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Havana bans live music following Castro death

As the first US passenger planes in more than 50 years begin touching down, the usually lively Cuban capital has fallen silent in tribute to the island's late leader

By Jon Chapple on 29 Nov 2016

Tropicana, Havana, Scott Loftesness

Dancers at Havana's Tropicana, which is reportedly closed while the city mourns Fidel Castro

image © Scott Loftesness

The first commercial flight from the US to Cuba since 1961 landed in a subdued Havana yesterday, where live music has been temporarily banned following the death of Fidel Castro.

Castro, a communist guerrilla who came to power in 1959 and ruled the Caribbean island until 2006, died on Friday (25 November) after a period of illness. According to the Associated Press, a ban on live music and alcohol during the period of official mourning has shuttered the city’s venues and nightclubs, “hush[ing] the capital’s usually festive nightlife”.

The timing of the visit of American Airlines flight 17, from Miami – and a Jet Blue flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport later the same day – is a coincidence: the easing of restrictions on commercial travel to Cuba was put in motion by a 2014 executive order by US president Barack Obama.

“A state-sanctioned ban on live music has hushed the capital’s usually festive nightlife”

Despite the partial overturning of longtime ban on US citizens visiting Cuba, ‘pure’ tourism is still illegal, with most travelling under loopholes around educational, religious and sporting activities.

In a sign of Cuba’s growing liberalisation since the handing over of power to Castro’s brother, Raúl, in 2006, The Rolling Stones played a free concert in Havana in March. It was billed as the first open-air concert in Cuba – which at one time had banned Western pop music altogether – by a British rock band, although that claim was disputed by Manic Street Preachers.


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