The comparison Mr. Varela has drawn to the U.S. father of Folk has to do with his musical and lyrical styles, however his recent trip to the U.S. indicates improving cultural ties between the two countries. This comes a week after Kool and the Gang gave a huge performance in Havana, reciprocating cultural exchange that was previously forbidden under the Bush Administration. Having toured with Jackson Browne and been to the U.S. during the Clinton years, Varela was barred from entering in 2004, even after nearly 2000 tickets to his concert in Miami had already been sold.
Despite strong words from Presidents Castro and Obama about what each country needs to do policy-wise, the cultural exchange of U.S. and Cuban artists allows for artist-to-artist, artist-to-public and artist-to-politician diplomacy, all laying the foundation for potential policy changes down the road.
Here, New York Times reports that Varela held a jam session (that’s right!) in the House Budget Committee meeting room before speaking with several Legislators in Washington DC. Check here for an interesting slide show on Varela on his previous visits to the US also by NYT. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Varela songs I’ve come across, La Política No Cabe en la Azucarera: