Patria y Vida
July 28, 2021 6:27 PM   Subscribe

A Black uprising is shaking Cuba’s Communist regime. Millions around the world know “Patria y Vida” — “Fatherland and Life” — the scintillating music video that inverted the Cuban Communist Party’s slogan — “Fatherland or Death” — and became the anthem of protests in Cuba on July 11. Less familiar is “Oe’ Policia Pinga” — roughly, “F--- the Police” — by the rappers Marichal and Daryelo Sánchez.

Whereas “Patria y Vida” denounces 60 years of official “lies” and praises dissident artists of Cuba’s San Isidro Movement, “Oe’ Policia Pinga” channels popular fury at the regime’s day-in-day-out enforcers: “You’re the most hated guy in your neighborhood . . . You’ll see what happens to you when the people come for you/ No saint on heaven or earth can protect you.” Two Cuba-based rappers who appear in “Patria y Vida” have just released a remix of “Oe’ Policia Pinga” on YouTube, accompanied by images of protesters pelting police with rocks and overturning their cars on July 11.

Almost all these artists, like many of their compatriots who took to Cuba’s streets, are of African descent.
posted by leslietron (42 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Only mention of the brutal US sanction regime is in dismissing it as possibly explaining anything about Cuba's political situation by comparing it to "Castro propaganda."
Charles Lane [...] is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations
This man's job is to lie to you about official enemies.
posted by jy4m at 8:39 PM on July 28 [37 favorites]

Nevertheless, the Castro regime was/is more than six decades of undemocratic dictatorship, and can you provide some examples of how the article is incorrect?
posted by PhineasGage at 9:37 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]

Saw this thread: hmm how long until the tankies are out in full force?

Saw comments: wow, it took literally one comment!
posted by wooh at 10:29 PM on July 28 [12 favorites]

Quite a bit the-less, actually, your confusion over whether a Castro is currently the Cuban head of state notwithstanding.

The stories the US foreign policy blob wish to sell to you rely on and reproduce this central assumption that Cuba is merely a tin-pot dictatorship whose "warped" command economy has produced starvation and nothing but from coast to coast, and which the US has shown admirable restraint towards in merely presenting a cold shoulder. Of course the fact of the matter is that we have not ignored Cuba, but rather have sought to totally destroy it since the revolution, first by covert and overt military attacks, then when those failed, by slow strangulation of its people with economic isolation. This policy has been advanced and maintained by a number of figures and institutions, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the CIA-front National Endowment for Democracy, which employed the propagandist Ramon Colas, whom Lane presents here as merely "a Black dissident forced to leave the Island."

Lane of course can't mention Assata Shakur, a Black dissident forced to leave the US after being falsely convicted of killing an FBI agent in a period when American law enforcement were assassinating and entrapping the leaders of the struggle for black liberation. You may already know that she asylum in the "dictatorship" of Cuba. Lane's take on Black Americans' current, years-long wave of resistance to the violence and economic deprivation of the American system (besides implying here that they're useful idiots for the ghost of Fidel), is that their opposition to police brutality should lead them to conclude that labor unions are bad.

The point isn't, then, that Cuba is flawless and that everything in the article is an outright fabrication (although some claims, like that Cuba has the highest incarceration rate in the world at 794 in 100,000 people, are spuriously sourced and unverifiable). It's that Lane and dialed-in global affairs experts like him are very selective in which facts they deem important enough to reveal towards the goal of "liberation for all" -- on the US State Department's terms.
posted by jy4m at 10:44 PM on July 28 [38 favorites]

Please refrain from name calling, wooh.
posted by jy4m at 10:45 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]

Ah yes, Charles Lane, the centrist CFR guy who wrote that anti-marijuana op-ed for WaPo. I look to him when I want to keep up with what's been happening in rap music.
posted by windbox at 10:54 PM on July 28 [27 favorites]

don't forget his death penalty supporting book
The death penalty is not only more popular than critics claim; it is also less flawed by wrongful executions or racial bias. Lane argues that capital punishment should be preserved.
posted by Iax at 10:56 PM on July 28 [13 favorites]

