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"Pieces of the Island"-An English Translation
Category Archives: Music
June 13, 2013Posted by on
Primario y Julito, dissident rap duo based in Havana, have joined forces with Raper Issac, from Santiago de Cuba, in a new song and video: “Lambon“.
“My thing is not a whim, my thing is not a vice, my thing is desire for freedom”, says the opening of the new single published on the YouTube channel of Roberto de Jesus Guerra, director of the independent news agency ‘Hablemos Press‘. Guerra helps the young rappers record and promote their work.
Both Primario y Julito and Raper Issac, like all other independent musicians on the island, are prohibited and censored from any air time in the country, yet they are still popular amongst the everyday population, especially the youth. Musicians such as these hand out CDs with their music on the streets.
Other rappers- such as Angel Yunier Remon “El Critico”, based in the Eastern town of Bayamo, are subjected to constant government persecution. In Remon’s case, he has been in prison for nearly 3 months and may soon face charges for making music, carrying out peaceful demonstrations, and hanging up anti-government signs on his home.
Check out the new single by Primario y Julito and Raper Issac, “Lambon”:
June 7, 2013Posted by on
The Cuban punk-rock band Porno Para Ricardo has announced the launch of their new album “Maleconazo Ahora” (‘Maleconazo Now’), on sale through the music downloads website “BandCamp”.
Gorki Luis Aguila, lead singer and guitarist of the group, has been promoting the new production through his Facebook page. In an interview with this blog in March of 2013, the rocker described the disc as being “very fluid, very fast…one song comes on and then an interview, and everything kind of gets mixed together and it makes you feel like you are at the place where it happened [The Maleconazo]“.
For Gorki, the Maleconazo of 1994, when countless Cuban citizens took to the streets of Havana to protest, was “a symbol of activism” and was also a necessary cry for “something fair“.
The first single from the new album has been “Este Año Si Se Cae”, where the musicians experiment with the sounds of reggaeton and collaborate with other independent artists such as Primario y Julito and David Omni Zona Franca. The lyrics of the mentioned song assure listeners that if Cubans really want the dictatorship to fall, then it will be possible.
Other songs in “Maleconazo Ahora” include “Yo Odio Mi CDR“, “Amor del G2“, “Yo No Trabajo Para los Castro” and “Mi Bandera“. It also includes an acoustic version of “Este Año Si Se Cae”, with the participation of rapper Raudel ‘Eskuadron Patriota‘.
Porno Para Ricardo, which are completely censured in Cuba but still have a large fan base among everyday people, recently announced a “mini-tour” in Barcelona and Madrid to promote the disc. They have turned to their fans and to the ‘CrowFunding’ network so that they receive at least 1 dollar donations per person to fund this trip to Europe:
To take a listen to the new CD and buy your copy today, click here. It’s only $7 USD.
May 30, 2013Posted by on
A new video published by the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) on the YouTube channel of Ana Belkis Ferrer shows the repressive methods utilized by the Cuban regime against currently jailed dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, “El Critico”, in Bayamo.
Friends and family of Remon have been denouncing the situation the young activist has been going through since last March after various detentions and a House raid. Now, these denouncements are proven in the new video which document the events which preceded his arrest. The video has been subtitled in English (my translation):
Remon’s home was attacked multiple times by police officials with tar and other materials. The results of such actions can be seen in the first half of the video. His response was to paint the phrase “I do not commit any crimes, that is why I am free. Down with the rob-alution”. Eventually, after another attack, the rapper writes “Down with the dictatorship” in large and visible letters right on the Street in front of his House. The police then says agents to cover the message while they also convoke an act of repudiation against the dissident.
However, the vast majority of neighbors do not take part in shouting offensive slogans at Remon and he proceeds to talk to them about their rights, the repression of the dictatorship and calls of them to not feel fear because he knows that they do not support the regime. He invites the onlookers to pass by his House to pick up “pro-freedom literature” which is banned on the island.
Remon also offers a moving and brave discourse about Cuba’s “beautiful history” which was “destroyed by the Castro dictatorship” and urges citizens to wake up from the lethargy imposed by the system.
These are the reasons why a young Cuban rapper is currently behind bars in the Las Mangas Prison of Bayamo.
#PassItOn for Angel Yunier Remon.
