“People came out to complain in Cuba because the future can’t be worse than what they live; the regime took everything out of them, even their fear, ”says Cuban clarinetist, saxophonist and composer Paquito D’Rivera in a telephone conversation with Clarion from New Jersey.
Critic of the Cuban regime, Paquito D’Rivera, who applied for asylum in the United States in May 1980He wondered: “Did the regime kill five people in ten days and imprison many others, and do they want to blame the North American embargo for this atrocity? It is incredible but it is a sign of the lack of a way out that communism faces on my island ”.
For the artist, there are many years of hunger and fear that his compatriots have lived through, but a clear feeling of rebellion has begun to emerge. regime that feels threatened by social media.
Paquito D’Rivera is happy that other Cuban musicians have started to talk about the situation in their country.
The value of networks
“Today, the main threat of Castroism are social networks; now we can see what happens on the island and censorship cannot always silence it. I am not aware of how this social outbreak was born, but through the networks we learned the scope of the Homeland and Life movement, “he added.
“I found out through the networks, which was the first thing they disconnected; they feared that this might happen; first they said it was a mode of penetration, then they had to release something and you could go to a park and at certain times you could connect and then they ended up releasing it. “
“How can they justify arrests, beatings and even deaths from savage repression and hold the embargo responsible for this situation? The communist system does not work and is not current,” says the musician.
For Paquitp D’Rivera, there is still no leader of the social movements in Cuna, but he has an idea who it could be. AP Photo
Statements by other Cuban musicians
Regarding the statements of artists such as Pablo Milanés, Chucho Valdés or the musicians of the legendary Los Van Van orchestra, Paquito noticed all the years of submission that Cubans experienced.
“There have been 62 years of fear in Cuba and it is not easy to overcome it. So we find that there are statements that may seem lukewarm but they have done enough. It is not easy to face this situation; there have been deaths from the repression. Cuba is subjugated by terror and hunger, fear and control of food; the demonstrations are a tremendous demonstration that even fear has been taken out of him ”, he adds.
Pablo Milanés, a long-time ally of the regime, began to raise his voice about the situation in Cuba, Photo EFE
Both Milanés and the Van Van surprised the saxophonist and recalled: “When the revolution was imposed, Milanés was in a group called the Quartet of the King, but not of the King of Timbal, Tito Puente or the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. It was about Cristo Rey and ended up in the hands of the UNMAP (Military Production Aid Unit) in a concentration camp and came out with his tremendous talent singing in favor of the regime; he sang to his executioners and now yes, he declared against the regime”.
For their part, Los Van Van from their page claim for greater freedoms, such as Chucho Valdés, who resides in Spain, and also declared in favor of greater freedom for Cubans. “Chucho is a little scared by his declarations of demand for freedom because he has several children and a part of his family in Cuba. He is also concerned about the lack of medicines. He told me ‘Look, they still treat Cuba as a medical power when everything is missing, absolutely everything. It is very sad'”.
The uncertain future
The Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés, who lives in Spain, has family in Cuba and fears for them. Photo EFE / Quique García
For Paquito, the population has reached a point of no return. “I don’t know how the situation in Cuba will continue; it was spontaneous and there is still no leader. The people who have risen up are not organizing. There is an artist, Tania Brughera, who could well lead this claim for freedom. She lives a bit in the United States and when she wants to look for trouble, she travels to Cuba. But it won’t be the same as before because people have already tasted the taste of freedom, to speak and to rebel. Cuba will continue to be an economic disaster, there is no policy that suggests that the situation will improve ”.
And he continues: “In Cuba there is no one to save anyone; the future cannot be worse than what they are living; They have taken everything away from him, even his fear. Unfortunately, for Latin American coffee shop leftistsCuba is a kind of Disneyland, where the obvious and endless tragedy that its people are experiencing matters little to those tourists of foreign revolutions who prefer to blame, like a catchphrase, on American imperialism ”.
Paquito D’Rivera escaped from the Cuban regime during a tour of the Irakere group. “It was on May 5, 1980: in those days some 11,000 people entered the Peruvian embassy requesting asylum, which later became the Mariel (huge exodus of Cubans to Miami and in which his brother Enrique escaped). At that time they were fixing Irakere’s instruments that were broken and for that reason we had been without playing for a while; We flew to Madrid and from there we traveled to Sweden but I stayed in Spain. “
Paquito D’Rivera supports the Cuban movement Patria y Vida. Photo Clarín Archive
“I remember that I was very nervous and I let everyone get on the plane and when I was momentarily alone I left and asked for asylum in the United States. I spent six months in Madrid until they granted it to me. Many Argentine and Uruguayan musicians helped me that they found me a job in a jazz club called Tabas and when I arrived in New York, I was welcomed by Dizzy Gillespie and others, who helped me to carry out my career ”.
In relation to his artistic activity, as a result of the pandemic Paquito had to suspend a number of activities, such as the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the International Festival of Punta del Este.
“On the other hand, I wrote an interesting piece for soloist horn, jazz trio and orchestra, commissioned by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, to be premiered in 2020 by the extraordinary jazz horn player, of the few there are, Chis Komer , but so far we are waiting for a release date, “he says.
Although the absence of performances gave him time for his composition task. “Precisely, I composed a piece entitled African tales, for clarinet, bass and cello and these Barcelona Fantasies, which the spectacular Barcelona Clarinet Players commissioned me for their next album, all with my music, “added Paquito, who has just returned from his first post-pandemic flight, from participating with the excellent Alicante Symphony Orchestra, in Spain, in a tribute to the music of the ineffable Chick Corea, with arrangements by the Argentine pianist Emilio Solla.