The US government sure loves rap music when it's a tool to subvert foreign governments, but when it's N.W.A. or Public Enemy somehow they don't love the subversion so much.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:07 PM on July 28 [7 favorites]

Framing it as black vs white through the perspective of US race context seems at best disingenuous.
posted by Ferreous at 11:08 PM on July 28 [14 favorites]

The oppression of Black people is not limited to the USA and is not tempered if they also happen to be Hispanic and/or Latine. It is all over Latin America and the Caribbean and even if your country is majority Black there is still light-skinned privilege to deal with. Spanish colonists enslaved people for ~300 years on Cuba and it was a major spot for sugarcane plantations (i.e. some of the most torturous and deadly places to be enslaved). I do not know why anyone would look at Cuba's brutal racist history and assume that it somehow escaped the long-term repercussions that affect every other country of similar background. Regimes that decide to end racism by declaring all citizens "raceless" and actively discouraging discussions of race will produce a society that is as colorblind as the white people in the USA who claim to not see race and accuse the people discussing it of "real" racism. That is: it is not going to change implicit biases for shit. You do not have to like the CFR guy, but don't delude yourself into thinking Black Cubans don't face real discrimination.
posted by schroedinger at 11:11 PM on July 28 [18 favorites]

For a brief layman's discussion here is an AJ article but there is also an awful lot of formal scholarship on how conceptions of race in Cuba have persisted through the post-Revolution era.
posted by schroedinger at 11:30 PM on July 28 [5 favorites]

How do you do, fellow kids?
posted by moorooka at 11:48 PM on July 28 [12 favorites]

The lack of critical perspective in the fpp here is disappointing, as is the name-calling. Save that for twitter, folks.
posted by tummy_rub at 2:41 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]

sooooooooo is everyone honestly going to dismiss the entire topic as made up and irrelevant

From what I've read the conception and persistence of race and racism in Cuba is really interesting and complex, as multifaceted an issue as it is in other countries who have the trauma of colonization and enslavement in their past. There is an opportunity here to discuss that. Or everyone could pile-on with the ad hominem criticisms and kneejerk denials of reality. Whichever.
posted by schroedinger at 4:11 AM on July 29 [10 favorites]

sooooooooo is everyone honestly going to dismiss the entire topic as made up and irrelevant

A good regime-change psyop is going to exploit real-world conditions like nobody's business. So it's possible for racism to be a real, ongoing problem in Cuba AND for the sudden flood of US attention on it, and probably some of the activity on the ground in Cuba, to be part of an op.

I find the pattern here interesting: first, apparent regime change in Haiti, then clamor and revolt in Cuba being paid attention to in the media of the global North. Meanwhile, things in the US and Europe themselves ain't all that great for most people. Hmmm.

All of that being said, please do pay attention to the links that schroedinger has posted above.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:19 AM on July 29 [21 favorites]

Every time there is any news about Cuba it seems to be immediately drowned in debate over propaganda. Does that mean there really aren't any reliable sources (they've either all been coopted or silenced?)
posted by emjaybee at 5:26 AM on July 29

Man 'tankie' sure does seem to mean 'people who are still correct about U.S. imperialism'.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:37 AM on July 29 [30 favorites]

sooooooooo is everyone honestly going to dismiss the entire topic as made up and irrelevant

Does that mean there really aren't any reliable sources ?

My criticism was only that this particular post isn’t well thought-out; if OP wants a satisfactory discussion, maybe a known bad-faith commentator’s op-ed isn’t the best first volley, especially (as others have noted above) the topic in question has an interesting and complex history (and present).
posted by tummy_rub at 5:39 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]

So it's possible for racism to be a real, ongoing problem in Cuba AND for the sudden flood of US attention on it, and probably some of the activity on the ground in Cuba, to be part of an op

The "sudden flood of US attention" is in response to the recent protests. The protests are actual notable events that have recently happened and thus fall into the category of "news". This "news" has been of interest outside the US as well, because pretty much whenever there are protests under a repressive regime people find it exciting. Yes, it is totally more exciting in countries where there is an antagonistic relationship (like the US and Cuba). Add to that excitement the fact that BLM really fucked up their efforts to express support and you have a situation that is absolutely irresistible and does not require sinister actions on anyone's part in order to generate interest.

