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The Cuban-American Musical Detente: Inside A Native Son's 40-Year Road to Havana's Newest Festival

March 1, 2016Article
Billboard

This November's elections could end with much of the momentum between the U.S. and Cuba being lost, depending on the new President-Elect's sympathies. Obama’s upcoming trip has been criticized by Republicans, who say it will “reward a dictatorial regime.”

Tangentially, the Treasury Department recently approved the opening of a small tractor factory in Cuba, allowing for (at least one kind of) American business to exist on the island for the first time in more than 50 years. Purchasing real estate remains off-limits for Americans, an all-but insurmountable obstacle for any U.S.-based music promoters hoping to make a real business from Cuban events. While a black market exists in which Cuban citizens offer to front for foreigners and sign their names on real estate contracts, its appeal is obviously limited.

“I would be cautious about flying fast and loose into Havana,” warns Los Angeles attorney William Hochberg, who is working with clients on several confidential projects involving both Cuban and American artists. Hochberg has recently traveled to Havana, meeting with his Cuban counterparts on the subject of intellectual property, a tricky area in a place where copyright as we know it does not exist.

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