Cuban Band Leader Commits Musical “Suicide”

A recent photo of Robertico Carcasses from the Interactivo Facebook page.

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES — Popular jazz-fusion band leader Roberto Carcasses said a few improvised lines at a concert on Thursday night that will most likely cost him his career in Cuba.

Robertico’s group Interactivo were the closing act at a nationally televised concert held at the Anti-imperialist plaza in front of the US Interests Section in Havana.

The occasion was a government conceived event to mark the 15th anniversary of the arrest in the United States of the Cuban Five, and a call for their immediate return to the island.

So what did Carcasses add to his personal call to bring home the Cuban Five, considered national heroes? A report from AP stated:

Carcasses, the 41-year-old leader of the Cuban jazz-fusion combo Interactivo, sang about his desire for “free access to information so I can have my own opinion…”

“I want to elect the president by direct vote and not some other way,” he continued. “Neither militants nor dissidents, (we are) all Cubans with the same rights.”

“And an end to the blockade,” he added, in reference to Washington’s 51-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, “and to the self-blockade,” which critisizes what many consider unnecessary roadblocks the system has put on itself.

Concert on 12/9 in support of the Cuban Five.
Concert on 12/9 in support of the Cuban Five. Photo: Ladyrene Pérez/Cubadebate.

Then, more in line with the theme of the event, Carcasses gestured at the US Interests Section behind the stage and exclaimed, “Free the Five Heroes!”

The controversial lyrics coincide with criticisms by both supporters of greater participation and openness within Cuba’s socialist system as well as those dissidents who believe the system must be totally gutted.

Affordable and domestic Internet Access, a revamping of the Communist Party controlled media, plus a general freedom of expression and association are points that the government has refused to allow despite its economic reform process.

AP added: “The concert was the crowning event of a government-sponsored yellow ribbon campaign to raise awareness about the Cuban Five, who were convicted in 2001 of spying on U.S. military installations and exile groups.

“Cuba maintains that they were only monitoring violent exile groups to prevent terror attacks on the island, and their imprisonment is one of Havana’s chief grievances against Washington.

“Fans packed the so-called Anti-Imperialist Plaza at the foot of the U.S. Interests Section Thursday night to hear more than a dozen performers. One after another, they demanded freedom for the four agents still behind bars.”

Repercussions

The reprisal against Carcasses have already begun. Robertico “has been separated from the music industry” for an indefinite time period, reports Café Fuerte.

Roberto Carcasses, left, and members of Interactivo.
Roberto Carcasses, left, and members of Interactivo from their Facebook page.

“They called us to a meeting yesterday at the Cuban Music Institute, where we were told that Roberto is “separated from the industry” for an indefinite time period. That means he cannot perform solo nor with Interactivo at any State facility”, informed the Interactivo Facebook page on Saturday morning.

“Shortly after the message disappeared and it only mentions that the group suspended its scheduled performances Saturday at the Café Jazz  Miramar and next Wednesday at the Bertold Brecht Café Theater. The reasons were not given,” noted Cafe Fuerte.

“It was like an earthquake that caught everyone off base”, commented a member of the technical support team in charge of the broadcast of the concert. “I still can’t believe that it [Carcasses’s lyrics] were broadcast to all of Cuba.”


32 thoughts on “Cuban Band Leader Commits Musical “Suicide”

  • September 18, 2013 at 6:57 am
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    Losing their fan base is one thing, death threats and being blacklisted from radio stations owned by government supporters is another. I don’t agree that they should have to self-censor for their fan base. In an ideal world there shouldn’t be any consequences of expressing an opinion, but all this shows is that you have intolerance in every country.
    As far as Robertico is concerned he should have the right to disagree in a public forum. I think his comments were heartfelt but a bit clichéd. I always think that people who position themselves right in the centre and say on the one hand this… on the other this… haven’t really put a lot of thought into anything. Also, maybe it wasn’t the right venue in that it was a bit divisive and deflected from the campaign for the five. But I do acknowledge his right to say what he said and hopefully as the latest reports indicate, the decision will be reversed. And if he puts any music out there I will be buying it.

