Side by Side Translation
The file below was formatted by our patron, Derek, in order to make it easier to compare the Spanish conversation with the English translation we provided. Thanks, Derek!
Full English Translation Text
[00:00:10.140] - Fryda
[00:00:10.910] - Carmen
[00:00:11.880] - Fryda
Today we have an episode with Asiel Babastro
[00:00:17.710] - Carmen
Asiel is the Director of the music video Patria y Vida, which we can't shut up about. And he was kind enough to sit down with us and give us the inside scoop over his personal journey towards becoming a director, most importantly towards working with these guys gente de zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel y el Funky, and Yotuel. The actual music video if you have not watched it we urge you to go to youtube and watch it but it sort of marries a lot of clips sourced from social media about current events, specifically the San Isidro Movement, which is at the forefront of Cuban news internationally these days.
[00:00:53.560] - Carmen
And it's a really important piece as an anthem for the people of Cuba who are fighting for change.
[00:01:02.350] - Fryda
Those of you that only speak English and got really excited about this interview, we're hoping you're still able to follow along. If you're an English speaking listener and you feel somewhat comfortable with Spanish, we are going to offer up a Spanish transcript for this entire conversation so you could read while you listen to us. Some of our listeners who do not know any Spanish, we are also going to translate this to English, so if you'd like some light reading
[00:01:33.960] - Fryda
[00:01:34.850] - Carmen
[00:01:36.170] - Fryda
Well, for those of you who are listening for the first time, we are teikirisi. And we are a podcast celebrating all aspects of Cuban-American community and life. And today we have an interview with Asiel Babastro, the director of Patria y Vida, and we begin this interview with something very musical, no Carmen?
[00:02:01.850] - Carmen
Very musical, very special. Today we are sitting here with Asiel, who is going to debut a song for us. It's a very exciting song called “Y Me Fui.”
[00:02:16.070] - Asiel
And I left
Like the sun at dusk
As if this song was to leave
Like a bird dying of ___
And I returned with the only desire to love
With the same illusion of falling
With the fires that bakes the abyss and
I found myself
with songs I never wrote
and poems I never sang
prayers to the God of myself
and faith is a medium stretch of sea
that stabs a country by the feet
and hides from all fears.
there are cities that cry without light
and drizzles loaded with yesterday
there are absences in the cemeteries
and it's shut up, smile when you want to cry correct the mistakes
then turn them off to all the moons.
And the end.
That devours the beginning of God
relentless end I wish
and I came back as if this song is going to run away.
That's the way it goes,
[00:04:23.730] - Fryda
Wow, what a special song and share with us that story, those feelings of leaving a place and really a topic that we think has a lot to do with what we're going to talk about today.
[00:04:46.150] - Asiel
Hi, I'm fine, I'm happy to be here with you, to see you, to meet you, to meet this wonderful synergy that has formed in the run-up to this, right? I mean before recording you always get to a show and everything is cold, no? And then this has been like the opposite, we are going to go to a show and everything and there has been a warmth.
[00:05:12.040] - Carmen
It's very nice to share. Here I am underneath the Fryda area inside a closet. So you know how it is. A little informal here, but doing what we can with what we have, but well, let's cut to what everyone wants to know tell us a little bit about Patria y Vida.
[00:05:29.110] - Asiel
Patria y Vida -- I think that a second way in which Yotuel and I got closer to each other after we had made Amame Como Soy Yo. Amame Como Soy Yo, was a video that also brought a lot of joy, right? And many important steps for my career, it was included by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 15 most interesting videos of 2020. It was also in the official selection of BOGOSHORTS film festival, which is one of the most important festivals of short films in Colombia and in Latin America. And that began to return confidence, not on my work besides that he and I had worked on other occasions.
[00:06:18.300] - Asiel
Already when I was conceiving Patria y Vida, it had been a while since he had told me that even before making the song “I'm making a song that is with you, that I don't want anyone else to touch it but you, I know that you are the one who is going to put the swing that it needs” I don't know what.. And from there, well, we started to put it together. Gente de Zona wasn't there yet, well, then Gente de Zona Descmer and Maykel Osorbo and el Funky came in, and from there, I started to put together the video, first I made a video that was totally different from the one you saw there, a video that never came out. And then I said, I want you to be the ones to tell the public that.
