Culture for a group of the chosen ones

tras_la_verja1-copyWe were going to spend Reinaldo’s birthday listening to the songs of Pedro Luís Ferrar at a concert titled “Velorio” at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Vedado.  But it happened that the culture police didn’t let us enter, using their bodies like a barricade between the door and the seating area.  They accused us of wanting to organize a supposed provocation there even though, for us, they and the official television cameras they’d called to film us provoked the major commotion.  I believe these anxious boys of State Security are watching a lot of Saturday movies, since our plan was rather familiar—we even took our son—and consisted of listening to the songs of the well-known musician and then dropping in at a friend’s house.

At the Museum entry a real repudiation meeting* was waiting for us, all it lacked to be complete was the eggs and the blows.  A man who didn’t identify himself—continuing the style of not showing one’s face—yelled at me that I wanted “to destroy Cuban culture” and that that space was “only for the people.”  It seems that what happened at Tania Bruguera’s performance has rubbed the nerves raw among the bureaucrats who saw the spectacle.  They fear we’ve returned to seize the microphones, as if it weren’t better to put a loudspeaker on every corner for everyone who wants to say something.  I must point out that many of those who witnessed this abuse of institutional power avoided greeting us, in view of the huge operation surrounding the place.  Nevertheless others, whose names I withhold to protect them, showed solidarity and weren’t afraid of being seen with us.

We stayed outside the railings and in the patio a strange audience full of retirees and men with military haircuts seemed not to know the songs of Pedro Luís to be able to hum along.  Some friends, among them Claudia, came to show solidarity with our forced “exile” and we stayed outside until the last chord was played.  When all the musical instruments were in their cases and the troubadour came out he was surprised by what had happened and said he would speak to the vice-minister about it.  We didn’t want to disabuse him of the idea, but I don’t think this high-ranking official could do anything to prevent the actions of a repressive body which is superior to him and of which he’s perhaps even a part.

Since I know they read my blog—all those who prevented me from going inside the railing seemed to know me—I want to tell them that they are not going to force me to withdraw into my house.  I do not think I’ll stop going to concerts, clubs, cultural or humorous events.  I’m a cultured person, even though they want to reserve such an appellation for a group of ideologically-screened chosen ones.  They will have to stand guard in the doors of every theater, club and music room.  I could show up at any of them.  Who knows if I might climb to the dais and take the microphone?
Translator’s note:
Repudiation meetings.  Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board describes these activities as follows: Acts of repudiation (actos de repudio) are another form of harassment that dissidents in Cuba may face. Amnesty International describes these as “meetings or demonstrations organized by government officials or mass organizations supporting the government at which the person or persons concerned are subjected to criticism and abuse, sometimes physical, because of their so-called `counter-revolutionary’ views or activities”.  The civilian groups that carry out the acts of repudiation are commonly referred to as Rapid Response Brigades and are thought to be initiated by authorities.


10 thoughts on “Culture for a group of the chosen ones

  1. The culture of Cuba is a mixture of different, often contrasting influences. People from Europe, Africa and North America stays here.The Cuban revolution has also greatly affected the Cuban culture. The music of Cuba , including the instruments and the dances is mostly of European and African origin.

  2. I’ve heard of similar conincidence’s happening here.Congratulation’s Yoani,it seem’s that now you are considered a threat ;-) although i think that came at a price considering the fact that your cultural pleasure’s will be the cost.

  3. I just send an e-mail to Jeff Franks the reporter who wrote this article, so he can read this blog and see exactly how the secret policy operates. His e-mail address is:

  4. You truly inspire me.
    Instead of fleeing the island, you stay and blog…at great peril to yourself and your family.
    You have real courage.
    I was once tailed by the Cuban secret police in Cienfuegos.
    They are intimidating and they thrive from it!
    Cuba’s continued police state saddens and angers me.

  5. Very impressive, but I can’t understand one phrase. Here it comes:

    “I must point out that many of those who witnessed this abuse of institutional power avoided greeting us, in view of the huge operation surrounding the place. Nevertheless others, whose names I withhold to protect them, showed solidarity and weren’t afraid of being seen with us.”

    If they were seen with Yoani, why is Yoani afraid to mention their names, as they are now well khown – she says, there were lots of agents there who certanly saw these people.

    Anyway, my best wishes and I hope one day people in Cuba will be able to do what they want.


    REUTERS: New York Philharmonic looks at possible Cuba tour

    HAVANA (Reuters) – The head of the New York Philharmonic met with Cuban officials and toured facilities in Havana on Saturday ahead of a possible visit to the communist-led island by the orchestra later this year.
    Orchestra president Zarin Mehta told Reuters he was encouraged by what he saw and heard on the island and noted that Cubans appeared to appreciate classical music. But he said a final decision on the proposed concert trip still lay ahead.

  7. Government bullies getting scared and hiding their faces from a few courageous citizens wishing to attend a concert? This doesn’t bid well for the regime. These agents don’t want to show their faces, knowing that changes will be coming soon and with it justice, should they commit crimes against honest citizens.

    The fact is that by eliminating Christmas, yearly carnivals, banning public acts of religion for many years, overturning the customary diet that Cubans enjoyed since colonial days, the dynasty has overturned Cuban culture on it’s head. This is not to mention the introduction of strange customs and ideologies from far away places, totally irrelevant to the well being of the island and its people.

  8. Some are still waiting for “the night of the long Knives” and then those who take part in repudiation will be at the receiving end.
    Unfortunately it is written, “without the shedding of Blood there is no remission of Sins”
    The regime knows it is on shaky ground right now , with Iran, Venezuela ,Honduras and many nations protesting against dictators they know is a matter of time, for things to go that way in the enslaved Island.

  9. Those so called “repudiation meetings” have included:

    1-Hitting people with sticks of wood, or rubber, or metalic, etc.

    2-Throw eggs (if they are frozen the better), stones, anything that can be launched to injure.

    3-Any kind of provocation to justifiy a minimal reaction,then the repudiated can be accused and can go to jail.


    It is just one more barbaric way from that cruel, nasty, abusive and oppresive regime that has been bullied the island for more than 50 years, by work and grace of the Castro brothers and their mafia banda!!!!!!!!!!!!


  10. This is freedom of expression Cuban style.

    Please take note, those who are against tumbling down similar types of existing regimes like Zelaya, Chávez, Evo, Ortega and others going in the same direction.

    If you are so naive as to think that your voice will be heard, all you have to do is read the above and extract the message.

    Sometimes is very difficult to understand our cry if you have not live it like we have.

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