Deserving or Not

Arturo Sandoval

On August 8, 2013, President Barack Obama announced that Cuban Arturo Sandoval will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in this country. It recognizes individuals who have made “meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Established through an Executive Order by President Kennedy, the Presidential Medal of Freedom can be awarded to the same individual more than once. Past recipients include Mother Teresa, Colin Powell, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former President Ronald Regan and actress Chita Rivera.

Recent nominee to the award, jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer Arturo Sandoval hails from Artemisa, Cuba. Sandoval was influenced by jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and in 1977 had the opportunity to meet Gillespie, who at the time was playing in Cuba and promptly became Sandoval’s mentor. Together they played concerts in Cuba and Europe and while touring with Gillespie in 1990, Sandoval defected to the United States.

Sandoval’s recording career extends outside of mainstream jazz. He has recorded with Gloria Estefan, Kenny G, and Frank Sinatra and has played in concerts with Celine Dion, Tito Puente, Alicia Keyes and Justin Timberlake.

Sandoval has been awarded 9 Grammy Awards, and nominated 17 times.

While the announcement of Sandoval’s selection met with acclaim, a few Cuban groups have expressed disappointment that a Cuban would accept an award from a President who favors a reconciliation with a regime that has oppressed the Cuban people for five decades.

How do you feel about Sandoval receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

For a four minute video of Sandoval’s playing “My Way” click on the link below:

9 thoughts on “Deserving or Not

  1. Although I may not agree with President Obama on certain issues, including his Cuban policy, I feel that it is an honor for any president to honor an individual, in this case, a Cuban-American who has been an outspoken opponent of the communist regime in Cuba. I don’t see anything wrong or improper with Sandoval’s acceptance of the award.

    1. Thank you, Fernando. When I write about anything related to Cuba, other than expressing my dislike for Castro, I take an unbiased journalistic point of view. But in the case of Sandoval, perhaps because it involves a musician, I’m going on the record as a supporter of his getting the award. He’s a “musical treasure” and deserves the honor.

  2. Gracias Loren, por compartir estas cosas tan agradables e interesantes y a la vez controversiales. Arturo Sandoval es un virtuoso de la trompeta y por tal motivo es merecedor de cualquier tributo que se le haga.Muy particularmente me enorgullezco con estos logros de mis compatriotas..Sandoval brilla por su arte y eso es lo que se tribut
    a. Un orgullo de nosotros los Cubanos. Salud y mucha paz en tu corazon que es por lo que tu te caracterizas. Un abrazo buen amigo y buen hermano…….

  3. Gracias, Marielena. El arte de Arturo Sandoval transcende todo lo politico. Es pura belleza y un gran orgullo para todos los cubanos. Si todos nos enfocáramos más en la magia del arte, de la música y menos en las guerras,el odio, la envidia, seríamos un mundo mejor.

    1. Loren: Tengo que decir algo: Que orgullosa me siento de ti, le doy gracias a Dios por haberte traido de nuevo a nuestras vidas. Eres un ser humano profundo y de una gran sensibilidad. No podemos dejarnos vencer, en este MUndo hay mas buenos que malos. Salud!

  4. Yo como cubano me siento muy orgullozo de que le den la medalla de honor. Yo soy balsero de Guantanamo y el fue a darnos esperanzas cuando mas lo nesecitamos, dios le de mucha salud para que pueda seguir representando a nuestro pueblo Viva Cuba

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