A lot of people think: “You left here for Capitalism, and that resolved everything for you.” Not so! The struggle is constant. – Pasa Kruda
By Regina Cano
People! We bring you…”Las Krudas”. Cuban rappers, part of the exile community since 2006, visiting – as always – their beloved Cuba.
These womanists, queer activists and combatants for respect for others tell us of their experiences through their Vegan eyes.
Your development and progress outside Cuba?
Pasa and Pelusa: Since leaving, we’ve had every type of experience and suffered many of the vicissitudes that are typical for an emigrant, especially if you come out of a Socialist society to confront a totally capitalist and deeeeeehumanized world.
We’re still in shock – in a good way – to see the growing reach of our work. At the same time, understanding what it is to be Cuban emigrants in the world.
We settled in Austin, in the United States. Texas is super conservative, but the city is super green, super advanced, to the max, with a lot of lakes, a lot of people who believe in sustainability, in anarchy, in people’s rights and equality. We adore that community which opened its doors and a rainbow of possibilities to us, and where we feel fully ourselves – “Austin, I love you!”
It’s a country where we can speak Spanish, but the language is English. Where the people who contract us, tell us the laws – something we don’t have the least notion about in Cuba.
We’ve learned what a contract, a check, a benefit is; what it means to share a stage with other artists or play for ten thousand people; what it is to continue being ourselves: independent and self-starting; representing Cuba, veganism, recycling and autonomy; and living in capitalism anyway.
It’s been kind of a reshuffling of what we learned in Cuba: how to sustain ourselves with recycled goods, to struggle – both here and there – with integrity and perseverance, the capacity to “not consume”. I look for second hand clothes and I eat the plants I planted in my garden. Always with our consciousness as a beacon.
I’ve enjoyed knowing that there’s a Network of people who are also struggling against the System. It’s super-hard to do, it’s strong and can drown you, but at the same time it gives us the possibility of being who we are in all of the events we’ve been invited to and the shows that we’ve given since we left Cuba: in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, and almost every city of the United States.
Communities, workshops, concerts and consciousness building?
Pasa and Pelusa: We participate by teaching and learning in feminist or feminist-lesbian or Queer events for the betterment of our world – of the way we live today. There’s a network of autonomous feminist lesbians with a common interest in empowering ourselves and in educating other women about the fact that you can construct worlds of your own from the standpoint of autonomy and rebellion, even though the world wasn’t constructed with us in mind, as many say.
We’ve held concerts and both received and given workshops, conferences and panels where feminist heterosexual women are present – heads of their families and communities who can construct a whole revolution within their own contexts – together with queers, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, intersexuals and transgender people,
The LGBTI or Queer populations are not the minority that the heterosexual population maintains. There are a lot of confessed members of this group, but others haven’t yet managed to come out of their closets of fear, due to so much social pressure.
We try to serve as intermediaries between some institutional and autonomous extremes. There are those who adhere to feminist and autonomous libertarian platforms and don’t accept any reliance on patriarchal institutions. But there are also people who are economically tied to these and it’s difficult to split off. But if we want to create new structures, we need to start from scratch.
There’s also everyone’s way of living.
The gays, for example, feel closer to the system because the systems are made up of men. So they continue to exist within the structures of social power. This has caused the gay movement in many places to be too institutional and corporate.
Within the movements there is a separation between the corporate, institutional, governmental population and those of us who still resist from a standpoint of autonomy and an economy of assembly and of circles.
Transgenderism…the T Polemic
Pelusa: The Feminist Movements aren’t very accepting of any of the last letters of the alphabet. The “T” Queer is one of the most difficult issues.
It’s difficult for transgender men or women to find a welcome within the feminist movements. We’ve seen this in events held in Mexico, Guatemala and other places.
The fight against discrimination isn’t over even when we find friendly spaces or people with an almost perfect tolerance.
Pasa: You have to do what your body says, what your heart, soul and spirit want, because the body is a social disguise. You’re the owner of it. I admire those who have done it, although I’m also against the surgical procedures, the mutilations. At the same time, I respect the decisions of each person, because if you’re going to be capable of submitting to so many operations, you must be convinced that it’s something you want very badly.
We’re always going to be seen as transgressors or different, because we represent the transformation of our supposed territories.
Pelusa: There’s no excuse for transphobia. The world is transphobic, and it should be different from the way they’ve transformed those men in the “powers”. We can’t repeat what they do.
The transgender populations aren’t hurting anyone. They should let us choose what pronoun to use in this life, what side or even non-side to align ourselves with, and how to define ourselves.
In our own bodies we too feel a lot of transgenderism. This isn’t something that’s being invented now, and – again – this business of Queer and transgenderism doesn’t come from the North as many Latin American feminists claim. Ancestral transgenderism exists in all of our cultures: transsexual practices, sentiments and thoughts, because wherever our thoughts go, that’s where our reality is.
In the case of our generation in Cuba, it’s been a blessing to have had a more atheistic education, a bit more profane and materialistic. To an extent, this has helped us understand all of those profanities that we encounter in this unfolding of diversity and to see life more clearly.
We are greatly in favor of the personal decision to decree your gender or your lack of gender.
We know that those who grow up as biological men can have some differences from biological women, but in the moment in which they decide and begin to play the role of a woman socially and to live the intensity from within – with these surgical interventions and all – they have manifested the absolute reality of what they feel.
And it’s worthy of respect, even when no surgical intervention exists, if a person decides: “From now on I want to be addressed using this other pronoun.” It should be our right.
We want to tell them
That you can, my people, with dedication, intention, focus. If you do, your dreams come true. You take things on and you get yourself into it.
Plenty of love, things that are good, a lot of aché, vegetables and fruit will give you clearer purpose.
And Cuba I love you so much, it’s magic and a blessing to be here in touch, and a wonderful thing to be from this land, I enjoy it every time I come and feel your enchantment, stronger every time and on we go from here “Krudas Cubensi” of Cuba, now here in Havana. What up? What you got to say?
Pelusa: It’s a blessing to be in this world, in this life. We thank our mothers for this reality, with all its defects, but a lovely life. We human beings are very beautiful, intelligent and sensitive creatures.
We should be aware that destruction and self-destruction, oppression, rage and other bad things causes the closing off of our own existences. Instead, we should be moving towards balance and towards that which is beautiful. Life isn’t long, you should live it in the best way, loving and respecting the marvel that is all of us, in that nature that has been given to us.
Hopefully, very soon we”ll be able to say “todes” (instead of the gendered todos or todas in Spanish where mixed takes on the masculine todos) because it doesn’t matter what color we are or what we have between our legs, it’s not even important to be human beings, only to be living beings.
Pasa: Long live music!
See part one of this interview.