Also given that you have provided no evidence beyond "well this is a thing that has happened some time", the insinuation that the protests are the result of a psy-op rather than an honest expression of legitimate concerns by people with agency is pretty fucking condescending.
posted by schroedinger at 6:38 AM on July 29 [8 favorites]

Both things can be true:

Cuba has huge racism issues, and this article is propaganda.

Cuban-Americans are largely the descendants of white folks who were plantation and land-owners who were oppressing the Black Cubans prior to the Revolution. The article vaguely alludes to this truth by pointing out that white Cuban-Americans remit a lot more to their families back in Cuba. Everyone knows that Cuban-Americans as a whole slant Republican, folks assume it's because they "suffered" under a leftist regime, but it's less that they were oppressed and more that they were no longer allowed to oppress.

But of course there's racism and colorism. That shit doesn't just go away in a couple of generations. It's not excusable, but it's disgusting hypocrisy for a conservative commentator to use Cuba's racism problem to portray it in a unique light compared to all of the other nations who have a similar issue.

Let's hear from people who actually have skin in the game. Actual Cubans rather than an old white American who makes frequent appearances on Fox News, eh?
posted by explosion at 7:46 AM on July 29 [15 favorites]

Maybe it's not entirely on-topic, but I feel compelled to let windbox know that Mr. Lane does seem to know a thing or two about hip-hop.

See here, for example.
posted by jpziller at 7:56 AM on July 29

You can support protests against racism without boosting the State Department propaganda. This hip hop shit's over a decade old at this point. Try to avoid the intersectional imperialism trap.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 8:34 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]

Yeah because there are a ton of better, more well-rounded pieces about, say, the BLM response to the Cuban protests and the criticism of that. There is real discussion to be had there for sure.

But nope, instead we get this dude who's been blasting out anti-BLM/pro-police/pro-incarceration op-eds to local papers since 2015. Hardly the person I want to hear about fighting racism from, let alone any reporting on global hip-hop culture. Didn't we agree that we don't want to hear about LGBT issues from publications like the Gaurdian for similar reasons around their disingenuous, transphobic reporting? And yet this shmo is allowed rail on and pretend he all the sudden gives a shit about rappers saying Fuck The Police, because it's in Cuba, I wonder why. Oh well, best to throw all basic media literacy out the window and assume he's being genuine.

Maybe it's not entirely on-topic, but I feel compelled to let windbox know that Mr. Lane does seem to know a thing or two about hip-hop.

See here, for example.

lol an NPR piece on how churches are embracing christian rap? Lane's review: "It's this blend of street-wise lyrics and of religious message that Rez uses to proselytize street kids, like the ones today sitting on their porch drinking beer and smoking weed." Cool, very cool, the hip hop and racism expert has indeed arrived.
posted by windbox at 8:40 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]

The oppression of Black people is not limited to the USA and is not tempered if they also happen to be Hispanic and/or Latine.

I read the comment not to say that racism doesn't exist in Cuba - but the shapes that racism takes varies from culture to culture. I don't know enough about Cuban race history and race relations to know how it works there. But I am wary of just assuming that the same models which developed in the American context function the same way there. Take, for example, the Victorian-British racist tropes of Black people: their racist image was that Black people are childlike, more feminine (and thus need to be ruled). This is in contrast to American racist tropes (that Black people are more violent, more masculine).

That said: American models of racism have been exported to other places. Contemporary British anti-Black racism is more like contemporary (and historic) American anti-Black racism, partly because of changes in British society but also because American culture has a huge impact on the world. Also, one could argue that the end results of the two different models were the same: justification of white supremacy.

