After Juanes


Tomorrow will dawn as every Monday. The convertible peso will continue its ascent, Adolfo and his colleagues will have another day behind bars in the Canaleta prison, my son will hear at school that socialism is the only option for the country and at the airports we will continue to ask permission to leave the Island. The Juanes concert will not have significantly changed our lives, but nor did I go to the Plaza with this illusion. It would be unfair to demand of the young Columbian singer that he propel those changes that we ourselves have not managed to make, despite wanting them so much.

I was at the esplanade to check out how different the same space can be when it accommodates crowds organized from above, versus when it shelters a group of people dancing, singing and interacting without the involvement of politics. It was a rare experience to be there, without shouting slogans and without having to applaud mechanically when the tone of the speech marked that it was the time to cheer. Clearly some elements resembled those who march each May first, especially the proportion of plainclothes police in the audience.

Certain technical details were uncomfortable. The audio couldn’t be heard well, the small screen to show what was happening on stage couldn’t be seen from a distance, and the hour chosen was inhuman, coinciding with the worst moments of the sun. Fortunately it clouded over after four, and those who were holed up under the few trees took to dancing with the Orishas. They are details that can be fixed the next time Juanes performs in Cuba, when technical glitches will be few and those excluded this afternoon can sing.

If we see the performance of this September 20th as the dress rehearsal for a concert we’ll have one day, then we must congratulate those who participated. Even if there isn’t another, and the Plaza again takes on its solemnity and grayness, at least this Sunday afternoon we live something different. In a place where the division between us has been systematically sown, Juanes—to the setting of the sun—has shouted, “For one Cuban family!”

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27 thoughts on “After Juanes

  1. Juanes “peace without borders” end the blockade! I have heard that the concert was a complete defeat for the old Miami “Batista Gang”. Young Cubans gathered across from Versailles Restaurant on Eighth street. The old gangsters were using a steam roller to bust up Juanes CD’s. The youth chanted, “Vivia Juanes” and waved Cuban Flags shouting at the rightists. I hear that Juanes will be preforming near the US Mexican border in another “Peace without borders” concert. So for those of you interesed in how Phoenix, Arizona treats its prisoners look up the Sheriff of Maricopa County Joe Arpaio. So far this county has had to pay out $43 million in damages to former inmates or relatives of murdered inmates. Arpaio is known for his racist profiling and anti immigrant actions. America’ toughest sheriff.

  2. as much as I applaud Juanes for his dedication in organizing this monumental concert, the goal seems to champion that abstract notion of ‘peace’. I enjoyed reading your take on the matter– thank you for pointing out that although the concert must have been epic for young Cubans especially, it did not serve any purpose in ending or even affecting the current state of affairs in Cuba.

    If anything, I would argue that this concert merely created a false sense of hope for young Cubans, who may be lulled into believing that Cuba is on its way to freedom.

    You might like to check out this video, which has different viewpoints on the matter– http://www.newsy.com/videos/tune_of_peace_or_communism

  3. Juanes wanted his concert to have a profound effect on the lives of Cubans, and it appears that he achieved this goal. Thanks to his seemingly boundless goodwill, sources in the island are reporting that 100 Cuban dissidents were rounded up, warned, threatened, and/or detained to ensure they would not disturb the “peace” of the “Peace without Borders” concert.

  4. Juanes and Bose are to be celebrated. They almost ended the concert hours prior, while in the Hotel Nacional because Cuban authority wanted things their way. Juanes at that point understood what the Cubans living in Miami were talking about and obligated the Cuban Regime to do things HIS WAY. He repeated to them the concert was for the people something the regime ignores. Thank you Juanes, Olga, Bose and Orishas for taking control of the plaza and bring hope to the Cuban people for that one day.

