(1 Million turned out last weekend in Cuba’s Revolution Square under Jose Marti statue)
For one day, Cuba was on the world map last Sunday. 14 artists from 6 countries played in Cuba’s Revolution Square. The event was the biggest turnout in Cuba since Pope John Paul II visited in 1998.
What’s more interesting is the lead up to the show. A few weeks prior to the show, some typical old Cuban faction of exiles in Miami were smashing Juanes CD’s in front of Versailles restaurant in Miami in protest of the concert. In their minds, the concert supports the Cuban government. Miami radio went crazy. Some latin bands received death threats. Some bands pulled out of the show for commercial purposes (due to the fact losing Miami radio airplay). It was an interesting few months of debate among Cuban-Americans. One that fueled the tireless arguments of “engaging” Cuba versus “isolating” Cuba. The opposing opinions usually varied across generation lines.
Juanes Tweeted this: “There is a future for Cuba, we have to extend a hand, help them, open our mind to them, so that they can do the same with us”.
(Cambodian Buddhist monks/nuns in Phnom Penh dressed in white, pray for peace for UN’s Peace Day)
It’s important to note, the concert took place on Sunday, September 20, 2009 — 1 day before the UN’s International Day of Peace. The UN planned global celebrations, including the Kabul headquarters in Afghanistan where 21 white doves were released into the sky! If you notice, most of the artists who performed in Cuba wore all white too. Some speculate it was also in honor of “Ladies in White,” a movement created by wives and family members of jailed dissidents in Cuba. Regardless the reason, white is the color of peace… and last Sunday was a big peace day, with Cuba as center stage.
It was not broadcast on television but millions of people viewed it on the Univision website as it streamed “live” all day. All the artists were forbidden to speak political statements, but here are a few that snuck in some loaded thoughts of freedom.
(Olga Tanon, Puerto Rican merengue star)
“It’s time to change!!!” — Olga Tanon
(Cucu Diamante of Yerba Buena)
“It’s time for Cuba to be open to the world!”– Yerba Buena’s Cucu Diamante
“Cuba Libre!!” — Juanes