HIALEAH, Fla. – The debate over cultural exchange with Cuba comes to Hialeah, where the mayor has decided to change the lineup for the city's annual Fourth of July bash after backlash from Cuban exile groups.
"It's a false cultural exchange because only artists controlled by the Castro regime, who bend to what they say and are part of their effort to control exile populations, get to leave Cuba and are contracted, whereas artists who are dissidents, who say what they don't wanna hear, can't go to Cuba," said Dr. Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, co-founder of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.
Gutierrez Boronat said he spoke to Mayor Carlos Hernández regarding the hiring of artists like La Micha, Señorita Dayana and Jacob Forever -- Cuban artists who travel to and from the island performing, getting paid up to $30,000 for a performance at the concert.
"It's hard on people to see these artists who are pro-Castro being paid with taxpayer money," Gutierrez Boronat said.
Hernandez announced the changes in a statement released in Spanish, in which the mayor said the Cuban exile community continues to deserve respect.
"The mayor was cordial, called me, asked me questions. I gave him answers, and then we saw the result," Gutierrez Boronat said.
This comes on the heels of a resolution approved unanimously by city of Miami commissioners, asking Congress for a law that would allow a ban on performers and artists who do business with or are funded by Cuba.