Members of the Cubanos en UK group organized the fundraising campaign to send a piano to Cuba. Photo: Courtesy of Cubanos en UK

YOUNG Cuban residents in the UK never imagined that they would face obstacles to sending a grand piano to the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in Havana.

The idea arose when pianist Eralys Fernández Méndez offered several master classes to students of basic piano at the mid-level music school in 2015, and realized the need to donate such an instrument to the center where she had trained in the early 1990s.

Speaking to Granma International, Eralys Fernández Méndez noted that she was inspired to do something after witnessing the high professional level of staff at the Conservatory, and the interest in learning demonstrated by students and teachers. She added: “Some of them were my teachers when I was a student and later my colleagues upon graduating from the Conservatory. This is a way to thank them for the teaching I received, and their good work in the training of pianists.”

Immediately, other Cubans, such as Daniesky Acosta Linares, graphic designer and director of the Cubanos en UK group, composed of Cubans living in the UK, organized a charity concert of classical music to raise funds to buy a grand piano for the school. The tickets for the event held on March 12, 2016, were sold through the site

In just a few days, 360 pounds sterling was collected through the purchase of 36 tickets sold through the online platform, which allows users to search for, buy and sell tickets for events, a common practice in the digital age.

Following the successful concert, on March 17 the organizers received a message from Eventbrite noting: “We were contacted by our bank to let us know that the payout we initiated on 17 March 2016 for £360 has been temporarily held.” A month later, Eventbrite confirmed that the ticket money was withheld “pursuant to U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) regulations and sanctions program.”

Acosta Linares noted, “This experience has made us see more clearly some of the complex aspects of the criminal U.S. blockade policy against our country. Today we know that the blockade has an extraterritorial character, which even violates the laws of third countries, including the UK.”

In his opinion, the most logical thing would be that when operating in the UK, Eventbrite comply with British regulations, which do not include any sanctions against Cuba. Instead, the policy is a violation of the sovereignty of the European country.

Pianist Eralys Fernández Méndez selecting a suitable grand piano to send to the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory in Havana. Photo: Courtesy of Cubanos en UK

Cuba’s annual report on Resolution 70/5 of the United Nations General Assembly, entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”, presented to the national and foreign press in Havana on September 9, 2016, by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, contains numerous examples of the economic damages caused by this unilateral coercive measure to the Caribbean island.

The document notes that between April 2015 and March 2016, the direct economic damage caused by the blockade to Cuba totaled more than 4.68 billion dollars at current prices, calculated conservatively using methodology recognized by prestigious U.S. institutions.

The Cuban Foreign Minister clearly expressed: “President Barack Obama said the blockade did not work, it has not worked and must be lifted; he said it has not served the historical U.S. objectives or purposes over these more than five decades. He did not say that it is illegal, a violation of international law; he did not say it is a violation of the human rights of Cubans; he did not say it is immoral, that it violates all ethics; neither did he say that it is cruel and causes human damages.”