“Cuba Is Where I Want to Live in Freedom Without Communism”

Photo: Juny LB.  Courtesy of Kamankola

By Marleidy Muñoz (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – When I wrote to him for the interview, he replied with the same flow and affection as when I met him on La Rampa in Havana with his daughter in his arms. Jorgito Kamankola and little April always gave me a smile.

I also remember him on stage. When he raps, it’s a mix of fire and sea. In Havana’s alternative scene, his raspy, rough, honest voice would sometimes erupt in screams, as if broken, and other times it seemed like a whisper, so close.

A lot of people sang along to this line from the song “Con la lengua afuera”: “This is Cuba, damn it, and self-employment, this is, little work and trouble, this is: / sweat hard, so tourism can enjoy and us with our tongues out.”

Kamankola is part of the cultural Havana that I miss so much. Does the city depicted by my nostalgia exist? I think not, but it doesn’t matter. What the Rapper and this journalist want to tell is the Cuba we want to have. That’s why I say along with him, that yes, “Down with everything.”

Quickly, as if rapping on stage, Jorge Lian Garcia Diaz (Cerro, Havana, 1985) answered my questions.

Let’s start with these verses of yours:

The Cuba I left, 

was a blurry corpse, 

a trembling desert, 

a sea of blood without faith. 

The Cuba I abandoned, 

had died naked, 

an empty and raw soul, 

fading love, 

without prayer, without peace, without a flower, 

mourning, sad, and widowed.

You lived between Havana and Madrid for years. Then you left the island definitively. During your last time in Cuba, what future did you see for yourself and Cubans in general?

I was submerged in that lie that “criticisms have to be made from within.” That’s why I always went back until I realized that my voice, my denunciation, and my art served from anywhere. Wherever we raise our voices, it has an effect.

Living in Cuba in recent times was defining; either you play the game of apparent freedom, you stay and let them erase you from the map, or you leave so you don’t have to see even the slightest part of that system.

What hurt me about the country was the silence, the servility, the [imposed] resistance, and the ignorance.

You have a clear stance against the Cuban regime, which you call a “dictatorship”; you recognize yourself in exile, you speak of the “living dead” because of the system. Do you think you have a responsibility, as an artist, to denounce what happens in Cuba?

I have the responsibility, not just as an artist, but also as a human being.


Dollars against pains, take and put and put and take. There is an infinite debt and infinite dictators. Always thorns, never flowers, the prison of the train continues, hostage exiles keeping their rumba going and the island in a tomb pretending to be Eden.

A bunch of kids in prison, a bunch of lonely mothers. There’s no bread, but there are lines, there’s no meat, but there are bones. Tears fall from kisses, exile and escape grow. The living die alive, the dead live their sorrow, thus grows the condemnation of an island with no way out.


“Down with everything” was your response to the repression of the anti-government protests in July 2021 in Cuba. Do you think there can be “neutrality” in the face of human rights violations?

I believe one must be radical against that, as radical as possible. Humanity must be above everything.


In an interview with Diario de Cuba, the artist said that “Down with everything” is “a vomit of the soul.”

“The muses demanded that it be a naked song in every sense, and that’s why the idea of laying bare the body and the verse. It’s a song dedicated to the July 11, 2021 protests, a quite beautiful and sad moment at the same time,” the singer-songwriter declared to explain the video’s concept.

“I have many acquaintances who are suffering repression, many who are jumping borders for saying what they think or for a meme. The song is dedicated to a gigantic problem that exists in Cuba, the prohibition of being able to speak,” he added in his statements to Diario de Cuba.


I can lose my voice, but never the verse. Jorgito Kamankola / Artist’s Facebook

Regime propagandists have attacked you. You responded. Why do you think it’s important to reply?

I respond in verses and songs. They have no other weapon but to try to discredit me, and I have God’s blessing to tell the story and the truth through verses.

Regarding “El Aprendiz” (2024), your most recent album, you’ve said it has a different concept from what you had done. How do you address the topic of Cuba in the album?

El Aprendiz (The Apprentice) is an album with a new sound. I worked [mix and master] with a DJ named JUNY_LB, who is a “monster” in programming. We did everything between him and me, and that’s how we’re performing live.

