“Patria y Vida.” Homeland and life. Those are the phrases Cuban protesters chanted as they took to the streets on July 11, 2021, in what grew to become one of many greatest antigovernment demonstrations in opposition to the Cuban regime in a long time. The slogan got here from a hip-hop music launched the identical yr by Yotuel Romero, the Afro-Cuban chief of the rap group Orishas, singer Descemer Bueno, the reggaeton group Gente de Zona, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Osorbo, and DJ El Funky.
The music has develop into the sound of liberty in Cuba. It additionally gained two Latin Grammy Awards for song of the year and best urban song, changing into a music of each victory and empowerment for the Cuban folks. Romero, Gente de Zone, Descemer Bueno, and El Funky even performed the song at the 22nd annual Latin Grammys on Nov. 18, 2021.
Now, two years after the music’s launch, it is getting an official historical past. The documentary “Patria y Vida: The Power of Music” debuted on the Miami Film Festival on March 5 and paperwork the creation technique of the music, the affect it had each in Cuba and all over the world, and the devastating penalties that got here to those that bravely performed or protested with the music on the island.
Romero labored because the movie’s producer, and it additionally marked his spouse Beatriz Luengo, a Spanish actress and singer, debuting as director and scriptwriter.
“It was a giant problem for us as a result of Cuba remains to be in a dictatorship. It’s been 64 years.”
“It was a giant problem for us as a result of Cuba remains to be in a dictatorship. It’s been 64 years,” Romero tells POPSUGAR. “So many songs got here out earlier than our music ‘Patria y Vida’ that helped folks have hope.” But what’s particular about this music, he provides, is that it straight contradicts former Cuban chief Fidel Castro’s slogan of “Patria o Muerte,” or “nation land or loss of life.”
After years of residing in Paris after having to flee his native island of Cuba, Romero wished to discover a method to assist his fellow Cubanos on the island who had been struggling underneath the oppression of the authoritarian Cuban regime. He bought along with different fellow Black Cuban artists to create a music that might function a logo of freedom for Cubanos on the island, lots of whom had been determined for change. What he did not anticipate was that this music would develop into the primary music to generate a wave of large protests for freedom each on and out of doors of the island. It would function a instrument to safe the nation’s freedom — however it, sadly additionally got here with a worth.
The protests again in July 2021 had been born from a scarcity of meals and medication on the island amid the COVID-19 pandemic. People had been additionally protesting liberties that they had lately misplaced, together with freedom of speech and impartial artwork (the federal government’s Decree 349 in 2018 had required artists to acquire permission for private and non-private exhibitions and performances, successfully censoring artists). The protesters had been calling for President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who had been working the nation since 2018, to step down.
The title of the music “Patria y Vida” was an concept Romero and Luengo got here up with sooner or later of their kitchen. Luengo felt it was necessary to problem Cuba’s official nationwide motto “Patria o Muerte,” which derives from a speech Castro made in 1960. “Patria y Vida” serves because the inversion of that motto.
“A rustic must be a spot the place folks can have a gorgeous life. Death isn’t an choice for folks. So, it is a horrible slogan.”
“A rustic must be a spot the place folks can have a gorgeous life. Death isn’t an choice for folks. So, it is a horrible slogan,” Luengo says. “So, the very first thing and the explanation behind the motion is known as ‘Patria y Vida,’ nation land and life, and we’re so blissful that folks proper now are saying all over the world: ‘Patria y Vida’ for Cuban folks.”
The music was launched on Feb. 16, 2021. The documentary exhibits that inside hours of the July 2021 protests, the music was banned from being performed in Cuba. That day, the Cuban government also took down the internet
Cuban rights teams reported that over 1,400 protesters were detained by Cuban authorities. Diubis Laurencio Tejada, a 36-year-old singer died throughout a conflict between protestors and police. And two of the artists on the “Patria y Vida” music who nonetheless lived on the island, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky were also arrested. Today, Osorbo still remains in jail.
While the music stays banned in Cuba, Romero and Luengo are lifeless set on bringing the documentary to quite a few movie festivals, to assist inform the remainder of the world of what is taking place on the island. The two started documenting the music creation course of from day one on their telephones, so they may submit their progress to their social media channels. When the music grew to become part of the Congressional Record in the United States and so they had been honored with an award, they went on to rent knowledgeable digital camera crew to doc every little thing — together with the violence and police brutality that protesters in Cuba had been enduring.
“There had been lots of people who weren’t conscious of what was really taking place in Cuba are actually conscious,” Leila Cobo, Chief Content Officer of Latin and Español at Billboard, says within the documentary. “Making music that strikes folks is extremely highly effective. The subject now’s it’s a must to proceed the trail. You cannot simply cease. So, I hope this music is a primary step and positively not the final step.”
For Romero, the documentary serves because the second step in bringing consciousness to the world about what’s taking place in Cuba. He explains that for the reason that launch of the music, circumstances have gotten worse for residents residing in Cuba, and wished to seize that in footage for folks exterior the island to see.
“All the people who went to the streets [to protest], they had been put in jail for 30 or 40 years to make them perceive that they [the Cuban government] have the ability,” Romero says. “It is identical as being a slave.”
It was additionally necessary for Romero and Luengo to focus on the racism and discrimination that exists on the island. Romero was very intentional when ensuring that every one the singers on “Patria y Vida” had been Black Cuban artists.
“It was not a protest, it was a rebel,” Romero says. “Because you see most people on this rebel had been Black folks. Black folks have suffered in Cuba for many years and a long time. And additionally you see ‘Patria y Vida’ was six Black folks singing.”
While there have been many information tales that “Patria y Vida” and the protests provoked, the documentary movie actually captures the emotion behind all of it. There’s footage of Cuban law enforcement officials breaking into folks’s houses, beating and arresting people merely for taking part in the music. And it additionally reveals the poor circumstances many Cubans on the island dwell underneath — Black Cubans and Cubans of African descent particularly. Romero and Luengo wished folks exterior of the island to see and perceive that what’s taking place in Cuba is past a political subject; it’s a human rights subject.
“I additionally assume it is essential to interrupt all of the propaganda that the federal government and the dictatorship have created for many years, that Cuba is a paradise. Cuba isn’t a paradise. Cuba is a giant jail,” Romero says. “Cuba has 1 million slaves working for white folks. If you wish to see white privilege, you may go to Cuba and see white privilege.”
Image Source: Salva Muste