[00:07:08.180] - Asiel
That will connect more people because they are going to see them, they will feel that they are telling the truth, and it will be a good time for them to understand, that it is important to talk about it. And that they see them in the eyes when they say it, and for example and I proposed it to Gente de Zona who normally wear sunglasses, that they should take them off. That this is the truth, even there you can see Alexander's eyes quite wet because the song has a tremendous transmission.
[00:07:38.850] - Asiel
When we filmed all that here I created some guidelines I made a kind of storyboard for a person in Cuba who is a filmmaker and Angelo Troya who was the one who filmed the scenes there. I called him I said, “bro do this for me”. They had to hide to film it, it was tremendous, but well, we got those images with the standard of quality we struggled with everything that meant that amount of gigs send it from Cuba that everyone knows how the internet is.
[00:08:08.050] - Asiel
That's what I got here, we finished editing the video.
[00:08:12.230] - Asiel
I included it these graphic parts of the podium burning. It’s like that image where we always saw Fidel and where did that socialist ideology and all that indoctrination come from
[00:08:23.070] - Asiel
And the Marchington, how controversial it has been in the diaspora and that for example they dedicated a space in a news program saying that the video included an annexationist image but they didn't dare to put the end where at the end the image of Marti is restored and Washington is no longer seen. But the image with which they open the video is Marti burning himself and letting us see half of Washington and it is not Marti it is a fragment of a Cuban bill, where is Marti and we are talking about the value. Of how many Martis is worth one Washington in Cuba today.
[00:09:02.420] - Asiel
And from there, well, I began to create that whole system of small iconography, all those little phrases, those little visual metaphors. And as a whole well, that Patria y Vida is an explosion of truth in high contrast without any dispersion - the artists speaking to the camera from an angle and a soft light that lets you see them without contrasting them too much so that you can really read them. I believe that in the audiovisual in the general sense there are two things - what it is in itself, like that magnificent phrase of Kant that says one thing is one thing, not what is said about it. And it is also then the setting, how you put it. It is like the theater, I mean you can talk about a super hackneyed topic, but in the staging in how you make that story original is how you say it. That “how” is what I think is Patria y Vida, no?
[00:10:00.770] - Carmen
Being an artist is to be the interpreter of what is what is going on around you of what you feel of what you feel of is to interpret reality. Well, Asiel, will you excuse us please, because our Spanish is the language of the house. What are the things that one has to say in Spanish? Nothing, that mami I'm going to do the dishes, mami I want rice with fried eggs. Intellectual things, never!
[00:10:33.230] - Asiel
Yeah, right, right? That's why I realized. I have a thing, no I have the same thing as a poet that I have as a slushie vendor in Cuba, and I usually mix words that are a bit messed up with very tawdry things, which I also love because language is a living muscle and it has to be constantly exercising and moving through everything that language has to offer and there are 20,000 years of language, it has to evolve.
[00:11:05.940] - Fryda
Cuban is another language, speaking Cuban is different from speaking Spanish.
[00:11:12.620] - Asiel
Also, the Cuban language is changing a lot, I mean it's very, very trending now, for example the qualifier, which before could be... I have a friend who is from Las Tunas, he always uses the word to say "Hey, that's good, that has tremendous swing. That's cool, he says “how butin is that?” Butin butin. That's butin. So it is something that is used, but above all it is used towards the East and it was trending for a while, what happens is that the East of the country is a little slower to assimilate things and so it is not there.
