CubaBrief: Castro regime’s racist attacks against Cuban musicians. EU Parliament listens to Cuban artists. Bacardi partners with NAACP to support Black-owned businesses

CubaBrief has followed the appearance of the song Homeland and Life (Patria y Vida) on February 16, 2021, and how it fits into Cuba’s larger context of the arts and within the nonviolent protest tradition. However, we did not focus on one aspect that the response of the Castro regime necessitates, and that is on the question of race and racism in Cuba. Yotuel Romero, a singer with the band Orishas and the brain behind the project, was called a jinetero (a prostitute) by the official website CubaDebate because he is married to the Spanish actress Beatriz Luengo, who is white. Maykel Osorbo, who is also black, was branded “marginal” by the regime.

Cuban artists both in Exile 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). It directly challenges the regime’s propaganda slogan Homeland or Death (Patria o Muerte). All these artists involved are black Cubans, and the Castro regime has launched a propaganda attack that includes racist tropes.

Married couple: Beatriz Luengo and Yotuel Romero

Married couple: Beatriz Luengo and Yotuel Romero

This was not the first regime attack against musicians with racist phrases.

In 2020 when Yotuel Romero released the song and video “Ojalá Pase” by his musical group, the Orishas, and with his wife lending her vocals, an agent of the Castro regime wrote on social networks: “He has reached where he has arrived thanks to Fidel and the Revolution, without whom he would only have been a black shoeshine boy.”

This expression that without the Revolution, you would not have achieved anything is a common refrain of the Castro regime, but the rest of the pro-Castro insult is clearly racist. “The government of Cuba calls Yotuel a “jinetero” for being married to me and I being Spanish. They already insulted him by calling him a “black shoe shine boy.” This does not define Yotuel gentlemen of the Cuban government. This defines you who have nothing more to say about a man who has only made music, art and representation for his people,” said Beatriz Luengo.

Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, and Descemer Bueno outside of Cuba

Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, and Descemer Bueno outside of Cuba

These Cuban artists, both inside and outside of Cuba, are calling on Cubans to put aside their differences and embrace life and freedom. The racist reaction of the Castro regime and its agents to this message of “Homeland and Life” speaks volumes of what animates this 62 year old dictatorship, and elements of the international community are paying attention.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, with the Cuban flag, behind El Funky and Maykel Castillo, inside Cuba.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, with the Cuban flag, behind El Funky and Maykel Castillo, inside Cuba.

“Cuban artists and dissidents presented testimony to the European Parliament Friday claiming violations of human rights by the Cuban government. They testified, based on their own experiences, about the censorship each of them has suffered because of their political beliefs”, reported Jurist.

Havana in addition to attacking these artists returned to their perennial attacks against Bacardi in CubaDebate last month.

Meanwhile Bacardi, in stark contrast to the Cuban government, is assisting artists, has continued to demonstrate its corporate leadership on the environmental front, and is addressing racial disparities in business by partnering with the NAACP “to provide dedicated support to Black-owned businesses in the beverage alcohol service, sales, and hospitality industries.” …

… “Backing the B.A.R. is an NAACP initiative that is awarding over $350,000 in acceleration grants, education, support, and entrepreneurship solutions for Black-owned bars, restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, liquor stores, and small businesses in the process of applying for a liquor license.”

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 6.16.06 PM.png

People en Español, March 1, 2021

Exclusive: Yotuel, Gente de Zona, and Descemer Bueno on Speaking Up for Cuba

Their “Patria y Vida” music video has over 2 million YouTube views and has started a wave of protests against injustice on the island.

Por Lena Hansen Marzo 01, 2021

With their new music video “Patria y Vida”, Yotuel, Gente de Zona, and Descemer Bueno have garnered over 2 million YouTube views and put their native Cuba in the spotlight. The video denounces the injustices on the island and the violence faced by those who oppose Cuba’s totalitarian regime. Cuban rappers Maykel Osorbo and El Funky — and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, leader of the Cuban group of artists and activists Movimiento San Isidro — are also featured in the music video.

The reaction from many Cubans on the island who want democracy has been to paint “Patria y Vida” on their bodies and houses, as a way to show support for the cause. Some have been detained or have been victimized by mobs organized by the administration of Miguel Díaz-Canel, Cuba’s president, as a way to repress them.

Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, and Descemer Bueno spoke to People CHICA about this powerful hymn. “They write to you, they threaten you,” Yotuel says of the Cuban government’s reaction to the song and the criticism it has generated worldwide. “It’s so sad that we still have to endure this because we think differently. That in our country thinking differently leads to a physical confrontation.”

Yotuel says he won’t be intimidated by threats and spoke today before the European Parliament about the abuse endured by the Cuban people under a dictatorship that has lasted over 60 years. He also plans to speak to President Joe Biden, whose team approached him for a meeting after the music video went viral.

Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom of Cuban reggaeton duo Gente de Zona also opened up about the song. Delgado says Cuba is undergoing one of the most difficult times in its history, with the shortage of food and medicine reaching a peak during the pandemic.

He says this song is not an attempt to gain more fame and money, but rather a cry for help to end their country’s humanitarian crisis. “Our families are on our side, they support us, our kids give us the motivation to keep going in favor of the truth,” he says. Malcom is hopeful about Cuba’s future. “When over 11 million Cubans inside and outside [of the country] unite, change will come.”

