Trump, Obama and the ashes of Chico O’Farrill
MICHAEL H. MIRANDA | Fayetteville | 5 de Enero de 2017 – 11:55 CET.
I could really care less whether Arturo O’Farrill wants to engage in
all kids of anti-Trump activism. But him doing so at a concert here in
Fayetteville, for which I had paid, did irk me. But I still enjoyed his
music, knowing that some are prosaic like that. Just as I no longer go
to church, I don’t attend political events either. So, when I go to a
concert, I find it odd, to say the least, for the artist to offer up a
diatribe rather than a tune.
Now Arturo O’Farrill has taken his father’s ashes to Havana to rest
there. One does not need much of a memory to recall that his father, the
great Chico O’Farrill (Havana, 1921-New York, 2001), formed part of an
illustrious group of musicians that Fidel Castro’s regime never tired of
insulting and deriding as human scum. And, except for the fact that
there is a gravestone in Santiago de Cuba containing some ashes, both
the country and the rhetoric remain quite the same.
In an interview by Government journalist José Dos Santos entitled “A
musician of the future” (I read it via email; I’ve googled it but I have
no idea why, as it is not available on the Web) O’Farrill says that “the
mission and vision” of his father was “musically progressive,” as he was
always talking about visiting Cuba and, with Trump,” if my father had
been alive the day of the election, he would have died” because “the US
is now going through an ugly period. There is terror (…) Everything
happens for a reason. My father returned to his country at just the
There is great terror in the US, according to Arturo O’Farrill. That
must be why nobody protested at the theater in Fayetteville when the
musician said what he said. But not in Havana, which is a land of peace,
harmony and tolerance. Nor do I know if I understand quite what to make
of considering Chico’s music “progressive” – a word that occasionally
suffers an annus horribilis, like now. But what does seem clear is that
Arturo O’Farrill wants to blame Donald Trump for, in addition to the
prevailing terror, his having to rush off with the ashes of his father,
from the disturbing and tumultuous New York, for ever-peaceful Havana.
Chico O’Farrill is a public figure who belongs not only to the pantheon
of Cuban exiles, but also to the musical history of three nations: Cuba,
Mexico and the US. However, one assumes that Arturo O’Farrill can do
whatever he wants with his father’s remains, except cheap political
haymaking. Because he’s already taken it quite a bit too far. O’Farrill
took to heart not only his claim to his Caribbean origins, but,
apparently, Obama’s normalisation of Cuba-US relations, which may be on
the verge of a very abrupt dissolution, and, (this time) not due to
Trump, but rather his counterpart, who has always demonstrated scant
signs of democratic commitment and respect for his citizens.
Arturo O’Farrill has made more than a few trips to Havana. That he works
with musicians from the Island, and his Grammy-winning recordings, have
received much well-deserved praise. I cannot help but wish him luck with
that. He can take whatever path and express whatever loyalties he likes,
but what I do not understand is why he wants to convince everyone that
his ideas were Chico’s too.
We know that a regime like Cuba’s, whenever it wishes to take advantage
of the legacy of some dead soul, whitewashes their biographies; it
mutilates, liquidates, silences and covers up, and if that’s not enough,
dresses them up as a soldier, or a saint.
But when that whitewashing is also accepted by the victims’ relatives,
it is difficult to keep quiet. Now we are asked to believe that Chico
O’Farrill settled in the US and never returned to Cuba for personal
reasons – perhaps the same that led the Indian Hatuey to inhale
secondhand smoke and suffocate.
Source: Trump, Obama and the ashes of Chico O’Farrill | Diario de Cuba –