[00:11:56.230] - Asiel
The language doesn't change so much there, for example a partner “mi consorte, mi ecobio” says mi nauhe, Nauhe is like we use “asere.” Exactly “nauhe come here” and “how is the thing nauhe” like “how are you nauhe?” Then they always... in the language in which they sing... because we say that they speak singing because they speak like that singing is very beautiful. The people of Granma y Bayamo, and go speak beautifully that chant. Towards Santiago de Cuba and Oriente is a little more like the Dominican Republic for example is a different type, but it is said that they speak in the note “La” they sing it in the major then there everyone speaks “Que lo que, mijo!” osea, my grandmother
[00:12:53.540] - Fryda
[00:12:53.860] - Asiel
And that's the Oriente that's Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, that's how they speak. So my grandmother my grandmother came from Puerto Rico when she was 13 years old to Cuba but she settled in Guantánamo. And then I remember when I went on vacation to Guantánamo to my grandmother's house, she always told me, like to scold me to tell me “what's wrong? what are you doing? “Que lo que mijo? Que lo que?”
[00:13:24.860] - Asiel
And she would also tell me when I would tell her a white lie or something like that she would tell me, don't “No me enbrome! No me enbrome” What is like “don't tell me a lie,” So how in a country like Cuba which is not so big in one extreme they speak one way and in the East of the country they speak another way completely different. It is very nice. And anyway that way that that language balances out.. for example in the center of the country Guantanamo, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Spanish is spoken very well, say how are the Colombians in Latin America are the Camagüeyanos in Cuba. O sea los Camagüeyanos en Cuba even use tenses and modes that are old “Donde estuvistes, estais” but you know that that is used more towards Spain and in some countries is used vosotros but actually in Camagüey are also used in Camagüey say vos, say “vos qurerés.” like that.
[00:14:22.230] - Asiel
So, my teachers of painting and sculpture will make me Camagüeyano. And it always stood out to me that I said “that these people use the Spanish language well.”
There is a person that you have to read fundamentally, which is Don Fernando Ortiz. Fernando Ortiz I think he is one of the anthropologists who has the most studies on the formation of the nation about the Cuban nationhood and especially the black culture in Cuba and what it represented and what it means for the Cuban culture. In the end we are one, rather, I think that for example of the only things that are really alive in Cuba as a movement and as well as the Afro-Cuban religions is the rumba the rumba and guaguancó are a genuine expression that this is alive, that this culture is an important part of us.
[00:15:21.740] - Asiel
My mother knew only a few nursery rhymes and sang boleros to me. It was so sweet. Then I was always a child who liked to be sang to and I liked my mother's voice a lot. it was a beautiful voice and from then on it was like a crossover through all those expressions. I connected a lot with I like to draw and paint and then I was very interested in music. I went to study classical guitar and that's when you connect with certain artistic environments. And that's also when I saw my first movie that changed my life and that impressed me a lot, it was a movie where a man tried to play the Rachmaninoff Concert Number Three. And from there I was 10 years old, I was in fifth grade, from then on that’s my favorite composer, for example, the 20th century.
[00:16:13.640] - Asiel
Rachmaninoff is brutal and I studied painting, I was at the academy and from then on, at that time, I started to watch very serious films. That is, Kieslowski Dogme 95, almost all of Dogme 95, Goddard. And I had a video rental house near my house where you could rent VHS tapes. And a neighbor of mine, he lent me those tapes on a Saturday night and I rented about 20 films. He made me a box of 20 films and I took advantage of that day because I had more time to return them the next day, also on Sunday in the middle of the day, and then I could come back on Monday before 5:00:00 and I took advantage of the early hours of Saturday morning and watched as many movies as I could.
[00:17:13.290] - Asiel
All all all all the movies until well in my house they had to watch TV something else, but as long as they let me I tried to watch it. I think that was shaping me a little bit, my state. I also wrote poetry, published some magazines and also wrote some short stories that were published in an anthology called "Dieta Balanceada" by Avila Editions from my province. And I started with audiovisuals with a little camera that they lent me, I made a bad documentary that they told me was bad, I didn't like that they told me that and I said “I'm going to prove to him that I don't do bad things and from then on because I didn't take it seriously and I live badly from that.”
[00:17:57.590] - Carmen
But well, we know that you did a very important work with the Orishas and later you also did Patria y Vida. How did you get to that point intellectually and emotionally?
