by Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, May 6 — Business between the US and Cuba continues as usual with Washington continuing to block cultural exchange between the two nations and prohibiting ordinary US citizens from visiting Cuba.
On the same week that retired 94-year-old Portland, Oregon physician Charles Grossman had to break the US travel ban law to visit a friend in Cuba, in the other direction, the island’s leading folk singer, Silvio Rodriguez, was denied an entry visa blocking his Madison Square Garden performance at Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday tribute.
Billboard.biz reported that “Dozens of stars and musician friends played alongside Seeger at the May 3 concert, including Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez.” Silvio, as he is called in Cuba and Latin America, wrote an open letter decrying the continuing blacklisting of Cuban artists.
“I think the Department of State’s attitude is very contradictory with the wish expressed by President Obama for a rapprochement with Cuba,” wrote Rodríguez. The folksinger said he felt as discriminated against by the Obama administration “as by other US governments.”
The US has maintained an economic blockade on Cuba for nearly 50 years as well as a travel ban on its own citizens from visiting the island. Several bills are currently working their way through the US Congress that would drop the travel ban and eat away at the blockade.
Rodriguez is a Latin Grammy award winner (2007) and plays before packed stadiums or theaters wherever he travels in Latin America and other latitudes.
Meanwhile, Dr. Grossman will be returning to the US from Cuba via Vancouver over the weekend or early next week and will then find out if the US government wants to persecute him for his announced illegal visit to the island. For more on Dr. Grossman’s challenge to the travel ban see: http://havanatimes.org/?p=8223
Despite talk of wanting a new relationship with Cuba and Latin America, the Obama administration has yet to accept the unconditioned dialogue offered on several occasions by Cuban President Raul Castro to try and mend a steadfast fence between the two neighboring countries.
Numerous Latin American leaders including Brazil’s Lula da Silva and Mexico’s Felipe Calderon have encouraged Obama to scrap the blockade on Cuba.