http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/cuban-children-performers-la-colmenita-exploited-for-political-purposes-939/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Cuban children performers La Colmenita exploited for political purposes

Posted October 21, 2011 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

I don’t like extremists from the right of the left and I call propaganda when I see it.

The original title of this article from WUSA9 is “Cuban Children Perform Despite Tensions”.

You have to take a few minutes to read the article and watch the video to understand that these children are being used as a propaganda tool by the Cuban government.

This is why I needed to title this article “Cuban children performers La Colmenita exploited for political purposes”.

Text of WUSA9 article

See my comments in bold.

A group of Cuban children brought down the house with a music and theater act at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts on Wednesday following one Florida congresswoman’s outspoken views against their visit.

The young performers, ages 6-15, are touring the United States to inspire better relations between the two countries as well as raise awareness about the Cuban 5 - five intelligence officers imprisoned in the United States for spying. The author offers a fair assessment for the reason why the kids are in the US.

On Thursday U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the State Department is “funding educational and cultural exchange programs with the Cuban regime that undermine U.S. foreign policy priorities and national security interests.” About as far right wing as you can get, of course she has to make a statement.

The director of the children’s group known as “La Colmenita,” or “Little Beehive”, fired back with a response. 

“I am shocked that a U.S. politician would try and prevent a group of children from performing their art,” said Carlos “Tim"Alberto Cremata, founder and director of La Colmenita, which means “The Little Beehive” in English. “She is treating us as if we were terrorists when the facts are quite the opposite. It is a small segment of the Cuban exile community who has used threats and violence to keep Americans and Cubans apart. We are simply Cuban artists who are coming to the U.S. with a message of social justice, peace and understanding.” About as far left wing as you can get. The kids are being used for the main purpose of “educating” their US audience about the Cuban Five. Their audience being kids of their own age. How many 6 to 15 year old kids care about the Cuban Five. A truly shameful response from a Cuban government propagandist.

Despite the controversy, the 22 young performers stormed the Duke Ellington stage with boundless energy that rivaled any Mickey Mouse Club group.  They sang, danced and presented theatrical acts for two hours straight.  In the midst of their show, they presented a Cuban 5 educational film featuring Danny Glover. There you have it. What the HELL does a Cuban kid’s group have to do with the Cuban Five. This is disgusting Cuban propaganda.

“Its very interesting because the Cuban 5 is a controversial issue,” said Duke Ellington’s Dean of the Arts Tia Powell Harris.  “Its very charged for Americans and Cubans but I couldn’t help identify with those activists in our history that share a similar path. The story reminded me of Malcolm X of Martin Luther King Jr. and a whole host of men and women who fought for the rights of others. So that element of the story is what engaged me and made me want to hear more.” Wow. Comparing the Cuban Five to Malcom X. I am just shaking my head. Did she really say that? What a nut.

For group member Analaura Escalona, visiting Duke Ellington was an emotional experience. She said meeting other kids her age whose passion is the performing arts breaks down any walls constructed by political tensions.

“I feel a great connection with them,” she said. “To see children singing and dancing like us…it was just wonderful really.” Did she enjoy the Cuban Five movie?

I have to apologize for the idiot in the advertisement before the video but that’s how it comes through with the html code. The ad is only 11 seconds.

The video clip is just over two minutes.

I like how the graphics behind the video anchor say “Political Pawns?”. Yes. That would be correct.

The narrator says the kids are touring the US to bring the two countries together through the arts. Really? That’s why they are here?

Then some idiot is interviewed and says that the Cuban Five is a “controversial issue”. A controversial issue? These guys were arrested and convicted for spying for Cuba in the US and they had their appeal go all the way up to the Supreme Court. Doesn’t seem too controversial to me.

She goes on to say by being “enlighten” by this saga that we’ll have a “choice whether we will become involved or not”. What a nut. She wraps up the interview by saying that it is important to “hear the stories of humanity”. The Cuban Five are convicted spies. How is that a story of humanity?

When the video comes back to the anchorwoman she says that the group will travel to New York City, then San Francisco finishing with a private performance to the United Nations…ON THE SAME DAY THAT THE UN WILL VOTE ON THE BLOCKADE ON CUBA.

I congratulate WUSA9 for adding this last piece of information because now we all know for a FACT that these Cuban kids are just another propaganda tool of the Cuban government.

Shameful.

 

Member Comments

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On October 26, 2011, publisher wrote:

We received a comment to this article:

I have to respectfully disagree with you about La Colmenita. I went to a performance here in DC; they are children performing and acting/singing their hearts out.

They have been named by UNICEF as goodwill ambassadors, and that indeed they are. Yes, their director’s father was murdered aboard Flight 455 in 1976; and, yes, ONE of their plays is about the Cuban Five (the play they just performed to accolades in Nyack, NY, was “La Cucarachita Martina”—about a wedding); and, yes, the children have been taught to love and defend their country. So have ours. But you and I both know that everything about Cuba gets interpreted in political terms. That is a shame.

We need to let children be children and people be people, and then perhaps we would not require an embargo to keep Cubans from defending their country and U.S. citizens from supporting ours—as it should be. It is all absurd.

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My reply:

The fact that they are showing a video about the Cuban Five (convicted spies) and having a performance at the UN on the day of the Embargo vote shows the entire event was constructed from the top down as Cuban government propaganda. That’s how I see it but of course, I love the idea of kids coming here to perform.

The kids have no control over a Cuban government agenda. Had this been the Buena Vista Social Club, I would dismiss the Cuban Five tie in as their own desire. However, since these are kids, I see them as a tool of the Cuban government.

I do appreciate the opposing view. Please keep your comments coming.

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Follow up comment:

One more point: the Cuba Five are not convicted spies. They were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage – because there was no evidence to convict them as spies. They were infiltrating Cuban-American groups whose purpose was to attack Cuba. Cuba shared the information they had collected with the FBI; then the five agents were arrested, instead of the FBI investigating or stopping the actions of the Cuban-American groups. Their crime was being unregistered foreign agents—and that they were. If they had not been tried in Miami (they were denied a change of venue), they would likely have been found guilty of only that and would have been given sentences commensurate with their crime.

I agree that the timing for performing at the UN was not an accident. But certainly that performance did not impact the vote in any way. We are alone in the world (along with Israel, which freely trades with and invests in Cuba, and lets its citizens travel there without restriction) on this issue.

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Note: I think WikiPedia has a good summary of the Cuban Five.