© 2023 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cuba: While The Politicians Argued, The Musicians Jammed

Editor's note: On June 4, the Trump administration made changes to U.S. policies that make it harder for Americans to visit Cuba. It was another decision that rolled back some of the more liberal visitation policies of the Obama administration.

As pundits, politicians and the travel industry try to unpack this latest twist in a six-decade political standoff between the U.S. and Cuba, Alt.Latino would like to revisit a show about the musical relationship between the two countries. It originally ran Sept. 30, 2016, but we thought the historical lessons learned from the show give us cultural context to a political feud that's still very much a going concern. So let's go to Havana...

"Go before it changes!"

I can't tell you how many times I have heard that charge since the thaw in relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which has prompted so many people to visit the island nation.

No doubt there will be quite a few changes in the coming years, especially economic ones. How it will all shake out is anyone's guess. But what hasn't changed is the close relationship that exists between the music of our two countries, which goes back at least to the 19th century. Spanish speakers use the phrase primos hermanos to refer to the relationship between familial first cousins, and that seems an appropriate description for the give-and-take that has been going on between the U.S. and Cuba, too.

During a recent visit to Havana, I sat down in cafes and home studios with Cuban musicians to trace that history in words and music. The politicians in both countries could learn a few things from those who make music about bridging gaps, finding common ground and even celebrating differences — because those are the kinds of skills needed to get a group of people together to play music.

And why not use those skills in geopolitics, right?

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content