14ymedio, Havana, 27 October 2022 – The Cuban singer Emilio Frías, leader of the band El Niño y la Verdad, described on Thursday as “censorship” a number of measures taken, without “clear and precise” explanation by the Ministry of Culture and the Cuban Institute of Music, against the band.
In a Facebook post to his fans, Frías complained that since his return from Mexico on 9 October, his concerts have been postponed and television programmes recorded several months ago have not been broadcast or have been removed from the listings “for now”.
“There’s no other word for this than censorship”, said the musician, whose performance on 10 September at the Casa de Música in Central Havana was interrupted by security staff of the venue. Frias has become increasingly critical of the situation in Cuba, which he encapsulated in a song Cambio, released a few days after the incident.
The singer made it known that he had asked for an explanation from the cultural authorities, who told him that he wasn’t “prohibited from working, nor from appearing on Televisión Cubana”, but, he added, the reality for the band is very different in practice.
“We have fought a pitched battle and it’s been an odyssey to try to get to perform on the Island but even then we’ve had no success”, Frías lamented. “It’s obvious that there’s an unofficial command that has brought this about, or that some cultural executives are behind it”.
The artiste emphasised that he has been “prudent” and has retracted some of his statements, but that he finally felt pushed to the limit when he received no answer to his enquiry as to whether he would be allowed to perform next Saturday at the El Sauce venue. Neither did they offer any clarification as to whether his interview on the CheFarándula programme would be shown.
Frías detailed how the 23 people who work for the band, including the engineers, technicians and producers, are the ones who are suffering most from this uncertainty, as it is preventing them from being paid their regular salary.
“I’m not going to beg for what is my right — to play in Cuba”, affirmed the musician, who insists he will stay on the Island and won’t go into exile. “I won’t lower myself to ask forgiveness, nor will I backtrack, because I haven’t done anything apart from sing ’The Truth’”.
He added that he would stay in the country, even whilst the Island is living through its “most difficult moment”. “Thank you for all the love and affection, and the reception you’ve given me throughout my 16 year career, in which my only mission has been to make people dance, to bring happiness to the Cuban people, who really need it, and to be a chronicler of my generation through my songs”, he concluded, with the promise that “we will see each other one day”.
Frías’s post generated a multitude of support from various followers and musicians, among them the singer Yotuel, one of the writers of the song Patria y Vida, who posted that: “dictatorships are afraid of the truth”.
In September, El Niño y la Verdad released Cambio, a song which exceeded 147,000 views on YouTube. The artiste presented it as “a song which is necessary for the times that Cuba is living through”, as it deals with the theme of exile, in a country which is undergoing a grave crisis of migration.
Frías had promised to return to Havana this month, after the band’s performances in Mexico, and to look for a venue in the capital that was “really cool and really neutral” for the premiere of Cambio.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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