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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Explained: Why a viral rap song has left Cuba’s communist regime fuming

The song ‘Patria y Vida’ has raked up 2.8 million views on YouTube since its release on February 17.

Written by Om Marathe , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 4, 2021 8:05:36 am
Patria y Vida, Patria y Vida lyrics, Patria y Vida lyrics in english, Cuban rap song, dissent in cuba, Patria o Muerte, express explained, indian expressThe song rebukes the iconic slogan “Patria o Muerte” coined by Fidel Castro in 1960. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)

Cuba’s beleaguered communist dictatorship, whose long list of challenges includes domestic civil unrest, the Covid-19 pandemic and US economic sanctions, is now facing an unusual foe – a viral rap song.

The hit number “Patria y Vida”, which takes direct aim at Cuba’s authoritarian regime of more than six decades, has raked up 2.8 million views on YouTube since its release on February 17, and pushed the Caribbean nation’s ruling leaders on the backfoot.

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Patria y Vida

The song “Patria y Vida” is a joint work of Black Cuban artists – exiled singer-songwriters Yotuel Romero and Descemer Bueno from the group Oreshas, the Gente de Zona pair Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom, and the island-based performers Maykel Osorbo and El Funky.

Recorded in Miami, a city home to a massive exiled Cuban population, and capital Havana, the song rebukes the iconic slogan “Patria o Muerte” coined by Fidel Castro in 1960 after the success of Cuba’s communist revolution a year prior. Patria y Vida, meaning ‘Country and Life’, puts a positive spin on Patria o Muerte, meaning ‘Country or Death’.

A line from the song reads, “No more lies! My people demand freedom. No more doctrines! / Let us no longer shout “Homeland or Death” but “Homeland and Life”.”

The rap number further tears into the regime. It speaks of “the dignity of an entire people trampled by gunpoint, and words that still are nothing,” and recounts a long list of grievances, such as the scramble to get US dollars, being treated like “animals” for having contrarian views and “mothers cry(ing) for their children gone”. The song concludes, “The people are tired of putting up with it/ We are all waiting for a new dawn.”

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A product of Cuba’s growing unrest

Since December 2018, when Cuba first allowed access to the internet on mobile phones, internet use on the Spanish-speaking island has spiked. As per The New York Times, about two-thirds of the population now enjoys some kind of internet access, giving them the chance to rally around causes using social media.

This change has been pathbreaking in a country where the government controls all modes of communication, and where no political opposition has been permitted. Thanks to the internet, artists and dissidents have managed to connect and amplify their message with relative ease, and challenge the government’s monopoly over cultural discourse.

Internet freedoms have also led to the rise of civil resistance in Cuba, such as the rise of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), a campaign by artists and activists demanding greater freedom of expression in the country. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has called MSI “an imperialist reality show to destroy our identity & subjugate us again”, and called for it to be “crushed.”

In “Patria y Vida”, the artists pay tribute to MSI, singing, “They broke our door, they violated our temple, and the world is aware that the San Isidro Movement is still in position.”

Cuban government response

Unlike on numerous previous occasions when the Cuban regime simply turned a blind eye to artistic dissent, its response to the rap song has been furious.

Cuban President Díaz-Canel has taken aim at “Patria v Vida” several times on Twitter, but without naming the song or its artistes directly. In a post on February 19, the leader defended the regime’s “Patria o Muerte” rallying cry, saying “They wanted to erase our slogan”, apparently referring to the song’s composers. Other state officials too have rushed to call the rap number unpatriotic.

Chafing at the song’s success, the Cuban regime has even published its own musical reply to the viral rap song, which YouTube users have overwhelmingly berated with far more “dislikes” than “likes”. Cuban social media is also witnessing a hashtag war, as pro-government handles are promoting #PatriaOMuerte to counter the popularity of #PatriaYVida.

Despite the regime’s fury, “Patria y Vida” has earned significant popularity among Cuban civilians, especially the youth, with many adding the song’s name to their Facebook profile pictures, as per a Reuters report.

‘Patria y Vida’ lyrics in Spanish with English translation

Y Eres tú mi canto de sirena

Porque con tu voz se van mis penas

Y Este sentimiento ya está añejo

Tú me dueles tanto aunque estés lejos

 

Hoy yo te invito a caminar por mis solares

Pa’ demostrarte de que sirven tus ideales

Somos humanos aunque no pensemos iguales

No nos tratemos ni dañemos como animales

 

Esta es mi forma de decírtelo

Llora mi pueblo y siento yo su voz

Tu cinco nueve yo doble dos

Sesenta años trancado el dominó

Bombo y platillo a los quinientos de la Habana

Mientras en casa en las cazuelas ya no tienen jama

 

Que celebramos si la gente anda deprisa

Cambiando al Che Guevara y a Martí por la divisa

Todo ha cambiado ya no es lo mismo

Entre tú y yo hay un abismo

Publicidad de un paraíso en Varadero

Mientras las madres lloran por sus hijos que se fueron

 

