The US Ban on Cuban Musicians

In 2003, the United States’ government denied visas to all the Cuban
musicians -or their agents- that applied. The general public was led to believe that stricter
border controls, implemented after the September 11th terrorist attack, was the main reason for
delaying and preventing the entry of individuals from certain nations. However,
that was not the real motive in the case of Cuban musicians. Indeed, the reason was the anti-Castro policy of
the US government.

Even
though Cuba is not a threat to the national security of the United States, nor
is it home to any terrorist groups, anti-Castro elements that are well connected
with the Bush administration have
managed to affect the cultural relations between the citizens of the United
States and Cuba. The “anticastristas” have determined the United States’ policy regarding the entry of Cuban musicians. And that
policy is that any Cuban musician based in Cuba will not be allowed entry into
the United States, regardless of their merit.Mixing the arts and politics is never a good idea. Cultural exchange brings
people together and allows for better mutual understanding. It exposes traveling musicians and their audiences to new ideas and different perspectives.

Cuban musicians
happen to be very well respected abroad. They are skilled at what they do and they have
preserved numerous traditions that are popular outside its borders. US citizens have the
inalienable right to enjoy the performances of high quality musicians from any
country. Most Cuban musicians
have very little to do with internal, or external, Cuban politics. And even if
Cuban musicians support their current government, there is the matter of freedom
of speech. 

The person behind the U.S. State Department’s current Cuban policy is a hardliner named Roger
Noriega. He’s an ex-aide to retired Senator Jesse Helms, well known for his
right wing extremism. Bush appointed Noriega as Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Noriega detests Fidel
Castro. In a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee on October 2 of 2003, Roger Noriega said: “The president is determined to see the end of
the Castro regime and the dismantling of the apparatus that has kept him in
office for so long
.”

Furthermore, Noriega met with the uncompromising Cuban Liberty Council in
2003 and said: “Castro sends hundreds of performers to the United States to earn dollars to
send to the regime. Castro’s cash cows will not be grazing through the
United States under this administration
.”

Unknowingly, some booking agents and promoters that work with Cuban musicians
are still applying for visas. They do not seem to know that any applications, regardless
of their merit, will be rejected. There are countless news articles about
cancelled tours and even disgraceful stories about non Cuban artists whose tours
are ruined because they employ a Cuban musician in their band [read


Homeland Security Forces Cancellations of Paco de Lucía Concerts
].

It is time to end this shameful situation. The citizen’s best weapon is the
vote and the US is having elections in November of 2004. Citizens should keep in
mind who is supporting extremist policies and hurting the arts and cultural
exchange.

The following is a list of links related with the Cuban embargo from well known news sources:

[Photo: Cubanismo]

And here are a series of news stories and editorials our Web
site has published:

  • Slamming The Door Shut
  • Author: Angel Romero

    Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. He was also the executive producer of the first Latino feature film made in North Carolina titled “Los sueños de Angélica.”.

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