It is not official, but for about 50 years Cuban radio stations have seen dozens of blacklisted musicians banned from their airwaves after abandoning or criticising Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution.
Legendary artists such as the "Queen of Salsa" Celia Cruz, singer Gloria Estefan and pianist Bebo Valdés are just some of the names who had been censored, until now.
Last week, the BBC News reported
that the blacklist is gone.
"The artists were banned because they were making statements against Cuba," said
cultural journalist Reny Martinez. "Things have changed. Something has changed in the Party. I think there’s new flexibility with culture."
Although the Communist Party has typically avoided to discuss the policy change, local radio stations acknowledged that they no longer faced restrictions on playing the music from at least 50 of the artists on the inventory of prohibited names.
While the ban has been lifted, Grammy-winning saxophonist Paquito d’Rivera, singer Willy Chirino and all the other infamous artists might not necessarily be getting much airtime just yet. Plenty of their music can be found at local pirate CD stalls, but it’s likely most of their official records were destroyed or archived.
Radio stations were also instructed to play the previously forbidden tunes only "where appropriate" and remain cautious about the ban overturn.
The change is another discreet sign of Cuba’s recent socialist renewal under Cuban president Raúl Castro. According to radio station staff in Havana, authorities understood that the list was outdated, but it had served its purpose. They added its removal meant Cuba was opening up to the world.