Cuba Rock Agency Director Dismissed / Camilo Ernesto Olivera

Maxim Rock, last Saturday. Photo: Camilo Ernesto Olivera
Maxim Rock, last Saturday. Photo: Camilo Ernesto Olivera

HAVANA, Cuba, November 6, 2013, Camilo Ernesto Olivera / On Saturday, 2 November, Blanca Record was dismissed as director of the Cuban Rock Agency. This was the surprising and unusual response to a protest expressed through “official channel.”

Blanca Recode took office last June. Her appointment was signed by Orlando Vistel, Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Music (ICM).

For more than a week, a good share of the musicians belonging to the Cuban Rock Agency (ACR) joined together to demand the dismissal of this functionary. They drafted a letter where they explained the situation of the groups, the despotic manifesto of this director, and her threats of shutting them down and firing them.

On Monday, musicians and technicians addressed different levels of the Ministry of Culture and also the Council of State. One group managed to deliver, personally, a copy of their protest letter to the Vice Minister for Music, Orlando Vistel. He scheduled a meeting on the 31st with various of those making the demands.

As a result, the Vice Minister guaranteed a response to the demands of the musicians and the workers of the Agency in a short time. The promise was fulfilled in just under 48 hours.

During the weekend, events seemed to rush toward the firing last Saturday. On Monday, the 4th, they decided not to keep the lawyer and economist at the Agency. Other changes are expected in the coming days. Meanwhile, the Agency and Maxim Theater continue operating and the programmed concerts will go on.

This weekend, two groups from Colombia and Switzerland shared the stage with Cuban groups.

According to reliable sources who asked not to be named, the Deputy Minister Orlando Vistel accepted the rockers’ proposal to name María Gattorno as Agency director.

Between 1988 and 2003, Gattorno managed to sustain, against all odds, the well-remembered “Patio de Maria” in a small house of culture. She is is much loved and respected among musicians and the Cuban rocker and metalhead audience.

During the time the Rock Agency was created in 2007, Gattorno decided not to accept the leadership of this organization for personal reasons. At that time, the appointment of Max Yuri Avila to the office was approved, who at that time already had experience in the work of artistic production and entertainment. Now the challenge is much greater.

The official dismissed arrived last June emphatically stating that “the Agency is going to be closed.”  Reversing this is a challenge that lies ahead for the two generations of rock and heavy metal musicians who survive as a part of this State entity.

Certainly , the genre has survived in much worse circumstances. But keep in mind that winning a battle is not winning the war. More than five decades of eventful history of rock on the island testify to this.

Camilo Ernesto Olivera

Cubanet, 6 November 2013