May 23, 2013Posted by on
As part of a new Project of this blog we launch “Pass it On” (‘Pasa la Voz’), an audio-visual series that aims to tell the story of Cubans with free minds. In this first edition, we dedicate the video to dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga “El Critico de Arte”, member of the hip-hop duo ‘The Unwanted Children’, from Bayamo. “El Critico” has been imprisoned since March 2013 for handing out pro-freedom literature, as well as because of his protest music and constant activism. The young Cuban is also a member of the pro-freedom Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). As of yet, he has not had a trial.
These videos are designed to be shared online, so feel free to Pass it On!
For more videos visit “Pedazos de la Isla” on YouTube.
May 23, 2013Posted by on
The leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba highlights the situation which a number of political prisoners of the mentioned group are facing, speaks about the repressive methods employed by the State against activists and affirms that activism and opposition out on the streets has only increased in the Eastern region of the country, attracting further solidarity from everyday people.
Protest marches, debates and the handing out of flyers with pro-freedom messages are occurring with much more frequency in different areas of Eastern Cuba. Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, former political prisoner and current executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), points out that in the month of May these actions have increased as part of the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign, where dissidents throughout the country pay tribute to martyrs Pedro Luis Boitel and Orlando Zapata Tamayo, both deceased after lengthy hunger strikes in prison.
On May 20th, Cuba’s Independence Day, two marches were carried out in Santiago de Cuba. One of them was led by 11 activists and finished in the Antonio Maceo Plaza, where police officials beat the demonstrators with helmets, sticks and other objects, all of this while everyday citizens were watching.
A second march was carried out by 16 dissidents who managed to walk down various blocks of the El Sueno neighborhood, shouting pro-freedom messages. The result was police persecution. “State Security and Rapid Response Brigade agents came and began to throw rocks and beat activists“, recounted Ferrer Garcia. The repressors also threw tar and tried to raid the home of Daniel Barriel, secretary of the “Zapata Lives” sector of UNPACU in that neighborhood, where the activists congregated after the march. But the police was not able to achieve their objective, considering that the civic protests of the dissidents only intensified, forcing the aggressors to leave.
“Our activists came out and did not allow the attack. Also, they took up a clever posture. When the regime organized mobs shouted ‘long live the youth’, our dissidents would shout ‘live!’, but when the mobs shouted ‘long live Fidel’, the activists would say ‘down!’. The agents had to leave the house eventually“, explained Jose Daniel, “the police is losing space because they use so many people and use so much gasoline to repress us, but there is not enough gasoline for ambulances and other necessary services. In addition, everyday people are not cooperating with them“.
On the following day, May 21st, another group of UNPACU activists walked to the Palma-Santiago highway and took out a large sign with numerous anti-regime messages, such as “UNPACU in favor of fair salaries” and “democracy and justice“. This captured the attention of various passerby’s who actually would stop their cars to read the messages and show support with the dissidents.
Ferrer Garcia explains that UNPACU has “been following up the Boitel and Zapata Live Campaign as well as on the other commemorative dates like the death of Jose Marti and May 20th” with spontaneous marches and other demonstrations which have lasted more than 30 minutes, shouting slogans in favor of “freedom, democracy, the respect of human rights, the end of hunger, misery, low salaries and so many other ills which affect the population“.
The former political prisoner of conscience denounces that the repression on behalf of the regime has been increasing, but despite this, “the tyranny keeps losing in their confrontation against UNPACU, because even the people who in one way or another serve them are feeling very ashamed of the actions which State Security carries out against us“.
“The people are responding by criticizing the political police. On a daily basis they join the peaceful opposition movement in this area, where UNPACU has been carrying out a labor in favor of the society, working for the community, and this presents a serious problem for the tyranny, and it will just continue to create even more problems“, added Ferrer.
Currently, UNPACU has 40 of its members behind bars because of political motives. This past 21st of May Ferrer Garcia was able to establish communication with one of these prisoners who is being held in the Mar Verde Prision of Santiago.
“The activist told me about the situation which they find themselves in Mar Verde. He told me that Arcelio Noa had already been taken out of the punishment cell, but that he had intentionally hurt himself as a form of protest against the inhumane conditions he was being held in, and which the other 10 political prisoners we have in that prison have had to withstand“, said Ferrer, “lots of mistreatment, aggressions, and the guards are using common delinquents to harass them. These common prisoners are dangerous, many of them murderers, who lend themselves to such actions in exchange for food and other privileges. They are turned against the human rights defenders“.