Descemer Bueno adds about the battle for a democratic and prosperous Cuba: “I think this is the beginning. We have many years of fight ahead.” The singer says through art and music they are speaking out against the poverty and lack of freedom Cubans face every day on the island, and they won’t be silenced. “This our way to erode the system.”

https://peopleenespanol.com/celebridades/gente-de-zona-patria-y-vida-nuevo-video-musical-descemer-bueno-yotuel-cuba-politica-noticias/

NAACP, February 24, 2021

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 6.16.12 PM.png

The NAACP x BACARDI are working together to provide dedicated support to Black-owned businesses in the beverage alcohol service, sales, and hospitality industries. Backing the B.A.R. is an NAACP initiative that is awarding over $350,000 in acceleration grants, education, support, and entrepreneurship solutions for Black-owned bars, restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, liquor stores, and small businesses in the process of applying for a liquor license.

Grantees will receive a grant of $10,000 dollars. Ideal grant recipients are looking for support in accelerating their business for the future.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING GRANT RECIPIENTS:

https://naacp.org/backing-the-bar/

Jurist, March 1, 2021

Cuba artists testify about rights violations before European Parliament

Daniela Comesanas Carmona | St. Thomas U. School of Law, US

March 1, 2021 10:56:52 am

Screen Shot 2021-03-02 at 6.16.19 PM.png

Cuban artists and dissidents presented testimony to the European Parliament Friday claiming violations of human rights by the Cuban government. They testified, based on their own experiences, about the censorship each of them has suffered because of their political beliefs.

The event was hosted by MPs Dita Charanzová and Leopoldo López Gil. Members of the European Parliament stated their concerns about the situation in Cuba and showed solidarity with the Cuban cause. The meeting was scheduled after the attacks Cuban artists have suffered following the release of the song “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life).

On February 16, Grammy winner Yotuel Romero and his compatriots December Bueno, Gente de Zona with the collaboration of dissident rappers from Cuba Maykel Osorbo and El Funky—members of the San Isidro Movement—joined their voices to launch the song, which advocates for the dignity and freedom of the Cuban people. The title of the song is a complete turn to the famous phrase that dictator Fidel Castro repeated until it was worn out–”Patria o Muerte” (Homeland or Death). Since 1959, that phrase has been present in every regime propaganda and must be repeated at schools, work centers, and television.

The song has rattled the Cuban regime. Since it was published, the Cuban media, and especially those related to the government, launched insults and criticism against the authors of “Patria y Vida,” calling the song “an aggression against the national security of Cuba” and “trash” and calling its authors “whores” and “mercenaries.” They have condemned the song through television reports and social media comments, including three tweets in a single day from Cuban dictator Miguel Diaz Canel.

In response to those attacks and to condemn daily human rights violations in Cuba, Yotuel Romero secured a conversation with the European Parliament. He stated that “we Cubans have the right to life. With this song what we do is claim the right to live. And if the Government of our country does not agree, it is because all these fundamental rights are being violated.”

Participants in the event included Luis Manuel Alcantara (member of San Isidro Movement), Alexis Valdes (famous comedian), Willy Chirino (singer), Anamely Ramos (artist), Ariel Ruiz Urquiola (scientific), Yoel Romero (athlete), Wendy Guerra (writer), Randy Malcom (member of duo Gente de Zona), Asiel Babastro (audiovisual director), Arturo Sandoval (singer). Venezuelan leader, Juan Guaidó, also participated in the event.

Alexis Valdes, stated “I’m a Cuban comedian who nobody can see in a Cuban theatre because I have been denied entry to Cuba for more than 15 years, why? Because I have opinions that are different from those of the Cuban government and I expressed them; in other words, for trying to be an honest man.” He further stated “that honesty in Cuba is penalized.” Every person in Cuba who expresses the truth is “prosecuted, defamed, tortured, incarcerated.” The Cuban government “has taught Cubans to lie, to live in a double morality to survive; it has separated families, destroyed traditions, prosecuted based on political beliefs, artistic affiliations, or sexual orientations.”

Valdes further stated that “the majority of Cubans who are here today are not exiled, we’re banished because we cannot go back to our land, we are banished in the 21st century which is a flagrant violation of our human rights.” “To buy food in Cuba is almost impossible, commute to work is a challenge, to get medications is an adventure; and besides those material necessities there is a lack of freedom.” He asked for a democratic process in Cuba “where differences are respected, and that there are political options from where the Cuban people can choose the one that better represents them, and for that, we need the European support, the whole world cannot continue to turn its back on what is happening in Cuba, to what so many Cubans suffer.”

Meanwhile in Cuba, Jose Daniel Ferrer, Cuban human rights activist and UNPACU leader was being forcedly arrested in his house.

Human rights in Cuba are under the scrutiny of human rights organizations, which accuse the Cuban government of committing systematic human rights abuses against the Cuban people, including arbitrary imprisonment and unfair trials. The Cuban government repudiates and punishes any type of dissent and public criticism by means of public shaming, travel restrictions, short-term detention, fines, online harassment, surveillance, beatings, and termination of employment.

This article was translated from English into Spanish by JURIST Editor Daniela Comesanas Carmona. To view the translated article in Spanish click here.

Este artículo fue traducido de Inglés a Español por la editora de JURIST Daniela Comesanas Carmona. Para ver el artículo traducido en Español, da click aquí.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/03/cuba-artists-testify-about-rights-violations-before-european-parliament/