[00:18:13.860] - Asiel
So very soon after I arrived in the US, I made the video for Ámame Como Soy Yo by Orishas, Beatriz Luengo and Ana Malikian. Then things began to change. No? Of course it was a political conditioning that put me in a radical point. One has to be where his work is. I had to face what is perhaps to saying louder what before I said quietly. Because it’s not even that I changed my position, much less, here I consolidated a truth that I suspected of some things, there were others that I had clear. And my position was never for the system. But on the contrary, I always referred to Cuba as “the regime” while inside. But well, this is where I found the word dictatorship and where I really understood that I would see it because in Cuba I didn't even think about it, I wasn't very clear about it, I was even afraid to say it.
[00:19:13.350] - Asiel
It seems to me a powerful thing because what I knew as a dictatorship in Cuba. That you say to you well that dictatorship that of Pinochet of, Batista and you always associate that to something horrible horrible horrible horrible. And it is not that Cuba is not sometimes I said when I was there that it was like a “dictablanda” instead of a dictatorship. But also because I ignored some things that later I discovered. For example, I didn't know for sure about the Che’s shootings in la Cabaña, of the dissidents, I didn't know a lot of things that now I know very clearly, that I know they were so. I have heard testimonies of people who were there and the truth is that it is brutal because you are inside a bubble, people can't imagine what it is like to be inside Cuba and what information you really have access to. People have access to very little information.
[00:20:13.890] - Asiel
No one can imagine that there is more than 30% of the population that does not even have a cell phone. So information cannot circulate, much less a computer and much less access to that information to be able to understand. Iindependently of that, add that to the terror in which the government has made you live and you suspect these things, and you do not dare to talk about things that are compromising to because you have to take care of a job, it is really very complicated, Cuba.
[00:20:45.890] - Asiel
It's a place that is designed not to move forward.
[00:20:49.260] - Carmen
And well Gente de Zona as artists themselves had their beginnings in Cuba and through their work they ended up leaving Cuba and I imagine that that decision was informed a little bit by those problems because
[00:21:02.420] - Asiel
Reggaeton was banned in Cuba. So... Then you know what the package is...
[00:21:10.340] - Fryda
El Paquete Semanal?
[00:21:10.510] - Asiel
Yes! The weekly package, that, the distribution. All these people became famous, a lot of them, thanks to the package thanks to the alternative promotion. These people do not get played on the radio, they are not put on the radio. So what happens? Gente de Zona, being as popular as they are as founders of reggaeton, in a moment where the reggaeton had its boom, but for example Randy, Jacob ,and Alexander that was was Gente de Zona at first, they came from rap, that were done in all the clandestine places. That many times they didn't even let them do it [make music] because almost all of them were contestary. Those people come from there. Then to work in Cuba you need a company, to have a musician's papers and an audition with the Institution of Music in Cuba.
[00:22:00.870] - Asiel
So many of these people bought the slips because they were not even given them. Because they were reggaeton. Then when they became very popular in Cuba these people became the most popular reggaeton group in Cuba. Then they had a lot of foreign businessman interested in touring with them and it was convenient for the country because that is money. Cuba became a platform to bring popular musicians in a certain Latin community, I don't know what, cheap somehow at much more reasonable prices than musicians from other countries then suddenly they started touring a lot. But they started to become popular in the whole international community of Cubans in the whole Cuban diaspora. They came here to Miami to a concert, gave a concert in Europe, in Peru they became very famous in Peru. There is a lot of love for Cuban reggaeton. So to make a long story short, all these people starting popular.
[00:23:01.360] - Asiel
That gives you status. But it is still I had not generated it and it is not provided by the government. Now you know that living in Cuba, having status in Cuba being well there - having your car, your house, your tour and your papers, you don't want to make political comments and talk against it, right? Because that creates problems for you there. Problems. But serious problems, serious, serious problems. You avoid that at all costs when you know you have to go back to live there and when you have everything there you have things to lose. But look it’s things that nobody gave you, things that nobody from the government gave you that you earned, but the government takes them away from you as if they had given them to you.
So look at that, that caution is what the people who live there always try to have and not to lose their position. Because it has cost them effort, simply, add to that what all the popular artists, if a military man wants, or the boss, or the crab, or the other is interested in giving a concert with them to go up and sing with them, invite them to a place and they can't say no, because that also generates a problem for you.
