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Compay Segundo of Songwriters and Editors in Havana, which is demanding millions of Yanqui dollars in royalties for the family of Joseito Fernandez, who died in strained circumstances in 1976. As the story goes, Pete Seeger first heard “Guantanamera” sung at a left-wing summer camp for children in upstate New York. Apparently, the campers had been taught the tune by Hector Angulo, a Cuban-born instructor at a then-politically correct Manhattan music school who claimed to have inserted the Marti lyrics fell in love with the celebrated lyric \(“Yo soy un hombre sincero que viene de donde crece la palma” “I am a sincere man who comes from where the palm tree Eliades Ochoa division in the forties. Now 200 versions of Fernandez’ song have been cut by everyone from Seeger to the Sandpipers to jazzist Paquito de Rivera, and the lilting melody has been used as background for soft drink commercials and the recent film Antz. Most of these versions are pirated, affirms Agustin Rodriguez, an official of the General Society at a Carnegie Hall concert in 1963, and soon added it to his repertoire. Publishing rights to the song were quickly picked up by Fall River Music, which is run by Seeger’ s long-time colleague Harold Lev anthal and Fred Hellerman, a charter member of the celebrated Weavers. According to Irwin Silber, one-time publisher of Sing Out! magazine \(the hibited from paying royalties to the Fernandez family by the near forty-year U.S. economic boy cott of Cuba. The publishers won a New York court decision last December against demands by Fernandez’ heirs for a share of the international royalties. “We’ll probably file in Spain next,” says Rodriguez of the songwriters’ society, which holds the Cuban rights to “Guantanamera.” Joseito Fernandez’ memory continues to breathe in the barrio valiente \(angry neighvana where few tourists tread. Ask the locals lounging on any street corner and they will point to the alley where his daughter Migdalia maintains a tiny private mu seum in her father’s honor. Set be hind burglar gates in a dilapidated tenement, Migdalia displays the old troubadour’s guitar, now in place on top of the television set. Joseito’s guayabera is neatly hung on the back of his chair, and his straw sombrero hangs on a wall covered with photos of his performances throughout Cuba. There are altars to the Virgin of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint, in both rooms. “My father was a hero in this neighb o r h o o d ,” Migdalia recalls. “He would walk in the middle of the street and the people shouted from the balconies, beg ging a song. The children followed him everywhere….” Like his song, Migdalia avows that her father was un hombre sincero. “If he saw or heard of any injus tice he would make up a song he stood with the ones who had fallen.” Under the Batista dicta torship, his verses were sometimes considered subversive Joseito sided with and remained loyal to Fidel Cas tro’s revolution. Like the t ipez Buenavistas, he never left Cuba. “He said the sadness would kill him.” According to the songwriters’ society, Fall River now argues that “Guajira Guantanamera” is really an old Cuban folk song, and that Joseito Fernandez only popularized it a view shared by exiled Cuban novelist and critic Guillermo Cabrera Infante, but one that causes Migdalia great pain. “Everyone in Cuba knows my father wrote `Guantanamera’ even Pete Seeger acknowledges it….” She displays a condo lence letter from the U.S. folk singer, who met and embraced Joseito on his first trip to Cuba at the end of the sixties. “Your song will continue to reach out and touch souls around the world,” Seeger wrote. “My father’s prophecy was that we are all brothers,” Migdalia Fernandez considers. “I don’t blame Pete Seeger for any of this. He didn’t steal the song with bad in tentions. He liked the melody and he sang it and people liked it and it exploded in the world….” John Ross has returned to Mexico City from the streets of New York and the avenues of Havana. OCTOBER 29, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19