14ymedio, Havana, 27 August 2021 — Cuban reggaetoner Roberto Hidalgo Puentes, known as Yomil, launched De Cuba soy* this Thursday, a song that he described as “the most important of my career” and which he dedicates to the July 11 protests and to claiming his roots.
The video was launched at 5 pm on the YouTube platform and this morning it already has more than 82,000 views. At the start, the singer says “This is about showing the world the injustices that are experienced in Cuba” while showing images of last month’s demonstrations and shouting for freedom.
The lyrics vindicate Cuban historical figures, such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo, and legendary artists, such as Celia Cruz and Benny Moré. But also his colleague, the reggaetoner El Dany — with whom he formed one of the most successful urban music duos — who died in July 2020 from what Yamil has always denounced as medical negligence.
“Today’s is also for you, my little brother,” he wrote on Twitter with the hashtag “forbidden to forget.” The lyrics of the song insist on the idea: “End the abuse of power and injustice and out of respect for Dany I keep asking for justice,” he sings.
In the images one can also see other artists linked to the San Isidro Movement, including Maykel Osorbo and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, among others, along with images of repressive acts from the beginning of the Revolution through this July, when more than 700 people linked to the demonstrations against the Government were arrested.
The chorus, which is repeated several times in the more than five minutes of the song, sums up well the demands of those marches that began in San Antonio de los Baños and later spread to dozens of cities on the island. “I’m from Cuba, brave like a mambí. I’m from Cuba, surviving since I was born. I’m from Cuba, I want a change I want a future.”
The artist also appeals in his lyrics to the police and the Cuban Army, whom he reproaches for their work but with a sympathetic wink: “Remember police when you said you want to be my friend and now I see you treating me like your enemy. When you take off the uniform in silence you cry because what the people are asking for is what you yearn for the most.”
The reggaetoner quickly received criticism from some users close to the regime and received, he said, threats for having used images of José Martí. “They can use the image of the martyrs for their political acts and doctrine. They can manipulate history and books, but then a Cuban artist who shows it by exposing the truth of the Cuban reality cannot do it,” he responded.
In addition, Yomil insisted that he is not going to leave Cuba or be intimidated. “For those of the Communist Party who began with their attacks. I do not plan to live in Miami, I bet everything to live in my country, that is why I cry out for what ordinary Cubans ask for: freedom. So even if they don’t want it they have to accept it.”
The video clip of the song was created by Yimit Ramírez, who three years ago was involved in a controversy with the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). The organization withdrew his film I Want to Make a Movie from the Special Presentation section of the Filmmaker’s Exhibition when the officials responsible for programming detected a dialogue which, in their opinion, was disrespectful toward José Martí, who “is sacred.”
In one scene, one of the characters declared himself to not be a follower of Martí and described the Cuban hero as a “giant piece of shit” and a “fag,” which made the director a target of criticism from the official press.
*Translator’s note: Partial lyrics in English from Today in 24
Brave as a mambí / I’m from Cuba / Surviving since I was born / I’m from Cuba / I want a change I want a future (I want a future) / I am Cuban / I have from Congo and from karabali /I am from the land of Hatuey, a land that once Spanish colonized, land of my African ancestors / Land of mambises who fought and sacrificed, Martí and Maceo dreamed of it and that dream was taken from them / I’m from the 21st century generation / The beginning of something so healthy of something honest and pure / It is time to say the right thing, that is why I manifest myself with content within many contexts
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