Ferrer emphasized the situation of dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, known as “El Critico”, who is also the secretary of UNPACU for the city of Bayamo. The musician has been behind bars for more than 2 months in the Bayamo prison known as Las Mangas, still without a trial. He was violently arrested after the political police raided his home in March, attacking him and other relatives with tear gas.
“I was able to briefly speak with Angel Yunier on May 20th. In Las Mangas prison there is a very critical situation“, said the dissident leader, “Angel told me about the horrible medical attention offered to sick prisoners. He also told me that numerous prisoners have so many problems and they turn to self-infliction to call attention on so many abuses, the severe hunger, the lack of medical care and other cruel treatments“.
The young dissident continues to be in a judicial limbo while the authorities have not given his family any details as to what his fate will be.
The situation of activist Jorge Cervantes Garcia, from Contramaestre, is also critical. Ferrer says that “he is still recuperating from the lengthy hunger strike carried out to demand the freedom of Luis Enrique Lozada. Cervantes is still in Las Tunas prison, also amid a very hostile atmosphere. He was physically assaulted last week by a common prisoner who is addicted to mood-altering pills”.
Ferrer Garcia expressed that although the number of political prisoners is increasing, so too is the number of activists, mainly young ones, who are willing to go out to the streets to work towards a new Cuba.
Take a listen to the following audio (in Spanish) of Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia:
For more information from inside Cuba, contact:
Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia – Cell Phone: +53 – 146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
May 2, 2013Posted by on
Young dissident rapper and human rights activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, member of the hip-hop duo ‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’ (‘The Unwanted Children’), is still being held in the Provincial Prison of Granma, also known as “Las Mangas”, without any formal accusations or without having passed through trial, according to his aunt Jaqueline Garcia Jaenz, member of Cuba’s Ladies in White.
Garcia also highlights that in addition to being an arbitrary action, considering that the musician did not commit a crime and is being falsely accused of ‘attempt and resistance’ after police agents raided his home on the 26th of March, the fact that he is jailed in a provincial prison is another violation of the law.
Angel Yunier’s detention in Las Mangas violates a new law which was passed on March 18th which dictates that citizens who have pending trials cannot be kept in provincial prisons, but instead must be held in municipal penitentiaries”, said Garcia, “but Angel is being held in the Provincial prison and is there for a reason. They want to invent a crime for him; he has a pending trial but is innocent and has been in that center for nearly a month”.
Remon Arzuaga was arrested on March 26th, just days after having been beat and detained for various days after handing out pro-freedom documents. He was on hunger strike for various weeks and stopped the protest after the authorities told him they would revise his case, but to date, they have not kept their word. Activists who know him say that the repression against him is because he attracts many everyday people and chats with them, taking the pro-freedom message of the internal opposition to them. Also because of the lyrics of his rap songs.
“Welcome to Bayamo…criticizing has become suicide, I get burned and I don’t ask for help, I will criticize without mercy, I fight and I know the consequences”, go the lyrics from the single titled ‘Bayamo’ by the rap duo, “Bayamo this is my trench, I don’t look outside, my family is here inside, a seed which continues active and keeps producing, I will keep writing for you, a real Bayamo native, lyrics without salary is how I live, this is protest and let it be known”.
Meanwhile, Jaqueline Garcia also denounces the situation of her husband Ariel Arzuaga Pena, also a political prisoner, who is not receiving adequate medical attention in his penitentiary.
“On the 18th of April, Ariel awoke with his two legs swollen below the knees. There were no doctors present at that moment and a nurse told him to not worry about it”, explained the Lady in White, “a few days later a doctor finally visited him and prescribed an increase in the dose of medication for hypertension, but the swelling continued. A few days later they checked him again, this time with another doctor, and he said to lower the dosage. In other words, it’s a contradiction on behalf of the doctors and I really don’t know what they want to do to him”.
They have still not diagnosed the cause of the swelling since the 18th of April”, she said.
Garcia highlights that the hunger strike by more than 60 human rights activists of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) taking place right now throughout the island, especially in the Eastern region, in addition to demanding the freedom of dissident Luis Enrique Lozada Igarza, are also protesting against the increased level of repression against UNPACU activists, like Angel Yunier, and other members of the internal opposition.
The strikers are already suffering serious health problems, and recently, the youngest of them- Enrique Lozada (17)- was urgently rushed to the hospital, alongside Lady in White Ana Celia Rodriguez and the elderly activist Dionisio Blanco Rodriguez.
