Nachito Herrera: «What’s the Crime I’m Committing against the World?»

Nachito Herrera: «What’s the Crime I’m Committing against the World?»
Fecha de publicación: 
19 June 2022
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Let's see the confession of the prominent Cuban pianist, based in Minnesota, United States, during his last visit to the island:

«I’m an artist who has been living outside Cuba for 21 years, but I always carry Cuba in my heart, it is always in all the programs I do around the world, and I thank all of you for receiving me as you receive me. I think these are things I don't deserve, because I think it's a duty for every Cuban who has been here, my career from start to end was here, I didn't even finish my career like other musicians outside of Cuba, I started in Alejandro García Caturla Conservatory and I ended up at the Instituto Superior de Arte, when it was not even called the University of Arts. What’s the crime I’m committing against the world? I’m saying that I’m a Cuban artist made in Cuba, I’m going to continue saying it».

It’s serious: a confessed crime of loving Cuba and being grateful. But Nachito does not believe in media courts, nor pressure from the anti-Cuban cultural industry:

We are living through times that are extremely difficult, we have a campaign, fundamentally in the media, that seems to be strong, but it’s not so strong, so we simply want to keep carving our own path, letting the world know that Cuba is a country of art, music, but it’s a country that welcomes you.

Something special about Cubans and that has been kept for many years is that Cubans do not give away what they have to spare:

it gives you what it has, and that means a lot to me; arriving at a house and say: look, what we have is some rice and beans, but come and share, that is, it’s not go like going to the store and spending money, Cubans at heart offer you what they have, and the most important thing that Cubans have is that, even going through any of the difficult needs they have, they always offer you their heart, their home, and that means a lot to me».

He goes like this, with his talent and his sincerity as a shield, repeating the same question:

«I have been to many countries in the world that I don't even know their language, but we are musicians and we can play together; So why not come and do it in Cuba? Why not? That's always been my big question."

Nachito's case has aggravating factors: he emphatically emphasizes cursed words in the expansionist vocabulary, such as "blockade", and he refuses to repeat others prioritized in the manual:

"We have to keep fighting, because the blockade does exist, although some say it doesn't, it does exist and it’s there, there is reliable evidence that we are going through very difficult times, and I’m going to continue fighting for the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, between the administrations, because the peoples love each other, the Americans want to come to Cuba and Cubans want to go there. Why not reestablish relationships and work in the fields that we can work together, not only in music, in health...

Why not recognize that Cuba has five vaccine candidates, it has three vaccines, the only country in the world that is vaccinating its two-year-old children? Why not? Why be so arrogant and let a child die before putting a vaccine because they say it was made in that country where I don't mention the word they say because it hurts? Let's forget about that for a day and think that this life that is departing can be saved by a vaccine that does not matter where it was made, the main objective is that it saves life. I’m an example of that and I will never get tired of saying it, I’m a clear example of what the collaboration between Cuban doctors and American doctors means. Then the question arises again: why not? If there are many things we can do, in agriculture, in arts, in health, in education; there are lots of things we can do."

Nachito refuses to repeat that there’s a dictatorship in Cuba: deadly sin. However, there has been no inquisition to stop him. The old child's game of "if you don't play by my rules, I’m taking the glove and the ball" doesn't work with Nachito because his fingers fly over the piano with so much freedom and authenticity like his words:

«That’s my opinion as a musician, but also as a person raised in this country and who continues to defend Cuban music and I will continue to defend it: Cuba, Cubans and music, and it’s always the big question: why no? Tell me a reason that convinces me why I don't have to tell the world a truth: that education, that Cuba's health is one of the best in the world, that Cuban musicians reach all competitions and succeed, that our athletes, since the time of Armando Capiró and Agustín Marquetti and Alberto Juantorena and Javier Sotomayor and Ana Fidelia Quirot, won many medals and have set records still standing.

«I always end the interviews by saying: if they really believe that the blockade does not exist, just for the sake of doubt, let them lift it, call and tell authorities: look, I'll give you ten years so that you really show that this has not been a hoax, and if in ten years we demonstrate, then you must recognize that there has been a blockade, must recognize that due to the blockade there are many needs, which could have been solved much earlier, because the world does not know that sometimes, even having OFAC licenses, licenses to buy medical supplies, they don't let Cuba buy them, the banks, because of the transactions that have to be made.

The artist assures that he believes in saints, "because I’m Cuban," he emphasizes, but says: "I’m Christian, I believe in God. I say: how could I be a Christian, go to church on a Sunday and pray in the name of the lord, the son and the holy spirit, and wake up on Monday morning writing other tougher sanctions against Cuba, specifically now, under this pandemic that we have experienced? I cannot believe in that type of Christian, because there’s a biblical principle that is very clear: love your neighbor as yourself; and that is literally what Nachito is doing, not only with Cuba, we do activities to raise money to build hospitals in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Now the big question returns: why not in Cuba? What’s the reason?»

While the answer appears, Nachito does not intend to redeem himself: «Every minute of my life I’m going to dedicate to helping my people, to the best of my ability, humbly, but every time I can do it, I will do it, and every time I have the possibility of inviting musicians, not only from the United States, from anywhere in the world, but especially from the United States, so that they come and play with our musicians, so that they see the quality they have, I will continue to do so».

After talking with this Cuban for a while, one confirms that “why not” will never have a meaningful answer, and also confirms why. Because Nachito can live there, in the north, and that no snowfall cools his feelings for his homeland, for his people; why the media campaigns against Nachito "are not as strong as they seem"; why he can support Cuba from anywhere in the world.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff


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