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Artist Profiles

Celia Cruz Is

By Published: October 6, 2003
5. Unbeknownst to the broadcasters, their reports showed that in Miami, the local power welders related to these activities were not in the government. They were media executives and Cuban local organizations mostly linked with the aging and rapidly disappearing most rabid margins of the anti-Castro forces in Miami, who receive undue credit for many social, political and economic developments in South Florida. Astute observers wouldn’t be too lost in space if they were to wonder how such arrangements play themselves out in Miami’s political backstage. It is very likely, however, that the picture differs greatly from the commonly held view that garrisoned minded ultra-right wingers and Emilio Estefan control Dade County. Most, nonetheless, would be better off confirming themselves into such a lie than confronting other truths, as they would prove both unbelievable and quite uncomfortable. If you are one of those, keep telling yourself that...

Illustrative enough? Let’s move into more politics, shall we?

Cruz’s death was deliberately and openly politicized. There’s a willfully credulous group of people that act as if human life could be easily segmented into neatly defined boundaries whereupon, for example, the political wouldn’t “intrude” into the musical. Such illusory tendencies would be crushed at once in anything having to do with Celia Cruz, in particular, or Latin music in general. Historically, popular music in Spanish-speaking populations throughout the world is both subject and object of politics. It is within the last 10-15 years, for example, that the influences of political matters in Latin danceable music have waned to the point of endangerment. That pattern, of course, responds to sociological developments among the fading audience in Salsa markets that can’t be accounted for here. It is safe to state, however, that the Salsa markets do not support politicized danceable music, as no politicized group, composer, interpreter or label has been able to forge ahead in any significant way.

Cruz and her family were quite fine with the politization of her funerals, however, as it responded to her final wishes. Ever since Castro’s dictatorship began in 1959, one of its most vividly dim-witted moves was to prevent Cruz from attending her mother’s funeral in Cuba. She then became a low-keyed avowed enemy of the autocrat’s regime. Because of that, Cruz had the proverbial last laugh at Castro’s expense. His regime was forced by international public opinion to allow Cruz’s sister to attend her funerals in the USA. Several European and Latin countries openly criticized Castro’s handling of Cruz’s death, as well as her life. No matter how hard Castro tried to suppress Celia Cruz in the island, it couldn’t. Even after erasing every tape they could get their hands on, banning her from scholarship or any communication organ other than the state repressed media in the island, Cubans in the island managed to keep her music going in the island. Even then, as a government press release authored in Havana by M.H. Lagarde illustrated so well, the Castro repressive news agencies couldn’t but echo opinionated lies from a so-called journalist called Max Lesnik, who allegedly faulted the Mas Canosa family for using Cruz’s cadaver at will for their political purposes. Truth is, Cruz got what she wanted. The Mas Canosas of Miami, or anywhere else for that matter, didn’t determine the political scope of her burial. Celia did that. Otherwise, the same ideologically damaged press release was forced by the unavoidable facts to echo truths and essentials on Celia Cruz. This was done under the guise of criticizing some interlocutors from the Dade County political arena who wield power in Washington, D.C. against the over-ripened dictator. A favorable quote on Cruz’s life and work from said politicians would be preceded by some inane leftoid comment, only to cite the enemies of Castro directly, hence unwittingly voicing their factual takes on Cruz. Perhaps Lagarde is veiling his praise for Cruz under the parameters of Castro’s lunacy as so many human groups do under repressive conditions, but that might also be hoping against all hope. There’s no doubt, nonetheless, that other than cheap shots, lies and being forced by international political public opinion to allow one of its “free” citizens to travel to the USA, the Castro regime couldn’t but unwillingly acknowledge what a Black gusana of humble origins did achieve in spite of anything the Castroid apparatchik said or did.

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