- Atahualpa Amerise @atareports
- BBC News World
Pablo Milanés, who died this Tuesday in Madrid at the age of 79, was a cultural reference point for the Cuban socialist system and the Latin American left.
The founder of Nueva Trova, along with Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola, devoted part of his musical repertoire to the ideas unleashed by the Fidel Castro-led revolution in 1959.
However, although the Castro regime continues to this day, the support of one of the reference artists has gradually decreased.
Over the years, Milanés began to describe the island’s government as «oppressive». claimed that socialism was a «failure» and called for a transition from the existing one-party system to democracy.
A very liberal revolutionary
Prominent in television shows and vocal groups as a child, Milanés saw the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in her early teens.
As the son of a soldier and a tailor, after overthrowing the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship (1952-59), like many young people of the period, he turned to the ideals of humanism and social justice proposed by the new regime.
«Origin What Cuba means in 59 for the world. «I was 15 then, and when I discovered the social reality of Latin America, I became a revolutionary,» he said.
In the 1960s, marked by the intensification of the Cold War between the USA and the USSR, Cuba adopted the Soviet model and with it its rigid cultural policies.
«Pablito was part of those who defended the authenticity of the Cuban Revolution, this authenticity came into question after the alliance with the Soviet Union. marked the end of critical thinking‘, Cuban political scientist Carlos Alzugaray explains to BBC Mundo.
«Even though they supported the revolution, these people looked at things differently, they were more libertarian, focused on the rights of individuals,» he says.
Locked in a labor camp
So, one day in 1966, agents of authority appeared at Pablo Milanés’ home.
«They deceived me by saying, ‘You have been selected for military service.’ I was also selected. to send me to a concentration camp“She remembered the singer in a 2020 documentary about her figure.
He was one of tens of thousands of youth sent to the Military Production Assistance Units (UMAP), forced labor camps where homosexuals, religious people, artists, and rebellious intellectuals are imprisoned; in short, those deemed «vile» in Milanés’ own words.
The singer recalled the «brutal» phase of the UMAP, from which she fled, soon to be arrested again, during which she was mistreated and forced to work tirelessly from morning to night.
Years later, he repeatedly criticized the Cuban government. nonon-stop askedexcuse me For this.
The most revolutionary stage
In any case, after his release, Pablo Milanés found himself not only as the singer and founder of Nueva Trova, but also as One of the main voices of the Latin American left movement Sponsor and defender of the Fidel Castro regime.
«Bolivar threw a shining star with Marti / Fidel honored him / To walk this land«, composed the famous piece «Song for the Latin American Union», which toured the continent in 1976.
Right-wing military dictatorships in countries like Chile, Argentina or Uruguay marked the 1970s in Latin America. Therefore, leftist ideas referring to Cuba fascinated a large part of the youth of the region.
Many listened to Milanés, Silvio Rodríguez and other Nueva Trova singers. they dedicated part of their music and they efforts to advance socialismthey identified themselves as references to the so-called «protest song».
Bearing in mind that many of his songs talk about love and only a minority speak of political commitment, the next decade of the 1980s was a year of growth and consolidation for Pablo, not only as an artist but also as an artist. Cultural icon of the Cuban cause.
«It’ll be better to sink into the sea / Before I betray the lived glory«, sang in the song «When I Found You» (1989), a cult song for the revolutionaries of the time on the island.
The 1990s were a turbulent time for Cuba, which, after the collapse of its main patron, the Soviet Union, went into a deep economic and, for many, existential crisis known as the Special Era.
Although at the beginning of the decade it was Member of the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament) Milanés soon began voicing his differences with the regime.
The artist said, «I am the banner of the revolution, not the government. If the revolution gets stuck, it is necessary to fight against the orthodox, reactionary ideas that started it.» first critical remarks
He later explained his change of position, which surprised many: «ANDIn 1992 I was convinced that the Cuban system had definitely failed. And I reported it.»
«As a revolutionary I was disappointed because they insisted on going with a problem that didn’t work until now.»
He continued to criticize the Cuban government after the Special Era, but never ceased to consider himself a leftist, and even in 2006 sent a message of loyalty to the recovered Fidel Castro (who eventually recovered and would not die for another ten years).
«I promise to represent you and the Cuban people as this moment deserves: with unity and courage in the face of any threat or provocation. Hug, Pablo Milanés,» he wrote to the leader, according to the official Granma newspaper.
Over the next decade, the artist expressed admiration for more moderate left-wing leaders in the region, such as former Uruguayan president José Mújica.
It is also the winner of two Latin Grammy awards for best singer-songwriter album (2006) and musical excellence (2015). the tone was hardening in his criticism of the Cuban authorities.
«Stalinism still in forceand repression hinders street protests; «The strike is impossible because there are no independent unions and the Cuban press is either silent or complicit,» he said.
The Cuban government did not retaliate against him – as did the frequent entry and exit bans on other critical voices – and Milanés, who spent his last years in Madrid, frequently visited Havana, where he gave his last concert last June. on the island.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel even dedicated an emotional obituary to him.
According to political scientist Carlos Alzugaray, Pablo Milanés is «a very important figure for Cubans and the government, although some of the things he said offended him, you have no choice but to hug him«.
You can now receive notifications from BBC Mundo. Download and activate the new version of our app so you don’t miss our best content.
#Pablo #Milanés #voice #Cuban #Revolution #frontal #critic #Castro #regime