United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Havana hot spot

Maite Junco
Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 4:00 AM
Having spent six weeks defending and tweeting about his decision to sing in Havana,Colombian star Juanes and at least eight other foreign musicians head to Cuba this week for the historic Sunday concert.
They will be joined by other Cuban artists — including nueva trova icon Silvio Rodríguez, the acclaimed Los Van Van band and the Europe-based rap trio Orishas — for the “Peace Without Borders” concert at Revolution Plaza starting at 2 p.m.
Juanes, 37, also arrives in Havana a new parent, after his wife, Karen, gave birth to their third child, Dante, in a Miami hospital last Saturday.
As of yesterday, the list of artists traveling with Juanes for the four-hour event are Olga Tañon and Danny Rivera from Puerto Rico; Miguel Bosé, Víctor Manuel and Luis Eduardo Aute from Spain; Juan Fernando Velasco from Ecuador and Jovanotti from Italy.
In addition, New York-based Cuban singer CuCu Diamantes and the band Yerba Buena are making the trip.
The concert has stirred criticism from some Cuban-Americans who see it as a legitimization of the island’s Communist government, but over the last weeks, support has grown to include younger exiled Cubans, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and political prisoners on the island.
The 17-time Latin Grammy winner Juanes has insisted that the event is not about politics.
Cubans on the island are abuzz about the free outdoor concert, with some estimating a crowd 600,000-strong on Sunday. The remaining Cuban artists performing are Amaury Pérez, Carlos Varela and X-Alfonso.
The concert will air on Cuban television, and the transmission signal can be used for free in any country. So far, in New York the concert is airing on HITN, available on Time Warner Cable Ch. 831 for their DTV en Español customers, and on Direct TV. Juanes’ publicist said they expect to announce other broadcast outlets later in the week.
The singer is traveling with an entourage of 128 people, including artists, musicians and technicians, according to a statement put out by him and the Cuban Music Institute. More than 160 journalists from around the world have been credentialed to attend.
Juanes held his first “Sin Fronteras” concert in March 2008 on a bridge on the Venezuelan-Colombian border.