The Situation in Cuba ‘Is Terrible’ Whispers Silvio Rodríguez in an Interview

The troubadour, 77 years old, releases a new album with 11 songs under the title ’Quería Saber’ – ‘I Would Like to Know’

’Quería saber’ — I Would Like to Know’ — released this June, is the 22nd album of Silvio Rodríguez, who will be 78 years old in November. / EFE/ Kaloian Santos/ Office of Silvio Rodríguez

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 14 June 2024 — “To pronounce the ‘we’, to complete the unity, we will have to count on the other, the lights and the darkness,” reads one of the lyrics of Silvio Rodríguez’s latest album, Quería Saber — ’I would like to know’ — recorded between 2019 and 2024. The 77-year-old troubadour spoke to the Associated Press agency, in an interview in which other very indiscreet verses are revealed. “And while they imagine themselves clear of conscience, reality is a relaxation of inefficiency. The young flee en masse and are upset because a mouth makes no distinction between race or gender.” In the conversation, which took place in his recording studio, Rodríguez confesses he is horrified by the situation on the Island, specifically with regard to inflation, the lack of food, mass migration and the deterioration of social security.

“The current situation undermines any ideal conviction. The reality is hard for most of our people, very hard. And that starting with the number of old people who dedicated their lives to the Revolution in body and soul and who now, imagine, with retirement they don’t even have enough for a carton of eggs,” he says.

“I don’t like absolutisms, I don’t like isms”

The singer-songwriter, who was a deputy in the National Assembly of People’s Power and actively participated in international missions of a cultural type, claims that he has not stopped being a man of the Left, with dreams of a “more humane and just” society, but rejects that this is “an excuse to hide criticism or ignore the negligence” of the system.

“I identify with what has been called the Left. I don’t like absolutisms, I don’t like isms,” he emphasizes.

The conversation is sprinkled, according to the agency, with exclamations about how “terrible” the situation on the Island is. “Most people, everywhere, want to live their lives peacefully, progress a little, have some possibilities,” he admits. Despite this, he does not cease to vindicate the achievements of the Revolution, in recent decades, in terms of Education and Public Health. “They are unquestionable,” he says.

The Associated Press points out that the album is, despite the presence of a couple of intimate subjects, eminently social and political, like most of the troubadour’s discography, and he is indifferent to the criticism of those who accuse him for his affinity with the regime. “I don’t care about what they think,” he argues.

Born in San Antonio de los Baños – where the demonstrations of 11 July 2021 began – on 29 November 1946, Rodríguez now presents his 22nd album and follows a life of routine, answering emails, composing and recording.

The troubadour says he is indifferent to the criticism of those who accuse him for his affinity with the regime

“I’ve never taken myself very seriously,” he says, asked about fame. “It’s the result of work. The virtue of songs is that they accompany people. If any song of mine is good for that, who can want more?” he concludes.

A still confessed fan of Fidel Castro, Rodríguez has progressively increased, in recent years, his criticism of the Díaz-Canel government, although without abandoning his ideological positions. Just three months ago, in an interview with Spanish media, he insisted on the worrisome, but understandable, exodus of the youth, in addition to affirming that Vladimir Putin is very far from the values of communism. However, he refused to classify Russia’s action in Ukraine as an invasion.

He has also positioned himself against the current leadership by opposing the repression of the demonstrations of 11J, whose penalties he considered disproportionate, and the protests over the lack of electricity.

In 2022 he also admitted that “the various real experiences of socialism show that, as it was conceived, it is impracticable,” and he proposed to reformulate the model with “socialist governments directing capitalist economies.” At the beginning of that year, in an interview with an Argentine media, he considered that the Revolutionary Offensive had done a lot of damage to the Cuban people. “We can’t spend our lives believing that everything we cannot do is the fault of a very powerful neighbor who blocks us and prevents us from doing things. If in 60 years we have not been able to develop a creativity that overcomes the blockade, that is our fault,” he said.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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