Monday, September 21, 2009

Updated: Juanes And The Language of Subtlety

Update: For other perspectives, try Babalu here and here. And if a cartoon is worth a thousand words, try this.

Like many I was affronted and very cynical as to why Juanes was holding a "Peace Concert" in Havana, perceiving him as yet another stooge. I still find the motive dubious, but the event itself turned out to be not quite what anyone envisioned.

We in the United States are so accustomed to speaking frankly that we miss the nuances of what those on the island call "doble cara." We cannot truly understand the lexicon of gesture and symbol that envelops the lives of people who live at the whim of an all powerful state and who have been fed with the mother's milk of indoctrination by that same entity.

So while the embargo lifters will have a field day using the concert to bash those recalcitrant exiles, they may be missing an important subtext. Knowing the Cuban temperament, the multitudes came out for a good time, but were they there for something more? Is it the first time they went to that plaza, the plaza of mandatory revolutionary pagentry, of their own volition in a country where free assembly is forbidden? Is it possible that when Olga Tañon sang- as reported by the Herald- "Es mentiroso ese hombre," or "That man is a liar" and brought the house down, the crowd might have their own candidate in mind? The point was reinforced by a fellow Cuban, who posted this reminiscence. Remember the role music has played in demonstrating disaffection with the regime, whether the rock and roleros of the past or Gorki in the present day.

Could be the opening whimper. If nothing else, to his credit Juanes shouted the words "Cuba Libre," albeit couched in conciliatory thoughts. In my experience, a good number of Cubans are not political. They have had enough of incessant propaganda. But no amount of repression or refrain can cover up the absolute debacle the revolution has created. What Cubans do know is that their lives are untenable and that they want something different, jama being primary on their wish list.

As more information emerges, I may yet change my mind. For right now, it seems that ordinary Cubans massed at the venue and made it their own. What would seem something of a blow to those who want so much more for them, may in fact be a triumph delivered in the language of subtlety.

*doble cara - double face or two-faced
*Cuba libre- free Cuba
*jama- food

1 comment:

Mandy Maria said...

I wonder how much the USA will mirror Cuba at the end of the current Presidential Administration? Will we one day be speaking in double talk?