In a first for TV Martí and an uncommon U.S. appearance, Pablo Milanés, a pillar of Cuban music for almost 50 years, spoke freely about his music, the bonds that exist between Cubans on and off the island, and his dissatisfaction with the Cuban government.
“I feel that I sacrificed a lot for the regime and I am unhappy with many of the things that I see in the government right now,” said Milanés, who still lives Cuba. “At the end of the day it is about being at peace with yourself, nothing more, nothing less…To say good and bad, then at night one can sleep in peace–it’s the best sedative.”
Considered one of Cuba’s most renowned artists, Milanés is famous for his socially conscious music and has long been associated with Cuba’s socialist system and ideals. But in recent years, he has been critical of the Cuban government and its reluctance to change.
TV Martí’s Vanessa Ruiz conducted the interview in Washington on August 25, a few hours before the start of Milanés’ first U.S. tour since 1979. Milanés’ subsequent performance on August 27 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami generated controversy among some members of the local Cuban community. Exile groups staged protests and denounced Milanés as an agent of the Castro government. Others, however, called for tolerance and emphasized the importance of cultural exchanges.
During the 20-minute interview with TV Martí, Milanés expressed his belief in socialism, but also his dismay at seeing it fail in Cuba. The 68 year-old singer/songwriter also expressed acceptance of those in the Cuban exile community who objected to his visit.
“I wanted to come and play in Miami, it was my explicit wish,” He said. “The controversy they speak of… well, that’s just part of the changes that are already happening, that are clearly seen in the recent dialogues between the two countries.”
The reaction in Cuba was swift as Milanés was quickly denounced by members of the communist media for speaking to TV Marti, a television station that is funded by the U.S. government. That notwithstanding, in a letter addressed to one of his critics, Milanés quickly challenged the Cuban press to print his words or to publish an interview with him.
Vanessa Ruiz’s interview first appeared in the TV Martí program “Cuba al Dia” and then was broadcast on Radio Martí. More information can be found by visiting martinoticias.com.