Only a hurricane can cancel the historic and controversial concert to be held this Sunday (Sept. 20) in Cuba, Spanish singer Miguel Bosé said today (Sept. 17) in a press conference in Madrid arranged especially to counter criticism that the event will bolster the government of Raúl Castro.

"Forget about the Castros [Fidel and Raúl] - this is about the Cuban people," said Colombian singer Juanes, the main organizer of the five-hour Peace Without Borders concert to be held by 15 artists from six countries in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución. Up to 1 million people are expected to attend the free concert.

The concert has provoked angry reactions from some Cuban-Americas in Miami, who have destroyed Juanes CDs and burnt black shirts on the street, a reference to Juanes' well-known song "La Camisa Negra" (Black Shirt).

Juanes and Bosé appeared with two other artists who will perform in Havana, Yotuel Romero of Europe-based Cuban rap band Orishas, and Spanish singer Victor Manuel.

They all insisted several times that the concert was solely about peace, and had nothing to do with politics. Juanes and Bosé organised the first Peace Without Borders concert in 2008 on the Colombian-Venezuelan border, and plan a third event next year on the Mexico-U.S. frontier.

"We want to change the discourse on Cuba," said Juanes. "To do this, serenity is necessary, art and music are fundamental, as well as faith and innocence. That's true everywhere - this is not a Cuban problem, it's a human problem."

Juanes penned an editorial in the current, Sept. 19 edition of Billboard in defence of the concert.

One goal of the concert is for Cuban musicians to play in Miami, and U.S.-based exiled Cuban artists to perform in Cuba. The U.S. blockade against Cuba, and Cuba's refusal to grant visas to some exiles, currently forbids this. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Silvio Rodríguez, Amaury Pérez and Los Van Van [Cuban artists appearing on Sunday] could play in Miami, and [exiled] Willy Chirino in Havana?" asked Juanes.

The concert will be unprecedented for its socio-political impact on Cuba's 11.3 million people. And the quantity and quality of the sound and lighting equipment being brought in from Miami - after a waiver from secretary of state Hillary Clinton - has never been experienced on the island before. The concert has not been able to secure sponsorship because of the blockade, so the event has been self-funded by the collective behind Peace Without Borders, while some foreign-owned hotels and airlines have provided some assistance in Cuba.

Juanes explained that he went to Washington to win Clinton's approval for the event, but not for him - "I'm Colombian", he pointed out. It was because most of the 80 workers erecting the stage and equipment this week are Americans. Also, Danny Rivera and singer Olga Tañón who will perform are from the U.S. associated state of Puerto Rico.

Some artists, such as Miami-based Cuban singer Pitbull and Madrid-based Venezuelan Carlos Baute, have criticised the concert "in a country without freedom," but many more - including opera singer Plácido Domingo - have defended Juanes. "Art cannot be conditioned by politics," said Domingo.

Apart from Juanes, Bosé Orishas, Manuel, Rivera, Tañón, Rodríguez, Pérez and Van Van, the artists appearing in Havana are Luis Eduarto Aute (Spain), Juane Fernando Velasco (Ecuador), Jovanotti (Italy), and Cuba's X Alfonso, Carlos Varela, and Cucu Diamantes and Yerbabuena.

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