Oh, Pablo / Miguel Iturria Savón

The Pablo Milanes concert, announced for August 27 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, unleashes opposing views in capital of the Cuban exile, where the promoters of Fuego Entertainment fill their lit billboards, their posters at bus stops and their TV ads, with what goes unnoticed by some while angering hundreds of critics who consider the author of the songs “Yolanda”, “To Live” and “The brief space where you are not” as “the Castro government’s emissary disguised as a musician.”

At the other extreme is the impresario Hugo Cancio, the alleged organizer of cultural exchanges between artists from Cuba and the United States, who says that “Pablo Milanes is undoubtedly a musical icon followed by millions of fans around the world. We are extremely excited and proud to have the opportunity to produce his first U.S. tour in almost a decade. ”

To make matters worse, Hugo Cancio announces on the Internet that the appearance in Miami of the Cuban singer “is a historic event, unique, iconic, powerful evidence that our city has changed, we’ve matured, we are more tolerant, wise, that we are more united, a new generation blooms, blossoms, spreads … ”

Beyond the hype of the president of Fuego Entertainment and the reasons of the exiles who see in Pablo Milanes the musical spokesman of the Cuban dictatorship, it is clear that the dilemma is the result of the traditional ideological positioning imposed on the island for half a century.

It is true that Pablo Milanes, like Silvio Rodriguez, was a singer committed to the Revolution and socialism. In founding the Nueva Trova Movement in the late sixties both trumpeted the official chimeras and received much support in their “missions” inside and outside the island. Silvio is still subject to the circles of power, but Pablo has two decades of estrangement; in his case, to classify him as on the “official” side, is to ignore his criticism of the regime and his personal honesty.

Consider also the right of art impresarios to contract with figures consistent with their spectacles, and the rights of artists to perform where they want. They should not have to be on their guard because Pablo Milanes sings in Miami or Puerto Rico. Pablo, like Silvio, Chucho Valdes and Juan Formell are also children of the marketplace, and thanks to the international market they have hard money and the freedom to travel.

These singers have nothing new to offer because the theme and variables of the “Nueva Trova” is ancient history, like the “revolutionary magic” that holds them in the past. In the case of Pablo, this is an artist who crosses the threshold of the past and criticizes the Gods of the shipwrecked island; more than an official singer he seems like a dissident limited by certain beliefs and commitments. Although Miami is the reverse of Havana, why demand from them other political positioning?

August 19 2011