Around the world Cuba is known for the down-beat rhythms of Salsa and Son, but on the streets of Havana and other cities on the island Cubans seems to favor the pulsating beats of reggaeton over tunes that made the island famous.
The Cuban government, however, is not happy about this and is banning reggaeton from radio and television in an effort to preserve the country’s musical integrity and crack down on “vulgar” music, according to Cuba’s government newspaper, Granma.
Reggeaton is a form of music that mixes Jamaican dancehall with Caribbean salsa, Latin hip hop and electronic music and originated in Puerto Rico. The music has become popular in clubs from Argentina to the United States and Europe.
Neither vulgarity nor mediocrity will be able to tarnish the richness of Cuban music.
- Orlando Vistel Columbie, president of Cuba’s Cultural Ministry’s music institute
Much like hip hop, the music has caused controversy for its sexually explicit lyrics that some allege exploit women. Cuban authorities last year denounced as obscene the reggaeton song El Chupi Chupi by local artist Osmani García.
Any Cuban artists whose music is deemed demeaning to women or sexually explicit can be sanctioned or banned from performing, according to Orlando Vistel Columbie, the president of Cuba’s Cultural Ministry’s music institute.
“Neither vulgarity nor mediocrity will be able to tarnish the richness of Cuban music,” Vistel said in an interview posted online today by the Communist Party paper, according to Bloomberg. “Obviously, people can listen to what they want privately. But, that freedom doesn’t include the right to reproduce and disseminate that music.”
Vistel added that the music misrepresents “the inherent sensuality of Cuban women” and portrays them as “grotesque sexual objects.”
“I can assure you that traditional Cuban music has nothing to do with elitist codes nor is outdated,” Vistel said, defending musical forms such as Salsa, Son as well as rumba and Cuban Jazz. “With a professional movement, we encompass the most varied styles and modes of conducting sound, with a wonderful choral movement, with orchestras and soloists class, with carriers of traditions that preserve and transmit traditional values.”