Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 11:29 UK

Cuban dissidents back Juanes gig

Juanes in a photo from 28 August 2009
Juanes won five Latin Grammy awards in 2008

A group of jailed Cuban political dissidents has expressed support for an upcoming concert for peace by Colombian singer Juanes in Havana.

News of the concert provoked criticism among Cuban exiles in Miami who said it would help the Cuban government.

Some even branded Juanes, who lives in Miami, as a traitor.

But in a letter, the dissidents said they welcomed the idea of such a concert as a means to help promote reconciliation among all Cubans.

Juanes is perhaps best known internationally for his massive hits such as Camisa Negra or Black Shirt.

But in recent weeks, he has been in the news not for his music but over his plans to hold a Peace Without Borders concert in Cuba, similar to one he held last year on the Colombian border with Venezuela.

The aim of the event, set for 20 September, Juanes says, is to use music to ease political tensions.

But, the reaction to the news among some Cuban exiles in Miami has been anything but relaxed, reports BBC Americas analyst Emilio San Pedro.


Many in the community called Juanes - who has been living Miami for the last 10 years - a traitor, and they held protests at which copies of his hit songs like Camisa Negra were destroyed.

Juanes said he had even received threats.

Now more than 20 of Cuba's best-known political dissidents, in prison since 2003, issued a message welcoming Juanes's plans.

"We believe this concert a great opportunity to advance reconciliation between all Cubans and to leave behind the hatreds that for many years has poisoned our homeland," they said.

Their call is unlikely to quell the anger among those in the exile community in Miami who see the concert as another step towards the lifting of the decades-old US embargo on Cuba - something they vehemently oppose.

Juanes himself says he is determined to press on with his concert which he says will not be performed for the Cuban authorities but to send a message of peace and tolerance.

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China Post Cuban political prisoners back Juanes concert - 29 hrs ago
The EconomistThe Juanes row in Miami: If music be the food of love... - 34 hrs ago
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