  5. Yoany, Hola, Recien me entere de tu blog, Habia oido algo de esto hace un tiempo pero estaba muy, muy buisy mirando amplificadores de guitarra viejos en Ebay. Que pena. Lo bueno es que creo que ya compre’ el ultimo(penultimo) tareco que me hacia falta para poder volver a mis vecinos locos. Y ahora.. me puedo dedicar a algo mas importante en mi tiempo libre. Me presento; Soy doctor(veterinario) Y paciente(mental), soy medio animal(hombre) pero humano(de corazon), Me encanta la musica. Especialmente vieja e imperfecta Y odio la musica(computarizada Y sobreproducida). Me toco’ el rap “Decadensia”. Socialmente, me inclino un poquirritiquito a la izquierda pero me tiro a la derecha en cuestiones de libertad(freedom), Juanes es un lightweight(nice) Y Cuba es tan heavy(painful), no se’, Yoany is great and Yoany is…well… great! What can I say other than THANK YOU. Gracias Yoany

  6. Yoani:

    Nuevamente te felicito por tu valentia. Viaje a ver el concierto por que lei tu blog unas semanas antes y me convenci a base de tus opiniones que era algo bueno para el pueblo.

    Me hubiera gustado conocerte pero entendi que no era el momento oportuno, pero ya te visitare prontamente.

    Es de las impresiones mas grandes de mi vida, ver sobre 1.1m de jovenes gozando libremente. Espero que esta experiencia les de una voz que se oida por el gobierno para impulsar un cambion.

    Sigue to buen trabajo siempre.

  7. Using the word peace was rhetorical, there’s not a war in cuba, the right name would have been “concert for freedom”, we all know that the concert wouldn’t have take place with tis word i believe was much more appropriate. With all the respect sincerely yours.

  8. Lets face it, Juanes made this very calculated move with a particular audience in mind. I don’t believe that audience was the people in Cuba (who have no money to buy capitalist goods like his music), and it sure as hell wasn’t Cuban exiles. It was the fashionably leftist, liberal, “progressive” crowd, who are all quite willing to take him at his word, no matter how hollow or full of it. Remember, being a hypocrite is OK, as long as it’s PC, and playing ball with Castro, Inc. and sticking it to “those people” in South Florida is eminently PC.

  9. Solo por unos instantes pude ver y oir parte de una entrevista suya sobre el concierto de Juanes en tu pais, y no me gusto( con todo respeto) cuando dijiste que por que Juanes venia a buscar soluciones a problemas de otro pais cuado en Colombia tiene tantos para solucionar ???. Para tu informacion o simplemente recordartela, el tiene una fundacion para ayudar a las personas que perdieron sus piernas o brazos o han quedado mutiladas por las famosas bombas quiebrapatas o antipersonales , que han sembrado narcoguerrilleros comunistas muchos de ellos entrenados en Cuba por cubanos.
    Si el ,Juanes tiene el sentido altruista y desinteresado como buen Colombiano de ir hasta su pais y meterse en la boca del lobo o mejor el enemigo y enzenarle que con musica y con amor se puede lograr la Paz sin fronteras . Gracias y suerte.

  10. I WOULD BE INTERESTED IN YOANI’S TAKE ON THIS!

    REUTERS ARTICLE:Raul Castro pushes Cubans to rethink socialism

    “Authorities have circulated a ten-point agenda for thousands of open-ended meetings over the next month at work places, universities and community organizations to rethink Cuban socialism, focused on the economic themes highlighted by Castro in a speech to the National Assembly in August.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE58L3QF20090922

  11. I was surprised at the extent of the political feeling attached to Juanes’ concert. I applaud Juanes’ courage and determination to follow his heart and bring his music to Cuba. It is unrealistic to think a couple of artists will change the mind of dictators that have imposed their ways for so long, and I am glad you acknowledge this. Opponents to the concert thanked Juanes’ good intentions but were annoyed by his self-proclaimed heroic duty to bring peace to Cuba. Others were simply angry, as they saw the concert as a sign of support for the government. As if it was not enough, politics was connected to music.