But racism is complicated and ever-evolving: acknowledging its diversity over time and space is a part of taking it seriously. And sometimes, differences in the racist models do have huge impacts on people, e.g., European/light-skinned Jews are historically defined as "white" in American culture (and law) and have benefited from white privilege in that system, while they were classified as "not-white" by the Nazis (and many of their European contemporaries) with devastating impacts.
posted by jb at 9:04 AM on July 29

Correction on my previous comment: Assata Shakur was convicted of killing a state trooper, not an FBI agent.
posted by jy4m at 11:00 AM on July 29

Lest we forget, the Cuban hip hop scene has long been a target of US infiltration and manipulation. "When it comes to espionage, virtually anything can be weaponized. That's a lesson the U.S. government has learned well, as evidenced by one agency's recent efforts to subvert the Cuban state through the power of hip-hop." The operation was revealed in leaked documents, and the US eventually admitted that it used USAid to engage in this work. The history of the US isolating, undermining, and destroying leftist regimes in this hemisphere is long and dirty.
posted by swlabr at 11:46 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]

My family was split by the Cuban Revolution. My Abuelo fought against the communists and ended up being smuggled into Miami after the Bay of Pigs. His sister's family supported the revolution and stayed and worked with the regime.

My dad has the nationalization letter for Abuelo's business in a fireproof box along with birth certificates and other important documents. It's what we have left as one of the few things tying us to the island, even in a symbolic way.

My grandfather's sister and her husband (henceforth known as Tia and Tio G) worked within the communist party for a while, but ended eventually being branded as counter-revolutionaries over some minor disagreements. Tio G spent some time in a reeducation camp harvesting sugar cane. He used to take his glasses off during meals so that he would not see the worms in the food. Eventually, he was released, gathered up his whole family and fled to the US in the 70s.

I am well aware that the Cuban Revolution did not happen in a vacuum, and Batista's Cuba was a crony-capitalist kleptocracy. It seems all Cuba has had is colonialism, an Atlas Shrugged nightmare, or brutal autocracy. Cubans in Cuba deserve to choose their government, have free speech, and a justice system that will not lock people up for living somewhere without a permit. (As an aside, there are a lot of countries around the world that fit this description and I truly wish those human rights were taken seriously, but I am going to stick to the immediate topic.)

From the Cuban exile perspective, there are not a lot of legal levers available to encourage a change in government. There's mostly been anti-Castro propaganda from Jose Martí Radio and the embargo. Every dollar spent in Cuba is one where a significant amount would not only go to an oppressive government, but also a government that might have taken your livelihood, your home, or locked up your family members. We are a stubborn people and don't let things go even if they're not working.

But on the bright side, I'm really cheering the current protesters and hope this is not another "surely this" moment like the Pope visiting in 1998. I know that the odds are that the country immediately turns into an Marriott Resort/Amazon Fulfillment center upon the cessation of sanctions, but I'm naively hoping that the people will end up with both economic and democratic self-determination.
posted by Alison at 11:56 AM on July 29 [22 favorites]

Given the current trends in the Caribbean and Central America, it's more likely that a post-communist Cuba will become a crypto-currency tycoon's paradise.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:30 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]

Cuba has huge racism issues, and this article is propaganda.

Propaganda does not mean lies; the best propaganda is based on a verifiable kernel of truth, and leverages that. For example, the Soviet Union's propagandists made hay out of America's race problems, though it does not follow that the claim that there is structural racism in the US can be dismissed as Soviet propaganda.
posted by acb at 2:51 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]

Eye-Witness Account of U.S. Attempts to Destabilize Cuba:
By Kathryn Guerrera

As a Canadian with family members that live in Cuba, who was in Cuba during the anti-government protests that occurred on July 11, I found myself in a unique and disturbing position where I could see and feel the disconnect between what was being reported by the mainstream media back home and what was really happening on the ground in Cuba.
The Western media has also not given enough attention to significant human rights violations by governments and paramilitary forces in countries like Colombia, Chile and Haiti where massive anti-government uprisings have occurred and hundreds of civilians have been abused, murdered or gone missing. But the same media was instantly ready to cover, exaggerate and downright lie about what happened in Cuba. Politicians in the US immediately called for “humanitarian” or military intervention in Cuba – including airstrikes. Media in the United States, Canada and other Western countries deceitfully published a photo of the Cuban May Day march photo in 2018, claiming it was of the anti-government protests. Facebook determined that their “community standards” were not violated by the countless comments calling for armed invasion and bloodshed, assassination of elected Cuban government officials, nuclear war against Cuba and gun running from Miami to Cuba.