[00:24:17.780] - Asiel
What are you going to do? You become a simulator. And that is what there is in Cuba, simulations. There are many people in Cuba who have even demonstrated against the Miami community who call them the mafia. The mafia, they call it the mafia, and it is so ingrained to the point that my mother called one day and said that “what I am afraid of is that the people of the mafia are going to kill you or get you in trouble with money,” so that you understand because that is what is in the minds of the people.
[00:24:52.120] - Fryda
In what world is it fair that artists are under so much pressure? Art is something creative and something expressive,
[00:25:01.730] - Asiel
Of course, but you have to start from a censorship of a self-censorship, it's a very very very very precarious situation. That is, you have to be very careful not to be disliked, and everyone knows what it means not to fit into a society that is designed to make you fit in or leave. So that you understand that the only options that a dissident who does not agree with the ideas of the government has, the only option is to leave and if you cannot leave because your social condition does not allow you to do so or you do not have that possibility because it is not easy to leave as a Cuban it is not like you are French and you do not agree with the government and you leave France.
[00:25:48.180] - Asiel
You have to take care of yourself and that's what it is, it's a sense of alertness.
[00:25:53.840] - Asiel
You're all the time in a complex jungle where you say “Well ah I'm brave but I can't mess with the lion,” why if you're a monkey or a little bird, are you going to mess with the lion? I mean it's not right and it's brave, and it's brave and there are crazy little birds, brave little birds, I wouldn't like to call them crazy.
[00:26:15.580] - Asiel
The first video I made that was censored was called Globalization. It was a video of a troubadour from Ciego de Avila. When I asked for the reasons why they had censored it, it was because I had used images of the Tiananmen man, which was a man who got in front of some war tanks in China's Tiananmen Square. Since China is communist and since that action is associated and has an anti-communist precedent and such, they decided to censor the video.
[00:26:50.380] - Asiel
And that's when I confronted it and I said “Damn.” But it was also a video that questioned political things, it was a pretty strong video and from there, well, my things started. I was branded as a dissident because I did I played trova in Morón, I was a troubadour for a while. I had, for example, I remember a song called "Banderas de Papel" (paper flags) that I criticized.. I had a verse that said “going back to the beginning of things, monuments of foolishness, waving posters and slogans marched by the ego crushing a paper homeland,” and that was a tremendous problem there.
[00:27:31.780] - Asiel
And from then on they called me from the state security. They asked me why I was doing that, that, that my family, that I don't know what. So they coerce you all the time. That was my first confrontation, I think, that censorship and that state.
[00:27:49.690] - Asiel
And then I started to make music videos, pop music and things like that, that of course don't have a political allegation and you don't have to be in that world. And I started to have a lot of success, I started to have nominations and awards in the Lucas. So, it was like a process that catapulted me to a better position in my development. That made me quite popular there in Cuba because I appeared many times in that program and did many television programs and so I became like a kind of well-known guy there and many artists called me, the most important artists in Cuba called me also. That led me to work with Isaac Delgado and Gilberto Santa Rosa when Gilberto Santa Rosa went to Havana and so I started to do recognized I also started the fashion project I have with my wife that is called Babastro x Yas, a brand that we have.
[00:28:50.540] - Asiel
We debuted in Fort Lauderdale that's why I came to the United States. Then I got caught up in the pandemic here. And luckily I found the truth in that period. But wanted to go back to Cuba. Later I understood that the country doesn't really offer anything I mean there is nothing to do. There is nothing that allows you to be more or grow about the country there are no showcases, there are no ways to produce film. There are no clients, there is no market, there is nothing. So what are you going to do?
[00:29:27.110] - Asiel
Very difficult. Honestly as there is no art traffic, as there is no movement in art. Then you have to wait for someone to come from... someone to tell you about someone, to bring you something… wait for the opportunities and as you can't grow either, you can't be more, you don't reach so many people, you don't work with big record labels because the jobs are through a very narrow filter. And there is a lot of corruption in Cuba and everything is like nepotism, and not even the best work in the things that have better results, but the ones that are better connected.
