Are Officials Trying to Put Out Fire With “Gasolina”?

Last week Orlando Vistel Columbié, who runs the official Cuban Music Institute, gave an interview to the government-run Granma newspaper that has local reggatoneros up in arms. Effective immediately, artists are not allowed to perform music with anything the government deems to be obscene lyrics. Vistel Columbié made clear that the new ban on expression may affect other genres as well: “We are not just talking about reggaeton. There is vulgarity, banality and mediocrity in other forms of music too,” Vistel Columbié said. “But it is also true that reggaeton is the most notorious. “On the one hand there are aggressive, sexually obscene lyrics that deform the innate sensuality of the Cuban woman, projecting them as grotesque sexual objects. And all that is backed by the poorest quality music.” The penalties include taking musicians off government-approved lists that would make it difficult to get gigs. Radio and TV stations are also being forced to stop playing reggaeton, and new laws are in the works to limit what can be played at public events. This isn’t the first time Cuban officials have lashed out at the sexy hybrid of dancehall, hip-hop, and Latin sounds. The government criticized local reggaetonero Osmani Garcia’s hit song “Chupi Chupi” last year, saying that it “put the soul of the nation in the balance.” Check it out and judge for yourself.  Video After The Jump…

Osmani Garcia “Chupi Chupi”

“Measures that have been adopted range from professional disqualification of those who violate ethics in their work to the levying of severe sanctions against those who from official institutions encourage or permit these practices,” said Vistel Columbié. “We are in the process of purging music catalogues with the aim of eradicating practises that, in their content, stray from the legitimacy of Cuban popular culture.” In the next breath he extolled the freedom enjoyed by Cuban citizens. “Obviously everybody is free to listen to the music they want in private, but that freedom does not include a right to broadcast it in state or private restaurants and cafes, in buses or in public spaces,” Vistel Columbié said. “We are talking about pseudo‑artistic work that has nothing to do with our cultural policies or the ethics of our society.” Vistel Columbié assured readers of the government newspaper that more traditional forms of music would be OK: “From son and salsa, to jazz and rumba, and on to symphony and chamber music, we have many musicians, a good number of whom are internationally acclaimed,” he added. “That is the truth about Cuban music and musicians.”

Via Atlantic Wire; Guardian UK

Freddie McGregor “Joy In The Morning”