If alive today, Celia would have more than likely celebrated the news of his passing according to longtime manager and estate trustee, Omer Pardillo. “I think Celia could be relieved if she were alive today. Relieved because we’re starting a new chapter,” he told Billboard. “I’m not sure what she would have done, because the only thing Celia had left to do was return to Cuba.”
In the exclusive feature, Pardillo recalled how Castro notoriously denied the late icon entry to her native land in 1962, when she attempted to return for her mother’s burial. Although the Fania legend later performed for American troops in Guantánamo in 1990, she vowed not to return to Cuba under Castro’s dictatorship.
“I’ve always thought that if they had allowed Celia to bury her mother, the story of Celia and Cuba would have been very different. Remember, Celia was Cuba’s most famous artist; it would have been very important for the government to have her on their side,” Pardillo continued.
While Celia refrained from weaving political messages in her music, she never camouflaged her opposition to the revolutionary throughout her lifetime, one which has resonated with Cubans everywhere. “I would venture to say that when you mention Cuba anywhere in the world, the two names that come to mind are Fidel Castro and Celia Cruz,” Pardillo expressed. “She represented the Cuban exile with dignity: a poor black woman who left Cuba and conquered the world.
Celia’s love for Cuba was so big. And because she couldn’t return, it became even bigger. Celia represents a free Cuba. Everywhere she went, she was the exiles’ flag.”
Read Omer Pardillo’s full thoughts here.