Friday, September 20, 2013

In Cuba, “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right”

In Cuba, "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right"
September 19, 2013
On Cuban Musician Carcasses' Recent Statements
Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban musician Roberto Carcasses' recent declarations at
a concert, organized to demand the release of the Cuban agents
imprisoned in the United States, gave rise to a political tsunami. It is
the only thing intellectual circles on the island seem to be talking
about, as though they regarded the incident as something of primordial

Carcasses' statements are the talk of the day because many Cubans heard
them directly, through a live airing of the concert, where the artist
made a whole range of demands, placing freedom of expression, the
legalization of marihuana, the right to free elections and to purchase a
car all in the lyrics of a song.

A number of exasperated young colleagues wrote me through social
networks to protest about the fault-finding musician. I've also read the
posts of professional bloggers now "asking for blood" (and was far from
surprised, as they always want to appear more Marxist than Marx).

The incident has also raised the hopes of anti-Castro circles outside
the island. There, they are convinced that "Carcasses is the tip of the
ice-berg", that the "the people are losing their fear to speak out", and
again dream of the popular uprising that Cuba's internal dissidents have
been unable to bring about.

The average Cubans I spoke with are divided into those who see Carcasses
as an opportunist who "stole the stage during the concert for the Cuban
Five", those who regard him as a courageous artist who "put everything
on the line", those who think he "exercised his rights in the wrong
place" and those (the majority) who simply find the whole thing rather

The truth of the matter is that these statements would not have become
anything other than an anecdote had the artist not been immediately
punished by Cuban authorities, intent on curtailing his career
indefinitely – a move that would pretty much oblige him to emigrate and
take his music elsewhere.

This set off the alarm. Some left-leaning Cuban blogs, like La Joven
Cuba, warned readers of the political costs of such a measure. No one
listened, however, until Silvio Rodriguez, a voice that is more
difficult to silence, entered the stage.

The renowned singer-songwriter invited the chastised artist to
participate in his next two concerts, placing the censors in the
difficult position of having to cancel these performances in order to
enforce their decision.

The irony to this is that Silvio believes his colleague "made a serious
blunder." He says he would have preferred Carcasses had made his
statements at a different concert, because "the struggle for the freedom
of the Cuban Five is a sacred flag of the Cuban people that ought to be
placed well above other issues."

Despite this, he decided to intervene because "the institution that
administers the work of music professionals in Cuba is making another
blunder in response to my colleague." Silvio got involved "to condemn
these practices, which belong to the past, to condemn the fact they are
being implemented in this day and age."

Silvio Rodriguez suffered such measures himself when he was still a
rebellious young artist. What he learned from the experience is that
"two wrongs don't make a right." He feels it is truly "dreadful that the
cause of the Five should be used as a pretext for an act of repression."

As for me, I was not in the least surprised by the measure. I know
singers who have been denied a stage for two years only for expressing
their opinions publicly and a Cuban television journalist who was
suspended for 12 months because of the "ideological content" of one of
his reports.

Since the 70s, the Communist Party's ideology department has acted as
the spearhead of the government's most intolerant hardliners,
marginalizing believers and homosexuals, maintaining the press under
rigid control and attacking any form of artistic or intellectual
expression that strays from the official line.

This is not the first time something like this happens. The novelty is
that the story had a happy ending. The authorities thought it over,
chose to converse with the artist and reported that "the talks were so
positive that they've decided to annul the punishment."

To say that the pressure [of those supporting Carcasses] worked would be
only part of the truth. The new cadres at the Party's Ideology
Department may also have had a say in this. This new blood could
ultimately bring significant changes,

In his letter in support of Carcasses, Silvio Rodriguez states that "two
wrongs don't make a right". I would add that when, in spite of this,
someone makes another mistake, righting such a wrong is not a sign of
weakness or strength, but a basic act of justice.
(*) An authorized HT translation of the original posted in Spanish by
BBC Mundo.

Source: "In Cuba, "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right"" -

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