Se acabó, tu cinco nueve yo doble dos

Ya se acabó, sesenta años trancado el domino, mira

Se acabó, tu cinco nueve yo doble dos

Ya se acabó, sesenta año trancando el dominó

 

Somos artistas, somos sensibilidad

La historia verdadera, no la mal contada

Somos la dignidad de un pueblo entero pisoteada

A punta de pistola y de palabras que aun son nada

 

No mas mentiras, mi pueblo pide libertad, no más doctrinas,

Ya no gritemos “Patria y Muerte” sino “Patria y Vida”,

Y empezar a construir lo que soñamos, lo que destruyeron con sus manos…

Que no siga corriendo la sangre, por querer pensar diferente,

Quien le dijo que cuba es de ustedes si mi cuba es de toda mi gente

 

Se acabó, Ya se venció tu tiempo, se rompió el silencio

Ya se acabó, Ya se acabó la risa y el llanto ya está corriendo

Se acabó, Y no tenemos miedo, se acabó el engaño

Ya se acabó, Son sesenta y dos haciendo daño

 

Alli vivimos con la incertidumbre del pasado, plantado

Quince amigos puestos, listos pa morirnos,

Izamos la bandera todavía la represión del régimen al día,

Anamel y Ramon firme con su poesía,

Omara ruiz urquiola dándonos aliento, de vida

Rompieron nuestra puerta, violaron nuestro templo,

Y el mundo ta’ consciente de que el movimiento San Isidro continua, puesto

 

Seguimos en las mismas, la seguridad metiendo prisma,

Esas cosas a mi como me indignan, se acabó el enigma

Ya sa’ tu revolución maligna, soy funky’style aquí tienes mi firma

Ya ustedes están sobrando ya no le queda, ya se van bajando,

El pueblo se canso de estar aguantando, un nuevo amanecer estamos esperando

 

Se acabó, tu cinco nueve yo doble dos

Ya se acabó, sesenta años trancado el domino, mira

Se acabó, tu cinco nueve yo doble dos

Ya se acabó, sesenta año trancando el dominó

 

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

(SESENTA AÑOS TRANCADO EL DOMINÓ)

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

PATRIA Y VIDA

English translation:

And you are my siren call,

for with your voice my sorrows go away.

And this feeling is already stale…

You hurt me so much, even though you are far away.

 

Today I invite you to walk through my lots

t’a show you what your ideals are serving for.

We are human, even if we don’t think alike,

let us don’t treat and harm each other like animals.

 

This is my way of telling you:

My people cry and I feel their voice.

You, five nine [1959]. Me, double two [2020],

sixty years of dominoes lock.

Great fanfare with the 500 of Havana,

while at home the casseroles no longer have any food.

 

What are we celebrating? People are in a hurry

exchanging Ché Guevara and Martí for currency.

Everything has changed, it is not the same anymore,

between you and me there is an abyss.

Advertising a paradise in Varadero,

while mothers cry for their children gone.

 

It is over now… You, five nine [1959]. Me, double two [2020].

It’s over now… Sixty years of dominoes locked, watch!

It is over now… You, five nine [1959]. Me, double two [2020],

It’s over now… Sixty years of dominoes lock.

 

We are artists, we are sensibility,

the true story, not the incorrectly narrated one.

We are the dignity of an entire people trampled

by gunpoint, and words that still are nothing.

 

No more lies! My people demand freedom. No more doctrines!

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

And start building what we dreamed of,

what they destroyed with their hands.

 

Stop the blood from running for daring to think differently.

Who told you that Cuba belongs to you?

If my Cuba belongs to all my people.

 

It’s over now! Your time has expired, silence has been broken.

It’s over now! The laughter is over and the crying is already flowing.

It’s over now! And we’re not afraid, the deceit is over.

It’s over now! It’s sixty-two doing harm.

 

There we lived with the uncertainty of the past, in a hunger strike.

Fifteen friends in place, ready to die.

We are still raising the flag. The repression of the regime, daily.

Anamelys Ramos, firm with her poetry.

Omara Ruíz Urquiola providing us with breath of life.

They broke our door, they violated our temple,

and the world is aware that the

San Isidro Movement is still in position.

 

We are still in the same situation, the Security forces over us.

These things outrage me, over it is the enigma

of that, your evil revolution.

I am Funky-Style, and here you have my signature,

You guys are already being left over.

You have no more left, you’re all getting off.

The people are tired of putting up with it.

We are all waiting for a new dawn.

 

It’s over now! You, five nine [1959]. Me, double two [2020].

It’s over now! Sixty years of dominoes lock, Watch!….

It’s over now! You, five nine [1959]. Me, double two [2020].

It’s over now! Sixty years of dominoes locked!

“Homeland and Life”

“Homeland and Life”

“Homeland and Life”

Sixty years of dominoes lock.

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