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Pablo Milanés: 'In revolutionary Cuba there were concentration camps'

The Cuban singer-songwriter referred to the Military Units of Production Assistance (UMAP) as 'a very dark affair in the history of revolutionary Cuba.'

Santiago de Chile

Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés referred to the Military Units of Production Assistance (UMAP) as "a very dark affair in the history of revolutionary Cuba," and described them as "concentration camps" where thousands of young people were sent to be "reeducated" by order of Fidel Castro.

In an interview with the newspaper La Tercera the musician described his experience between 1965 and 1967, when these detention centers were in operation and where he was subjected to forced labor and rigid indoctrination.

Milanés managed to escape and flee to Havana, but was jailed for insubordination, the publication explained.

"I always talk about it, but nobody ever publishes it. I give a lot of interviews in Cuba and when I talk about the UMAP, it's as if I were talking about the devil. It is a pain that people bear on the inside. They haven’t been able to make amends for it, or apologize for what they did," he said.

In the singer-songwriter's view, the program meant "condemning thousands of young boys to concentration camps simply because they thought freely – not even because they thought the opposite, but rather because they were free thinkers and had opinions."

"And let's not talk about that anymore, because it was a very dark issue in the history of revolutionary Cuba. There were concentration camps. There were 50,000 young people in the concentration camps, and I was one of them," he said.

When asked why he continued to believe in the Revolution, he replied: "Because I am a revolutionary. They're not, I am."

Milanés told the publication that he does not expect the government to apologize. "(…) I have asked them to apologize, but they have not done so."

With regards to his reaction to Fidel Castro's death, he said that it affected him, but he did not want to get into it: "I don't want to talk about politics."

Pablo Milanés will soon be performing in Chile, on three different dates, appearing in Santiago, Valparaíso and Temuco.

The musician also reiterated his criticisms of reggaeton.

“No, I don’t like it. Not only because of it beat, which is very boring; it's like a litany. That is the most exact word I can find. A litany that does not change. In the world of popular music, songs should be more varied; the beat, the melody must vary. And the lyrics should be delicate. You cannot be vulgar when singing. You have to think that the songs have an impact, shaping popular tastes," he explained.

According to Milanés, "reggaeton lacks all that: taste, melody, and singing too. It is a litany that is unbearable," he insisted.

"The companies have exploited it, training an audience in bad taste and producing young people questioned at this time by many people who know what good music is. And it's a shame that this is happening in the world, because of reggaeton and the international companies that are promoting it all over the world," he said.

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