Silvio Rodriguez and the lynching of Cuban artists by social media

The singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez. Photo: Ariel Cecilio Lemus,

From 8 Sept 21

The lynching of Cuban artists by social media rears its ugly head again, this time with calls on social media networks to boycott Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez’s concerts in Spain.

A few days ago, calls to boycott concerts by singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez in Spain have been circulating on social media networks. The poster of the concert in Madrid has been published on digital platforms, but with sloppy graphic manipulation where it is [incorrectly] announced “cancelled”, creating confusion.

But beyond the right that some people have to express themselves on these popular platforms, this lynching of artists by social media should be looked at more deeply.

If we were to ignore the polarised extremes of what Cuba means for people, we would notice that art as a vehicle for political division is a very well defined objective, and not by chance.

I am not exaggerating when I state that this has been a constant basis for a manual already conceived and used, where the tendentious use of icons of culture are crucial elements in calls to destabilize and promote states of uncertainty and anguish. There are examples [of artists targetted] (the Puerto Rican singer Andy Montañez or the Spanish actor Willy Toledo, among many others), and the blackmail and terror campaigns have made a strong bid to extinguish friendly voices that have had the courage to speak positively about the Cuban health system, sports or education.

But that network of fear and resentment has been wide ranging and has not only ended contracts or made demands on artists from other countries, but has also focused on the musical universe inside Cuba, reaching limits that border on the absurd: every Cuban musician who tries to put forward some positive nuance of Cuban society or government, is being hunted until eternity.

But, why are the guns lining up today against one of Cuba’s most plural artists? What hurts them the most about Silvio, his songs or that he lives in Cuba?

In their elaborate universe, they would only accept a ventriloquist artist who would think, sing and speak for a nefarious legitimization of the Cuba they want. And Silvio’s words are of no value to them, despite their artistic and human criticality, and his personal vision of the Cuban revolutionary process. The lynchers underestimate Silvio’s position in Latin American and world musical history, and resort to public or online derision, since only those who shout and call for humanitarian and military interventions will be rewarded, some who struggle to write a coherent sentence. Neither their work or talent matters, nor are they representatives of a real and emancipatory struggle: it is the case of the few, like a Roman emperor, deciding who lives or not.

To restrict the right of our artists to freely express themselves from a position of genuine plurality and truth is a harpoon to life, disguised as good intentions. Giving the platform and providing coherence to those who repeat the worn out phrases, always to the detriment of genuine art, is cheap circus. Along these lines, the lynchers have silenced the views of Silvio himself, of Roger Waters, Danny Glover, and hundreds of intellectuals who signed a letter calling for an end to the blockade, published in The New York Times and addressed to President Biden. They only care about a minimal, inappropriate, biased and mediocre version of Cuba. And that, in the language of music, is called ‘being out of tune’.

Link to original report in Granma in spanish