Cuba: Crowds gather for landmark Rolling Stones concert

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Tens of thousands of Cubans have been gathering in Havana for a landmark free concert by the Rolling Stones. As BBC News reports, “fans queued for hours to get into the grounds of Havana’s huge Ciudad Deportiva venue.” AFP reports that Cuban state media estimated that as many as 500,000 people could cram into Ciudad Deportiva, with thousands more in surrounding streets. The concert is slated to begin at 8:30pm tonight. See excerpts of BBC article here:

The concert comes after a historic visit to Cuba by President Barack Obama and is being seen as another sign of real change on the island. Until about 15 years ago Cuba’s communist government banned most Western rock and pop music. It was deemed decadent and subversive. But Cuba has changed significantly in recent years, particularly in the past 18 months as the process of rapprochement with the United States has quickened, says the BBC‘s Will Grant in Havana.

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Fans travelled from many parts of Cuba and other countries to witness what some described as a historic moment. “It was forbidden. We couldn’t have the Beatles or some singers from Latin America. Now we are allowed to hear what we want to hear,” a fan told the BBC. “The visit from Obama [earlier this week], and now the Rolling Stones. It’s just unique and historic. So, yeah, nice to be here,” said another one.

The Rolling Stones released a short video saying their concert was a sign of change in Cuba. “Time changes everything. So we’re very pleased to be here,” said Mick Jagger. “It would have been surprising for this to happen 10 years ago,” he added.

At least a million people are expected to watch the British band’s first concert in Cuba from 00:30 GMT (20:30 local).

For original BBC post, see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35901988

Also see http://news.yahoo.com/rolling-stones-first-cuba-concert-not-only-rock-181647841.html

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