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Posted July 10, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Movies

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By Anthony Boadle | Reuters

A Cuban dance company billed to perform at Las Vegas’s legendary Stardust Casino this month has defied Cuban authorities and applied for U.S. visas, in a rare case of overt disobedience in communist-run Cuba.

Fifty-three dancers, musicians and singers with the Havana Night company went to the U.S. Interest Section for visa application interviews even though Cuban officials told them they should not travel to the United States for the five-week show.

The National Union of Writers and Artists, or UNEAC, which holds their passports, had summoned the company to a meeting the same morning, but the dancers stayed away—something unheard of in Cuba.

“The dream of any singer is to perform in Las Vegas. It is a dream that can come true,” said 18-year-old Osmany, who sings in the music and dance extravaganza. He declined to give his last name.

The German-English-owned company has performed in 16 countries to some two million people since it was formed seven years ago, but the performers live in Cuba.

Promoter Margaret Baroncelli said on Friday billboards for “Havana Night Club - The Show” are already up in Las Vegas for the company’s first U.S. appearance.

But the trip has become caught up in the four-decade-old hostility between Cuba and the United States. The Bush administration recently toughened sanctions aimed at ousting President Fidel Castro, whose government says that Washington plans to invade the Caribbean island.

Baroncelli said Cuban officials visited company members’ homes to pressure them not to apply for U.S. travel permits, warning that the trip was contrary to Cuba’s interests.

UNEAC international relations director Jorge Gonzalez denied pressure had been brought to bear on the performers and said the U.S government had already denied the visas.

That occurred last year, when the U.S. State Department turned down the company’s first request for visas. By then the show had been cancelled after Roy, along with his partner Siegfried, one of the associate producers of the Cuban show, was mauled by a tiger.

Company manager Ariel Machado hoped Cuban authorities would reconsider and allow the company to travel. “I wish people dedicated to politics would stick to politics and allow those dedicated to culture work freely,” he said.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 10, 2004 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    To new readers of the Havana Journal and students of Cuban culture: This is one of the peaceful ways that the Cuban people “protest” against their government.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on July 11, 2004 by Ralph

    It’ sadly,but that is the way.It would
    be nice to see the goverments stand-off,behind the pure artistics or———-
    scientifics interests,I can imagine what
    would be for the dancers, to perform in
    Las vegas,Nevada.But in one side the
    cuban goverment interfere with and in
    the other side,americans had already
    denied the visa in the group first—
    application,you know that is a litte
    like israeli-palestinian conflict,when
    something can be tied,the both sides
    refuse to make the knot.-

  3. Follow up post #3 added on July 19, 2004 by Nelson Valdes

    The Reuters article does not make sense. Dance companies have to request their visas through UNEAC. In other words the Union Nacional de Escritores y Artistas has to request visas to the US on behalf of the performers. That is the procedure that has been woprked out by both governments (US and Cuba). So, it is unclear what is actually going on. UNEAC requested the visas last year and they were not granted. That means that last year the Cuban government permitted thew company to travel to the US. Thus, the question is - what has changed? And, moreover, how could the US Interests Section in Havana grant the visas in such a short period of time, even if the company members did not have their respective passports?

    Too many loose ends in this story.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on July 21, 2004 by Yoyo

    Conozco muy bien cuanto han luchado para lograr el sueño de poder actuar en las vegas, estan muy serca de lograrlo, por favor no politicen esta situacion porque se van a perjudicar. y sera en vano tanto esfuerzo.
    los quiero

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