HAVANA – Families of the 75 members of the Cuban opposition jailed in a wave of repression in the spring of 2003 sent and open letter to Colombian superstar Juanes asking that he plead for the release of the prisoners during his upcoming concert in Havana.
The missive was signed by 50 relatives of some of the 54 members of the “Group of 75” who remain in prison.
They urged Juanes to “call on the Cuban government to free, unconditionally and immediately, all of Cuba’s political prisoners.”
Aniley Puentes, wife of one of the prisoners, told Efe the signers learned that Juanes received their letter on Wednesday.
Although the artists and organizers of Sunday’s “Peace Without Borders” event have insisted that politics will not be mentioned at the concert, Puentes said that it’s always a good idea “to take advantage of opportunities.”
Puente admitted that a possible intercession by Juanes on the part of the prisoners “perhaps isn’t feasible onstage, but it would be in other surroundings,” and added, “that’s in our interest.”
Two weeks ago, 30 still-jailed members of the Group of 75 issued a statement supporting the Juanes concert, which has come in for much criticism from Cuban exiles.
“We think this concert ... is a great opportunity to further the process of reconciliation among all Cubans and leave behind the hate that has poisoned our homeland for so many years,” the statement read.
Alejandrina Garcia, who coordinated the open letter to Juanes, told Efe that there are at least six Cuban opposition activists who have been ordered by State Security to stay away from Havana on Sunday.
Juanes is due in Cuba Friday from Spain for the concert that will take place in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion, where a crowd of more than 500,000 is expected.
Miami-based Cuban exiles say a concert for peace in Cuba makes no sense because what the island needs is freedom. They contend that Juanes is tacitly endorsing the communist regime by performing in Havana.
But Juanes, a 12-time Latin Grammy winner who offered the first Peace Without Borders concert last year to reduce tensions among Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, insists the message of peace applies to all countries, not just those at war or under the threat of armed conflict.
Joining Juanes on the stage in Havana will be Spain’s Miguel Bose, Luis Eduardo Aute and Victor Manuel; Puerto Ricans Olga Tañon and Danny Rivera; Ecuador’s Juan Fernando Velasco and Italy’s Jovanotti.
The large Cuban contingent set to perform includes Silvio Rodriguez, Los Van Van, Amaury Perez, the Orishas, Carlos Varela, X Alfonso, and Cucu Diamantes & Yerbabuena. EFE