Cities and history have long memory, but people do not. Beyonce, that mulatto portentous, hard legs and Nordic hair, visited Havana in the company of Jay-Z, his moody, almost mob husband, a record producer and inextricable, with a scowling rapper. The couple stayed at the Saratoga hotel and went to dinner at La Guarida, the house where after Nancy showed David the pleasures of sex for his first timehe movie in tStrawberry and Chocolate, from Jodie Foster to the Reina Sofia have eaten.
From every tenement crowds of onlookers came to cheer the presence of the artist, as if Havana did not deserve so great a visit. It is natural. One gets the impression that nobody comes to Havana. That no one who is somebody cares about it. But to Havana, remember, everybody has come. From Lorca to Sartre. From Caruso to Meyer Lansky.
We do not know if Beyonce’s presence is something symbolic or if it was only a wife’s whim. Her marriage was turning five and she wanted to know an exotic location, or an exotic region: the Caribbean. There is a stereotype about Americans that like all stereotypes have a dose of truth. For them everything is exotic. Even Paris is exotic. They do not know where anything is other than Boston or New York or Pennsylvania. Perhaps London but that’s about it.
Exotic or not, we found out that Beyonce was jovial with a strange and unfamiliar city. She corroborated here in primary schools and museums like Old Havana, her influence, or the influence of her country has long tentacles, and that anyone has heard her or desired her wetly in any unexpected corner of the world.
But Beyonce did not show up stunning. No straight hair but she showed thin braids and beehive hairdo, simple dresses, sunglasses, and a smile outlined in each bold picture they took her. Jay-Z, in turn, with his thin shanks and look of golfer on holiday, never show his intimidating, fighting rapper from below face. He smoked his cigar, walked quietly beside his wife, and let the cameras and the cheers for the lead singer. People should remember all the time the sensuality of video clip, the paroxysmal waist movements and compare all this with Mrs. Quiet, somewhat demure, who visited the ISA and walked through the streets of the city.
For Beyonce La Colmenita acted and the Charanga Habanera sang. We assume that the four or five singers that David Calzado placed in the front line didn’t raise their shirts in any provocative manner, nor move their hips too boldly, just in case Jay-Z will put aside the pose of tourist gentle and draw a Colt 38 or send his personal bodyguards to kick these third class provocateurs little derrieres.
Already in the U.S. some exalted congressmen. owning a cystic anger toward Cuba, filed a complaint with the Department of Treasury, asking who authorized Beyoncé such a journey, such noise, and such gallantry with Havana people. But for Beyonce, who sang at the second inauguration of President Obama, Miami Congresspersons should be even more exotic than the Caribbean. If they fine her, she would not even notice….
The artist has already left, and we were left now, back to business. Last week, a little more in the shade, one decision maker relieved-this is an understatement-Roberto Zurbano from his post as Director of the Publishing Fund of Casa de las Americas, because the New York Times published his article on racism in Cuba. The article is wrong in more than one point, but that right assists Zurbano.
It appears, obviously, he made a grave mistake, but we know which the unforgivable errors are. Not just writing an article inaccurate. This has happened numerous times, countless, and we will pay for it-as-we are paying the price for the humiliation of our disability for dialogue and plurality. Hence Beyoncé’s visit was a success. If we do not care about each other we expect others to care about us. People have short memories, but cities and history don’t.