Cuban Concerts On The Rise

While the gates between the U.S. and Cuba haven’t exactly flung open, a recent performance by Cuban band Los Van Van in Miami could be a harbinger of concerts to come.

Policy regarding the State Department’s issuance of visas to Cuban nationals has softened slightly under the Obama administration, with artist and athlete visas reportedly rising from 41 to 57 in 2009. Comparatively, at one point during the Bush administration the number fell to 16.

But it isn’t just the administration that’s softened its stance on the Cuban artists. Los Van Van’s recent show was nearly incident-free, compared with its performance that generated thousands of protestors and multiple arrests roughly 10 years ago.

The band noted to reporters upon arrival in Miami that it hadn’t traveled to the U.S. “to do anything political,” and “came to play music” – but some weren’t so sure.

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, a Cuban-American, reportedly called the band’s trip to the U.S. similar to inviting an “authorized spokesman for the South African apartheid regime to come to the United States to perform during the final stages of apartheid’s grotesque existence.”

Diaz-Balart could soon find himself in the minority as some stations in the region have reportedly begun to see increased demand for contemporary Cuban artists on the radio.

Other Cuban acts to play the States in recent times included La Charanga Habanera, Buena Fe, Septeto Nacional and Carlos Varela.