Members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) carried out a peaceful protest in front of the ‘Vista Hermosa’ neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba this January 1st, marking the first protest of the new year in that city. The dissidents, who were wearing white clothes and carrying signs which demanded “justice” and “freedom for all political prisoners”, were singing along to the notes of the song “Memorandum para un Tirano” (‘Memorandum for a Tyrant’), which was penned and originally performed by Cuban singer-songwriter Marisela Verena and later popularized by Willy Chirino (Chirino’s version is the one the activists are singing along to in the video).
The UNPACU, like countless other dissident pro-democracy organizations have chosen this form of protest to combat a dictatorship which responds with unmeasurable violence. This method of demonstrating non-comformity with the brutal system proves to the everyday population that dissidents are non-violent, but are very willing to take to the streets to demand justice, even if their lives are threatened by this choice. In addition, publicly singing a song like this constitutes yet another form of Resistance, for the music of both Chirino and Verena is prohibited on the island, due do the fact that both Cubans oppose the Castro dictatorship.
Here is the video of the demonstration, courtesy of the UNPACU:
(Later, the demonstrators marched through the streets of the town, singing the Cuban national anthem and raising their signs)
And a video of Willy Chirino in one of his most famous performances of “Memorandum for a Tyrant”, before a crowd of Cuban rafters in Panama. The concert took place in 1994, right in the midst of the “rafter crisis”, where thousands of Cubans were fleeing the island on raft, many times resulting in death: