Juanes threatened to cancel Cuba concert
MIAMI (AP) — During his historic concert in Havana, Colombian pop star
Juanes was all smiles.
But hours before, he threatened to call off the event, angered over
constant monitoring by Cuban handlers and rumors police were blocking
people from the concert.
In an exchange recorded by journalists at the Hotel Nacional in Havana
on Sunday morning, Juanes pointed to an individual apparently from Cuban
"I just realized a little while ago that since yesterday, the guy who's
bringing me breakfast, the guy who is accompanying me, then I see him in
the concert, and now I see him sending messages," Juanes shouted.
Moments later, Juanes raised concerns that police were letting only
certain individuals into the concert area and prohibiting those not
wearing white shirts symbolizing peace.
"We can't permit that normal people aren't allowed in the show, that a
person who has not brought a white shirt isn't allowed in," he told
fellow performers Miguel Bose of Spain and Olga Tanon of Puerto Rico.
Eventually, Bose, his voice breaking, consoled a weeping Juanes, while
Tanon tried to convince both men to go on with the concert for the sake
of the Cuban people.
Leticia Del Monte, a producer by Spanish Broadcasting System's radio
station WXDJ-95.7 FM El Zol in Miami, was among those who recorded the
incident with her cell phone.
Del Monte said she didn't attend the concert as a journalist but felt
compelled to tape the exchange when Juanes began calling reporters to
She said the argument started when Juanes approached an individual who
appeared to be with Cuban state security and pulled him out of the
restaurant where the musicians were having breakfast.
"We are very upset, very upset," he Juanes yelled. "We are here for the
youth of Cuba … for the future of Cuba."
At one point Juanes also refused to return to his hotel room. It was not
Video of the incident was posted on Youtube.com and could be seen by
those with access to the internet in Cuba on Thursday. According to a
spokesman for Juanes, concertgoers were permitted to enter the event
Tensions ran high on both sides of the Florida Straits in the days
before the concert. Juanes received death threats in Miami and
considerable criticism from the Cuban-American community, many of whom
viewed him as a naive idealist playing into the hands of the island's
But Juanes pressed forward, and an estimated more than 1 million people
attended the 5 1/2 hour concert.
Since then, he has won over many of the skeptical in Miami.
Late Sunday night, dozens of young Cuban-Americans and their supporters
banged pots and pans and chanted Juanes' name, drowning out a small
group of mostly older exiles protesting the event.
Others in the exile community have gone so far as to apologize publicly
for their initial opposition.
SBS' Mega TV network host Maria Elvira Salazar, a Cuban-American
strongly critical of Fidel Castro, burst into tears as she publicly
thanked Tanon on her live show for mentioning Miami exiles during her
performance. She also lauded Juanes for his efforts, including his shout
of "Cuba Libre," or "Free Cuba," at the end of the concert.
Immediately after the show, the station received several calls
threatening Salazar and her two young daughters. Authorities were
investigating the incidents.
But Salazar said she was undeterred.
"He said a lot more than I thought he was going to say," Salazar said,
adding now the question is what happens next.
"We need to use this concert to do something," Salazar said. "You can't
ask a singer to do what the country hasn't be able to do in 50 years."
Juanes threatened to cancel Cuba concert – Miami, Fort Lauderdale,
Channel 7 News Fox WSVN-TV (24 September 2009)