THE LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS have received extensive coverage. Originally to be held in Miami, the Grammys will be held Tuesday in Los Angeles. Organizers moved the ceremony following assemblies planned by Miami’s Cuban exile community. Nearly one-fifth of Cuba’s population—over two million people—lives in exile. As former Soviet Central Committee member Georgi Arbatov observes, "[I]t is a bad sign when people want to emigrate in large numbers."
An August 24 story from Reuters crystallizes everything one needs to know about Cuba and the Latin Grammys. Here is the relevant passage: "Havana said Friday it would allow Cuban musicians nominated for Latin Grammy awards to travel to the ceremony in Los Angeles Sept. 11."
The significant part is so mundanely written that it seems trivial: "Havana said Friday it would allow…"
To allow presumes the power to grant permission; to presume the power to grant permission presumes to power to withhold permission, i.e., to prohibit. For instance, if Americans needed to obtain permission from a Ministry of Religious Affairs before holding a religious service, that entails the power of the State to prohibit particular worship by denying permission. Clearly religious freedom would be non-existent here.
In Communist Cuba, physical movement—the cardinal attribute of freedom—requires authorization. Obtaining authorization is hardly an entitlement, and to request it is construed as a betrayal of La Revolucion.
Imagine if there had been a Grammy-type event in ante bellum America held in Boston. Among the nominees were enslaved blacks for the record, Spirituals from the South. (Assume the phonograph had been invented earlier.) Eager to profit from the event, the singers’ master allows them to attend but keeps their families on the plantation in case they feel the impulse to emancipate themselves.
In this scenario, would it be rational for free black exiles in Boston to ignore the singers’ enslavement and families’ hostage-status? Or would it make more sense for these freemen to assemble and highlight the master’s hideous dominion over their brethren?
When Americans of Cuban ancestry gather this Tuesday outside the Forum, it is not to protest musicians; it is to protest an autocrat who manipulates creativity, crushes creations that differ from his criminal dogma, and holds a country in captivity. The media will likely misrepresent these Americans’ indignation as malice, and that’s a damn shame because their distortions perpetuate Cuba’s bondage.