Obama's one-way street
Angel Castillo Jr.When he is wearing his customary sleeveless T-shirts, it is easy to spot Yoandys Lores. He's the one sporting fashionable sunglasses, a Che Guevara-style black beret and a large portrait of a young Fidel Castro tattooed on his upper left arm.
Published: September 1, 2012
Published: September 1, 2012
Lores, whose stage name is "Baby Lores," is a 28-year-old cigar-smoking, Cuban reggaeton singer whose music unabashedly extols the glories of the Castro regime.
Now, thanks to President Barack Obama's one-way cultural exchange policy, Lore has obtained a permit to perform in this country, starting in Miami. Lores is going to perform at Little Havana's Ache Supper Club in September. Tickets are $40 for general admission and $50 for the VIP section. His "Tour USA 2012" also includes dates in Tampa and New York City, among other cities.
In his recent song "Creo" ("I believe") Lores declared himself a militant who supports Fidel Castro's revolution. He calls compatriots who disagree with him "imbeciles" and sings to them mockingly: "If you don't like it here, then leave and go over there, but don't try to return later on."
In an interview, Lores, who has previously toured in Europe, said he had Fidel Castro's tattoo etched on his arm because he was tired of foreign journalists asking him if he supported the regime. "I wanted to send a message."
His visit to Miami, the heart of the anti-Castro Cuban exile community, is another iteration of a long-running campaign by the Castro brothers to rub their propaganda in the noses of political adversaries. Last year another Castro-docile musical group, "Los Van Van," also played at Club Ache.
To be allowed to travel abroad and earn hard currency, Cuban artists like Lores must be loyal to the dictatorship. They act as promoters for the idea that the United States and Cuba should become friends again — without Cuba having to make any changes toward democracy or respect human rights on the island.
Meanwhile, on Cuba's radio and television stations, anti-Castro Cuban performers of worldwide fame — like Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino and Paquito D'Rivera — remain banned.
Personally, I could not care less if Raul Castro, Cuba's current top comandante, comes to Club Ache to do a striptease and sing "Guantanamera." I believe the free market in a democratic society, and the laws of supply and demand, should govern. Those who want to give their Yankee dollars to Cuban performers aligned with the Castro dictatorship should be free to do so. I won't be among them. Not just because I despise Castro's propaganda stooges, but because I find Lore's singing and lyrics mediocre, and no match for his contemporary, Miami's Cuban-American rap and pop sensation Pitbull.
However, if President Obama had any intellectual and moral integrity, he would require these "cultural exchanges" become a two-way street. No other performer from Cuba should be allowed to come to the United States until Cuban performers who live in this country, and who have broken with the communist regime, are allowed to perform in Cuba.
Angel Castillo Jr., a former reporter and editor for the New York Times and the Miami Herald, practices employment law in Miami. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.