Inconsistent Nationalist Elation

Esteban Diaz

At Juanes Peace without Borders Concert.  Photo: Caridad
At Juanes Peace without Borders Concert. Photo: Caridad

Over these years I have been in Cuba, I’ve been in search of its reality; that’s to say, to understand the dynamics of its social relationships, its culture, economy and politics.

I have found -and this is not a great discovery- the interest in music held by the people here.  Dancing, celebrations in the streets… make it clear how cheerful the people are; music is in the blood of Cubans.

It’s unfortunate that lately many have surrendered to reggaeton, one of most dehumanizing of musical genres, though they have maintained their characteristic salsa.  It’s true that “man does not live by politics alone,” as one Ukrainian revolutionary would say, because it’s important to maintain culture and happiness, as this people has done.

But at the same time, it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in our reality and to control our lives through constant critical thinking.

Today the song “I Believe” (by “Baby Lores”) along with “Gozando en La Habana” (by the Havana Charanga) travels the airwaves of the media spreading inconsistent nationalist elation, with no room left for criticism – not even revolutionary critique.

This is not new for me.  Previously in the cinema I observed this tendency in the film “Kangamba,” where the patriotic emblem -beyond stirring revolutionary zeal in people- crossed the line, as it seemed to be promoting an irrational passion for the nation.  The film ends “American style”: the icon, the leader, the man (he alone?) standing solid in front of the lone-star flag, determined and unharmed in the culminating moment of the heroic mission.

It is clear that this only leads to the defense of Bonapartist politics that narrow the mind and destroy the development of people free of obsessions.

At first sight, one notes how salsa and reggaeton have taken over broadcasting media, while there is a void of critical art, like performers Ray Fernandez y Los Aldeanos.  This latter group, a hip hop band, was mentioned by Juanes when it was not present at his Havana Peace Day concert.  A coincidence or not?

If we wish to go even further into the examination such freedom of speech, we would also have to mention the music group “Porno para Ricardo,” though it is very distant from my political line.

Where am I going with this?  I’m saying that if we want to form a new society, we must place great emphasis on culture, promoting greater freedom of speech.  How can one fear the workers controlling the State?  Isn’t this what’s happening?

There’s no way of escaping criticism, it will find its path; time and keeping errors quiet will strengthen it.  Looking for them to disappear with reggaeton and salsa or any other fetishistic art will destroy the revolution; it only postpones a problem that will silently grow.

There recently came to me, as is customary through popular (non-State-run) means, an open letter from Armando Tomey, a well known Cuban actor – from what they tell me.  In it he delivers sharp criticism of current problems in the country.  Without mincing words he brings up all the dirty dealings that artists and other workers suffer in Cuba.

This last episode is the proof of the objections that remain sealed in the lips of people.  There is no more favorable a moment for all Cuban workers to put their cards on the table and, for once and for all, gain control of their lives in a consistent way that truly shows true workers democracy. Any repression and intolerance of those who think differently must be combated.

As Rosa Luxemburg said, “Freedom can never be anything other than the freedom to think differently.”