Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés has died at the age of 79

His fans across Latin America knew him simply as Pablito. Known for such hits as Yolanda and Yo Me QuedoPablo Milanés helped define Nueva Trova, the musical genre that emerged in Cuba in the 1970s.

Milanes died in Madrid. He moved to Spain a few years ago to undergo cancer treatment. The Latin Grammy winner’s death was announced on his Facebook page:

“It is with great pain and sadness that we unfortunately have to announce that Maestro Pablo Milanés passed away in Madrid that early morning on November 22nd. We deeply appreciate all the tokens of love and support for his family and friends at this very difficult time. May he rest in the love and peace he has always transcended. He will stay in our memories forever.”

In a 2019 interview with his daughter Haydée Milanés, NPR’s Alt-Latino described Pablo as “one of the most revered singer-songwriters, emerging from a heady era when politics, poetry and acoustic guitars gushed in the form of Cuba.” nueva trovaor new song.”

Pablo Milanés (right) and his daughter Haydée Milanés perform together at the Kennedy Center.

Jati Lindsay / Kennedy Center


Kennedy Center

Pablo Milanés (right) and his daughter Haydée Milanés perform together at the Kennedy Center.

Pablo Milanés has had a complicated relationship with the Cuban government over the decades. He supported Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, but was also a freethinker. In the mid-1960s he was sent to the Castro regime’s forced labor camps known as the Military Units of Production Aid (UMAP). El País“Priests, homosexuals and other ‘anti-socials’ were interned under the pretext of conscription.”

“It was a concentration camp and I spent a year and a half of my life there,” Milanés told The Guardian in 1999. “Physical labor, cutting sugar cane from dawn to dusk.” He said he wasn’t sure exactly why he was sent there. “I lived a bohemian lifestyle… who knows, the whole attitude of youth at the time.”

Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez tweeted that Milanés and his songs are an “inseparable voice of the soundtrack of our generation”.

Earlier this year, Milanes announced that he had signed the Cuban Civil Society Manifesto calling for social and economic changes in the country. In a Facebook post, he urged others to read the document and give way to new ways of thinking “that call for new laws, new freedoms, new active participation within today’s society that would lead us to a dialogue of peace.”

Among the many tributes from fellow artists is Peruvian singer Tania Libertad wrote“A great composer, wonderful singer and extraordinary friend… We will miss you dear Pablo. Have a safe journey. I will hug you and sing for you always.”

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