Keyboard player Lester Alvarez was detained for 25 days five years ago when he immigrated from Cuba while playing with a 12-piece salsa band.
"I said I am a Cuban refugee.... They put me in a private jail. I don't know where it was. They don't give you that information." He said he wore handcuffs and leg shackles when he was transported. "Then one day they say, 'Get your stuff and walk out....' The government gave me an E-94, which is permission to stay in the U.S.... After five years you can apply to be a citizen."
Unlike Cubans, Mexican citizens detained at the Tijuana border are automatically deported.
By day Alvarez works in a warehouse; by night he plays in two bands, a traditional Afro-Cuban combo called De Corazon and a ten-piece salsa band called Orquesta Primo.
De Corazon appears 6:30--9 p.m. Sunday at Azafran in Oceanside, all ages, free admission. Orquesta Primo appears Sundays at the Belly Up Tavern, 9:45 p.m., must be 21, $10 admission.