by Rob Evans | liveDaily Editor
The American Embassy has refused to issue visas to all 15 members of acclaimed Afro-Cuban group Cubanismo, forcing the cancellation of the band’s entire U.S. tour, according to its U.S. booking agency.
The Bush administration has denied visas to many Cuban musicians in recent years, essentially reasoning that the artists’ earnings would flow to the government of Fidel Castro. The U.S. government has classified Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, and has subjected musicians to extensive background checks.
“Despite the current political climate, as well as The State Department’s policy statement last February concerning musicians who have received salary from the Cuban government, this news comes as a great shock to all concerned,” said The Rosebud Agency’s recent statement. “No Cubanismo musician has ever received salary from the Cuban Government. Since the group’s first tour in 1993, they have never been denied entry to the U.S.
“This record of reliability was a matter of great pride for Jesus Alemany and his musicians. We apologize for this inconvenience to the band’s fans and we sincerely hope that a new policy in the future will place greater importance on cultural exchange than on political concerns and that Cubanismo will be able to return to the United States as soon as possible.”
Cubanismo had been scheduled to open a 40-plus city tour this month.
Earlier this year, five Cuban musicians who were nominated for Grammy Awards were denied U.S. visas to attend the Grammy ceremony.