CubaBrief: Cuban collective in Paris calls on artists to stop working for govt-run cultural institutions. Cuban artists reject govt slogan in favor of Homeland & Life

Cuban culture is challenging the official narrative of the dictatorship through acts of omission and commission that are resonating inside and outside of the island.

“A Cuban design collective in Paris is calling on artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers and other art professionals ‘on and off the island’ to stop working with government-run cultural institutions in Cuba. Atelier Morales, which is made up of the Cuban architects Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Morales, tells The Art Newspaper the campaign is ‘a strike of personal responsibility to fight the Cuban machinery of repression, which is one of the strongest and most effective in the world’, wrote  Gabriella Angeletiin the article “Calls for ‘art strike’ against state-run cultural institutions in Cuba.”

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Cuban architects Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Morales

This “art strike” is an act of omission, but its implications are a challenge for the dictatorship. This “strike” is the refusal “to perform acts that they usually perform, are expected by custom to perform, or are required by law or regulation to perform.” Nonviolent action “is a technique of action for applying power in a conflict by using symbolic protests, noncooperation, and defiance, but not physical violence,” according to the Albert Einstein Institution that was founded by Dr. Gene Sharp in 1983.

This is the latest protest against the Cuban dictatorship, after it further tightened censorship of the arts in Cuba with the passage of Decree 349 in 2018. The 2018 decree led to the founding of the San Isidro Movement that has engaged in nonviolent protests against censorship, arbitrary detentions, and violence visited upon artists over the past three years. These Cuban artists are also defying the totalitarian narrative of the Castro regime through their own art. Other generations of Cuban artists have done this in the past, and the dictatorship did all it could to erase them, but with new technologies they are finding it more difficult to do it today.

Cuban artists both in the diaspora and on the island, Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, El Funky, and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, collaborated in the song and video Homeland and Life (Patria y Vida) that challenges the regime’s propaganda narrative. On February 16, 2021 the video was premiered live with Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno on Youtube, and Maykel Osorbo briefly speaking live from Cuba before the secret police cut him off.

Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno with Maykel Osorbo on the line premiering "Homeland and Life"

Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno with Maykel Osorbo on the line premiering “Homeland and Life”

The Albert Einstein Institution would describe this as an “Act of commission“, “that is, people may perform acts that they do not usually perform, are not expected by custom to perform, or are forbidden to perform.” Below is the music video Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) that is not only a non-violent creative act, but contains a message that rejects violence and death in favor of life, understanding and treating each other with humanity. An excerpt of the lyrics translated to English bring home their message.

No more lies, my people ask for freedom, no more doctrines,
Let us no longer shout “Homeland and Death” but “Homeland and Life”,
And start building what we dream, what they destroyed with their hands …
That blood not continue to flow, for wanting to think differently,
Who told you that Cuba belongs to you, if my Cuba belongs to all my people

Telemundo 51 had this premiere as one of the five most important news stories of the day, and described it as follows:

The video of “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life) was released, a collaboration between Maykel Osorbo, El Funky, Yotuel, Gente de Zona and Descemer Bueno. The video alternates images of the musicians with fragments of recent videos that show the repression in Cuba. The song proposes a new slogan to replace the official “Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death), used by the regime.

Yesterday, CubaBrief explored the legacy of Ángel Cuadra, Bacardi, and Gloria Estefan and how it continues to impact Cuban culture both on and off the island. Today this living legacy continues to defy totalitarianism in Cuba with the authentic voice of Cubans breaking through the dictatorship’s structures of censorship using nonviolent action both by omission and commission.

Photo stills from the video Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) with Cubans in the diaspora and on the island.

Photo stills from the video Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) with Cubans in the diaspora and on the island.

The Art Newspaper, February 16, 2021

Calls for ‘art strike’ against state-run cultural institutions in Cuba

Art professionals “on and off the island” are urged to stop working with state-run institutions that have been “complicit in their silence” as the government amps up efforts to squash dissent

Gabriella Angeleti

16th February 2021 22:50 GMT

Members of the Cuban 27N movement, named after a day of major protests in November against government censorship

Members of the Cuban 27N movement, named after a day of major protests in November against government censorship

 A Cuban design collective in Paris is calling on artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers and other art professionals “on and off the island” to stop working with government-run cultural institutions in Cuba. Atelier Morales, which is made up of the Cuban architects Teresa Ayuso and Juan Luis Morales, tells The Art Newspaper the campaign is “a strike of personal responsibility to fight the Cuban machinery of repression, which is one of the strongest and most effective in the world”.