[00:30:06.030] - Asiel
So in the end that's it, isn't it? And but well I just understood that here I was passionate about living in Cuba. It was also recent and it was only four years ago that I had moved to Havana and Havana in a city that I like very much. Regardless of the political establishment and the unfortunate part, which is of course the majority in everything, but to me La Havana is city that I love. The sea, el Malecón those of some beautiful buildings, the vibration of a culture that is mine that I know well, in which I move that I liked a lot but well. I also like more the freedom. And I don't want to be a guy who is at the mercy of what’s available and not at my own mercy.
[00:30:49.560] - Asiel
If I am able to make a good film I am able to win an Oscar here. In Cuba? Impossible. Cuba is a ex-country. Then you can not live in an ex-country. Also you have to be pragmatic sometimes and ground yourself no? In reality. And especially in that.. one cannot speak as if one were immortal. In the end life is reduced (with luck) to 80 90 years and in best case scenarios to 100. I know that Cuba is not going to become the country that I long for it to be in life. But I would very much like it to be a country that is a reconciled nation, that the diaspora manages to find forgiveness from the hateful side. That the people who have grown up in the middle between the political extremes of both sides manage to reconcile those extremes and embrace each other.
Because I've always said that in the end all these things where… “No, because Cuba deserves,” “No, because the communists,” “No, because the people of Miami,” and because I don't know... that all those things... what they do is increase the distance of the embrace. Then add to that that society and that community and that amount of people from inside, because I don't believe that the people who already live abroad and who have found their prosperity outside and who have put down roots are going to return. when that happens, Cuba will be a country that has now become a nation that has found its truth from inside there with its own. And then your grandchildren, or your grandchildren will not find so much similarity or so much interest in what is interesting for you now with respect to Cuba.
[00:32:47.560] - Carmen
Well, involving a little bit more the issues that are highlighted in Patria Y Vida, tell us a little bit about the San Isidro movement and the role that racism has in Cuba in Cuban society and also specifically within the people who are leading that movement?
[00:33:03.780] - Asiel
In Cuba what is happening in San Isidro movement has to do with the status of those persons. Those people live in slums in Cuba in a poor place in Cuba. They are independent artists artists who have grown up with a level of education and surrounded by the typical behavior of that area which is precarious. Because in addition, they don’t have benefits within society so that's why sometimes you find these kinds of demonstrations with the black communities. Because what a chancedid they have? Because the system and society has been created and recreated in a racist environment that hasn't disappeared because even today there hasn't been an open discussion about the connotation and about what racism really is and the real harm that it does.
[00:33:53.670] - Asiel
There hasn't been enough of an incentive of knowledge either in school or anywhere to make them understand how dangerous that attitude is. So that's what it's all about.
[00:34:05.550] - Asiel
The San Isidro movement is not exactly the first demonstration in Cuba. But what happened is that it was in the era when Cuba was open to the internet and I think it was the most, the one that could be followed in real time, the one with the most information.
[00:34:30.390] - Fryda
That's it… all those videos
[00:34:30.530] - Asiel
And that also has to do with the mediatization that you're talking about, and of course it has to do with that reach. Before, during the acts of repudiation of the exact acts of repudiation of the 80s and 70s, nobody had, everybody didn't have a camera and a cell phone and something fast and being proactive in a certain situation. Many times those things were taboo. Who had a camera and being seen with a camera could also be a problem. So society didn't really know what happened there, so now it's just repeated.
[00:35:14.690] - Asiel
But with the luck of the internet and the fact that people can really see what's going on there, but also the media is so indoctrinated. There is so much indoctrination and the media are so biased, of course they are state-run and there is so much negative propaganda and discrediting campaigns that are used against these people that what is happening with the San Isidro movement is still happening. But for example UNPACU has been working since before that, the people who are on hunger strike.