    I interpret the concert as a symbol for a changing mindset where the goals have shifted from demanding the change of government to an open peace talk. Even the performers’ white attire reflected the reason behind the event. I understand the anger felt towards Castro bottled up inside Cuban exiles in the United States. But I do not think cultivating this anger will improve Cuba’s circumstances any more than Juanes’ concert could. The difference is choosing to maintain a hostile attitude towards Cuba, creates divisions among age groups and among Cubans residing in the island and outside of it. Juanes notes a very important point during an interview. He notes the necessity for a dialogue to be created among Cubans in the island and those in the rest of the world. He hopes his “peace without borders” concert will be used as a debate to address this important issue. Juanes’ concert pointed to an issue that is often overlooked when just looking at Cuba’s need to democratize. Gaps in ideas and thinking have been created between Cubans and Cuban Americans. The dispute should not lie on resisting Castro’s government; instead there should be a common ground for optimist outlooks and a shared urgency of peace and communication between Cubans and the outside. We cannot call our world a globalizing world if it is not inclusive to all.

  12. With or without the consent of its citizens, Cuban leaders have stubbornly managed to live up to its socialist principles despite the rapid democratization of the rest of the world. Its dictatorship has divided Cubans from those who reside in the island and those who have managed to migrate. Diverging sentiments were seen this past week during the preparation of Juanes’ concert in Havana, Cuba. Juanes, a seventeen time Latin Grammy winner, declared his concert titled, “paz sin fronteras” or “peace without borders”, as an honest attempt to strengthen ties with Cuba and reverse the hostile approach typically diected to this country. However, some, in particular Cuban-Americans, strongly opposed the concert questioning its true intentions. This was the first time a concert of such magnitude was performed in Cuba. This week I chose to explore the blogosphere of Yoani Sanchez, a graduate of philology from the Univeristy of Havana and distinguished Cuban blogger by Time Magazine. She has also received the highest digital journalism award in Spain, the Ortega y Gasset Prize. As a resident of Havana, she was able to experience firsthand Juanes’ concert this past Sunday. In her award winning blog, Generaciόn Y, she writes a post entitled “After Juanes”, of the effect Juanes’ concert had on the Cuban people. She describes even if the Plaza where the concert was performed will take on its usual “solemnity and grayness” and her child keeps on learning about socialism as the “only option for the country”, the Cuban people were given the opportunity to gather in the Plaza leaving politics behind. They were free to dance to the music instead of shouting slogans or clapping systematically after a political speech. Sanchez hopes this performance serves as a “dress rehearsal” for many more to come. My response to the optimistic feelings of this well-known blogger and analysis of the meaning of the peace concert can be found below as well as in the Generaciόn Y website.
    “After Juanes”
    Comment

    I was surprised at the extent of the political feeling attached to Juanes’ concert. I applaud Juanes’ courage and determination to follow his heart and bring his music to Cuba. It is unrealistic to think a couple of artists will change the mind of dictators that have imposed their ways for so long, and I am glad you acknowledge this. Opponents to the concert thanked Juanes’ good intentions but were annoyed by his self-proclaimed heroic duty to bring peace to Cuba. Others were simply angry, as they saw the concert as a sign of support for the government. As if it was not enough, politics was connected to music.

    I interpret the concert as a symbol for a changing mindset where the goals have shifted from demanding the change of government to an open peace talk. Even the performers’ white attire reflected the reason behind the event. I understand the anger felt towards Castro bottled up inside Cuban exiles in the United States. But I do not think cultivating this anger will improve Cuba’s circumstances any more than Juanes’ concert could. The difference is choosing to maintain a hostile attitude towards Cuba, creates divisions among age groups and among Cubans residing in the island and outside of it. Juanes notes a very important point during an interview. He notes the necessity for a dialogue to be created among Cubans in the island and those in the rest of the world. He hopes his “peace without borders” concert will be used as a debate to address this important issue. Juanes’ concert pointed to an issue that is often overlooked when just looking at Cuba’s need to democratize. Gaps in ideas and thinking have been created between Cubans and Cuban Americans. The dispute should not lie on resisting Castro’s government; instead there should be a common ground for optimist outlooks and a shared urgency of peace and communication between Cubans and the outside. We cannot call our world a globalizing world if it is not inclusive to all.

