This year Silvio Rodríguez surprised his fans with an unreleased album with songs recorded in Mexico in 1991 . " Silvio Rodríguez with Diákara" in the title of the album that the Cuban released this year after years of postponement. The lyrics of the songs go back to the artist's most classic musical past and to the social context of the island.
In an interview with Culto, from La Tercera Domingo , the composer spoke about his work, but also addressed the situation that Cubans face, because during this 2021 many have taken to the streets to protest against the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel.
"After the merciless blockade that the imperial regime has imposed on us for 62 years and the 243 extra choking measures of Trump; after the hope that Biden would at least lift Trump's measures, as promised in his election campaign, and of not to do it; after having named us a country prone to terrorism, empire of evil, backyard; after suspended remittances, the decline of tourism (our first industry), and to top it off after 18 months of pandemic, it was quite logical that they would appear expressions of exhaustion , "said the singer-songwriter.
Rodríguez empathized with the citizens and defined the US blockade as torture .
" Sometimes I wonder how any other country in Latin America - Chile itself, for example - would be if it had been tortured for 62 years, without interruption, by the most powerful empire on earth. Without being able to make bank transactions or obtain loans. , without the shipping companies or the ships being able to approach its coasts avoiding millionaire sanctions, as they do to us Cubans, "he added.
The artist explained the blockade as a convenient matter so that the world does not see what his country is capable of without it.
"Of course, the blockade is not solely responsible for our difficulties. But if those who designed it did not believe that it is fundamental, they would have already lifted it. That would have been the ideal policy to demonstrate the failure of Cuba's thesis. Why don't they raise it? Could it be because they don't want the world to see what Cuba can be without blockade? Surely they suspect that we would be an even more supportive country; a country that would possibly make vaccines and distribute them in all countries where there are none, in so many places where those who govern do not take care of their peoples. Without a blockade, Cuba would be an even more generous and supportive country, "he said.
Silvio Rodríguez: "It was quite logical that expressions of exhaustion appeared in Cuba"
Silvio Rodríguez's 2021 agenda has been divided between his artistic past and Cuba's present. On the one hand, he released a solid album that rescues songs that he recorded in Mexico in 1991. On the other, he has observed the unprecedented street protests against the island's government. In this interview he delves into both topics.
Silvio Rodríguez's blog 2021 (74) has two fundamental chapters. Although also very different.
On October 1, the singer-songwriter released his most recent work, Silvio Rodríguez with Diákara , which recovers numerous songs recorded on a couple of mornings in 1991 in Mexico, with the Diákara supergroup, made up of some of the best instrumentalists in Cuba. It was his own lost album, a kind of time capsule that he kept for decades, remodeled for today with a few bits of technology and new instruments.
Read also: The history of Silvio Rodríguez's lost album: listen to it here
“Of course, between one thing and another I recorded other records, I toured, well, I lived a life. Sometimes years went by and I didn't remember that I had those recordings. But whenever I found them again, the desire to show them returned. At last I have been able to finish them, 30 years later (I took advantage of the pandemic to liquidate several pending jobs) ”, the artist completes, in an interview with Culto from Havana .
But as he enlisted the project, the most popular and influential of the island-born singer-songwriters must also have looked at the present. On July 11, a series of street demonstrations took place in his country against the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel, demanding greater freedoms and social and economic improvements, which shocked the world because it is a nation not accustomed to mass demonstrations against the can.
Rodríguez speaks of both issues, the artistic and the political, the personal and the collective, in this interview conceived via email.
- Did these protests surprise you too or did you hope that at some point they could happen?
After the merciless blockade that the imperial regime has imposed on us for 62 years and Trump's 243 extra suffocation measures; after hoping that Biden would at least lift Trump's measures, as promised in his election campaign, and failing to do so; after having named us a country prone to terrorism, empire of evil, backyard; after the suspended remittances, the decline in tourism (our first industry), and to top it all after 18 months of pandemic, it was quite logical that expressions of exhaustion would appear ... Sometimes I wonder how any other country in Latin America would be - Chile itself, For example, if he had been tortured for 62 years, without interruption, by the most powerful empire on earth. Unable to bank or obtain loans,
-Before the demonstrations, Díaz-Canel appeared on television ordering the revolutionaries to take to the streets to silence the protests and defend the legacy of the Revolution. He also attributed the discomfort to the US embargo. Do you think that the blockade is the only one responsible for what is happening in Cuba? Or can it detect other internal situations, of the government itself, that have brought citizens to this point of annoyance?
