Cuba: Banned exiled singers allegedly stricken from censorship list

22 August 2012

The BBC reported on 8 August 2012 that several Cuban radio stations confirm they no longer face restrictions on playing music by exiles.


The BBC-reporter Sarah Rainsford wrote that the Cuban state-run radio had declared that previously forbidden Cuban-American musical performers such as Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan and Willy Chirino have now been stricken from the censored list and will now be played over the island radio waves.

Radio station staff at several of Cuba’s biggest radio stations confirmed to the BBC that the ban had been overturned. They said there were at least 50 artists on the list – mostly artists who had abandoned the Communist-run island and spoke out against the 1959 revolution.

The staff members told BBC that they were informed at meetings last week that the list had “served its purpose,” but was out-dated, and that its removal was part of Cuba’s “opening up to the world.” Station directors can now decide for themselves what to broadcast.

“There has been no public announcement: that would mean admitting to censorship in the first place,” wrote Sarah Rainsford:

Among those formerly-banned artists she mentioned:

 Singer Celia Cruz who was widely renowned outside Cuba as a master of her art, but dismissed at home as an icon of the anti-Castro diaspora

 Grammy-winning saxophonist Paquito d’Rivera, who defected from Cuba whilst on tour – leaving his family – and was openly critical of Fidel Castro

 Singer Willy Chirino, who launched his musical career in Miami after leaving Cuba as a child

 Jazz pianist Bebo Valdes – father of the now-legendary Chucho Valdes, who remained on the island

 Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias was blacklisted at one point, too, then excused.

The story spread like wildfire on the blogosphere. Joe Cardona commented in The Miami Herald, “Incredible and irresponsible headlines in several languages promoted the supposed act of openness as fact. The Cuban government has not officially commented on any policy changes regarding artists that can or cannot be played on its radio stations. Moreover, as of yet, no banned artist has been played on air.”

“Freedom of speech is one of those areas that is (and has been since the inception of the revolution) nonexistent in Cuba, and yet much of the attention has been placed on Cuban exiles’ legal and peaceful protests over certain Cuban musical acts performing in Miami,” Joe Cardona wrote.


Fox News Latino – 8 August 2012:
‘Cuba Lifts Radio Ban on Anti-Castro Musicians, Report Says’


BBC News – 8 August 2012:
Cuba’s ban on anti-Castro musicians quietly lifted


The Miami Herald – 17 August 2012:
‘Unleashing music’s power for political change in Cuba’



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