Juanes concert latest front in Havana-Miami row

Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:07pm EDT
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By Jeff Franks

HAVANA (Reuters) - Half a million people are expected to fill Havana's Revolution Square Sunday for a concert that is supposed to be about peace, but has become another front in the war of words between Havana and the Cuban exile community in Miami.

Colombian musician Juanes, a winner of 17 Grammy awards, has worked with Cuba's communist authorities to put together the event in which he and 14 other musical acts from six countries will play for free for the Cuban masses.

Anti-communist Cuban exiles in Miami have pilloried Juanes, accusing him of pandering to the Cuban government. Juanes lives on Miami's exclusive Key Biscayne.

Miguel Bose from Spain, Olga Tanon from the U.S. Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico, Jovanotti from Italy and Silvio Rodriguez and Los Van Van from Cuba are part of the lineup mostly made up of Spanish-language stars.

Juanes has said the point of his "Peace Without Borders" concert is not political, but to encourage "hope and dreams."

"I am not a communist. I am not aligned with the government," he told the Miami Herald newspaper.

"Our only message is one of peace, of humanitarianism, of tolerance, a message of interacting with the people."

Many in Miami's Cuban exile community do not buy it. They assert that Juanes is helping legitimize a Cuban government they have never forgiven for turning the Caribbean island into a communist state.   Continued...