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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Cuban singer defects to US
Manolin
Manolin's lyrics have offended Cuban authorities
By Daniel Schweimler in Havana

One of Cuba's top singers, Manolin, also known as the "Salsa Doctor", has defected to the United States.

He said the Cuban authorities had been hindering his work and that he would probably now apply for political asylum in the US.

The singer had performed several times in the United States and had previously appeared to be on the brink of defecting but he fell out with the Cuban authorities for his lyrics.

In the lyrics of some of his recent work, Manolin has been talking about building bridges between the people of Cuba and the Cuban exile community in the United States.

That seems to have earned him the disapproval of the Cuban authorities and led to his decision to defect to the United States.

'False passport'

Manolin arrived in Atlanta, Georgia last week on a flight from Mexico and was immediately detained by the US immigration authorities.

One report said he was travelling on a false passport.

He was released on Tuesday and later appeared in Miami where he was paraded by one of the leading anti-Castro Cuban exile groups - the Cuban American National Foundation.

They said that Manolin had been subjected to censorship and hostility because of his desire to build bridges between Cuba and the exiles.

Manolin had appeared on the brink of defecting several times before.

In October 1998 after a concert in Miami he said he planned to stay in the US but a few days later returned to Cuba, leaving his wife and daughter behind him.

The Cuban authorities are unlikely to comment on the defection but Manolin's music will not now be heard on state-run radio and will not be sold at the few outlets where it was previously available.

The singer, also known as the Salsa Doctor, since he is a graduate of medical sciences, started singing a mixture of Salsa and hip-hop while studying.

He captured huge audiences in Cuba and then abroad but the increasingly political nature of his lyrics quickly got him in to trouble with the Cuban authorities and a permanent move to the United States soon became inevitable.

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See also:

05 Apr 01 | Music
UK's taste for salsa
27 Apr 00 | Americas
What's life really like in Cuba?
04 May 01 | Americas
Cuba's anti-corruption ministry
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