Silvio Rodríguez: Bringing People Together

If you missed this great NYC concert with the great Silvio Rodríguez, then read the report below from the President of Casa de Las Americas. Enjoy;

The Silvio Rodriguez concert brought many of us together last night, Friday, June 4th at New York’s Carnegie Hall.  We were united in the spirit of solidarity with Cuba.   We gathered, as we have repeatedly, for reasons that are profoundly felt in our hearts and clearly understood in our minds.  Many of us arrived at 57th St. and 7th Avenue before 6PM.  Our presence was immediately felt when we began to distribute information about the Wives Without Rights, The Cuban Five, and the “In Defense of Cuba” statement.  One group brought a large sign of the Five that was visible from afar.  Individuals carrying Cuban flags filled the sidewalk with color and proud elegance.  Our Wives Without Rights t-shirts visibly united our force and ignited the interest of the curious.

Silvio Rodríguez in his performance at Carnegie Hall.

We attracted the attention of passers by, concert goers, the written and televised press.  We answered every question, responded to requests for newspaper interviews, and at once overcame our fear of speaking into large spongy microphones and looking into inquisitive cameras.  We combated the opposition that was also present, attempting to disrupt the event by openly and aggressively provoking us. They were clearly outnumbered by our presence and were immediately contained by our actions and then by the police. As usual, they were pathetic and embarrassing.

The line to enter the concert hall went around the block.  Once inside, the magnificence of the space coupled with the energy created by the spirit of solidarity for Cuba was overwhelming.  The release came with the intermittent chants for a “Cuba Revolucionaria”, and for the lifting of the blockade, and the freedom of the Five.  Silvio Rodriguez reminded us that June 4th was Gerardo Hernández’ birthday and dedicated a song to him. He spoke of the Five and their unjust incarceration.  This motivated a standing ovation and the chant to free the Five. Every selection performed by Silvio was accompanied by an exceptional group of musicians that included three other guitarists besides Silvio, a flautist/oboist and percussionist.  As they played we were reminded of Silvio’s brilliance for writing music that reflects a classical foundation and his intellectual capacity for composing stimulating and politically charged lyrics.

At the end of the concert, the lights went up, I draped the 26 of July flag over the top tier balcony as Silvio waved goodbye to everyone.  He looked up and it appeared to me as if he had spotted the flag.   At that moment, he crossed his hands one over the other above his heart and remained in this stance while looking up.  The people on the orchestra level looked up along with him.  It appeared as if they too saw the flag because I saw people rise from their seats and applaud and cheer with great enthusiasm.  Lights from their cameras flashed in the direction of the flag to capture a memory of this significant and momentous moment. Maybe someday Silvio can confirm to me that he indeed saw the flag and responded the way in which he did because the sight of the 26 of July flag waving in the splendor of Carnegie Hall filled him with heartfelt emotion. Silvio’s presentation created feelings of elation that no one wanted to come down from.  It was hard to have to say goodbye.  The crowd did not want to leave.  Silvio’s stamina was admirable as he proved his appreciation for the love everyone showed him by offering four encores.  He was extraordinary!

As we exited the concert hall, many people asked to take a picture with the 26 of July flag.  And as we walked through the main doors of Carnegie Hall and onto the street, with the flag out stretched for everyone to see, we were greeted by our compañeros and compañeras. Many of them had remained outdoors through the entire concert leafleting for the Wives and for the Five.  Once again, we broke out in chants and people from the concert joined in.  It became a mass manifestation in favor of Cuba. Directly across the street, the demoralized opposition that had been barricaded by the NYC police department continued their oddball insults that fell on deaf ears.  The sentiment in support of Cuba far outnumbered the lowly, wretched undesirables that squirmed when the exuberant energy from our side of the street reduced theirs to the point of causing them to slither back into the earth from whence they come.

It was an exciting and successful evening on all accounts.  The members of Casa de las Americas, the participation of the 26 of July Coalition and the general public created a successful outcome.  On behalf of all progressive Cubans in the US, Casa de las Americas is grateful to all for the outcome of yesterday’s event.

“Hacer es la major formar de decir”  said Jose Marti and yesterday we did.

Nancy Cabrero


Casa de las Americas