Gente de Zona on Cuba: ‘It is the people who are marching’

Jul 16, 2021, 12:30 PM | Updated: 1:03 pm
Cuban reggaeton musicians Alexander Delgado, left, and Randy Malcom, both with the band Gente de Zo...

Cuban reggaeton musicians Alexander Delgado, left, and Randy Malcom, both with the band Gente de Zona, look out into a crowd of demonstrators, Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, as people rallied in support of antigovernment demonstrations in Cuba. Gente de Zona's song "Patria y Vida," which means Homeland and Life, has become the anthem of the demonstrations and is a play on the phrase "Patria o Muerte," Homeland or death, which was a phrase in the Cuban Revolution. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The slogan “¡Patria y vida!” — “Homeland and life!” — is heard loudly during the demonstrations in Cuba. It is a verse of a song that has become the anthem of these protests and that emerged from artists who for the first time dared to express their disagreement with the government.

“Patria y vida” is performed by Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, who change the Cuban revolutionary slogan “homeland or death” created by Fidel Castro to: “No more lies, my people ask for freedom, no more doctrines / Let us no longer shout’ Homeland or death’ but ‘Homeland and life'”.

“This is historic, this had never happened and people shout ‘homeland and life!’ in every street. We are very proud,” said Randy Malcom, from the duo Gente de Zona, in a phone interview from Miami.

“We knew that ‘Patria y vida’ was going to be a song that was going to greatly influence the thinking of Cubans,” he added. “But we didn’t know it would get so far and we are very proud, honestly, for being the driving force behind the Cuban people to take to the streets to denounce everything that this dictatorship does.”

Since its release in mid-February, it was clear to Yotuel Romero that they wanted to encourage people to speak out against authoritarianism.

“We all believe this is a song to freedom, a song to life, a song to the love for our land,” he said then in a video posted on Instagram. “I want them to say ‘it’s over with us.’ The lies are over, the deception is over, the torture is over, the imprisonment is over, the prisons are over.”

Romero’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the singer about the protests.

Romero, a member of the music group Orishas, raised the idea for the song. The artists began working on it in Miami and sent it to Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, who are part of the San Isidro Movement that since 2018 has protested against the Cuban government. The song was finished in Miami, while its video had to be filmed surreptitiously in Cuba due to the participation of the artists of San Isidro.

“They couldn’t film. If someone saw them, they would be put in jail and we had to do it secretly,” Malcom said.

Last weekend, the song resounded as a cry of protest at the massive anti-government demonstrations, something that had not been seen in Cuba in decades. Following the protests there were riots, hundreds of arrests, injuries and one civilian death (according to official figures.) And internet access was limited on the island.

People were protesting shortages, power outages and limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. The country is going through its worst economic crisis in decades and protesters are demanding political changes. And the demonstrations spread to other cities, including Miami and Mexico City.

The government has insisted that US sanctions added to its own deficiencies explicitly sought to suffocate the island economically to generate discontent. In addition, it used a campaign on social media including Twitter to promote the marches.

Several requests for comment from the AP went unanswered.

The musicians behind “Patria y vida” denounced that the unarmed civilian population is being repressed in the demonstrations in Cuba.

Gente de Zona is known for hits like “La Gozadera” with Marc Anthony, “Niña” with Becky G and “Si no vuelves”. “Patria y vida” is their first politically charged song, and puts them in the tradition of the Latin American protest song.

“It becomes a commitment that you have with your people, who have followed you and given you everything you have today,” said Alexander Delgado, the other member of the reggaeton duo. “We never knew that your talent and a song could be the weapon to hit these people hard, this government.”

Malcom and Delgado said that what the demonstrators are asking for a free and democratic Cuba and that their discontent is genuine, not a minority influenced by the United States like some have indicated.

“The one lying in the street is the Cuban people, they are not people from other countries. It is us Cubans who are defending our freedom, it is us Cubans who want free elections, it is us Cubans who no longer want a dictatorship telling us what to do,” said Malcom. “Only us who have lived under dictatorship know what that means.”

In “Patria y vida,” they sing that the “domino has been locked” for six decades in a reference to the years of the Cuban regime.

“It can reach a century if we don’t do what is happening today,” Malcom added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Turkey says 23 Kurdish militants killed in Iraq airstrikes

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish warplanes “neutralized” 23 Kurdish militants in a raid 140 kilometers (90 miles) inside Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday. The ministry usually refers to killed militants as “neutralized.” It said the number of casualties in the mission in the Asos region of northern Iraq, which is controlled by the autonomous […]
5 hours ago
FILE - In this picture provided by Swedish Coast Guard, a small release from Nord Stream 2 is seen,...
Associated Press

Denmark says Nord Stream 1 pipelines stop leaking

HELSINKI (AP) — Authorities in Denmark said Sunday that the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipelines have also stopped leaking, a day after officials said that the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipelines also appeared to stop leaking. The Nord Stream AG company informed the Danish Energy Agency that a stable pressure now appears to have […]
5 hours ago
A priest casts his vote at the opening of the polling stations in Sofia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Bulg...
Associated Press

Bulgarians hold fourth election in 18 months amid turmoil

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarians on Sunday cast their ballots in a general election — the fourth in 18 months — marked by a raging war nearby, political instability, and economic hardships in the European Union’s poorest member. Surveys before the vote suggest that up to eight parties could muster the 4% threshold to enter […]
5 hours ago
Pope Francis leaves after the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Pete...
Associated Press

Pope appeals to Putin to end ‘spiral of violence’ in Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denounced the “absurd” risk to humanity of catastrophic nuclear war as tensions escalate. Francis uttered his strongest plea yet on the seventh-month war as he addressed the public […]
5 hours ago
Mattresses lie on the floor in a holding cell at the basement of a police station which was used by...
Associated Press

10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — The first time the Russian soldiers caught him, they tossed him bound and blindfolded into a trench covered with wooden boards for days on end. Then they beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine. Before they let him go, […]
5 hours ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss arrives to attend the Conservative Party conference at the ICC, ...
Associated Press

UK’s Truss sticks by economic plan as her party worries

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss said Sunday that she could have done a better job “laying the ground” for her package of unfunded tax cuts, but insisted she would push on with an economic plan that has caused turmoil on financial markets and weakened the country’s public finances. Truss acknowledged that the […]
5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Gente de Zona on Cuba: ‘It is the people who are marching’