year, Duet or Group, and Vocal Collaboration with the song 'La Gozadera', alongside the Puerto Rican artist, Marc Anthony.

Artists with the most nominations this year include the Dominican, Romeo Santos and the Spaniard, Enrique Iglesias with 12 and 11 nominations, respectively.

The 27th Billboard Latin Music Awards is expected to be different from the previous awards, as for the first time categories for duets and collaborations have been included.

Established in 1990, the awards are granted by the Billboard magazine in recognition of best-selling music artists.

The ceremony will be held in the United States tomorrow.

  • Published in Now
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