MIAMI – Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes defended himself from criticism surrounding his decision to give a “concert for peace” in Cuba, saying his goal is to convey the message that “it’s time to change (people’s) minds.”
“Going to Cuba is a symbol that it’s time to change (people’s) minds,” an opportunity to tell the world that “people have to change” and defend peaceful coexistence among peoples, the artist said in an interview on U.S. Spanish-language network Univision’s “Aqui y Ahora” program.
The vehemently anti-Castro, Cuban-exile population in Miami has harshly criticized Juanes over the concert, saying he will be an “accomplice” of the Cuban regime if he performs there without denouncing the “rights violations being committed” on the communist-ruled island.
Artists from the United States, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina are scheduled to join the 12-time Latin Grammy winner for the Sept. 20 concert in Havana.
The Colombian pop star, who currently lives in Miami, said the last thing he wants to do is “offend Cubans living away from the island” and who have called on Juanes to sing in the name of freedom and not of peace.
Juanes said he has the support of the U.S. government for his plans to give the concert at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion. “We told them about the idea and they thought it was important, because art truly is important in bringing a people together,” the singer said.
The Colombian said in the interview that he will not offer any political message during the concert and that performing in Cuba is important to open a window on the outside world for Cubans and give concert-goers some happiness, freedom, peace and fun for “a little bit.”
Juanes said he was concerned that his performance on the island could spark a boycott of his albums and concerts by Cuban exiles in Miami.
“It could happen” but “time will tell if (the Cuban show) was good or bad,” he said.
A leading dissident group on the island said in a report released Monday that Cuba continues to have the worst human rights record in the Americas, a situation that has not changed since Gen. Raul Castro replaced his older brother Fidel as president.
“The Cuban government continues to occupy the dishonorable first place in the world for the number (65) of prisoners of conscience recognized by Amnesty International,” the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and Reconciliation said in the report. EFE