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reform has re-enforced Cuba's status as a "state-sponsor of terrorism."
reform policy suggests that because Cuba is a communist state, all musicians
wanting to come to the US are "employees or agents of the Cuban government or
are members of the Communist party,"
thus making them ineligible to come to
the country. As a result, no Cuban artist has been able to visit or perform in the
United States, even to claim awards they've won for their work or join tributes in
their honor.
Newly tightened visa restrictions have affected musicians from around the
world, making it difficult for them to perform in the United States simply because
the process has become unwieldy and unpredictable. Especially burdened are
artists from other "state-sponsors of terrorism ": Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan,
and North Korea even if the musicians currently reside in other countries. Many
musicians who have received visas to tour the U.S. have reported increased law
enforcement scrutiny at their performances and trouble using their visa to leave
or reenter the country. This level of risk has forced U.S. presenters to abandon the
idea of scheduling tours and performances for many foreign musicians. "It's a
simple business decision on our part," said Scott Southard of concert presenter
International Music Network. "If we feel there's a significant risk that we can't get
an artist approved, of course we're not going to try."
Even the number of gov-
ernment-sponsored cultural and academic exchanges has fallen to half of what it
was ten years ago.
This despite recommendations to the U.S. government to
increase them, saying that "American culture and the American people are the
best assets for communicating values, diversity, and democracy."
It is sad to note, however, that most of the restrictions encountered by musi-
cians seem to be attributed less to censorship, and more to cultural prejudices.
Some incidents - such as singer Thomas Mapfumo having difficulty entering
Canada (due to concerns that his intention was to return to the US), or Yusuf Islam
(formerly known as singer/songwriter Cat Stevens ) being denied entry into the
United States seem to be much more about unfair attitudes towards religion and
nationality, rather than the government's interest in censoring music.