For more information from Cuba , please contact:
Jaqueline García Jaénz- Cell Phone: +58-401-025
April 17, 2013Posted by on
Dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, detained since last 26th of March in Bayamo, is one step away from becoming a new political prisoner in Cuba. Remon, also an active member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), was transferred this Monday, April 15th, from a police unit to the Provincial Prison of Granma, known as “Las Mangas”, according to his aunt Jaqueline Garcia Jaenz, member of the Ladies in White.
“Angel’s transfer to ‘Las Mangas’ occurred during afternoon hours of Monday, April 15th, and he continues there under accusations of the supposed crime of ‘attempt’“, explained Garcia Jaenz to this blog.
In Cuba, when a detained activist is transferred from a police unit to a prison, it usually means that they will be sentenced to years behind bars, whether there is a trial or not.
“Authorities did not allow his wife to see him this past Monday during the transfer“, said Garcia, but she added that she had information that his health was slowly recuperating, after a 16-day hunger strike.
Angel Yunier, who is father of a recently born girl, has been under constant harassment and persecution by the political police. His home in Bayamo has been attacked with tar and stones by State organized mobs, while he has been arrested time after time to keep him from handing out pro-freedom literature and from chatting with everyday people about the civic struggle for freedom in the country.
He is secretary of UNPACU in Bayamo and, as an independent musician (his artist name is ‘El Critico de Arte’), the music which his group makes- ‘The Unwanted Children’ (‘Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso’) – is completely censored on the island.
Remon, his aunt Jaqueline Garcia and another three relatives have been accused of “attempt” and “resistance” after police agents beat them all and attacked them with tear gas on March 26th. Just days before, the musician had been detained as well. When he returned to his home, Remon painted anti-government messages on the walls of his house, which provoked further repression on behalf of the State.
Bárbara Arzuaga, Angel Yunier’s mother, has asked for international solidarity so that her son won’t be sent to prison for being a dissident.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Jaqueline García Jaenz- Cell Phone: +58-401-025
José Daniel Ferrer García- Cell Phone: +53-146-740 / Twitter: @jdanielferrer
April 12, 2013Posted by on
“As a mother I cannot allow my son to die”, said Barbara Arzuaga in reference to her son, dissident rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, detained since last March 26th. The musician was on hunger strike for 16 days, a protest which he suspended on the night of April 11th in the Instructional Provincial Unit, located on the outskirts of Las Tunas. Despite having stopped the strike, his mother, his friends and fellow opposition members are still very worried about his health and future.
His mother was able to see him on Wednesday, April 10th, but only for a few minutes.
“I saw him in a very bad state, very pale, very weak (physically), practically without strength toe ven stand up”, said Barbara, “As his mother, it hurts me so much to know this because he is the only son I have, he is the only thing I have in this life, and I cannot just wait around for him to die”.
Remon suffers from a chronic gastritis, a condition that has intensified during his more than two weeks on hunger strike.
Barbara took her son a homemade soup, which she asked him to please drink. Apparently, during the night hours, Remon managed to communicate with his relatives, telling them that he had suspended his hunger strike for the time being, since a guard had told him they would re-investigate his case. Remon is being accused of “attempt” and “resistance” after pólice forces raided his aunt’s home (Jaqueline Garcia Jaenz), beating him and even attacking him with pepper spray. Since then, he has been detained along with an aunt, an uncle and various neighbors.
The revision of his case is not necessarily something positive, considering that in Cuba the regime jails whoever they desire. Especially if it’s someone who has been increasing their level of public activism.
“The regime is carrying out lots of propaganda against the opposition”, said Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), of which Remon is secretary for the region of Bayamo. Ferrer points out that while activism increases, so does the dictatorship’s violence, but that this is a symptom of fear of losing power. The dissident leader considers the young rapper as “one of the most distinguished activists of UNPACU” as well as “one of the most persecuted”
If Remon is jailed, the number of political prisoners within UNPACU will rise to 40.
“I was there when they arrested Angel Yunier. I am the main witness, I can testify that there was no aggression on his part, or by the other people like my sister and brother-in-law…we were not aggressive”, reiterated Barbara Arzuaga, disqualifying the regime’s version which alleges that the activists committed acts of “attempt” and “resistance”.
