The Independent

Colombian whips up a storm with Cuban gig

Sept 21--Tens of thousands of Cubans flocked to Havana's sprawling Revolution Plaza yesterday for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a Colombian rock star at a huge open-air peace concert.

21 de septiembre de 2009

Juanes, who has won 17 Latin Grammy awards and is known for his social activism, has been criticised by some Cuban-Americans who said the performance gave support to the island's communist government.

Around half a million people attended the four-hour concert under a broiling afternoon sun – double the number that turned up for Pope John Paul II's tour – making it the biggest visit ever by an outsider.

But the excitement did not extend to some across the Florida Straits, where Juanes – real name Juan Esteban Aristizabal – lives in Key Biscayne. He has endured death threats, CD smashing protests and boycotts since his decision to hold the Peace Without Borders concert in Havana. Florida police watched over his home and that of his manager.

But the criticism from Florida is far from universal. Spanish-language stations geared up for coverage, and several exile groups voiced support, describing the event as a rare chance for Cubans to get a glimpse of the outside world.
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