The theme of Cuba will always be the common thread of my art. Cuba is the place where I want to live in freedom and without communism.


“El Aprendiz” was produced by the renowned guitarist Nam San Fong. Kamankola’s album features artists such as Albita Rodriguez, Boris Larramendi, and others who will be added.

“I Will Return,” the first single from the album in collaboration with the Cuban singer-songwriter Amaury Gutierrez, expresses his desire to return to a different country:

I will return, 

when the dictatorship falls, 

the sky tells me, 

that it has little time left. 

I will never be an accomplice to the tortures, 

of a misgovernment, 

that has killed my country.

Jorgito Kamankola and Amaury Gutierrez at the Ermita de la Caridad, in Miami, during the filming of the song “I Will Return.” Courtesy of the artist.

Among the previous albums of the rapper, guitarist, and composer are “Musas desechables” (2013), “Antes de que lo prohíban” (2014), “Hasta precisar el aire” (2016), “Viento” (2018), and “Desde Dentro” (2020). His album project “Delirio y plomo” (2021) never came out. Between 2020 and 2024, the artist released several singles until “El Aprendiz” (2024) arrived.

I’m not here to put up with your murky talk 

nor to talk about the same old thing 

you already know what’s up 

and what’s up you know is very present 

I don’t believe in your politics or your fanaticism 

I’m more from Marti in this patriotism thing 

I don’t have fans 

I have alcoholic buddies 

my only chaotic fear is trying to cry without fear.

Kamankola: FROM INSIDE


Do you fear not being able to return soon to Havana, the city that has inspired you so much?

The truth is that I learned to build Havana everywhere I go. Sometimes I feel nostalgic, but I’m not afraid of not returning. The Havana where I was born is in heaven.

What do you aspire for Cuba?

For communism to go away soon.

“Miami” has its thing, you’ve said. Do you feel your music has a space there?

Miami suits me very well. I haven’t stopped being happy since I set foot on this piece of land. My music, my verses, and my spirit feel constantly inspired.


In Florida, Kamankola also made an independent collaboration with the rapper Raudel (“Escuadrón Patriota”) and adapted a poem by Jose Marti with Lexter Savio.

Another of his collaborations in recent months was with Aldo (“Al2 El Aldeano”) in the song PAPAiA. The 5 minutes and 40 seconds of rap and timba start with Kamankola singing:

Who has seen you and who would see you. How many did you order to kill? 

The rappers criticize “repressors and informers” who have also reached “the capital of exile.” 

Who would see you and who has seen you / full blown Anti-imperialist / And in a picture the Antichrist / Of the hammer and sickle / The red and black flag / On the balcony of oblivion / You were the most fanatic / And now you have your genitals in the United States.

Down with everything!

Hey, they say 

They say there’s a chorus that says 

Down with everything (…) 

It says, 

The riot forms in the tenement 

And soon they sent the police patrol 

And the kid just said freedom 

Freedom for the people of Cuba 

And the kid just said freedom 

Freedom for the people of Cuba 

With sticks, with clubs and with pistols 

Caught by the neck, the knee 

And the kid just said what the conga line said 

Hey asshole cop  

And the kid just said what the conga said 

Hey asshole cop

And down with everything 

Down with everything 

I’m breaking through 

I lead the conga line

And down with everything 

Down with everything


Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

One thought on ““Cuba Is Where I Want to Live in Freedom Without Communism”

  • Cuba in many ways is a wonderful county nice climate good farm land many nice beaches. Most of the people are well educated. But the current leaders do not seem to want to make major changes and give the people who live in Cuba or the people who come to Cuba to visit for any reason the freedoms that many people have in other countries. The people who live and work in the U S that live in tents or cars that do not use bad drugs have a better life than a nurse in Cuba today in my opinion. Cuba could be a major provider of medical care and retirement homes and assistance living for many people from at least 3 countries at a very cost competitive market price
    This would be better than sending so much health care workers with very bad conditions in my opinion. This will only happen with major changes in the economic model and complete change in both the types of government and the leaders.

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