“The police was very violent with Angel, Jaqueline Garcia and the others, not only on the 26th of March but also on the 21st. In fact, they even used tear gas”.
Remon Arzuaga is known for his political activism, handing out pamphlets with pro-freedom messages, hanging anti-regime signs and offering public discourses about democracy, but he is also a rapper of the Cuban “underground”. He’s known as “El Critico de Arte”, member of the hip-hop duo “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (The Unwanted Children), based in the Eastern city of Bayamo. In addition to being completely censored, he is physically repressed by the State police.
On Twitter, other social networks, and in and out of the island, many activists have been demanding the release of this Cuban musician.
Audio of Barbara Arzuaga, Angel Yunier Remon’s mother (in Spanish):
April 10, 2013Posted by on
Details of dissident rapper and activist Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, best known as “Critico de Arte”, has been limited since his arrest last 26th of March, considering that the political police took various cell phones away from his family members when they raided his home and took him to prison along with other relatives and neighbors which joined in solidarity. However, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)- opposition group which Remon also belongs to- confirmed this Tuesday, April 9th, that the young musician is still detained and on hunger strike.
“It’s been 15 days since Yunier Remon has been on hunger strike in a police unit of Bayamo”, wrote Ferrer Garcia on Wednesday in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer). Another message recounts that on March 26th “Yunier Remon was beaten; while relatives and neighbors came out in his defense…they are now all accused of ‘attempt’”.
Jacqueline Garcia Jaenz, Lady in White and aunt of Angel Yunier, was one of the people attacked (in front of her underage daughter) and detained. She was released a couple of days later. Garcia also has her husband, Ariel Arzuaga Pena, behind bars for his peaceful opposition to the Cuban regime.
The music which Remon Arzuaga produces with his hip-hip group “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (‘The Unwanted Children’) is censured in Cuba, as is the music of many other independent artists, whether they be within rap or other genres, such as Primario y Julito, Los Aldeanos, Porno para Ricardo, Eskuadron Patriota, Omni-Zona Franca and many others.
Relatives and fellow dissidents have expressed worry for Remon’s situation and the other 3 citizens detained alongside him, speculating that he will be sentenced to various years in prison, considering that he is being accused of “attempt” and “resistance”.
“As always, the victims are being accused by the culprits…that is how tyrannies function”, expressed Ferrer Garcia in another Twitter message.
This Wednesday, April 10th, Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga has been detained and on hunger strike for 15 days.
“The political police fears the growing support and sympathy which this youth has been receiving from the population”, said Ferrer.
March 25, 2013Posted by on
Ángel Yunier Remón Arzuaga, dissident rapper best known as “Critico de Arte” from the Cuban hip-hop group “Los Hijos Que Nadie Quiso” (‘The Unwanted Children’), remains detained this Sunday, March 24th after a brutal arrest on Thursday of last week. Relatives and fellow activists did not know his whereabouts until this Sunday afternoon when his aunt, Lady in White Jaquelin Garcia spoke with his mother. Police officials had told the family that Remon was being held in the Instructional Provincial Unit of Bayamo and gave no clear information or date as to when he would be released. Regime authorities are trying to locate the printer Remon used to print out numerous pro-freedom pamphlets which he handed out last Thursday.
“Major Sanchez told Angel Yunier’s mother that he was in good condition, eating well, which we know is completely false“, said Jaquelin Garcia, “Angel suffers from gastritis and each time he is detained he tells us that he doesn’t eat because the guards go as far as to spit in his food“.
The same official (Sanchez) asked the rapper’s mother where the printer he used was. She refused to answer.
“That is State Security’s big concern“, said Garcia, “they told his mother that until they find the printer they would not release him. He had handed out about 500 pamphlets with pro-freedom messages last Thursday in a popular avenue of Bayamo“.
Angel Yunier Remon was violently arrested by various police agents that same Thursday, the 21st, when his aunt’s house was raided. The agents physically assaulted him, choked him, and even used tear gas against him.
On Saturday afternoon, former political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), a pro-democracy organization which Remon also belongs to, wrote in his Twitter account (@jdanielferrer) about the rapper, denouncing that “relatives and activists fear that Yunier Remon will end up sentenced to prison”.
“And without a doubt, Angel Yunier could very well end up jailed because of his distinguished activism”, he pointed out in another tweet.
For more information from Cuba, contact:
Jaquelin García – Cell Phone: +52-556-935