International News

Thousands Attend Puerto Rican Band Calle 13's Habana Concert

Who knew Cubans even liked Puerto Ricans? On Tuesday, boricua reggaetoneros Calle 13 threw a concert in Habana and 200,000 Cubans showed up.

It was the second major concert by an international star in Cuba in the last year, following August's Juanes show.

Singer René Pérez Joglar, shirtless and pissed off, performed for a crowd of mostly teenagers and twentysomethings in front of the American Interests Section in the capital. For two hours, he ragged on everything from the FBI to the embargo. "We're going to talk about sex, religion and politics," he'd said.

There are few videos of the show on youtube, but
before kicking off the band's Grammy-winning song "Dear FBI (Querido FBI)," Joglar egged the crowd to stay "autonomous," unlike his home country which had become a colony. Yeah, live on a tax-free glorified spa, or an impoverished archipelago - "Sophie's Choice" really. On the video, only scattered cheers are overheard in response.

Last year, when Juanes performed before millions, Miami's viejitos and esteemed Cuban punditry lambasted the Colombian performer for kowtowing to Fidel Castro. Now, Calle 13, which plays a show in Miami Thursday, is gearing up for that same kind of vitriol. Still, Joglar is defiant: Cubans in Miami "are going to come at us, be all over us, but it's all the same to us," he said, the AP reports. 

Also at the Habana concert was DJ -- and Ultra performer -- Diplo, who already tweeted back to some whack-job Miamian, "Im here for cubn [sic] people not castro."

The concert took place as Cuba is reeling from a string of protests following the death of a well-known dissident last month, and the more recent repression of Las Damas En Blanco, the spouses of jailed political dissidents. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama upped the ante in talks with Cuba, calling for an "end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba." El Maximo retorted by calling him a "capitalist zealot" and mocked Americans for taking 200 years to pass universal health care. Everyone's a critic these days.

Below is video from the Havana show. Beware: tattoed torsos of rapping Puerto Ricans are visible.

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Erik Maza