Fighting for Freedom of Music in Cuba

At, Kristina Funkeson reviews the documentary film Cuba Rebelion!, which chronicles the underground music scene that has been thriving in Cuba in recent years, despite the government’s disapproval.

To get accepted by the state owned musical companies the groups need approval by the Cultural Ministry. One of the refused groups isQva Libre. Despite being one of the most ambitious and popular groups they are not signed at any record label.

Since the music played on Cuban radio stations mostly consists of traditional music, such as salsa, the alternative music scene is spread through word of mouth. The musicians witness about how music videos often are censored and that there is nothing to do about it.

“I’m fed up with it”, says Gorki Luis Águila Carrasco from Porno Para Ricardo in the film. He has spent more than four months in a maximum security prison without a trial. According to him, people are put into prison only “for making art which is not politically correct”. He will never forget the terrible conditions and how he suffered in jail.

Despite the persecution, Gorki has consistently refused to tone down his criticism of the Castro regime. As he noted in a interview last year, police came into his band’s rehearsal space and arrested him for “pre-criminal behavior.” Luckily, his case got substantial international attention, which put pressure on the regime. That helped get him released, something that Gorki described as unprecedented. The video of the full interview is below (disclosure: I translated for the subtitles).