HAVANA TIMES, March 13 — It is symptomatic that reggaeton — the “babylonized” son of reggae — has displaced its paternal rhythm in the media. In addition, confusion has been created about the identity of those two different musical styles.
A few years ago I was in a meeting in which Raudel (the rapper and performer in the Eskuadron Patriota Project) — made a whole plea for the advance of pacifistic non-conformist spirituality in support of reggae and against reggaeton, which he said represented the corruption and perversion of the music that gave it its birth.
In Cuba, like in other Caribbean nations, reggae is associated with Rastafarian culture. As other writers have noted, Cuban Rastas have had few opportunities to come together and cultivate their faith.
Much of this is due to their complex relationship with the law enforcement system here, since we know that their culture makes use of “ganja” (marijuana), while Cuban law forbids the use of that plant.
Nevertheless, it seems that things are beginning to change.
Last year a book by Samuel Fure was published on Rasta culture in Cuba, and a meeting of anthropologists is set to take place this month on African-based belief systems, among which — for the first time — Rastafarianism will be included.
The mass media, including television, is also devoting more space to reggae, its Cuban promoters, and its finest exponent: Bob Marley.
A few days ago, walking through Havana I found at the National Cabaret (based in the centrally located Garcia Lorca Theater) promotional materials around an entire “Rasta Festival” that’s held there every Tuesday night. The place is just a few yards from Central Park, the traditional site where Rastafarians congregate.
The only thing that threw me a little was that the language of the poster (otherwise very attractive graphically) resembled that used in the reggaeton concert advertising that we’re now so used from the PMM productions company.