So what’s all the hoopla about the Juanes concert in Havana?

Conceptually some guy who happens to be a Singer is holding a concert right? I can´t help but wonder what all the hoopla is about. But, then again maybe I can. If the concert was in any other city we´d learn little about it unless we lived there. It’s a bit like Sun City, Moscow and Beijing in the 80´s. However much this Juanes concert offers striking similarities to historic political shifts, South Florida fails to catch the relevance. Much like the critics in the 80´s, we´ll soon learn that Florida is not ground zero for what’s right or wrong about Cuba nor is it the nucleus of Cuban opinion. Beating the same drum as always, Willy Chirino, Gloria Estefan and their disciples need a lesson in modern history in order to welcome Juanes and his concerts irrelevant relevance.


Back in 1985 much hoopla surrounded the German rock band “The Scorpions” who, heaven forbid, played a concert in Moscow´s Red Square in the now defunct Soviet Union. The group was heavily criticized at the time for playing into the hands of the “evil empire”, much like today´s South Florida whining. It was a sign to the west that the Soviet Union consisted of human beings much like us and also, that change was a coming. In the day, Reagan was hatching his plan with Gorbachev symbolized by “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall”. Somehow the music was a precursor of what was later to come. A kind of sign sent by Gorbachev that the times of maligning the west were dead and gone. We all know what happened a few years later.


More examples of music being a precursor to change is the South African apartheid issue. Curiously, around the same time, musicians were used by politicians to pave the way out of a public relations nightmare. Increasing artist attention on the plight in South Africa and the discrimination taking place there was exposed and made international news by Steve Van Zandt along with 54 US artists of the era via the song and video Sun City. Increased awareness of apartheid around the world turned unwanted attention to the embarrassing situation which swiftly ended some time after.


Then there´s Wham!, the 80´s pop duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgley, the first western artists to play a concert in China. In 1985 the world was shocked to learn that the apparently hard line communist government had permitted western ideals to “corrupt” Chinese youth and ideological ideals. That same year Chinas President met with Ronald Reagan. An excerpt from their welcoming speech is “President Li. This is your first trip to the United States and the first visit by a Chinese head of state to our country”. Now look at China today…


One can´t help but draw comparisons between recent history and what Raul Castro is up to. He´s already sending very different messages than his brother, having just last month declared an end to the 40 year old chants “down with imperialism” preferring instead to tell Cubans that these past ideologies won´t help or save the nation, a shocking acceptance that the times of blaming others for Cuba´s acute problems are over. This would be like blasphemy for Fidel. Observably, Cuba´s President telling Cuban´s that it’s the countries system that is not working, is historically significant in itself.


So, back to this Juanes concert, could it be another historical message in the making? Could it be the first step in a debate about Cuba that Raul Castro´s government is about to contemplate with its people. Could this be history repeating itself?


1985 Scorpions concert approved – Reagan meets Gorbachev in Reykjavik – Cold war over shortly after and Russia turns to capitalism


1985 Wham concert in Beijing – Reagan meets with Li Xiannian at the white house and China becomes the US´s biggest trading partner


2009 Juanes Plays in Havana – Obama meets with Raul Castro in Havana and ends the embargo, US normalizes relations with Cuba?


Something’s definitely afoot here, what do you think?

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