  13. . Just a quick note to thank Colombian Freedom Singer Juanes for a great concert in La Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana that brought liberty and freedom to the people of Cuba!
    Awesome. Just awesome.

    Who would have thought it, huh? Fifty years of brutal oppression brought down by a few tunes and strumming guitars.

    All the jail cells have been unlocked and all prisoners of conscience have been freed! All human rights have been restored and the Cuban people can now freely express themselves and live like normal, free human beings. There’s now food one every Cuban table and even toilet paper in every Cuban bathroom.

    Gracias Juanes.

  14. I do consider that a mistake was made on purpose when a name like “PAZ SIN FRONTERAS” was chosen as best for the concert. It is my opinion that asking for peace is a way to claim to stop war; the only war in cuba is for “FREEDON”, everybody knows that, so the concert´s name should have been “LIBERTAD SIN FRONTERAS”.
    What do you think?.

  15. ***
    How much did each person pay for the concert?
    ***
    Cuanto pagaba cada persona por el concierto?
    ***
    John Bibb

  16. Cuba right now is at the point where within one year the goverment in cuba will colapse. is the first time since john paul 2 you have a million people together not to listen to a castro. if i was the castro brother i will be worry. a younger genaration is on the rise.

  17. There was a telling moment at the very end of the concert when Juanes mentioned the names of Silvito El Libre (son of Silvio Rodríguez) and Los Aldeanos (a constestary hip hop group) and you cuold see Yotuel, member of the Orishas, asking Juanes to say Gorki. I said “telling moment” because there it was, a cuban asking a foreigner to say somenthing in his country that he felt unable to say outloud. Maybe next time Yotuel will feel free to say it himself, maybe this concert has planted the seed of freedom, although I believe that in the case of the Orishas they will have to drop Roldán from the group before that happens. Too bad that musically speaking he is almost the sound of the group!
    For me I took three things from this concert:
    1. The almost arrest of the guy with the cuban flag who was wisked away from the stage by the secret police, dressed in white.
    2. Ojalá! Thank you Silvio, this does not rehabilitate you to the early stage of your career but it could be the beginning of a comeback.
    3. The absence of Juanes announced song “Cubano Soy” dedicated to the cuban people, I believe the Van Van were ordered to cut the concert short and they did!
    Also a lot of forgetable moments, a lot of singers that should recognize it’s time to quit, please stop punishing the cuban people with you songs!

  18. Good Concert!!. Nothing happened as expected.Juanes and Miguel Bosse were great, what can I say?.Big cojones.Fredom!, they said….Guys change in Cuba will come from the top. Mark my words.

    Pd: I agree with Candido on his comment about Silvio, at least this time for a a minute o two he was not an oportunistic.

    Juanes mentioned Los Aldeanos and Silvito el libre ( the son of Silvio Rodriguez) at the end of his show. They do a great contestary music,usually against the Castro Regime.

  19. Thanks to Yoani for making such a timely report on what was happening at the street level in the concert. I think the fact that the sound system was faulty must’ve been terribly frustrating to those who withstood the open sun for hours and who could not hear. I wonder how when the Coma-Andante used to give his long boring speeches, the sound quality wasn’t a problem.

    Having seen part of the concert, I was gratified to hear comments such as talk of overcoming fears, “Cuba Libre” and “one cuban family” by Juanes, as well as calls to stop abuses by Juan Formell from the Van Van, etc.

    This could be a start, we’ll wait and see what transpires. It would be interesting to hear whether people caught on to the subtle messages being sent.

  20. The following son, performed by the “repulsive mercenary” Silvio Rodriguez, was created at the end of the 60s, when apparently Silvio was against Castro, but then later Castro’s fist was able was able to soften it until he -Silvio- became what it is today.

