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!”