World

Juanes' Havana concert was about more than music

As a sea of revelers jammed Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion, Puerto Rico's Olga Tanon opened the controversial Peace without Borders concert Sunday with a sentiment that, despite all the debate on both sides of the Florida Straits, simply could not be disputed:

"Together, we are going to make history!" she yelled. And the multitude, wearing white and hoisting colorful umbrellas that did little to alleviate the punishing heat, cheered. Then Tañon kicked off her performance with a merengue that, at least in Miami, seemed to carry a double meaning.

"Es mentiroso ese hombre," she sang. That man is a liar.

But whether she chose the lyrics as a dig to either or both of the Castro brothers seemed less relevant than the overall, palpable joy in the plaza.

Then, at the very end of the show, a major surprise from Colombian pop star Juanes, who was criticized by a segment of the exile community for organizing the concert because they believed it would lend support to the Castro regime. Juanes, who had insisted the concert had nothing to do with politics, made it political after all, to much approval from Miami's naysayers.

He moved away from the day's ambiguities and shouted a straightforward "Cuba libre! Cuba libre!" (Free Cuba!) And then he chanted, "One Cuban family! One Cuban family!"

Reached by phone in Havana shortly after the concert ended, Juanes said the day was indeed about much more than music.

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