Julio And Enrique Iglesias, Two Moments In The Life Of Cuba

Enrique Iglesias in a file image with the Cuban group "Gente de Zona". (Networks)

Enrique Iglesias in a file image with the Cuban group “Gente de Zona”. (Networks)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 11 January 2017 — My mother had a T-shirt with the face of the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, bought in the informal market in the early eighties. At a meeting of the Union of Young Communists they warned her she could not continue to wear it. The author of La vida sigue igual  (Life Remains the Same) had fallen into the blacklist of censorship and after that the garment languished in a drawer in our house.

This January, almost four decades after that point in my childhood, Julio’s son Enrique Iglesias has come to Cuba to film the music video for the single Súbeme la radio (Beam me up to the radio). A legion of fans is preparing to follow him to the locations where he will work alongside director Alejandro Pérez, musician Descemer Bueno and the Puerto Rican duo Zion and Lenox.

Although the national media have handled Iglesias’ visit with caution, the news spread rapidly among the people. There will undoubtedly be crowds around the places where the singer plans to go, in the style of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katty Perry, the Kardashians or Madonna, during their stays on the Island.

This Wednesday, many young people sigh to get an autograph of the successful artist and wait to capture on their cellphone a moment in which he approaches, passes, makes himself seen. They are women who are the same age as my mother was in those years when she was prohibited from wearing a T-shirt with the face of the other Iglesias, the forbidden one.

My mother could never go to a Julio Iglesias concert. I do not think she even listens to his songs anymore. This week, other Cuban women like her will have their little historical rematch

At that time, the Cuban authorities offered no explanations about the ban. There were only rumors and half-statements: “He made statements against Cuba,” was heard in some official circles; “Julio sang for Pinochet in Chile,” warned the most furious militants, in reference to the artist’s 1977 trip to that South American country.

The truth is that Iglesias, the father, swelled the list of singers who could not be broadcast on radio and television. Has name was added to others excluded, such as Celia Cruz, Olga Guillot, Nelson Ned and even Jose Feliciano. The latter was only broadcast again in the Cuban media much later on.

A few years before he was banned, the film inspired by the life of Julio Iglesias had been a blockbuster in the island’s movie theaters. Many viewers boasted of having seen the film several times in one day and the choruses of its songs displaced the songs of the New Trova.

Iglesias, as well as appealing to artistic tastes, meant a fresh wind at a time when Cuban music was filled with slogans. He spoke of romance, love, loss and oblivion, in a country where the bolero had been set aside and the only passion allowed was that which could be felt by the cause and the Revolution. He took off among young people, tired of so much focus on trench warfare and feeling the need for more flesh and less Utopia.

My mother was never able go to a Julio Iglesias concert. I do not think she even listens to his songs anymore. This week, other Cuban women like her will have their little historical rematch. Another Iglesias has arrived, his songs are different and the Cuba in which he has landed little resembles that Sovietized island of old. Music just won a match over ideology.

4 thoughts on “Julio And Enrique Iglesias, Two Moments In The Life Of Cuba

  1. That’s right Humberto, so much more needs to be done than just a big decision evey couple of years. The big question now is how US Immigration will exercise its discresion.

  2. KING OBAMA STABBED THE CUBAN PEOPLE IN THE BACK! I UNDERSTAND HIS REPEAL OF THE “WET FOOT, DRY FOOT” POLICY BUT WHY NOT GIVE SOME SORT OF TIMELINE. CUBA IS AN ISLAND AND IS NOT LIKE MEXICO WHERE YOU CAN ATTEMPT TO CROSS OVER THE BORDER, SO IT’S NOT APPLES TO APPLES TO MEXICAN AND EVEN CENTRAL AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS! MOST OF THEM WILL BE JAILED OR GET OSTRACIZED BY THE CASTRO “GOVERNMENT” OR WORSE, BE PUT IN JAIL! — MIAMI HERALD EDITORIAL : Let the stranded Cubans in, President Obama, then close the door – President Obama’s decision to end the wet foot/ dry foot policy for Cubans caught the rest of us flat-footed. It has some unexpected consequences that will lead to unwarranted human suffering. The president can provide immediate relief — and should do so quickly. The president should step in and rectify this situation. He should amend his order and allow in anyone who has proof that they left Cuba by Jan. 12. The editorial boards of el Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald seek a small window of opportunity for Cubans standing face-to-face with a shut door. There’s reason to help them, just as Central Americans and Haitians received limited help through temporary protected status (TPS) after disasters or wars in their home countries.

  3. Cuban reality, far beyonf the music that gets played and listened to, has changed because now Cubans have to go through a more normal immigration process in Estados Unidos.
    What bothers me is that everything is happening too slowly, the diplomacy and appeasement, seeds of change but no real change. The US, and especially the exile Cubans, need to attack the island with money. I don’t know if it’s possible to lift the embargo on everything except Castrista ompanies.
    In any case, sanctions always hurt peoples much more than regimes. Castrismo would benefit first if the embargo would be lifted completely, but private enterprise would get a huge boost too. Castrismo would get competition and start paying decent wages.
    Los quejadores – the complainerati – are going to try to shoot me down now. Bring it on,there’s a lot more where this came from, and my fingers are ready at the keyboard!


    CUBAN EXILE QUARTER: Celebrating Celia Cruz and her decision to live and sing in freedom How the Castro regime sought to censor and punish Celia Cruz for living in freedom — However in Cuba the Castro regime continues to ban the music of Celia Cruz from the radio airwaves. She is not alone. There are other banned Cuban musicians of great importance. According to Shoot the singer!: music censorship today, a book edited by Marie Korpe states that there is increasing concern within the international music community that post-revolution generations are growing up without knowing or hearing these censoredmusicians and that this could lead to a loss of Cuban identity in future generations.The phrase cultural genocide is used to describe the “cultural revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s that blacklisted andcensored scores of Cuban musiciansand artists. The above censorship is widely known, but not as well known is that when the mother of Celia Cruz was dying the Cuban musical icon was blocked by Fidel Castro from returning to Cuba to say goodbye to her mom or attend her funeral afterwards. This practice still goes on today with Cuban dissidents in the diaspora barred arbitrarily from seeing their loved ones by the Castro regime.


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