Fri, 07 Dec 2012 04:33 UTC
A crackdown on reggaeton and other unnamed musical styles that are threatening the revolutionary country's traditional musical culture will punish artists and fine those who programme it, according to Cuban Music Institute boss Orlando Vistel Columbié.
"We are not just talking about reggaeton. There is vulgarity, banality and mediocrity in other forms of music too," Vistel told the official Granma newspaper. "But it is also true that reggaeton is the most notorious.
"On the one hand there are aggressive, sexually obscene lyrics that deform the innate sensuality of the Cuban woman, projecting them as grotesque sexual objects. And all that is backed by the poorest quality music."
On an island where music and dance are an essential part of everyday culture - and where the country's youth increasingly sets aside the more traditional son or salsa to listen to reggaeton, the move looked likely to provoke anger.
Musicians who play reggaeton are threatened with being struck off official lists, making it harder for them to work, and recordings are already being purged from official catalogues. Radio and television stations are also under pressure to drop reggaeton - though Cubans can still turn their dials to radio stations in nearby Miami or elsewhere.
"Measures that have been adopted range from professional disqualification of those who violate ethics in their work to the levying of severe sanctions against those who from official institutions encourage or permit these practices," said Vistel. "We are in the process of purging music catalogues with the aim of eradicating practises that, in their content, stray from the legitimacy of Cuban popular culture."
A new law should soon spell out what kind of music can be played in public places on the island, he added.
Reggaeton spread across Latin America and into hispanic communities in New York and the United States after emerging from Panama in the 1980s - where the descendants of Jamaican immigrants mixed reggae in Spanish with hip-hop.
"Obviously everybody is free to listen to the music they want in private, but that freedom does not include a right to broadcast it in state or private restaurants and cafes, in buses or in public spaces," Vistel said. "We are talking about pseudo‑artistic work that has nothing to do with our cultural policies or the ethics of our society."
Vistel denied, however, that traditional music was under threat. "From son and salsa, to jazz and rumba, and on to symphony and chamber music, we have many musicians, a good number of whom are internationally acclaimed," he said. "That is the truth about Cuban music and musicians."