Cuban musician confirms the government has lifted its ban on his concerts

Cuban musician Roberto Carcassés confirmed Friday that the government has lifted its ban on his concerts, imposed after he asked for freedom of information and opinion and direct presidential elections during a nationally televised presentation last week.

“The sanction has been revoked,” the 41-year-old Carcassés wrote on the Facebook page of his fusion group, Interactivo. He made no mention of his criticisms of the communist government other than so say that they were prompted “primarily by love.”

“The conversations with the (Culture Ministry) authorities helped to get to know and respect each other more in our opinions; and to understand that dialogue is the only road for the present and the future of Cuba,” he wrote.

Silvio Rodríguez, Cuba’s best-known singer-composer and a government supporter on many issues, announced on Tuesday that the ministry — it controls the vast majority of concerts — had lifted the sanction. But Carcassés himself made no comment until Friday.

Carcassés angered the ministry when he declared that he wanted political and other changes during a multi-artist, televised concert Sept. 12 in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana organized by the government to call for the release of four Cuban spies in U.S. jails.

A culture ministry official told him the next day that he had been suspended from ministry-controlled events indefinitely, but Rodriguez and other well-known musicians rushed to his defense, while others condemned him harshly.

“I want to thank all of those who have expressed their solidarity with me in one way or another,” Carcassés wrote, “the true friends who immediately got in touch to offer me their unconditional support in moments when it wasn’t very good for me.”

“To those who did not agree and said so … with respect, thanks also. I learned a lot from the criticisms made out of love and sincerity,” the musician added.

He later added a note on the Interactivo Web page that the Roberto Carcassés Trio — another of his musical groups — would perform at a previously cancelled concert Saturday night at the Café Miramar in Havana. He did not mention another concert cancelled, on Wednesday at the capital’s Brecht café.

Carcassés, the son of famed jazz musician Bobby Carcassés, also took advantage of the national and international attention he has attracted to announce that Interactivo’s next CD is almost ready and will be titled “How pretty is love.”

Rodriguez offered measured support for Carcassés earlier this week, saying that he would include Carcassés in his own concerts to counteract the government suspension but also saying that his words at the concert were clumsy and inappropriate.

“As a Cuban citizen Robertico has the right to say what he thinks,” Rodriguez wrote. “I would have preferred that he would do this in another concert, in a record, somewhere else, because the struggle for the freedom of [the spies] is sacred for the Cuban people.”

Cuba claims that the five intelligence agents convicted in Miami in 2001 are “heroes” because they spied on exiles that might be planning terror attacks on the island. Evidence at their trial showed that the three also spied or tried to spy on U.S. military bases. One of the five completed his sentence and returned to Cuba this year.

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