Cuban Rappers Stage Successful Protest

Alfredo Fernandez

Michel Matos. Photo: Yusimí Rodríguez

HAVANA TIMES — Following a rather unexpected turn of events, the organizers of the Puños Arriba (“Raised Fists”) Hip Hop Concert secured a positive response from authorities after staging a protest in front of the Cuban Music Institute (ICM) at noon on December 10.

The protest, which saw the participation of approximately 80 people (many of whom are members of the Cuban Rap Agency), was headed by two of the concert organizers: Michel Matos, producer for the independent music project Matraka, and Soandry, producer for the hip hop duo Hermanos de Causa (“Brothers of the Cause”).

The organizers decided to stage the protest after being informed that the agency had decided to change the venue of the event they had organized months before at the last moment. Scheduled to take place at the Trompo Loco circus tent on December 12 at 7:00 p.m, the concert gala was being relocated to the Avenida film theatre, a smaller venue with serious technical problems. The change of venue also meant losing months of promotional work.

The protest reached its most intense point when ICM officials requested a meeting with members of the Cuban Rap Agency alone, to which those present replied in the negative, saying that “either you speak to everyone, or you speak to no one.”


Hours later, ICM officials apologized to the Puños Arriba concert organizers, authorizing them to hold the activity at the Trompo Loco circus venue on the 12th at 7:00 p.m. as planned.

What made this unprecedented victory possible? Though the protesters had been surrounded by the regime’s repressive forces, the latter did not take any violent action against the group of young people, young people evidently willing to risk it all in order to put an end to the disrespectful way in which ICM functionaries continue to hinder their work.

Perhaps, since the protest coincided with International Human Rights Day, the authorities did not want more problems than they already had, what with the activities organized by the Ladies in White, Estado de Sats and UNPACU.

Organizers Michel Matos and Soandry weren’t actually given written authorization to hold the activity at the venue, but the ICM best keep its word, as the unexpected protest of December 10 will not be forgotten, lest government bureaucrats choose to underestimate the young people who stood for hours in front of the ICM building, saying: “either you give us authorization or you throw us in jail – there’s no other option.”

Alfredo Fernandez

Alfredo Fernandez: I didn't really leave Cuba, it's impossible to leave somewhere that you've never been. After gravitating for 37 years on that strange island, I managed to touch firm ground, but only to confirm that I hadn't reached anywhere. Perhaps I will never belong anywhere. Now I'm living in Ecuador, but please, don't believe me when I say where I am, better to find me in "the Cuba of my dreams.