Arturo Sandoval refuses to perform with Castro propagandists

Arturo Sandoval’s decision to perform at the Hollywood Bowl today in a concert organized by ¡Si Cuba! is at best painfully disappointing. ¡Si Cuba! has been exposed as just another U.S.-based propaganda arm of the Castro dictatorship, and Mr. Sandoval should know better. By performing at this concert, he is lending his talent, his name, and his integrity to the same regime who oppressed him and continues to oppress his fellow Cubans. Nevertheless, to Arturo Sandoval’s credit, he is refusing to perform with or share a stage with the Castro propaganda musicians flown in from Havana for the show.

Via DIARIO DE CUBA (my translation):

Sandoval refuses to share stage with Omara Portuondo and Buena Vista Social Club

Arturo Sandoval with be performing along with singer Omara Portuondo and other members of the Buena Vista Social Club this Wednesday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. However, the trumpet player emphatically rejected any possibility of performing together with the artists from the island because of ideological differences.

“Since I left Cuba, I do not present myself as artist who represents Cuba,” Sandoval said in an interview with the AP. “We may be in the same program, but we are not together. Period. I will do my show in my own way, and they will do theirs.”


When asked if he would perform at least one song with Buena Vista, Sandoval replied: “Absolutely not. We represent two completely different things… I advocate and defend human rights, total liberty for everyone, and above all, democracy. Omara and the band that is coming, and above all Omara — we worked together for many years in Cuba and I know her very well — represent the government of Cuba.”

Sandoval and Portuondo have shared a stage in the past. “We did many things together in Cuba,” the trumpet player said. “Remember that I started playing in Cuba when I was 11 years old, and I left when I was 40,” he said in the interview without giving any more details.

The musician, who is 61, has been living in the U.S. since 1990 after defecting in Greece during a tour with his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie.



7 thoughts on “Arturo Sandoval refuses to perform with Castro propagandists

  1. The old hag Portuondo, who was never top tier talent, is a classic example of the Castroite “globo inflado,” meaning stardom based on politics first, with everything else being secondary. By now, whatever voice she had is gone; it’s amazing they’re still trotting her out. But she can still kiss Castro ass with the best of them, so she still gets billed as a “legend.” The sad thing is that anyone would actually pay to hear her, especially now. As for Sandoval, yes, he should know better, and probably does, but he may figure it’s OK as long as he makes enough of a fuss about not sharing the stage with the minions.

  2. Alberto,

    It’s possible that by appearing at the event but refusing to share the stage with Castro enablers Sandoval has highlighted his differences with the regime far more than if he had boycotted the event. In essence, he’s using an event organized by Castro sympathizers to publicize his dissent.

    • You may be right, Ronnie, and I truly hope that was/is his intention. Nevertheless, you have to weigh the risks against the rewards, and in this case, the risks are far greater than the rewards. The whole “Si Cuba” program is an expensive and huge propaganda/marketing campaign the Castro regime is carrying out in the U.S. through its operatives here. These people are not merely sympathizers or enablers, they are operatives who actively work in favor of the Castro regime here in the U.S. These people are not Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, or Jackson Brown, they are savvy media specialists and marketers promoting and disseminating Castro propaganda. I certainly doubt Sandoval will be successful pulling a fast one on them, since his contract probably limits what he can say and do while on stage.

      Now if Sandoval goes on that stage and blasts the Castro regime, Portuondo, and the other Castro minions sent there to play, then you can say he took advantage of the opening to publicize his dissent. But I’m not holding my breath, and I’m afraid he’ll go on stage, play his music, and then go home.

      For him it will be over, but the regime will be publicizing his appearance along with their artists for years to come. Again, I just don’t believe the possible benefits are worth the known risk.

  3. Alberto,
    My Old Man took my son, who plays saxophone, to a clinic put on by some of the Buena Vista players in Carbondale, Colorado on Monday. The propaganda and the communist line got to the old man right away, who remembers it all too well. “Y ‘pa no cansarte” he wound up “cagandose en la madre” of all those guys publically at the top of his lungs. They are a despicable bunch indeed complicit with the regime.
    In Arturo’s case, I’m not quite sure how to call it. If the show is to present Cuban music, then it would be wrong of Arturo to step aside and allow Castro’s bunch to exclusively portray Cuban music to the public. Since expatriate musicians cannot perform in Cuba nor are their accomplishments ever mentioned on the island, it is almost appropriate that Arturo puts forth his music, which is far superior to anything Buena Vista can play. They are not among the best Cuban musicians at all, only the best communist musicians.
    If Arturo’s performance is selling seats and money goes to the regime’s operatives, then it’s a matter of whether more benefit comes from his performance or whether more harm is done with the money. Tough call.
    I welcome your comments and thank you for all your good work.

  4. Came across this on Facebook:

    Hollywood Bowl
    Setlist from tonight’s incredible Arturo Sandoval & the LA All Star Big Band with special guest Natalie Cole…plus surprise guests Gipsy Kings and Andy Garcia (on bongos). You never know who’s going to show up at the Bowl.

    And this on Twitter: @chippi64
    buena vista social club with nathalie cole, gypsy kings and andy garcia!beautiful knight at hollywood bowl?

  5. AGorra:

    If this concert was a typical concert put together by the usual concert promoters looking to make a buck, I would agree with you 100%. However, this is a concert put together by Castro regime promoters, with the intention of promoting the Castro regime. Your father got to see that first hand. This is purely a propaganda event, and no room is afforded for a contrarian view.

    I am not calling into question Sandoval’s intentions, I’m questioning his judgment. He of all people should know the Castro propaganda machine is a well-oiled, efficient machine that leaves little, if anything to chance.

    So far, I have not heard of any “incidents” where Sandoval openly defied the regime and its operatives appearing at the same show. He may believe that his mere appearance there was in itself a protest, but unfortunately, there is a huge disparity in what he believes and what the public perceives.

  6. I have to agree with Alberto de la Cruz. That was a one night show. If Sandoval would have taken the microphone after his number and said a couple of Words….Like “VIVA CUBA LIBRE….DOWN WITH CASTRO DICTATORSHIP” , I WOULD HAVE AGREED WITH HIM shearing the stage with Representatives…musical though they are,….of the Castro Totalitarian Communist Regime.

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