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Cuba lifts punishment of musician who sang for reform

18 September 2013, 23:33

Havana - A Cuban jazz musician punished for sneaking an appeal for political reform into a song at a televised concert has been forgiven by the government, a fellow musician says.

In his performance last week, jazz pianist Roberto Carcasses called for the right to vote directly for president, free access to information on the communist-run island and other changes.

It was among the highest profile direct jabs at President Raul Castro's government to transpire on live state television.

Carcasses did it by tweaking the lyrics of a song. He was called in by the Culture Ministry the next day, and slapped with an indefinite ban on playing in Cuba.

But ministry officials have held now lifted the ban after meeting with Carcasses again, Silvio Rodriguez, a popular singer who backs the government, said Tuesday night.

"Cultural Ministry authorities met today with Robertico Carcasses and the talks were so positive that they have decided to lift the punishment," Rodriguez wrote on his blog.

Rodriguez did not say how he knew this, but he is considered a reliable source in Cuba. There was no confirmation from the government that the sanction against Carcasses has been ended.

When he was punished in the first place, word of that did not come from the government either, but rather from the pianist himself.

Rodriguez has criticized both Carcasses for making his appeal where he did -- at a concert seeking the release of four Cubans convicted of espionage and jailed in the US -- and the government for punishing him, calling both "clumsy." He concluded saying "it is said that people understand each other when they talk. May it always be that way."

The Carcasses appeals and the government's response lit up social media among artists and performers, but the state-run media ignored the affair.


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