Atelier Morales say that Cuban institutions are “complicit in their silence”, and that organisations and individuals in “free and democratic countries” must support the “courageous Cuban artists and intellectuals who are facing the government and asserting their ideas through peaceful and independent civil movements”.

For the past few years, activists have protested against Decree 349—a law put that went into effect in 2018 which requires artists to register for government-issued licenses in order to create work for public spaces or face penalties, fines and seizures. Critics and human rights groups say the law essentially allows the government to censor work it sees as dissident or provocative.

“The strike will end the day when [artists’] rights are fully respected and without conditions or censorship, without defamation or arbitrary arrests,” Atelier Morales say.

Last month a free speech protest outside the ministry building in Havana sparked a violent confrontation by officials against the protestors, leading to the arrest or detainment of dozens of activists. The incident also led to a petition and a legal motion calling for the removal of the culture minister Alpidio Alonso, who was video taped striking a journalist. Since then, state-run media has amped up efforts to discredit artists, including Tania Bruguera and members of the San Isidro Movement and 27N. Last week, the television programme Razones de Cuba claimed Bruguera’s work is “a fabricated character made by the US” that seeks to “conquer symbolic space in the country’s institutions”.

The report prompted Llillian Llanes, a former director of the Havana Biennial who has been a long-time supporter of Bruguera’s work, to write an open letter of support that was published on the independent site Artcrónica. Llanes called the media’s efforts a “crude attempt to disqualify Bruguera as an artist” and an “evident demonstration of the reporter’s ignorance about the development of contemporary arts in Cuba”.

“No one is in a position to deny [Bruguera] the reputation she has earned over more than 20 years of work as a Cuban artist,” Llanes adds. “Cuban art history will give her her due, no matter who weighs in.”

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/cuban-artists-call-for-art-strike-amid-ongoing-turmoil-between-the-cultural-sector-and-government


Archyde, February 17, 2021

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This is how Patria y Vida sounds, the song by Maykel Osorbo, Yotuel, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno and other Cuban musicians

February 17, 2021 by archyde

| 16/02/2021 – 3:28pm (GMT-4)

A new anthem has reached the universe of Cuban urban music. Homeland and Life is the new theme that brings together the talent and commitment of Maykel Osorbo, El Funky, Yotuel, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno and other Cuban musicians.

“Your five-nines and double-two are over now / sixty years are over with the dominoes,” says the chorus of a song that describes the decline of the Cuban totalitarian regime after more than sixty years denying rights and freedoms to the people.

It is Yotuel who begins this emotional poem that draws the feeling of a people that has tired of the repression, lies and manipulation of their rulers. “Today I invite you to walk through my lots / to show you what your ideals are for,” the former Orishas member opens by saying.

“What do we celebrate if people are in a hurry / exchanging Che Guevara and Martí for their currency?” Yotuel asks, given the devastated economic outlook on the island. “Everything has changed, it is no longer the same / between you and me there is an abyss.”

For their part, the voices of Randy Malcom and Alexander Delgado are responsible for transmitting in their verses the drama of a people struggling to regain their dignity. “We are the dignity of an entire people trampled on at gunpoint and with words that today are nothing”.

“No more lies / The people ask for freedom, no more doctrine / Let us no longer shout homeland or death but Homeland and Life,” say the voices of Gente de Zona with their unmistakable timbre. A group whose trajectory in recent times describes an ethical reflection that its members have had the courage to face; Like Descemer Bueno, a musician with whom they collaborated on the hit Bailando, along with Enrique Iglesias.

Patria y Vida ends with the voices of Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, two rebellious rappers who reside in Cuba and challenge the monopoly of violence exercised by a totalitarian state. Recently, both rappers, linked to the San Isidro Movement (MSI), starred in an online concert to raise funds to help Denis Solís, the unjustly imprisoned rapper who started the hunger strike at the MSI headquarters.

“They broke down our door, they raped our temple / and the world is aware that the San Isidro Movement is still in place,” says Osorbo, one of the strikers at the Damas 955 headquarters, where state security agents forcibly entered to dismantle the protest.

