Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cuban Singer Silvio Rodriguez’ “Discoveries”

Cuban Singer Silvio Rodriguez' "Discoveries"
June 24, 2014
Haroldo Dilla Alonso

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago, singer-songwriter Silvio Rodriguez
angered that very small part of Cuba's population with access to the
Internet. This happened when, following a concert held at a small town
in Cuba's eastern end, the musician was interviewed by the official
government web-site Cubadebate.

During the interview, Rodriguez showed a certain degree of
disillusionment with the outcome of what both the interviewer and
interviewee agreed to call "communism." More importantly, he made a
chilling confession: "I've realized," he said, "that people are screwed,
really screwed…" He added: "a whole lot more screwed than I thought,"
before mentioning another empirical discovery: "my life is far more
comfortable than that of the immense majority of Cubans."

What's striking about these statements is that Silvio Rodriguez has
always lived in Cuba, and that he has resided on the island for the past
twenty years. In the course of these two decades, Cuba's population has
become alarmingly impoverished, individual consumption has dwindled and
been transformed into a daily struggle and social services have
degenerated to truly regrettable levels. And only now does he discover,
to his surprise, that "people are screwed."

I must point out that, ten years ago, Silvio Rodriguez himself publicly
supported the Cuban government's repression of those who were "screwed"
and called for a system that offered them brighter prospects, including
the execution, without due process, of three young black men who had
hijacked a ferry in order to emigrate to the United States.

Silvio Rodriguez' statements are an illustration of the perversities
that emerge from a system that has not completed its transition to
capitalism and of the frivolous disappointment of an elite that imagined
it would transform the world and ended up discovering it had merely
staged a burlesque show for a public that had been gagged.

These disparaging public declarations have become common among the
post-revolutionary elite, interested in publicizing an account of things
in which it appears as the baby we should keep and the rest as the dirty
bath water we ought to throw out.

A few years ago, when the Cuban president announced the implementation
of his economic "reforms," no few miserable public officials spoke of
the devastated Cuban population as a society of vulgar children who
simply opened their mouths and waited for the State to spoon-feed them.
Only a few weeks ago, we learned of another sudden outburst, that of
Alfredo Guevara, a learned official and patron of the arts who, in his
last days, complained of a people he considered unworthy of the
government's efforts.

What makes Silvio Rodriguez different from Alfredo Guevara – perhaps
because he does not suspect that the world he knew is dying (a common
type of blindness among intellectuals) – is that he believes we should
continue to move forward: "it's likely a great part of the population
will have to endure many hardships, hard work, problems and shortages,
on top of the many hardships, hard work, problems and shortages we've
had for many years." That is to say, Silvio Rodriguez is calling on
Cubans to make new sacrifices.

Silvio Rodriguez has in fact always been calling on others to make
sacrifices. He did it when he was starting out as an artist and he was
yet another common Cuban committed to his people, something that made
his work authentic and believable.

Today, he is no longer a common Cuban, nor is he believable, because
Silvio Rodriguez is an intellectual of the elite, and this – as the
musician has just discovered – allows him to maintain a safe distance
from the daily struggle for survival of those folk that, according to
him, are "screwed, very screwed." Without a doubt, these people will be
even more screwed – and distant from the folk singer that once captured
their imagination – when the establishment of an authoritarian form of
capitalism has been achieved.

Source: Cuban Singer Silvio Rodriguez' "Discoveries" - Havana

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