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He has inspired his followers to believe in possibilities. And with his latest single, he even urges them to reach out to what has long been thought of as the forbidden zone: Miami. "Now the old mentality is being left behind/Let's bet on peace, everyone friends, Cubans here and there/It doesn't matter where you are/Mami, you've got to live to see/Times change, you're going to see/Now I have friends in Miami." The song, "Que Le Llegue Mi Mano" ("Let My Hand Reach Him"), is not heard on the radio in Cuba, and Manolin says he has been rebuked by officials because of its daringly diplomatic content. But he is anxious to see how it plays in Miami.
Manolin and his group are scheduled to perform Tuesday at Amnesia in South Beach. The concert will go on only if the U.S. government issues the necessary permits for the musicians to play in the United States. Washington has granted permission for other Cuban bands to perform here in recent months, but the promoter of Manolin's tour is Miami businessman Hugo Cancio. He organized a groundbreaking concert by singer Issac Delgado here last April in which Delgado performed without State Department approval. Subsequently the Treasury Department sent Cancio a letter questioning alleged payments to Delgado and other issues relating to the concert. Cancio says he replied to the questions and has not heard from the department again. After the Delgado performance, a State Department official warned that Cancio would face unusual scrutiny if he attempted to present another Cuban band in Miami. But as New Times went to press, the promoter said Manolin and his fourteen-piece group had been granted the visas. Bill Martinez, a San Francisco attorney Cancio has hired to complete the paperwork on behalf of the group, said he was still waiting for INS approval on the necessary work permits for the band members, but he did not foresee a problem.
Manolin hopes Martinez is right. "For me playing in Miami would be a dream come true," he says. "This is the ideal moment, and we want to see how the people in Miami react to the song. We've been isolated from one another, but like the song says, these are new times. After all, Cuba and Miami are just two sides of the same coin."
Manolin and his band are scheduled to perform Tuesday, October 20, at Amnesia, 136 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. Chango Leye, a Miami-based Afro-Cuban folkloric ensemble, opens at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and $35. For more information call 305-884-5051.