Cuba: Pianist banned and forced to cancel shows

The 41-year-old Cuban pianist and bandleader Robertico Carcassés has been suspended “indefinitely” from performing in Cuba after he improvised lyrics calling for direct presidential elections, free access to information and the end of the embargo during a televised concert on 12 September in the Cuban capital, Havana.

Robertico Carcasses. Photo: Havana-Cultura

Many of Cuba’s most popular musicians performed at the concert which marked the anniversary of the arrest in Miami of the Cuban intelligence agents known as ‘The Cuban Five’ and which was broadcasted live on Cuban state television.

According to a report by the exile website Diario de Cuba, Carcassés and his bandmates were called to the Cuban Music Institute and told that Carcassés would not be allowed to perform, neither solo nor with his band Interactivo, at any state facility for an indefinite period of time.

The group then announced that two upcoming shows were cancelled ‘due to a decision by authorities’.

While performing the song ‘Cubanos por el mundo’, dedicated “to Cubans here and there”, Robertico Carcassés took to the microphone and improvised lyrics calling for the release of the four prisoners, “and a lot more”, including presidential elections by direct vote, equal rights for all Cubans on the island regardless of their political opinions, and an end to the U.S. embargo and [Cuba’s] auto-embargo.

Billboard – 15 September 2013:
Robertico Carcassés Sanctioned in Cuba Over Critical Song Lyrics: Report

Global Voices Online – 17 September 2013:
Mixing Politics at Live Concert in Cuba Gets Musician Banned
By Elaine Díaz

“[I want] free access to information to have my own opinion” and “to elect a president by direct vote and not otherwise.” The improvisation ended with the phrase, “Neither militants nor dissidents, all Cubans with the same rights and may the blockade [of the United States towards Cuba] and the self-blockade come to an end.”

Robertico Carcasses. Photo: Havana-Cultura

Video with profile of Robertico Carcassés on Havana Cultura (with English subtitles):

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