Fito Páez faces backlash for criticizing Cuban government

“It’s time to stop blaming the blockade”

Social media users and public figures have turned on Argentine rock singer and musician Fito Páez for criticizing the Cuban government in a documentary about his relationship with the island.

“It’s been 64 years, gentlemen. It’s over. It’s time to stop blaming the North American blockade. You have to look for other alternatives, smarter alternatives, so that people don’t keep dying of hunger or drowned in the sea,” Páez said in an interview with Cuban YouTube channel El Toque, where he accused the island’s authorities of censorship.

“La Habana de Fito” was directed by Cuban filmmaker and Páez’s friend Juan Pin Villar. In the film, the musician talks about his ties to the island since performing there in the 80s, and includes comments where he criticizes the government.

What Páez said about Cuba

Páez and Pin Villar tried to get the documentary to be screened in Cuba, but decided against it when authorities told them there is a law that “bans talking against the regime,” Páez said during the interview.

However, the Cuban government aired the documentary on national television last month, previously warning the audience that it included comments against the regime, which Páez considered to be “childish and manipulative.”

Neither the director nor the singer authorized the airing, he added. 

“[The Cuban government] started saying on social media that I was manipulated, like old-school intelligence agencies used to do. They want to install the idea that Juan Pin Villar manipulated me to make me say what I said there,” he said.

Páez said a point of contention was his suggestion that Cuban revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos’ death had to be investigated to determine whether he was allegedly murdered. In the documentary’s trailer, he can be heard recalling a conversation he had with young communist Cubans. “You’re 30-year-olds, you have to question. You can’t just swallow the official story.”

Another key criticism was about the execution of three people who had stolen a raft in order to sail to the United States in 2003. “I am against death penalty, here, there, anywhere,” Páez emphasized during the interview.

“They later said I am a friend of Cuba. I am a friend of the Cuban people, not of them,” Páez said and insisted that the film’s director didn’t manipulate him.

“Walking zombie”

After clips of the interview went viral, Páez suffered backlash both from people that are for and against the Cuban government.

Sociologist Atilio Borón criticized Páez for saying the US blockade can’t keep being blamed for Cuba’s problems. “Cubans have been suffering that for 64 years, you can’t be that irresponsible. Think for a moment before talking about politics, don’t let music record companies or the Miami mafia manipulate you,” he said in a tweet.

Borón told Páez to go on Wikipedia and search for “lost planes” to understand how Camilo Cienfuegos died. “They never found the bodies.”

“Be serious, it’d be good if you could rectify your comments,” Borón added.

On the other hand, fintech businessman Marcos Galperín — creator of Mercado Libre and Mercado Pago — said Páez was “a waking zombie”  for talking about the blockade, implying that he was late to the conversation.

Páez has yet to respond to the backlash.

—with information from Télam


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald