Wednesday, August 30, 2006

In tropical Helsinki

Cuban music has always been popular in Finland, going back to the early 1960s.

I know this because I read it in an article that appears in today’s English language edition of Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest circulation newspaper in that country.

Under the heading, "Finnish enthusiasm for all things Cuban still going strong", the article questions why there are still Finns who continue to defend and apologise for the Castro regime, despite its many and well documented failures.

Among the defenders is, of course, the local Cuba "friendship society", set up as early as 1963.

The paper says the head of the Finland-Cuba Society, Pekka Savinainen, insists that his group is an independent, mainly social gathering ... before admitting that well, yes, the Cuban Consulate in Helsinki gets very upset whenever the Society is critical of aspects of Cuban life, like prostitution.

Then there is Risto Vuorimies, a lover of Cuban modern music who calls himself DJ Papá Montero. He says that during his many visits to Cuba he has never witnessed any “political unpleasantness”. It's just good old tropical fun. Besides, he says, human rights are trampled everywhere. Even in democracies.

Anyway, you get the drift.

Still, the last word should go to Pirkko Kotirinta, the journalist who wrote the piece, which you can read here - yes, in English.

“The most recent manifestation of this pro-Cuban sentiment was the campaign launched on the Finnish music scene during a summer open air concert in Kaivopuisto, to donate instruments and other equipment for young Cuban musicians,” Pirkko Kotirinta wrote.

“The project is a fine idea. However, when reading the material produced for the campaign one wonders if Finland's ties with Cuba might not involve the same kind of attitude familiar from the days of the Soviet Union, which is now making Finns shut their eyes from some of the less pleasant sides of Cuban reality.”

You've got a point Pirkko.


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