    Anyway, the song is valid, is dedicated to Fidel Castro, the cause of all misfortune and catastrophe in Cuba over the last 50 years.

    I’m sorry, but I could not find the English version of it, but, if our translator can do it, it will be very appreciated, because,the lyrical content defines very well the intentions of the people of Cuba.

    Candido

    “Ojalá”

    Ojala que las hojas no te toquen el cuerpo cuando caigan
    para que no las puedas convertir en cristal
    ojala que la lluvia deje de ser milagro que baja por tu cuerpo
    ojala que la luna pueda salir sin ti
    ojala que la tierra no te bese los pasos

    ojala se te acabe la mirada constante
    la palabra precisa la sonrisa perfecta
    ojala pase algo que te borre de pronto
    una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve
    ojala por lo menos que me lleve la muerte
    para no verte tanto para no verte siempre
    en todos los segundos y en todas las visiones
    ojala que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones

    ojala que la aurora no de gritos que caigan en mi espalda
    ojala qu tu nombre se le olvide a esta voz
    ojala las paredes no retengan tu ruido de camino canzado
    ojala que el deseo se vaya tras de ti
    a tu viejo gobierno de difuntos y flores.

    ojala se te acabe la mirada constante
    la palabra precisa la sonrisa perfecta
    ojala pase algo que te borre de pronto
    una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve
    ojala por lo menos que me lleve la muerte
    para no verte tanto para no verte siempre
    en todos los segundos y en todas las visiones
    ojala que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones

    ojala pase algo que te borre de pronto
    una luz cegadora, un disparo de nieve
    ojala por lo menos que me lleve la muerte
    para no verte tanto para no verte siempre
    en todos los segundos y en todas las visiones
    ojala que no pueda tocarte ni en canciones

  21. I think she writes what she´d seen in a square of 1 million, is imposible to see everything as other watched in the TV. Thank you Yoanny for your perspective. Actually I was wondering what really cubans could hear? those faraway of the stage. Because in twitter they were saying that the concert would be broadcast edited and cutted for cubans, not Live. But Yoanny I think those near the stage (those of the Comunist Party, government, those sent from Venezuela, G2, police) are really the people who Juanes went to sing to, in the good way, let me explain it: They are the ones who need to hear about “Libertad”, those who need to hear that “Is time to change”, that cubans in stage want to send love not hate, even when it sounds very wishful thinking or naive, it had to be strong experience to see that “in your face” for them. And when he said very quickly “Cuba Libre, Cuba Libre” at the end, even when it was not intended I think the symbol was: “you guys near stage would be privileged ones here, with money, travels, food, power, but you cannot say “Cuba Libre” onstage in your own country, you cannot say what you really think because I am a free human been… are you?” So even when nothing change on Monday, some lyrics sang in Plaza de La Revolución should be taken in consideration as a mantra for Cubans from now on… Actually he sang to kidnapped in Colombia against those under FARC hands (aren´t they friends of Castro?) He said “we defeated our Fears to come here and make this concert for you, we hope you can defeat your fears as well”, Bosé forced people to sing the chorus “canta y vuela libre como canta la paloma” it was a interesting moment because the crowd were in doubt either to sing or not… A guy went up the stage with a Cuban Flag when they were singing “dame una isla en el medio del mar, llámala libertad” maybe he is in jail now… So I think for those in the Communist party had to be a difficult moment to experience because it was totally emotional but in contradiction with their principles, specially for those in the youth of the party.

  22. Although you did not necessarily speak negatively of the concert, this post does not shed light on the events that occurred. You focused on the lack of change that this concert would propel, focused on technical glitches and had the nerve to call one of the greatest exchanges of globalization to occur in Cuba in decades…as a mere dress rehearsal? This post is another example of your lack to truly speak up, you cast this illusion of being a ‘radical political Cuban.’ But the reality of the matter is that your articles lack true expression, they are merely observations of your surroundings.

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