The Battle of the Grammys and the Example of Spain

The creators of ‘Patria y Vida’, with the exception of Osorbo, incarcerated in Cuba, collect the prize. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 29 November 2021 — The Cuban regime turns everything into a ridiculous battle. It’s incapable of looking at itself in the mirror. It fears the image of octogenarians defeated by life and takes on a heroic vision of them. Right now, it has transformed the 2021 Latin Grammy awards into an epic struggle against Yotuel, Maykel Osorbo, who is jailed, Descemer Bueno, Yadam González, El Funky, Gente de Zona, and Beatriz Luengo. Why? Because they are the authors or the performers of Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] (“Chancleta Records”), and because the organizers, in all fairness, chose that song as the best and the most outstanding of the year. At the same time, they received the Award for the “Best Urban Song” of 2021.

They weren’t even the only Cubans to win a Grammy. Gloria Estefan and the Aragón Orchestra also received one. Gloria Estefan won the “Best Tropical Album of the Year” award with Brazil-305, while the Aragón Orchestra, founded in 1939, 20 years before the Cuban Revolution arose, received the “Best Traditional Tropical Album” award for its Cha-Cha-Cha: Homenaje a lo tradicional (Tribute to the traditional.) The news surprised the members of the orchestra, according to Rafael Lay, its current director and son of one of the founders, although the sound quality was achieved in Los Angeles thanks to the efforts of Isaac Delgado and Alain Pérez, two excellent and charismatic performers.

Let’s look at the sequence of events. First, the clash with the San Isidro Movement took place. A group of very poor young artists, separated from political power, appeared in good faith at the Ministry of Culture to speak with the Minister. Their petition was not granted. Months later, the civic protests of July 11 occurred. Thousands of people rose up across the country. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to connect the two events. Finally, on November 15, the civic association “Archipiélago” took over. It was provisionally led by Yunior García Aguilera, who ended up exiled in Spain, and who offered a magnificent explanation of these phenomena delivered at a press conference.

The fact that the “Song of the Year” award has been given to Patria y Vida should have told the revolutionary leadership that its message smells like mothballs. It’s very old. Twenty or 30 years ago they would have awarded a song based on the motto Patria o Muerte [Homeland or Death], and it would have been awarded by a kid wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, but today it is unthinkable that something like this would happen.

On January 1st the 63rd year of that revolution and that regime will begin! Of course, they can remain at the helm, but how long? General Francisco Franco died in bed like Fidel, as will likely happen to Raúl, but what they will not prevent is that the young generations completely modify the political course of the country. It has always been that way in world’s history.

Franco had carefully supervised the education of his successor in the executive power – the king – to ensure there would be no surprises. Even in Parliament – which at that time was called “the Cortes” and was made up of tercios, as the fascist manuals indicated – there were some fierce parliamentarians who made up “the 40 of Ayete.” They were known like that after the small palace in which they used to meet, very close to San Sebastián, in the Basque country, Franco’s residence in some summers. It was the group of Franco supporters that, supposedly, would resist any attempt to change. Only that at the head of “the 40 of Ayete” was no other than Adolfo Suárez, the man who, together with the king, led the transition once Franco died.

Neither King Juan Carlos nor Adolfo Suárez betrayed Franco. Or, if they did, they had to choose one of two conflicting loyalties: the one they owed to the old Caudillo who had personally elevated them, or the one they owed to the new generations who had not actively participated in the civil war, just like themselves. Both Juan Carlos de Borbón and Adolfo Suárez were products of World War II, or, in any case, of the Cold War that was then being fought. They chose to lead their compatriots to modernity and extract them from the first part of the 20th century to which the Generalissimo of Spain had dragged them.

I don’t know how the example of Spain can be ignored, despite the fact that, from an economic point of view, the last 15 years of the Franco regime were splendid. Cuba has a golden opportunity to correct the wrong course taken in 1959. All it has to do is rectify, consult society, and go, as Oswaldo Payá pointed out, “from the law to the law.” Otherwise, the country may fall into another stage of unnecessary violence.


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