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Posted June 14, 2005 by publisher in Cuban Americans

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BY LYDIA MARTIN | Miami Herald

A CD featuring Havana Night Club has been taken off the market after a West Kendall woman complained about a video she viewed as pro-Castro.

Producers of Havana Night Club, the Las Vegas show featuring a cast of Cuban defectors, have yanked a CD of the show’s music because it riled a West Kendall woman who said a video on it promotes tourism to Cuba.
The CD, titled Energy & Passion, also provided a link to a website that led to information on hotel bargains in Cuba and how to circumvent U.S. travel restrictions to the island.

‘‘I felt used, and mocked,’’ said Dinorah Rangel, 60. She began to fire off e-mails to acquaintances, and word got back to the producers of the show. In response, the producers stopped selling the CD—which were marketed at their shows—and released a statement saying, “The offending material will be removed from any future production/pressings of . . . Energy & Passion.

Havana Night Club, its companies and cast are committed to artistic freedom and liberty and apologize to anyone that this misunderstanding may have offended.’’

The episode evoked memories of past South Florida disputes involving performers whose independence from the Cuban government was questioned in the exile community.

In applying for a United States visa, Havana Night Club supplied voluminous documents asserting its independence.

Rangel, an administrative assistant from West Kendall, paid $20 for the CD while attending the group’s May 27 performance at the University of Miami, one of three that played to sold-out crowds in South Florida.

‘‘I went from link to link and there was everything from information on how to travel to Cuba through Canada to anti-American propaganda about Taliban prisoners in Guantnamo,’’ Rangel said.

Rangel shot off a passionate e-mail to friends, who forwarded it to other friends, who sent the e-mail to Cuban Americans all over the country.

The statement from the producers said the music video on the CD, a remake of a prerevolutionary ditty, Conozca a Cuba Primero (Get to Know Cuba First), “was not intended to promote or encourage travel to Cuba.’‘

The song originally promoted domestic tourism to Cubans who in pre-1959 might have hopped ships and planes to foreign destinations without seeing the rest of their homeland first. The music video on the CD features cast members showing a tourist all the sights.

‘‘The CD was produced in 2000, prior to any plans for a United States tour,’’ the statement said.

Although producers declined to speak directly to The Herald, their written statement says the parent companies of the show stopped controlling content of the website in question, [url=http://www.cubaximo.com]http://www.cubaximo.com,[/url] in August 2004. It’s unclear who now owns it.

Even before this latest flap, some exiles questioned whether Havana Night Club always operated independently of the government.

While based in Havana, the troupe was allowed to tour the world giving performances—a privilege usually accorded only performers aligned with Fidel Castro.

‘‘I saw the CD. And my immediate reaction was probably similar to many people in Miami,’’ said Dennis Hays, a former State Department official who once headed the Cuba desk.

‘‘But they explained that they made that CD a long time ago when they were based in Havana,’’ said Hays, who as managing director of the law firm Tew Cardenas lobbied to get the Havana Night Club cast into the United States.

Alfredo Mesa, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, which helped the cast defect, says they should be given the benefit of the doubt.

‘‘some of the best talent from Cuba that we celebrate today had to live under the system at some point and work under the system,’’ said Mesa. “At the end of the day, they are a group that fought for their freedom and that’s what matters.’‘

The story still doesn’t sit right with some Miamians.

‘‘When I left there, I was furious,’’ said Carlos Coto, a real estate broker who attended a Miami show.

“It was surprising to me how much they used the colors red and black, and the red star, which is symbolic of Che Guevara. There were even camouflage costumes at the beginning. The iconography was completely Fidel Castro.’‘


In a second statement, producers explained the imagery:

“The show is a journey through the history of the Cuban culture. . . . In the Afro-Cuban religion, the god of destiny is Ellegua, the traditional colors used to represent him are black and red. The words liberty, dream, freedom, passion, love and life are spray panted in red in the scene Ritmo de la Noche followed by a red star, which explodes into tiny pieces, symbolizing the destruction of communism.’‘

Said Mesa of CANF:

“I was just at a Heat game. Everybody was in red. Does that mean everybody in the arena was a communist? We are beyond that kind of thinking in Miami.’‘

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 14, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Open letter to the producers:

    Maybe it’ time that some hardline Cuban exiles are offended so they act stupid on a national level so 99.9% of Americans can appreciate their stupidity.

    Open letter to Dinorah Rangel:

    Shut up and get a life. Since pig headed ways have not worked for 45 years, maybe you should think about Plan B for regime change in Cuba.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on June 14, 2005 by yumaguy with 176 total posts

    Nothing new here. Many Cuban musicians once they defect are pressured to make some kind of political statement denouncing the Castro regime, even if, as musicians, they had it relatively good compared to the rest of the population (no need to name specific examples, I’m sure you can come up with some wink. After all, to defect, you need to be given permission to travel and do gigs in a foreign country first, something that musicians are given the opportunity to do. . . if they can gain the trust of the Cuban govt.  The case of this group is a little different because once they got the visas, it was pretty obvious there was no going back.

    It’ amazing how ALIKE both sides are in their tactics: demand total loyalty to their cause, attack any material that could be interpreted as propaganda for the other side, etc.

    And so the Cuban Civil War continues. . .

  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 09, 2005 by Gallo with 8 total posts

    Dear Publisher,
    It seems to me that our dear little Cuban Exile from West Kendall was exercising her rights as a consumer.  Didn’t North-Americans exercise their rights as consumers in that horrible episode in American history back in the early eighties when Coca-Cola changed it’ recipe?  Do you remember how they had letter writing campaigns?  One would have thought their way of life was being attacked.  I remember being a teenager and thinking how stupid Americans can act on a national level.  How they generally can’t be bothered to write a letter to there congressman concerning the wellfare of their fellow man yet they can rally together to get coke to go back to it’ original formula.  Well since then I have seen plenty and grown up some. Now that I am about to turn 40,  I am able to understand that this is what one is able to do in a democratic society with a free market economy.  I do not find Ms. Rangel at all stupid or in need of getting a life.  It seems to me that she is an effective and vital person who understands the power of the consumer and how she may use it to address societal values, political ideologies, etc.  I also doubt Ms. Rangel is worried what Americans think about her (you should not either we are not a minstral show), I find it refreshing that Ms. Rangel is up in arms over the possible polical loyalties of artists that eat here, live here and make their money here thanks to her patronage and people like her. Believe me it is a marked improvement over Coke versus New Coke.

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