Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Silvio Rodriguez--Canción Urgente Para Nicaragua

On Sunday, March 2 our very much acclaimed Silvio Rodriguez came to Nicaragua to do a concert. Ten thousand or more enthusiastic fans turned out. It was chaos in the beginning because the commercial outfit that arranged the concert did zero planning in order to cut its costs to close to zero. There were not even any large screens to allow those far from the stage a better view of the Cuban performers.

Some fans paid fifty bucks for VIP tickets. Others, like me paid a little over fifteen dollars and most paid about ten dollars for their tickets. But many got in for free because the angry crowd, frustrated by hours of waiting in line, broke down the barriers and surged in, just in time to hear our outstanding performer and founder of the Nueva Trova movement in Latin American music. Most of us missed the Nicaraguan performers Silvio had invited to open the concern – the young Moisés Gadea, and Duo Guardabarranco (Katia and Salvador Cardenal).

Just before, Silvio had done concerts in El Salvador and Guatemala.

Silvio, as always, soared into the ears, hearts, and minds of his crowd – and we responded with voice accompaniment, cheers, chants, requests, and a good smattering of Cuban and Sandinista flags. Beer stands had their best night in a long while.

We were a mixed crowd in generational terms. Many were from the generation of the revolution – people who remember his electrifying April 1983 Managua concert where he gave us his unforgettable and inspiring Canción Urgente Para Nicaragua (see below). Most were from younger generations. Almost everyone, however, knew the words to Silvio’s songs and followed him in chorus.Silvio touched many hearts when he read a message in solidarity with the five Cuban political prisoners serving long terms and harsh conditions in various US prisons.

What I will remember most about the event is not that Sivio refused clamors from the crowd to sing “Cancion Urgente…” It is the image of two Nicaraguan army soldiers in uniform holding high two flags – Nicaraguan and Cuban. Around them were also FSLN flags. As the hours passed people passed them around to relieve one another of the weight and discomfort, or to go to a beer stand to fuel up.

I will also not forget meeting my friend Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy in the long lineup to get in. The wait was so long that I used to time to walk up and down the line to greet people I knew. He was way back in line and I have no idea where he ended up in the field used by the Pharos Casino for large events. But he avoided the temptation to buy a VIP seat and joined the low income crowd. He mentioned to me he will be making a cross Canada tour in May.

Why did Silvio not want to sing “Cancion Urgente…” I don’t know and see no value in speculating. He refused repeated entreaties from the crowd and at a certain point let it out that he has “some problems” with the song now. Some people speculate that he meant political problems with it because Nicaragua is now no longer in the lift of a revolution. Others hue closer to his words and say he has not played it for a very long time and felt not able to do it to standard. All I know is that I respect his right to determine his own program and to hold to his own artistic criteria.

If I had to make a complaint it would be that he allowed his Nicaraguan organizers to hold this concert on the grounds of the Pharos Casino. It simply is not set up to handle a crowd that size. The stage is too low to be visible through the heads and flags of those closer to the stage.

We should bring him back soon to a mass event in the Plaza of the Revolution or the National Stadium.

Silvio’s choice not to sing “Cancion Urgente…” only served to focus more attention on the song. Many, like me, probably played it later that night or went on the internet to find the video of the April 1983 concert.If you want to do that now, go to youtube. The scenes are uplifting, and the music, well it’s Silvio 25 years ago. His song is a call for urgent international solidarity with the young Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution, already under sustained attack by the United States through the proxy Contra war. Here’s the URL.

Felipe Stuart


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