“You are already left over / you have nothing left, you are already getting off. / The people got tired of holding on. / We are waiting for a new dawn, ”El Funky shoots to close a song that promises to become a new anthem for that civil society that, inside and outside of Cuba, is demanding a change.

https://www.archyde.com/this-is-how-patria-y-vida-sounds-the-song-by-maykel-osorbo-yotuel-gente-de-zona-descemer-bueno-and-other-cuban-musicians/

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, February 17, 2021

Celebrating real Cuban culture and the artists defying totalitarian efforts to rewrite it

Let us no longer shout “Homeland and Death” but “Homeland and Life”

Artists from the San Isidro Movement celebrating Cuban culture

Artists from the San Isidro Movement celebrating Cuban culture

“Totalitarianism demands, in fact, the continuous alteration of the past, and in the long run probably demands a disbelief in the very existence of objective truth,” observed George Orwell in his essay, “The Prevention of Literature” in the journal Polemic, published in January 1946. Writers that refuse to go along with alteration of the past all too often pay a terrible price. This is also true for artists in other fields because totalitarians seek to control the culture.

Ángel Cuadra, who passed away on February 13, 2021, was a Cuban lawyer, writer, poet, and actor who in 1967 was sentenced to 15 years in prison and in February 1977 Amnesty International highlighted his case and recognized him as a prisoner of conscience. He was paroled for four months in 1976, but returned to prison to serve out his sentence after a book of his poems were published abroad. Castro could not tolerate independent cultural expression and punished him with another five years in prison followed by forced exile.

Ángel Cuadra defending Cuban culture and ideas prior to his arrest.

Ángel Cuadra defending Cuban culture and ideas prior to his arrest.

Those who wish to be fooled by the totalitarians fall for their lies time and time again, but facts intrude for those seeking the truth. On February 12, 2021 the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) “described as a mockery against freedom of the press and expression a series of measures of economic opening that the Cuban regime dictated and that leaves out the exercise of independent journalism.” No doubt those seeking to legitimize the dictatorship in Havana will want to once again give it the benefit of the doubt.

But those who recognize Cuba’s past and listen to its authentic cultural expressions in the present have captured truths that point to the regime’s monstrous nature. New generations in Cuba today, such as the San Isidro Movement, continue the work of Ángel Cuadra defending the existence of objective truth, and recovering the past the dictatorship in Havana continues trying to erase.

Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life)

By Yotuel with Gente De Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, El Funky

And you are my siren song
Because with your voice my sorrows go away
And this feeling is already stale
You hurt me so much though you are far away

Today I invite you to walk through my building
To show you what your ideals are worth
We are human although we do not think alike
Let’s not treat or harm ourselves like animals

This is my way of telling you
My people cry and I feel their voice
You five nine me double two
Sixty years without the dominoes shuffled
Celebrating the five hundred of Havana
While at home, their pots are empty

What do we celebrate if people are hurrying
Trading Che Guevara and Martí for foreign currency
Everything has changed it is no longer the same
Between you and me there is an abyss
Advertising a paradise in Varadero
While mothers cry for their children who left

It’s over, you five nine me double two
It’s over, sixty years without the dominoes shuffled, look
It’s over, you five nine me double two
It’s over, sixty years without the dominoes shuffled

We are artists, we are sensitive
The true story, not the fabricated one
We are the dignity of a whole people trampled on
At gunpoint and words that are still nothing

No more lies, my people ask for freedom, no more doctrines,
Let us no longer shout “Homeland and Death” but “Homeland and Life”,
And start building what we dream, what they destroyed with their hands …
That blood not continue to flow, for wanting to think differently,
Who told you that Cuba belongs to you, if my Cuba belongs to all my people

It’s over, your time is up, the silence is broken
It’s over, the laughter is over and the tears are already running
It’s over, and we’re not afraid, the deception is over
It’s over now, it’s sixty-two doing harm

There we live with the uncertainty of the past, planted
Fifteen friends standing, ready to die,
We raise the flag still the repression of the regime to the day,
Anamely Ramos steadfast with her poetry,
Omara Ruiz Urquiola giving us encouragement, of life
They broke down our door, they violated our temple,
And the world is aware that the San Isidro movement continues, since

We continue in the same, security imposing their perspective,
These things make me indignant, the enigma is over
I know your malignant revolution, I’m funky’style here is my signature
You are already left over, no more left, you are already going down,
The people got tired of holding on, we are waiting for a new dawn

It’s over, you five nine me double two
It’s over, sixty years without the dominoes shuffled, look
It’s over, you five nine me double two
It’s over, sixty years without the dominoes shuffled

HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE

(SIXTY YEARS WITHOUT THE DOMINOES SHUFFLED)

HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE
HOMELAND AND LIFE

https://cubanexilequarter.blogspot.com/2021/02/celebrating-real-cuban-culture-and.html