In response to the July 11 protests, thousands – actual thousands – of Cubans came out in cities across the island to support their government and the Revolution. On July 17, pro-revolutionary and pro-government demonstrators, estimated in the hundreds of thousands, gathered at dawn in Havana. There was zero coverage of this on CNN or CBC. The huge pro-government turnout in Camagüey was described on social media as being anti-government protestors who had “liberated” Camagüey from the “dictatorship.” This was completely false.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:38 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]

I trust this four-part series of articles from the New York Times over that piece from a socialist newspaper.
posted by PhineasGage at 9:01 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]

I have bad news for you, google Judith Miller Iraq war
posted by Space Coyote at 9:21 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]

Maybe read the articles...
posted by PhineasGage at 10:00 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]

Whoa a socialist newspaper! That's terrifying, not like a reliable paper that published op eds in support of using military force to violently suppress protests against white supremacist policing.
posted by Ferreous at 10:01 PM on July 29 [4 favorites]

the important thing is authenticity. lol
Max Blumenthal,: , Joe Biden, who has said nothing about repression of massive protests vs the US-backed regime in Colombia, will host right-wing Cuban American leaders & anti-communist Cuban artists at White House meeting affirming his support for regime change
Max Blumenthal,
, While the Spanish govt provides anti-communist Cuban regime change rapper @Yotuel007 with a home base, it has imprisoned rapper Pablo Hasél, a Spanish citizen, for insulting the king and denouncing the police and army. #sosespaña
posted by Space Coyote at 10:17 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]

The "sudden flood of US attention" is in response to the recent protests.


The protests are marginal and were dwarved by massive pro-government protests, but as per usual amplified by the US propaganda machine, which includes the entirety of the socalled liberal press in America.

Meanwhile the ongoing, UK/US assisted massacres in Columbia aimed at antigovernment protests there, or the millions strong demonstrations against Trump and Biden pal Bolsano in Brazil?

posted by MartinWisse at 3:31 AM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Nice try, CIA.

OP has been on here since 2010 and never posted until now, might be more true than we'd imagine.

Oh no, you found me out! I had thought my eleven years of posting to Ask and MetaTalk was sufficiently deep cover, but I see it all too clearly now: I should have spent those years posting more links to the Blue. Then maybe this, the culmination of the CIA’s devious psy-ops attack against Metafilter, might have succeeded.

Well, off to go infiltrate Ravelry!
posted by leslietron at 7:24 AM on July 30 [11 favorites]

The protests are marginal and were dwarved by massive pro-government protests

Just checking--do you think living under a repressive, anti-free-speech government might affect the number of people willing to protest publicly?
posted by schroedinger at 12:58 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]

So the OP buttoned after multiple people accused them of being a CIA plant? This site is just embarrassing sometimes.
posted by octothorpe at 1:14 PM on July 30 [15 favorites]

For Christ's sake, people.
posted by angrycat at 4:20 AM on July 31 [3 favorites]

Thanks to the OP for initiating what should have been an informative and valuable discussion.
posted by lumpy at 9:19 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hey, folks: shitty accusations like the CIA horseshit above make this place worse and are basically the opposite of operating in good faith. It's fine to talk critically about a post's links, or flag something if you think it needs moderator attention, but if you're skipping straight to speculating that a long-time member is a sleeper agent because you don't like an essay, you are doing it badly wrong. Cut that all the way the fuck out. I'm going to reach out to leslietron and apologize on the site's behalf for this nonsense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on August 2 [7 favorites]

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