Not One Step Back

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – I was twelve years old with a lot of questions that had elusive answers. My desire to read was insatiable. After reading every book in my father’s bookcase from cover to cover, I began to ransack my cousins’.

They used to wear all black, have long hair and wear skinny jeans. They were the ultimate expression of rebellion in our bucolic environment and conservative family. They were the snag, and I secretly wanted to be like them.

They knew how responsible I was despite my age, so I was allowed to go into their rooms and take any book I found interesting.

Over time, I started taking certain liberties. I’d look at texts one of them left next to a typewriter, trying to read between the lines of every phrase, or I’d lay down on the other’s bed, surrounded by those Iron Maiden, AC-DC and Metallica posters.

This led me to check out the music they were collecting. All of those names were new to me, so I decided to take two cassettes by the same band. I admit that I initially chose them because of their interesting covers.

The album cover of Ni un paso atras (Not one step back) is an allegory of the painting “The Third of May 1808” by painter Francisco Goya and Donde esta Judas? (Where is Judas?) plays with Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper.”

Reincidentes is the name of the Spanish punk-rock band from Seville with lyrics that criticized contemporary society.

“Aprendiendo a luchar”, “Cuando uno de ellos caiga”, “La historia se repite” and“Sabes por qué” were some of the songs that moved me because of their rebellious lyrics and the opportunity that art gives us to analyze a work and see it from our own point of view.

Of course, information was scarce back then and the music that I liked wasn’t played on the radio.

Other bands came into my life, I didn’t look for any more Reincidentes Cds and didn’t even know they were still playing up until a few days ago, when I was talking with a group of friends and the subject came up. That’s when I went onto YouTube and the same old emotions came rushing back.

Just that this time I could research on the Internet, and what I discovered there filled me with questions. How is it possible that these rebels, defenders of the oppressed, who encourage us to fight for freedom and rights are writing songs praising the Cuban Government and its Revolution? Are they confused, or am I?

It would be interesting to see if Fernando Madina were able to praise the real culprits of our misfortune after waking up every morning to face long lines, blackouts, missing and scarce basic essentials; If he would still stand firm and willing to praise them after being censored for their rebellious songs.

Despite everything, this discovery hasn’t managed to dampen my happy memories of those first albums I snuck away from my cousins. The truth is that their lyrics have helped me to break the bubble that school, TV, home, and the government-controlled press had me isolated in. I was just twelve years old when I understood that I could “not take one step back” in the face of injustice and if somebody tries to take away my freedom.

Read more from the diary of Fabiana del Valle here on Havana Times.