Silvio Rodríguez on Juanes Havana Concert


Silvio Rodríguez, in an interview with La Jiribilla, has spoken about the “concerns” raised outside of Cuba by the announcement of Juanes’ “Concert for Peace” scheduled for September 20th.

The idea for the concert emerge quite spontaneously, he explains, with a phone call from the Ministry of Culture to tell him that Juanes wanted to give a Concert for Peace in Havana and was coming to Cuba to discuss it. He met with Juanes and was asked to participate. “I had seen the first concert for Peace at the border between Colombia and Venezuela on TV and it seemed positive to me.” Here are some excerpt from the interview (which I have edited from the original translation—see link below—for the sake of clarity):
During the launch of the book Cancionero (Song book) you mentioned that at the age of 20 you believed that poetry could change the world and now, at the age of 60, you were convinced that you couldn’t change it, but could indeed make it better. Can this concert by Juanes in Cuba provide evidence of such certainty?
That is correct; I don’t believe that a song or a concert can change a complex reality overnight, but without a doubt an event like this one can send a strong message of Peace and goodwill, from Cuba to the United States, in this case, countries that are separated by half-a-century of discord. In my opinion, this concert intends to join the voices of many here and there who want the situation to become normal so that everyone can live as they want, respecting differences.
This musical event has caused a huge stir in Miami, where it has been described as a politicized concert. How can an event for Peace upset people this much?
The voices condemning this concert are not the voices of the immense majority of the Cuban emigrant workers. Even less the voices of the 11 million people who live in Cuba. The awkward and aggressive voices are of the small but very powerful Cuban extreme right-wing that goes hand in hand with the US extreme right. An event of Peace bothers the extreme right-wing because the nature of these people is aggressive, as is their blockade, because the idea and the fact of Peace undermine the hatred that feeds them.
There are many outbreaks of wars all over the world: military, ideological, economic, and this concert is dedicated to ending such conflicts. On behalf of what causes or against what acts should one “shoot” songs?
Juanes says he wants this concert to be white; he has also said that white is the lack of color; therefore I deduce that Juanes doesn’t want any idea prevailing over another one; he wants everyone to have the same opportunity. I believe that in this concert there is space for all the songs transmitting aspects of the human condition, which is a very diverse and very rich thing, apart from ideologies. Therefore, everything that conveys respect to the right to live, to an education, to freedom and to diversity will be valid. And rather than “shooting,” I guess that it will be a concert where songs will be blown so that the wind—helped by satellites—takes them everywhere as softly as possible.
Among your songs, there are several against war. Will we hear some of them at the concert? Maybe some from your new work “Segunda cita” (Second appointment).
To finalize the program I guess that first we need to know how many artists will take part in it. Then we can have an idea of the repertory that each will play. “Segunda cita” is a cd that is pretty focused on the Cuban reality; I could maybe sing some of those. I don’t know yet. At some point I thought of singing “Rabo de nube” (Small tornado), which I couldn’t sing at the homage to Pete Seeger. I have also thought about “Días y flores” (Days and flowers). But I could also revive one, entitled “Blanco” (White), which I composed forty years ago.
To sing at the Revolution Square is a duty, as you had stated once before in a song. What does it mean to do it today, in the present circumstances and accompanied by all these musicians?
It continues to be a duty and, of course, also a pleasure.
You have just given several concerts in Ecuador, one of the centers of the social renewal taking place in Latin America. Taking into account the experience of this visit, your contact with the people, together with the recent facts of the coup d’état in Honduras, the world crisis and the Yankee military bases in Colombia, what lessons are most important to Latin America’s future?
I think that the coup d’état in Honduras is very similar to the one against Pinochet in Chile and I think that they didn’t do it alone here either. The ambitious ones have stained once more the dignity of the Armed Forces of a Latin American country. The fact that there were fewer wounded and dead was due to the alert presence of TeleSur. It is obvious that the Honduran people will have the last word. On the other hand, the intensity of what we have lived in Asunción and Guayaquil reinforces my faith that the second Latin American independence continues.

For the original interview

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