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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Independent Hip-Hop Duo Vows to Keep Rapping Despite Repression
October 15, 2012Posted by on
The members of The Unwanted Children (‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’), an independent hip-hop duo from Cuba’s Eastern Bayamo region, have been subjected to vigilance, arrests and censorship at the hands of the police forces of the Cuban regime. This repression has increased as the musicians have continued to produce their songs which contain social denouncements and as they keep speaking their mind without fearing reprisals.
Angel Yunier Remón Arzuaga (left on the photo)- one of the members of the group and better known as ‘El Critico de Arte’- explains that he was taken to prison on the 27th of September after he hung a sign on the door of his house which read ‘Down with Fidel and Down with Raul’. The rapper says that not only does this message reflect his opinion in regards to the Cuban dictatorship, but it also a reference to one of their new singles.
“We are promoting this single”, said ‘El Critico’, and considering that the musicians have been banned from showcasing their art on the State-controlled media outlets on the island, it is the only way they can promote their music. “The new song is called ‘Down’ and one of the lyrics says: ‘Down with Fidel, Down with Raul, Down with the olive green uniform, and the blue one too”.
Just minutes after hanging the sign that Thursday, Remon details that a number of State Security and National Revolutionary Police agents surrounded his home and started to carry out an act of repudiation, screaming obscene words at him and trying to provoke him. The agents then illegally and forcefully entered the home and arrested him.
“They forcefully handcuffed me and, in the process, left some cuts on my arms. They gave me absolutely no explanation as to why I was being arrested”, said the rapper, “they took me to the local police unit and put me in a cell. That cell was open on the top but one of the officials ordered the guards to seal it off completely and so they did. There was another detainee in that cell with me and he suffered from asthma and he started to shout that he needed to get out of there because he could not breathe and because he had not committed any crime”.
Remón Arzuaga declared himself on hunger strike at that moment as a form of protest against the arbitrariness of his arrest. His strike ended when he was released three days later. During his detention he was transferred to another unit known as ‘Los Caballitos’, where a State Security agent known as ‘Matamoros’ interrogated him on September 30th.
“He told me that they were not going to allow us to manifest our feelings in regards to the leaders of the country. He also said that the ideas of those leaders were more important than ours and that our actions would bring us serious consequences”.
The musician was accused of “enemy propaganda”, of “public disorder” and of communicating with illegal radio stations like ‘Radio Marti’, which is transmitted from exile with information which the regime does not publish.
Despite the threats, after coming out of prison, ‘El Critico’ hung another sign on the door of his house. This time it read: “Free Cuba” and “Change”.
“The same agents showed up at my house again and tried to invoke an act of repudiation but no neighbor and no citizen participated because they are all against that”, assured Remón.
This has neither been the first nor the last arrest of the hip-hop duo. Yudier Blanco Pacheco- the other member of the group which goes by the name of “Conciencia Callejera” (‘Street Conscience’)- explains that they both directed themselves to the police unit of Bayamo this past October 9th to demand the return of Angel Yunier’s cell phone and a camera, which were both stolen during an arrest in the month of August.
However, Blanco Pacheco says that a police Major, whose last name is Santos, told them that their belongings would not be returned.
“He told us that we could do all the legal procedures we wished but none of that was going to get us anywhere”, recounts Yudier, “he assured us that any equipment or material taken from us will become their property, as part of a new law”.
The official gave no details about the supposed new law and both rappers were once again detained until that night. During the arrest, Yudier denounces that the agents applied martial arts locks on their necks and threw them, with violence, into cells.
The camera which was arbitrarily taken during Angel Yunier’s arrest on the 16th of August is the same one which the group uses to film their music videos.
Regardless, the duo continues producing their new album and friends throughout the island are helping them edit and eventually make it public.
“Our second disc is practically finished, it’s titled ‘This Has Gotten Worse’”, explains ‘El Critico’, “we also have a song with ‘Primario y Julito’ (independent rappers from Havana) and another with ‘Rapero Isaac’ from Santiago de Cuba. And we are going to keep moving forward; we’ll continue in the forefront of the civic struggle and the forefront of a country that is censured and kept from all its rights”.
“And we’ll continue doing what we’re doing, regardless of whom it bothers and who does not want us to do it. We are simply speaking the truth, and because of that we have to pay the price, but we are willing to keep paying this price. We’re going to keep making independent music and representing a youth which is oppressed by a regime which simply condemns them and does not think of their future. This is protest music”, said the rapper.
For more information from Cuba:
Yudier Manuel Blanco Pacheco – Cell Phone: +5352-577-859