  • September 18, 2013 at 6:31 am
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    To start with it wasn’t me that made the comparison between the two incidents. I was merely responding to the assertion that nothing happened to the Dixie Chicks as a consequence of criticizing the government and the war. In fact they faced quite a lot of intimidation and financial loss. The only comparisons I would make is (as below) that both show intolerance (of a different kind) and that for the artist being unable to play or have airtime is hardly different if it comes from a state institute or from radio stations and venues owned by supporters of the government.
    Secondly – I don’t know why you are ignoring the death threats, intimidation and blacklisting etc. Surely the fans who remained loyal also have a right to hear the band. In one way you are right that people are allowed to choose which artists they support but in another way people are morally obliged to be tolerant. I certainly wouldn’t not buy a Britney Spears album on the grounds of her support for Bush. How far do you want to go with this right, is it acceptable for people to organize a boycott of Jewish shops for example.
    Thirdly this wasn’t an action by the government, but by officials in the Cuban Institute of Music. Not everything that is state owned is “the government”. From the latest reports it appears that the governments has in fact stepped in to reverse the decision.

  • September 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm
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    Dear Mr Conspiracy nut,

    A few points of order
    – Marxism is a failed ideology (just look around)
    – Fred Hampton, Eugene Debs and the Wobblies are foot notes in history, if that.

    next you’ll be reaching back to Julius Cesars assassination and blaming the FBI for that too.

    You lost, we won, get over it.

  • September 17, 2013 at 7:06 pm
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    There is a notable difference between the GOVERNMENT BANNING you from performing, and loosing popular support from your fan base. Intolerance is indeed intolerance and I personally disliked the backlash, but that was just another form of freedom. The freedom of a group of people(the fan base) to not support the Dixie Chicks. The Dixie Chicks should have realized who their fan base was.

    By the way dani, shouldn’t Robertico have the same right to disagree in a public forum as you so evidently do?

  • September 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm
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    Oh come on! Civilians shot from a military helicopter, operated by by agents from a foreign power conducting an illegal invasion, the only justification for which was built on a body of lies, and which has left that country in tatters – and you blame the victims! If a foreign power did that to your country, wouldn’t you be feeling a tiny bit angry right now?

  • September 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm
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    For the record, many of the people blacklisted in the 50’s when accused of being Communists, were in fact members of the Communist Party.

    Some people may not think that the Communism was a real threat to the United States in the 1950s. But the fact is the Soviet Union had taken over Eastern Europe & North Korea where it installed Communist dictatorships. The USSR helped Mao’s Communists gain power in China. The USSR also had a strong influence in Western European Communist Parties, and there had been a series of high profile espionage cases in the West exposing the degree of penetration by Soviet agents. There was indeed a “Red Threat” to Western democracies.

    In fact, we would not be here freely discussing this history if the Western governments, in particular the United States, had not recognized the threat and fought back.

  • September 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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    Dan, are you daff? There are Marxist journalists all over the country. The problem is their views don’t sell newspapers. As a result, they are not widely known. You see, in the US, the media is in the public domain and not controlled by the government. As a result, popular ideas and viewpoints are what is published and failed and outdated ideologies like Marxism are marginalized. McCarthy-era ‘blacklists’ were, albeit tragic, a result of the decisions made by privately-owned movie studios and radio stations and individual concert promoters and club owners. The government did not prevent anyone from performing or acting. Yes, I am a black man and no, I do not know who you are talking about. But if he wasn’t featured on BET or MTV, I probably would not have heard of him. If the best he could do was a flatbed truck as a stage, he probably wasn’t very good anyway.

  • September 17, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    You’re right, J Edgar Hoover loved MLK. That’s why an FBI man was on the scene w/in minutes of his death.

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