Juanes' Concert Will Do Good to Cuba
Unfortunately, the United Nations International Peace Day concert set for Sept. 20, 2009, is now in danger because vocal and powerful people in the Cuban-exile community continue to promote a policy of cultural and artistic isolation.
They have tried to demonize Juanes as a communist and a tool of Castro merely for attempting to perform in Cuba, and many have reported as if these impassioned voices speak for the entire Cuban-exile community. They don't.
We must acknowledge that the cultural and artistic isolation of Cuba has not worked. It has now been more than five decades, and our brothers and sisters still lack hope and fundamental freedoms. I have personally experienced the pain and anger now driving the movement to cancel the concert. We all agree the totalitarian regime depends on stifling free exchange between people, muting opposing perspectives and prohibiting passion and ambition from climbing beyond established boundaries.
Wouldn't we be complicit in this oppression by canceling the concert? After all, we would be denying the Cuban people something they desperately need while guaranteeing that no message of any kind can be delivered to them.
Cubans on the island should enjoy as many fundamental rights as possible -- and as soon as possible. Most of us already enjoy the right to be inspired every day, but the Juanes concert presents one rare opportunity for our brothers and sisters, in particular the younger generation in Cuba, to be inspired on a whole new scale.
Cultural and artistic events of this magnitude can be transformational, planting roots of hope and leading to the overall grassroots change many seek for Cuba. At the most basic level, spectators will be entertained and will get much needed relief from daily frustrations. But when they become inspired, hope will follow. They'll be thirsty for more. They'll be receptive to more. They will question more and demand more.
I am convinced that allowing the concert will be far more effective in promoting long-term change than would cancelling it. But even more important, it is the right thing to do as an act of human compassion. Fulfilling a fundamental need of Cubans on the island right now is simply more important than denying the regime its inevitable but marginal and short-lived propaganda bump.
Even if you think I am naive about the likely impact of the concert, how can we continue, in good conscience, to deny our brothers and sisters their right to be inspired when presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? They have been denied long enough.
Inspiration can have a powerful impact on people's lives. Many years ago the Cuban-exile community rallied behind my dream of going to college and inspired me to make it a reality despite what seemed like insurmountable obstacles.
My education gave me the courage and the tools to question conventional wisdom and the status quo, and my actions today are an outgrowth of their support seven years ago.
Our moral and social obligations to those we left behind now compel me to speak out in support of the Juanes concert, and I'm asking you to stand with me. Talk about it with your family and friends. Speak out about it publicly at every opportunity. Tweet about it. Update your status on Facebook. Engage the critics. Urge exiled artists to support the concert. Stay informed.
Most of all -- be inspired.
Source: Miami Herald