The walls keep falling. On Christmas Day the popular Cuban duet Buena Fé -lyrically reflective and socially committed- performed in the small and filled-to-capacity Manuel Artime Theater in the city of Miami.
Prior to that, they had made appearances on the late-night shows of Carlos Otero and Oscar Haza, with dialogues that avoided commonplace simulation and ambitions typical of the Cold War mentality that survives on both sides of the Florida Strait.
The young singer-songwriters highlighted their condition as artists who choose to live in Cuba. They criticized restrictions on cultural exchanges that have been erected by both governments and pled for greater understanding within a single but diverse Cuban community.
A few hours after seeing the interviews and the concert on the Internet, I was sent the texts and photos by a friend, who corroborated the impact of the event and the changes experienced by the younger generation of Cuban residents in the US.
“It was the most moving and spectacular thing I’ve experienced involving them,” she commented. “Two hours before [the performance] there was no parking, and the line wrapped around the length and width of the theater… it seemed like I was in Cuba… it was as if time stood still… it was the same type of audience, the same atmosphere; it seemed like an episode in which only the place had moved… When they left the stage, it vibrated with emotion.”
She recounted that lead singer Israel Rojas was so excited that “he forgot his own songs a couple of times… he was almost bowled over when someone threw a flower onto the stage, and all of that only prompted more applause… they threw him a Cuban flag, and he wrapped himself in it… that caused total shock… and they pulled it out again at the end of the concert…
She highlighted that it was a concert that showed much respect. “Between songs, Israel spoke about pleasant, sensitive, real things … and the public responded equally… when he brought up baseball to introduce his song “Soñar en Azul” (“Dreaming in Blue,” the color of the Havana team Industriales) he spoke about the major league Cuban players and how he yearned for the time when everyone could wear the same T-shirt bearing a certain four-letter word… the whole theater was then revolutionized as people stood up and began shouting ‘Cuba Cuba Cuba!'”
Unfortunately, the intolerance of the old guard of the Vigilia Mambisa exile organization made itself present. Those were the same ones who used hammers and a steamroller to destroy CDs by singer Juanes when he performed in Havana at the Concert for Peace last September. In this regard, my friend pointed out, “They were screaming bloody murder at us, while we were laughing or yelling things back at them.”
Except for such tragicomic incidents, my young Cuban friend summarized the emotion of the encounter in a single phase. “They spoke about the divided family, the nostalgia… and I was happy to be able to rekindle that, to see new people and rediscover old faces… singing, shouting and standing up for a better future for our generation…”
I have nothing left to add but to accompany her good wishes for the New Year.