Cuba's control over its media just may be lightening up a bit. Cuba's state-controlled Trabajadores newspaper announced the entire list of Cubans nominated for the Latin Grammys, and included even those artists living in exile, ending a long history of ignoring those in exile, according to the Miami Herald.
In contrast, those exiled artists were not named in the Latin Grammys article in Granma newspaper, Cuba's official voice of the Communist party. Trabajadores, meanwhile, is run by the Confederation of Cuban Workers, which, while still controlled by the government, does give the newspaper at least one degree of separation.
Apparently that was enough to print the formerly banned names. The Ministry of Culture, the arbiter of all Cuban music, will have to hope that Cuban residents don't actually look up some of these artists and their strong anti-Cuba stances. Paquito D'Rivera (right), a jazz musician and Latin Grammy winner, has had some scathing words for the regime since his exile in 1981, especially in his autobiography. So too has Albita, another exiled Cuban Latin Grammy-winner, as well as Arturo Sandoval, a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner.
But music has become a key focus of the culture battles in Cuba, and the musical awards show hold a special place. In 2003, Cuban artists were restricted from attending the event, launching some protests, such as in the cover picture above. And after other protests last year, Cuba finally lifted its black list on exiled artists playing on Cuban radio.
Still, D'Rivera isn't all that convinced by Cuba's attempts to reconcile, such as an upcoming jazz festival set to honor a critic of the Cuban regime. “I believe in reconciliation among Cubans, but not with them in power,” he said to the Miami Herald. “You cannot reconciliate with someone who … who stoned your house, who separated you from your daughter for nine years.”
It's not immediately clear if there will be consequences for the article or whether it was approved by the government. Cuba has a tough record on journalists that step out of line; Back in 2011, Cuba forced into exile 18 Cuban journalists; last year, Cuba was the lone country in the Americas to imprison a journalist.
The Latin Grammys is set for November 21st, and the Trabajadores' article after that will help solidify whether this was an item that slipped through government censors or an intentional allowance suggesting a more liberal approach. Until then, we can just listen to some smooth D'Rivera jazz. And freely, at that.
(Photo of D'Rivera: Reuters/Grammys.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.