Of course, the blockade is not solely responsible for our difficulties. But if those who design it did not believe that it is fundamental, they would have already raised it. That would have been the ideal policy to demonstrate the failure of the Cuban thesis. So why don't they pick it up? Is it because they don't want the world to see what Cuba can be without blockade? They surely suspect that we would be an even more supportive country; a country that would possibly make vaccines and distribute them in all the countries where there are none, in so many places where those who govern do not take care of their peoples. Cuba without the blockade would be an even more generous and supportive country, that is, a terrible danger for universal selfishness.
-According to data from Cubalex, an independent legal representation agency, more than 800 people were arrested on July 11, and many more in subsequent raids. A month later, 371 people were still in detention. It was also recorded that there were cases of police abuse. The government called most of the protesters "criminals", "mercenaries" and "confused". Did Díaz-Canel respect human rights and the freedom to demonstrate?
A government may err in qualifying the people who make a protest; But it is one thing to make mistakes in the words and quite another to send battle tanks and troops armed to the teeth at the protesters that fire shotguns at the crowd, killing and emptying eyes, as I have seen what happens in other countries.
Without a blockade, Cuba would be an even more generous and supportive country, that is, a terrible danger for universal selfishness.
-Days after July 11, you made a call to the Cuban authorities on your blog, asking to release the detainees from the protests that "were not violent", promote "more dialogues" and exercise "less prejudice, less desire to hit. and more desire to resolve the mountain of pending economic and political issues ”. Do you think that has been fulfilled?
I started by doing it myself, because I spoke with the opponents. But there are orthodox sectors of the Cuban government that have obstructed changes that were even announced in the two most recent party congresses. In my opinion, Díaz Canel and his government understand the need to break a certain inertia and are working in that direction. Laws have recently been passed to prove it; specialists from various sectors are also being debated and listened to. There is evidence of scientists and academics working with the government right now. All of that is hopeful.
-The most eloquent demonstrations against the government have come from young musicians who cultivate the so-called “urban music”. The most famous case is that of Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, the duo Gente de Zona and the rappers Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, who made the song Patria y Vida . Did you hear it? Do you have an opinion on a song that modifies the motto “Patria o muerte” expressed by Fidel Castro?
It does not seem fair to me that in that list you have ignored Silvito el Libre, an outstanding Cuban rapper who for years has been at the forefront of these styles (N. de la R .: is the son of Silvio Rodríguez, openly critical of the government Cuban). On the other hand, there is a video of Fidel speaking in a school, where at the end he says the motto of Homeland and Life, inspired by a girl present. Look it up, it's on the internet. Alfredo Guevara used it years ago, at the closing of a film festival in Havana. Homeland and Life is a beautiful motto, I have no qualms about repeating it, although it is essential for me to say Down the Blockade first. And about those songs that you mention, they have told me about them, although I have not listened to them. By training I am more akin to another type of music.
Also read: Silvio Rodríguez: "In some ways, Fidel Castro is still alive"
- Regarding the same, do you think that there is a young generation that no longer believes in the Revolution?
It is true that there are young artists who are active in the opposition and that they are widely publicized. It is also true that artists who do not militate in the opposition are not disclosed. It is evident that everything that the Cuban government faces is being used as never before. Much of the world press is focused on that. Every day we are on the front pages. At the same time, the pandemic has been used not to lift the blockade, but to tighten it. This happens right in the wake of the generation that started the revolutionary process, and also when in several congresses in Cuba systemic errors are recognized and changes in the economy are announced that may improve our results. It occurs even when Cuba is the only third world country that has five successful vaccines against Covid-19. Nothing is accidental. They don't want us to move on they want to close the siege more and more by dint of propaganda and suffocation measures. It is the punishment for Cuba for having dared to be herself.
-Many musicians of his generation were very critical of the government's actions as of July 11. Pablo Milanés, Leo Brouwer, Chucho Valdés and Paquito D'Rivera expressed strong words against the system that prevails in Cuba. What reflection does that deserve? Music was for decades the best ambassador that Cuba had and many principles of the Revolution reached other countries thanks to the songs, especially his. Have historical musicians also started to move away from the legacy of the Revolution?
I know and admire the musicians you mention. I heard what Leo said and of course I share it. He did not mention a single thing that he did not say in Cuba. We have been friends for more than half a century, I am aware of his humanism, his deep commitment to our country and even his radical anti-imperialism.
Silvio, Pablo, Leo: The music
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