By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
“The song is a hit”; “it says that it’s over, that things need to change already, and it’s true”
HAVANA TIMES – The song “Patria y Vida” by Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky has become an anthem of hope, peace and freedom for Cubans living both on and outside the island. Wth 4 million views on YouTube, on the official video alone, and in just a month, it’s plausible to say that the majority of us Cubans have been interested in its message for change, especially young people.
“Patria y Vida is really having an impact on our youth, you can see it when you talk to people on the street and on social media,” Oscar Casanella told Diario de Cuba. He was one of the protagonists of the San Isidro hunger strike, which led to the events on November 27th (27N), motivating this influential song.
“We know that this is an age group that normally avoids politics, that thinks of politics as a distant and dirty affair, because they don’t have any other experience. This song, with its real and clear message, has really touched them. Plus, it’s sung by very popular singers, and belongs to a music genre that is greatly consumed by young people. Likewise, the lyrics and music video are very well made.”
“It’s the perfect combo and it’s really touched them. It sits with all Cubans, but especially with this sector that migrates the most because of a lack of options for personal development here,” he said.
According to Jorge, a young teacher from Mayari: “we find the message for peaceful change that we want for Cuba in its lyrics. It describes how tired we are. It’s been many years of listening to plans after plans and they’ve grown old or have died saying that they still don’t meet the Cuban people’s needs. It just doesn’t work, it’s as simple as that. The song says that it’s over, that things need to change already, and it’s true”
“When you have family abroad,” he continued, “and you learn what life is like outside of Cuba, you realize that they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes and that even though we have to continue to pretend that we support all of this (because they’d bury us alive if we spoke out), we’re clear about what the deal is here,” he said.
“The song is a hit!” This spontaneous statement comes from Leonel, another young man, who is still studying at university. “After songs by Los Aldeanos, which young people really liked and still like, it’s the best thing to come out.”
“Young people identify with everything that means changing for a better future. We don’t have a future here and now that wages have gone up, we’re seeing less buying power, and when we graduate, pork is going to cost 500 pesos the way things are going.”
“Everybody wants to leave the island. Everything is blamed on Imperialism, but that’s where people live with dignity. There’s no life here, this can’t go on! Patria y Vida yes; what Patria o Muerte or nonsense? Death has nothing to do with it,” he concluded passionately.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Isnaydis, who is in pre-university (now in lockdown because of COVID-19) says: “the song is great and we all share it in our WhatsApp groups. It really is surprising to see Gente De Zona talk so clearly about what we all know, but is normally left unsaid. Curse words and sex is the normal, but they normally bite their tongues about politics. Let’s hope they release more songs like this, because it’s true at the end of the day. Things are bad and the only thing we want is to be able to live a decent life without having to leave.”
After the song’s release a month ago, the Cuban Communist Party’s government has responded with a slander campaign, attacking the music quality of the song, as well as the artists and their motives. They absurdly and wildly claim that they are doing this “for money” and “under the imperialist enemy’s pressure.” A rhetoric that has been sung to death and holds very little credibility at this point in the contest.
The many songs that have been released in response haven’t managed to neutralize the effect of Patria y Vida, and have instead led to mockery and defamation. Not even party-line singer-songwriter Raul Torres managed to do this with his song “Patria o Muerte Por la Vida”, which has only managed to set a record for the most thumbs down on YouTube, this year.