A few weeks ago, I wrote about Juanes’ performance in the Cuban capital. Now I am convinced that the appearance of Juan Esteban Aristizabal and other accompanying musicians would constitute a fabulous and necessary artistic show in the Plaza of the Revolution, formerly known as the Jose Marti Civic Plaza. A large diversity of opinions have arisen around the so-called “Concert for Peace”, which is normal. What I do see as out of place are the images, manipulated by Cuban television, of one part of the Miami exile community smashing the Colombian singer’s CDs.
Today I am in prison for writing what my conscience dictates. I long for the respect of different opinions to be part of the future of Cuba, and I don’t doubt that my fellow brothers in the cause, the group of 75 arrested in the Black Spring of 2003, other political prisoners, those who fight day after day in the street for the democratization of Cuba, and of course in the diaspora, all feel the same. This country needs love and reconciliation and that is what we, men of good will, give night and day and will continue offering tomorrow. I have noticed that the government of the island has been intelligently quiet, trying to take advantage of the attacks from both sides. There is no better strategy for creating enemies than that of “divide and conquer,” and we cannot let ourselves fall into a trap that causes further harm to the idea of respecting different opinions.
When Juanes and other singers decided to give a concert with the purpose of harmoniously unifying the governments of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, there also surged a wave of opposition. However, the show ended up being an all-around success. It couldn’t have happened any other way, for the joining of the voices of Carlos Vives, Juanes, Juan Fernando Velasco, the Dominican Juan Luis Guerra and the Venezuelan Ricardo Montaner was something delightful, almost celestial. We Cubans do not live at the end of the world, and we deserve the performances of these artists and many others, including Cubans who today are in exile but have never stopped being part of our people. Many of them belong to the most talented and brilliant group of artists on an international level.
On the other hand, Juanes, Olga Tanon, Victor Manuel, and the others will have a unique chance to see – with their own eyes and without anyone telling them – the state of tension under which we live. They will notice the degree of militarization that exists in this society, whether it is in the streets, plazas, hotels, clubs, or even on our beautiful beaches. If these giants of the musical world do not demand liberty for the political prisoners, or do not even meet with opposition leaders – for the sake of claiming to be apolitical – only they shall know if they will be able to sleep peacefully with their consciences in a Havana hotel, surely one of 5-star rating.
The people want to see them perform and I am content with that. I am convinced that both the exile community and a significant number of Cubans located on the island would like Juanes to meet with the brave Ladies in White. I hope that is what will happen. A few days ago, Bill Richardson was in Cuba and the everyday Cuban people did not even notice. I don’t question his strategy but am surprised that at this level a North American governor of such high stature would continue the rhetoric supported by Michelle Bachelet, Cristina Fernandez, and others. It’s a sad situation, and however these politicians try to minimize it, it’s a reality. The authorities of Havana know this and are worried though they don’t show it. Let’s see what experience Juanes and his companions take away with them, but at least we Cubans will have an exclusive opportunity after so many years.