Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cuban Bob Dylan, Cultural exchanges open doors

The comparison Mr. Varela has drawn to the U.S. father of Folk has to do with his musical and lyrical styles, however his recent trip to the U.S. indicates improving cultural ties between the two countries. This comes a week after Kool and the Gang gave a huge performance in Havana, reciprocating cultural exchange that was previously forbidden under the Bush Administration. Having toured with Jackson Browne and been to the U.S. during the Clinton years, Varela was barred from entering in 2004, even after nearly 2000 tickets to his concert in Miami had already been sold.

Despite strong words from Presidents Castro and Obama about what each country needs to do policy-wise, the cultural exchange of U.S. and Cuban artists allows for artist-to-artist, artist-to-public and artist-to-politician diplomacy, all laying the foundation for potential policy changes down the road.

Here, New York Times reports that Varela held a jam session (that's right!) in the House Budget Committee meeting room before speaking with several Legislators in Washington DC. Check here for an interesting slide show on Varela on his previous visits to the US also by NYT. I'll leave you with one of my favorite Varela songs I've come across, La Política No Cabe en la Azucarera:

Hace mucho calor en la vieja Habana
(It's very hot in Old Town Havana)
la gente espera algo, pero aquí no pasa nada.
(People wait for something but nothing happens here)
Un tipo gritó: ¡sálvese quien pueda!
(One guy said: "every man for himself!")
Cada día que pasa sube más la marea.
(Every day that passes the tide rises)
Felipito se fue a los Estados Unidos,
(Felipe went to the United States)
allí pasa frío y aquí estaba aburrido,
(There it is cold and boring)
en la mesa de domingo hay dos sillas vacías
(On the Sunday table there are two empty chairs)
están a 90 millas de la mía.
(They are 90 Miles from mine)
Pero entiéndelo brother
(But understand brother)
tómalo como quieras
(Take it as you want)
la política no cabe en la azucarera.
(Policy does not fit in the sugar bowl).

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