Writer Santiago de Juan said, "Can you imagine Hitler with a musical band, and sending them to perform in Israel? This is the same effect as Los Van Vans [The Go Go] playing in Miami. It's a pure insult.

"Just have a good time. But, what about in the future, when history is told, how would those people explain to their children and grandchildren that, when Fidel Castro, the worst dictator in modern times, sent his propaganda to the democratic U.S., they contributed to his evil regime by supporting one of his musical groups."

Famous Cuban saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera, living in the U.S., also opposes The Go Go performance in Miami.

"Why is it acceptable to present Irakere, Compay Segundo and The Go Go in the U.S., while Willy Chirino, Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan are forbidden fruit in Cuba?" asked Jesús Hernández Cuellar from Contacto Magazine in California.

However, from October 14 to November 2, New Orleans’ Tulane University is offering a series titled "Cuban Cinema: 40 Years of ICAIC [Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry founded in March 1959]. The series includes a retrospective of Cuban films with talks by Julio García Espinosa, filmmaker and ICAIC founder."

ICAIC was founded by the Castro regime shortly after the revolution, for the express purpose of controlling the film industry and to make use of the power of films to advance the political goals of the revolution. The complete control ICAIC affords even permits the history of Cuba to be changed for the convenience and glory of the Castro regime.

The film series at Tulane, sponsored by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Cuban Studies Institute in New Orleans, will show six films made by ICAIC. A discussion of the goals and purposes of ICAIC and its films, is not, I am sure, on the agenda.

Hernandez Cuellar asks, "Why is it that the movies of Tomás Gutierrez Aléa, Humberto Solás and Santiago Alvarez (all members of the ICAIC) can be shown in the U.S., while those with Cuban themes by Néstor Almendros, León Ichaso and Orlando Jimenez Leál - all political exiles - can't be shown in Cuba?

"Following this line of reasoning, one immediately realizes which group is truly on the side of censorship.

"And it gets even worse if one takes into consideration that the movies dealing with Cuban themes made by Almendros, Ichaso and Jimenez Leál have been censored and ignored even by U.S. film festivals, in spite of having been financed by well established European movie and TV institutions."

The Go Go became known in 1970. That year, Castro decided that all Cubans should participate in the 1970 sugar cane harvest. He mobilized hundreds of thousands of people into the cane fields to fulfill his whim of producing 10 million tons of sugar. Castro’s slogan referring to his gargantuan operation was "It must go, go!"

Juan Formell, founder of The Go Go used the opportunity of the Mardi Gras celebration in the city of Santiago de Cuba to compose a song which keep repeating "go, go, I know that go, go!" - paraphrasing Castro’s slogan.

The contagious rhythm of the music became popular and the people started calling Formell’s band "The Go Go."

But The 10 million-ton sugar harvest was a humiliating failure for Castro. And subsequent sugar harvests have declined. But The Go Go keep repeating their famous phrase in their performances to serve Castro’s whims when he needs to mobilize crowds of young people to work in the fields or to construct facilities for tourists that the workers are specifically forbidden to enjoy.

And The Go Go perform in those facilities to help Castro collect money from the foreign tourists.

Formell, as a requisite official Cuban artists have to follow, must compromise his artistic freedom for the privilege of being able to maintain his musical group and be promoted by Castro’s regime as ambassadors of Cuban music. That gives him the rare opportunity to travel and perform abroad. The right to travel was removed by the revolution. Even travel inside their own country requires Cubans to obtain travel permits from state and local authorities.

In exchange for his privileges, Formell and his group have to surrender their earnings to Castro. This is a well-known fact in Cuba, though rarely revealed or discussed outside Cuba. And outside Cuba, ignoring this basic principle is to turn your back on reality and on the humiliation the Cuban people are being forced to endure so that Castro can maintain his power.

This arrangement leaves Formell in a difficult position when he is asked about politics. His only choice is to say that he and his group does not have anything to do with politics even though its very existence depends on it.

The Go Go is one more political arm and money making machine for Castro’s regime. According to famous popular singer and composer Willy Chirino, in 1987 Castro’s daily allowance for The Go Go when on tour abroad was five dollars a day. Now it is perhaps more, but still a pittance. That arrangement would not be acceptable in the U.S. Are Americans willing to go along with this abuse?

Their very well promoted tour in the U.S. is designed to collect revenues for Castro from the concerts and sales of CDs and in addition, to create division and provoke the Cuban exiles, who get a bad rap from the media when we try to point out the false pretence of these "cultural exchanges."

An example is Reuters’ October 10 cable from Miami labeling Cuban exiles "hard-liners" that were "trampling U.S. freedoms." The cable quoted The Go Go’s U.S. promoter Debbie Ohanian who said that she was "appalled by the venom of the protests." While proudly proclaiming that The Go Go "and other Cuban bands will be back in Miami" for more events.

Well, in (sarcastic) defense of Reuters they have to be careful what they report about Cuban issues in order to avoid having their news bureau in Havana expelled. They must bow to blackmail and compromise their reporting as do most foreign correspondents based in Havana.

The Cuban exiles are not against freedom of speech in the U.S., they are in favor of freedom, democracy and human rights here and in Cuba.

The position of the Cubans in the U.S. toward Castro is not different from the position of Jewish in the U.S. toward Hitler. While the Jewish rightfully enjoy sympathy and understanding, why is there so much insensitivity and misunderstanding toward the feelings of Cubans?

George Will commented, "Imagine the mood of Jews if Israel were tyrannized and were located 90 miles west of Long Island".

As an official band of Hitler, there would be no question as to why The Go Go should not be allowed to perform on U.S. soil.


Agustín Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Mr Blazquez is the Producer/Director of the documentaries

ABIP 1999

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