The Cuban pianist and bandleader Robertico Carcassés improvised lyrics calling for "direct presidential elections," "freedom of information" and "the end of the embargo and the auto-embargo" during a televised concert in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana on Thursday (Sept. 12) marking the anniversary of the arrest in Miami of the Cuban intelligence agents known as the Cuban Five.
Cuban officials Friday suspended Carcassés from performing on the island "indefinitely," according to a report in the exile website Diario de Cuba.
René Gonzalez, the one member of the Cuban Five who has been released from prison, attended the event, at which many of Cuba’s most popular musicians performed, including leading dance band Los Van Van, which closed the concert. Thousands attended the event, according to the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde.
While performing the song "Cubanos por el mundo," dedicated to Cubans "here and there," Carcassés, 41, took to the microphone. He improvised lyrics calling for the release of the four prisoners, "and a lot more," including presidential elections by direct vote, equal rights for all Cubans on the island regardless of their political opinions, and an end to the U.S. embargo and "[Cuba’s] auto-embargo."
According to Diario de Cuba, Interactivo’s Facebook page published a message Friday saying that Carcassés and his bandmates were called to the Cuban Music Institute and told that Carcassés would not be allowed to perform on the island for an indefinite period of time. The group announced that two upcoming shows were canceled "due to a decision by authorities." That message was later erased from Facebook, the website reported.
According to Diario de Cuba, Carcassés declined to comment when reached by telephone, but said he would be publishing a letter addressing the incident.
Several articles about the concert in the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde did not mention Carcassés’ impromptu lyrics or any subsequent sanctions against the musician.