Willy Chirino Op-Ed: Why U.S.-Cuba Thaw Is No Victory

Rodrigo Varela/WireImage

Singer Willy Chirino attends the Univision Radio Remotes during the 14th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on November 19, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Miami-based Cuban tropical artist calls decision 'a defeat for those of us who want to see a free, sovereign Cuba.'

On Nov. 19, Miami-based Cuban tropical star Willy Chirino accepted a Latin Grammy for lifetime achievement at a ceremony in Las Vegas.

"This is dedicated to all the people who suffer the consequences of listening to my music," said Chirino, who in 2005 won the Grammy for best salsa/merengue album. He was referring to his Cuban fans on the island, who are punished harshly for listening to his songs. "Many have been beaten up. They've gone to jail," said Chirino, a vocal opponent of the Castro regime. Chirino has never minced words when it comes to expressing his feelings for what he has called the "longest dictatorship in the hemisphere."

He had this to say about President Obama’s announcement Wednesday that the U.S. would ease sanctions against Cuba:

President Obama's decision to re-establish diplomatic relationships with Cuba is undoubtedly an unprecedented victory for Raul Castro and his government and a defeat for those of us who want to see a free, sovereign Cuba.

What the U.S.-Cuba Breakthrough Could Mean for Music

It's something positive for those who accept a Cuba that's similar to China or Vietnam; the people receive some long-term benefits, but the repressive system that rules over the country gets stronger and continues to impose the true embargo that has prevailed in the island for over 54 years: the embargo that doesn't allow its people to exercise the most basic human rights.

On Wednesday, Alan Gross, an innocent Jewish-American whose only crime was to take some pieces of technology to the Jewish community in Cuba, was traded for three spies who were sentenced in U.S. courts. Is that a fair negotiation?

Muted Hurrahs for Easing of Cuban Sanctions

The infamous cultural exchange continues. It allows countless artists who reside in Cuba to get visas that allow them to work in the U.S. without restrictions. In exchange, only those artists who promise to not touch upon social and political issues in their songs and who live outside Cuba -- those who pretend to swim in two waters -- are allowed to perform on the island. If this is the precedent of the conversations between the Castro regime and Obama, what can you expect from these encounters that doesn't empower these scoundrels in Cuba?


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.