Havana concert by U.S.-based pop star stirs Miami passions

Miami HeraldAugust 22, 2009 

An international concert planned for Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion and headed by a major Latino pop star is stoking passions in exile Miami in a controversial clash of art and politics.

The blogosphere was buzzing Friday over the Paz Sin Fronteras (Peace Without Borders) concert to be presented by Juanes, the immensely popular Colombian rocker who now calls Miami-Dade home, on Havana's Plaza de la Revolución on Sept. 20. Also scheduled to appear: famed Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez; Los Van Van, the island's most famous dance band; Spanish singer Miguel Bose; and Puerto Rican singer Olga Tañon.

Juanes declined interview requests Friday.

``It's time to start knocking down our own mental walls,'' he wrote in a Twitter feed about the event in late June, when news of the concert leaked. ``Our Cuban brothers need us and we need them. I'm talking about a peace concert on Sept. 20 . . . raise your voice, and let's put aside our ideological differences.''

The show is the second edition of the Paz Sin Fronteras concert that the multi-Grammy-winning star staged on the Colombian-Venezuelan border last year, which drew some 100,000 spectators at a moment of high tension between the governments of the two South American nations.

Plans for the Havana show set off an argument over music and politics in Miami's exile community the likes of which hasn't been heard since the controversial Los Van Van concert at the Miami Arena in 1999. Earlier this week, Juanes received what appeared to be death threats. Last week, members of Vigilia Mambisa, a tiny right-wing exile group, smashed and burned Juanes' CDs on Calle Ocho -- an action that produced its own controversy, as other Cuban opinion-makers criticized the protest for making the exile community look too extreme.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com.

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