"Forgiving is not forgetting. Forgiving is remembering without pain." - Celia Cruz
Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, better known as Celia Cruz, died 19 years ago on July 16, 2003, she was 77 years old, and across the world millions mourned her passing. Waves of grief were especially felt in Miami, Florida and Hoboken, New Jersey, both containing large Cuban exile communities.
"Ariana A. Curtis: Because especially during the early 1960s when she left, that was right after the Cuban Revolution, you know. And so, Cuba was in the news a lot about politics, and about socialism, and about military things. But she really wanted to be able to show this "other side" of Cuba, right. The arts and culture side. And so, she definitely used her style, sort of like satin dresses with the ruffles, and like these long trains.
Mincy: People migrate here and they tend to change their names and change who they are so that they can get jobs or so that they can get opportunities. So, they hide that part of themselves in order to like grow in this country, it's so important that we have an example that Celia Cruz did not hide herself."
Fidel Castro had tried to create a situation that forced the salsa singer to pay him homage, but Celia refused. Salserísimo Perú, a site created in Peru by three journalists to share information on salsa and tropical music offers a more complete and accurate history than the Smithsonian Institution. Below is an excerpt of Celia Cruz's first "encounter" with Fidel Castro.
Since Celia Cruz refused to bow to the new dictator, and wanted to continue to live the life of a free artist, she had to flee Cuba. However, when her mom was ill, she tried to return to see her in 1962, but was barred from entering the island by Castro. When her mother died Celia was again blocked from attending the funeral. Because she was not an active supporter of the regime, her music was banned in Cuba."In the early months of 1959, Celia Cruz was hired to sing with a pianist at the house of the Cuban businessman Miguel Angel Quevedo. Quevedo owned the magazine Bohemia, the most influential in Cuba and who had supported the revolution in the last few years. The guerrilla movement with a certain Fidel Castro in front proclaimed in Santiago the beginning of the revolution. For the Guarechera, Fidel was ending free expression and the arts in her country. The night of the show in the home of Quevedo, Celia was singing standing next to the pianist, when suddenly the guests started to run to the front door of the house. Fidel Castro had arrived. Neither she nor the pianist moved and continued singing. Suddenly, Quevedo approached Celia and told her that Fidel wanted to meet her because in his guerrilla days, when he cleaned his rifle, he was listening to Burundanga. Celia replied that she had been hired to sing next to the piano, and that was her place. If Fidel wanted to meet her, he would have to come to her. But the commandant did not do that."
Celia is in good company. Other major Cuban artists who have
had their music banned in Cuba are Olga Guillot, Rolando Lecuona, Paquito
D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Israel Cachao López, Ramón "Mongo"
Santamaría, Mario Bauza, Arsenio Rodríguez, Willy Chirino, and Gloria Estefan.