World Music Artists Shut Out of U.S. Borders

| May 21, 2003

The World Beat aficionado and the international musician have become the new pariahs of the new, secure United States. Musicians who hail from countries that the U.S. government has proclaimed ?state sponsors of terrorism,? such as Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea, are now considered potential enemy combatants and are no longer allowed to tantalize American audiences with the sounds of their respective homelands. The travel restriction comes as a result of the far-reaching Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act, which was signed last year by President Bush, reports Yvonne Wong for WireTap.

One can?t help but acknowledge the irony. The attacks of September 11 woke many Americans from their Alley McBeal, frappuccino slumber to realize that a whole world exists outside of our borders. And now that people are making an effort to learn about different countries and cultures, they find out that Time magazine?s new favorite foreign musician, jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, will not be coming to town because the government has deemed him a potential terrorist.

While the law does not explicitly focus on musicians as terrorists, these foreign entertainers have been swept up in the all-inclusive measures taken to protect the Homeland. And American audiences, which would otherwise have a chance to broaden their perspective through music are now limited to what they hear and see on the evening news. ?Depriving U.S. citizens of the opportunity to witness different artistic traditions leads to a dangerous lack of awareness of these cultures,? writes Wong. ?Future generations of Americans will be ignorant of the cultures that lie outside of their borders, an ignorance that is particularly problematic in light of the world?s current political climate.?
?Nick Garafola

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