‘Patria Y Vida’: The Song Behind Cuba’s Protests Explained

Historic protests swept Cuba on Sunday as 1000’s of individuals gathered throughout the island and expressed their outrage over longstanding financial hardships, meals shortage, and vaccine shortages, marking one of many nation’s largest anti-government demonstrations within the final decade.

Social media videos captured Cubans marching via metropolis streets, shouting “Libertad!” However amid the cries for “Freedom!” one other chorus was heard time and again: “Patria y vida!” a reference to a tune of the identical identify that’s rapidly grow to be the anthem for a nation that’s reached a boiling level.

The Cuban artists Yotuel Romero, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, Eliécer “el Funky” Márquez, and the reggaeton duo Gente de Zona collaborated on the rap observe and launched it in February, after which it amassed greater than six million views on YouTube. The lyrics take direct purpose at Cuba’s communist authorities: “No extra lies. My individuals ask for freedom, no more doctrines. We now not shout, ‘Motherland or loss of life,’ however ‘homeland and life,’ and we start to construct what we dreamed, what they destroyed with their palms.” The title “Patria Y Vida” (“homeland and life”) is a bitter play on “patria o muerte” (“homeland or loss of life”), a well-liked slogan related to the rise of the communist chief Fidel Castro within the late Fifties.

The unique phrase, which is still plastered on buildings in Havana immediately, was as soon as a revolution-era name for Cubans to emancipate, and battle for, their homeland to the loss of life. The slogan has some overlap with Cuba’s nationwide anthem “La Bayamesa,” which features a line proclaiming that “to die for the homeland is to reside.” Nevertheless, in “Patria Y Vida,” the artists flip this concept on its head and as an alternative declare that what they need is their homeland — and to reside.

“The concept was to make a tune that will be an outpouring, a tune that will say all the pieces to people who find themselves in opposition to [the idea of] ‘patria y vida,’” Romero, who’s from Havana, informed Rolling Stone in an interview over the cellphone in Spanish. “In it, we had been saying, ‘It’s over — it’s executed. The individuals need a change.’”

The collaboration fell into place seamlessly: Romero had been near Alexander Delgado and Randy Malcom, the members of Gente de Zona, for years, having identified them since their days in Cuba. Delgado and Malcom informed Rolling Stone in a cellphone interview in Spanish that Romero had reached out to them about getting collectively for a remix. Nevertheless, as soon as they began writing within the studio, they realized they needed to do a totally new tune that offered an unflinching take a look at what Delgado calls “the fact in Cuba.”

Whereas Romero and Gente de Zona now reside in Miami, Osorbo and El Funky nonetheless reside on the island and took a threat by overtly rebuking the nation’s management. The 2 rappers recorded their verses in secret and despatched them again to the opposite artists, who obtained the observe blended in Miami. “Involving them was key since they’re rappers and individuals who have struggled in opposition to the dictatorship even whereas being in Cuba — as we are saying in Cuba, ‘tienen los huevos bien puesto’ [they have balls],” Delgado says. Malcolm provides, “These are artists who’re prepared to present their life for his or her nation.”

Osorbo, in reality, was arrested by Cuban authorities after the tune’s launch and accused, in accordance with the pro-government publication Cubadebate, of “crimes of assault, public dysfunction, and escape of prisoners or detainees.” He has been detained for greater than 40 days.

That’s simply one of many methods the Cuban authorities has seemingly tried to derail the momentum of “Patria Y Vida.” Shortly after the tune’s launch, op-eds denouncing the observe as “stuffed with hate,” in addition to a response song defending the unique slogan, appeared in pro-government publications. Nevertheless, none of these efforts had been sufficient to maintain the message of “Patria Y Vida” from spreading. “Individuals in Cuba who write to me are actually moved by the tune — it’s grow to be like a protect amid the adversity they’re dealing with. To me, it is a blessing,” Romero says.

Romero has family and friends who’re sharing what’s taking place on the bottom now, regardless of authorities makes an attempt to censor and stamp out demonstrations. “The scenario is de facto tense,” Romero says. “There’s a number of uncertainty and concern concerning the response of the dictatorship. They’ve shut off the web so the world received’t see what’s taking place, however via a method or one other, we’re getting messages and persons are connecting and making an attempt to share what’s occurring. We, the artists who’re exterior, are attempting to present voice to the individuals.”

Delgado and Malcom add that the protests have gotten extra violent and web crackdowns have made it tougher to attach with family members. “There are younger individuals risking all the pieces to exit within the streets, and so they’re being met with bullets and cables and assaults,” Delgado says. He and Malcom say they’ve been banned from going again to Cuba for the reason that tune got here out, however are dedicated to elevating consciousness of what’s taking place on the island.

In keeping with recent reports, greater than dozens of Cubans have been arrested since Sunday’s demonstrations. Solidarity marches have shaped in Miami, the place individuals have continued to blast “Patria Y Vida” and unite over its message.

Whereas the tune has sparked world consideration, what Romero desires is for it to function a car to assist individuals in Cuba stand up and obtain change again residence. “I’d love for the tune to be the final one which’s written about wanting a free Cuba and for all of the songs that come subsequent to be about lastly returning to Cuba and reconnecting with family members,” he says.

How ‘Patria Y Vida’ Became the Anthem of Cuba’s Protests


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