‘Patria y Vida’ Gave Cuba Back a Pulse

Moment from the video clip of ’Patria y Vida’ (Homeland and Life). (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Asiel Babastro, Havana, 26 February 2021 — [Note: Asiel Babastro, director of the video clip for the song Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] presented the following text this Friday at an event of the European Parliament sponsored by Vice President Dita Charanzová and MEP Leopoldo López Gil, the Renew Europe Group and the European People’s Group, and organized by Cuban Prisoners Defenders. Led by one of the creators of this song that has goe viral, Yotuel Romero, the meeting was attended, live and in an unprecedented way, by the Venezuelan Juan Guaidó, the activist and academic Anamely Ramos, the writer Wendy Guerra, the scientist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, the actor Alexis Valdés and the musicians Arturo Sandoval and Willy Chirino, as well as Maykel Castillo Osorbo through video, among others.]

I am Asiel Babastro. I was born in 1989, the year of serious faces*. I grew up with my index finger covering my mouth. As I left the parades I picked up little Cuban flags from the ground and put them in a book. I also repeated slogans.

I come to talk to you about my land and it would not be fair without mentioning its diaspora: the almost three million Cubans scattered around the world. Cuba is also the people who did not fit in, who could not and cannot. I do not speak for them, but I do name them.

Triumphalism is a coward, a sensationalist. My land is an island that has obeyed for 62 years. But there are other compatriots who have been waiting for something for 22,630 days, whereas while many things happened in the world, few things happened in Cuba, almost nothing.

And the regime does nothing more than postpone dreams. What homeland is the power proposing? It is still a mystery. How many years will the country we want cost? Who helps Cuba in its disaster? These are questions that I ask myself often. Because freedom is always small.

It is terrible how badly revolutions age, said a teacher. And the Cuban women grew old with their leaders in power, with the poetry of the past invoking a dead person who still governs. Communism, when they talk about the future, changes the conversation.

There is no land in sight, nor a transition to democracy. The dictatorship practices the culture of cancellation. The independent press is not recognized. They are watched, attacked, deprived of their rights, prohibited from leaving their homes. There are also testimonials.

Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] gave Cuba back a pulse. But the regime has few words to mention the differences: “scums,” “traitors,” “worms,” “stateless,” “whores,” “opportunists,” “little blacks.” With those words there is no dialogue or speech.

In Cuba there is racism. I have seen it, I have felt it. That is the aftermath of slavery. Although ideological blindness denies it, there is racial subordination. The exclusion of the black individual through jokes, phrases (“advance the race,” “do not bring him to my house”). The attacks are very sneaky and difficult to detect.

What can minorities do against majorities, against false unanimity, self-censorship? What do we do against acts of repudiation? What is the number of permissible errors? Social and economic situations can condition the value of a right.

The Revolution has cost us the Homeland. Article 4 of the Constitution says: “The defense of the socialist homeland is the greatest honor and supreme duty of every Cuban. Treason is the gravest of crimes. Those who commit it are subject to the severest sanctions.”

This Constitution makes a mistake: it says that the country is socialist. That is ideological rhetoric and it contradicts the Apostle, José Martí. And I quote him: “I want the first law of my country to be the worship of the full dignity of man.”

Translator’s note: 1989 was the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the precursor of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc in Europe, ultimately leading into the Special Period in Cuba.


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