Cuban music icon Silvio Rodriguez challenges state censorship

Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:02pm EDT
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By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - The best known musician in Cuba and a staunch supporter of the island's communist revolution, Silvio Rodriguez, has challenged state censorship by inviting a recently sanctioned colleague to join him at two concerts this weekend on the Caribbean island.

Jazz musician Robertico Carcasses shocked authorities last week when he called for direct presidential elections, freedom of information and tolerance of dissent. He spoke out during a televised mega-concert to demand the return of four Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States 15 years ago.

The Ministry of Culture, which controls music venues and all recording, responded by banning Carcasses and his jazz-fusion group, Interactivo, from state venues until further notice, touching off a debate among artists and intellectuals on social media.

Rodriguez's invitation to Carcasses to perform represents perhaps the most serious challenge in decades to the state's control of culture and thought.

"I took the decision to do this precisely in the next two concerts, after learning that he had been sanctioned with an indefinite suspension from concerts and other public activities sponsored by the ministry," Rodriguez said in his blog, Segunda Cita (Second Meeting), on Tuesday.

"I do not agree with the excessive sanction of barring a musician from doing his work," Rodriguez said.

Soon after Rodriguez extended the invitation, the ministry met with Carcasses and his band. Rodriguez said on his blog on Wednesday that the ministry was expected to lift the sanction on Carcasses but there was no official word. The controversy has not been mentioned by state-run media.

Despite his gesture of support for Carcasses, Rodriguez was sharply critical of what he termed Carcasses' "stupidity."   Continued...

Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez performs during a concert in Havana September 10, 2010. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa