Colombian Singer Juanes Receives Threats Over Cuba Concert
Latin pop singer Juanes considered canceling a Sept. 20 concert in Cuba because he received what he felt were threatening messages on his Twitter account, according to a police report.
The 17-time Latin Grammy winner is scheduled to hold his Paz Sin Fronteras - Peace Without Borders - concert in Havana. But some Cuban-Americans in Miami have criticized the event, saying that it endorses the Communist-led government of Fidel and Raul Castro.
In a police report dated Aug. 15, Juanes said that someone sent him a message on Twitter, which said, among other things, "I hate what you are saying but you will die for defending your right to say it."
Key Biscayne Police said that Juanes - whose real name is Juan Esteban Aristizabal - considered canceling the concert and cited "fears for his safety as well as his family."
Juanes' manager and the promoter of the concert, Fernan Martinez Maech, also told Key Biscayne Police that he has "experienced hostility" from co-workers at the office regarding the show, who labeled him a "communist."
Police said they are taking the threats seriously and keeping a watch on both Juanes and Maecha's homes. Both live in Key Biscayne, an exclusive island enclave southeast of Miami's downtown.
"We are treating this like any other incident, regardless of how famous he is," said Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press.
Event promoters insist the Havana concert will have no ideological overtones, even if it is being staged in Havana's Revolution Plaza - with its famed homage to fallen revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the side of a building roughly half a dozen stories tall. Among the other acts scheduled to perform are Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodriguez and Cuban salsa stars Los Van Van.
The Grammy-winning Juanes, who is from Colombia, is known for his social activism. His first "Peace Without Borders" concert in March 2008 drew tens of thousands to the border between Venezuela and Colombia when tensions were high over a Colombian commando raid into neighboring Ecuador that killed a leading rebel commander.
John Reilly, Juanes' New York-based spokesman, said Thursday that plans for the concert have not changed and that "the vast majority of communication Juanes is receiving from both fans on Twitter and everyday people he comes into contact with in Miami continues to be overwhelmingly supportive."
The statement also said there are "a very small number of extremists who apparently feel threatened by change and have posted or acted in an aggressive manner."
Juanes has attempted to answer his critics on Twitter, often discussing the controversy in 140-character tweets: "Ninety miles of border, of wall, of lack of communications, of pain and death," Juanes wrote on Monday, citing the distance between Florida and Cuba. "Don't you think it would be good that they talk after 50 years?"
Associated Press writer Tamara Lush contributed to this report from Miami.
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