the miami herald

Cubans on island wary of politics behind Juanes concert

Sept 18--Many Cubans see politics behind Sunday's concert by Colombian rocker Juanes, but they expect the event to attract a large crowd.

Shirtless men are hard at work under an unforgiving sun this week, hammering away at the stage that on Sunday will hold an unprecedented concert with some of Latin music's biggest stars.

But to many people here in Cuba, the concert for peace, organized by Colombian rocker Juanes, is much more than an afternoon of music and good times.

Many Cubans say it's a desperate attempt by a government losing its grasp on the hearts of its people, a government that this week finally began to show its inevitable human vulnerability when one of its aging, beloved leaders died.

The death of revolutionary hero Juan Almeida, they say, underscored that the visit by a Colombian superstar does not change Cuba's stark reality: It's a nation run by men who are approaching the age of 80, or who have already passed it.

``You better come early,'' said a worker who was checking the Sunday afternoon temperature. ``By noon Sunday, there won't be room here for one single more Cuban.''
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