[00:35:57.220] - Asiel
The Varela project was designed by Oswaldo Paya who was able to gather the signatures required by the Constitution in order to achieve a referendum and he managed to do so. And he had an accident, which I absolutely believe that the government absolutely… I think yes, because they are capable of anything and they are mafiosos. They are actually mafiosos. So all of that came, of course, in addition to a lot of work that has been done during all these years so that the people wake up and can see what is really happening in Cuba. I believe that this is a strong breeding ground, so that the San Isidro movement can find support.
[00:36:45.210] - Asiel
But notice that almost the total support of the San Isidro movement is outside from here everybody knows the country they came from everybody knows what Cuba is. So you can't judge and act as if you were in a different country, a country from which many of them left without speaking because they knew or avoided the same thing that those who are here now avoid it. I think that’s what it is. I think that’s what brought MSI those repercussions. It’s important. But it’s by people who… it’s not that it’s the best way, but it’s authentic. It comes from a situation of real status of what they are, of the situation that they have developed from their point of view which does not have to be the only one but it is a point of view. And that has brought a state of alarm and alert and change within Cuba. Because that generates a state of opinion that makes those who are going to leave go out and those who are not take care of themselves and the others stay as if denouncing the atrocities or the outrages but they do not want to lose the point of salvation if it were possible.
[00:38:12.930] - Fryda
As we know the reaction there has been to the San Isidro Movement and also to Patria Y Vida and also the message they have communicated which is not to have to choose between homeland and death, homeland or death.
[00:38:30.800] - Asiel
Of course because they talk about imperialism and they talk about domination and they talk about not agreeing with certain systems and the Mercenaries.
[00:38:41.840] - Asiel
I saw that the Yankees that I don't know what... But, for example, Cuba was a Soviet colony. Basically it was one more republic apart from the 15 republics that were part of the USSR . Cuba was one more Cuba was the Soviet internationalist army the guys that the USSR used to tell them “We want to implant, Congo is very good to put us there to implant a communist caudillo, let's provide weapons. let's give him logistical support, go there” And Cuba sent their armies to their children to their adolescents and they sent him Congo many Cubans fought in Angola.
[00:39:24.880] - Fryda
I have family who went to Angola.
[00:39:26.650] - Asiel
Nicaragua, Ecuador, Cuba is left worshipping a ghost and still governed by a dead man. It is a country that is surrealistic. So that's where it's going.
[00:39:40.510] - Asiel
I think that this has generated, for example, that the San Isidro movement has a key role now in this whole awakening, as there are many things. 27N was an important trigger, it was what made me also take sides. To do a kind of activism about this situation, it was directly in my community. If I had been in Cuba I would have been there that night, this I tell you is brutally honest. That day when I saw that they managed to enter the ministry that they listened to them and they came out and I saw that they read them and I said they let themselves be fooled and I really started to cry, I swear to you.
[00:40:29.910] - Asiel
It was one thing that I said to myself, "Ah, it's a system that is really designed to wrap people up” and then the next day they went on the news, saying that they were deceived, they used it, they lied about the agreements that they had made and they called them unruly and not serious. So I said they just betrayed us because I felt part of that. They have just betrayed them, publicly. My mom, what you know about that night is what they told on the news.
[00:41:03.410] - Asiel
So how are you going to tell these people what they have believed that since they have grown up everything is false, it is not true, that is, it is very difficult. They raised me, what happened is that I read a lot since I was a child, and when you read, reading gives you a mental dimension that allows you to question things and increases your critical sense and critical thinking. So I got to a point where I would say “But why is this” and “Why is this and why is this,”
[00:41:38.380] - Asiel
And it was just asking “But why this,” AND why AND why AND what do they tell you “boy shut up.” I mean those kinds of simple things, I always disliked to be told to shut up for something that I was right and that they couldn't even explain to me. So I think that increased my critical thinking and my critical sense and that, of course, made me dissident all the time and that led me to people who could explain to me, and who explained to me well, and that made me know the truth ahead of time and to decide.
[00:42:17.390] - Carmen
Well if I tell you that that's like an intergenerational trauma because even my parents...
[00:42:24.720] - Fryda
Our own parents have different levels of trauma about what they feel they need to hide and what they feel they need to...
[00:42:34.170] - Carmen
Yes, what you can't talk about...
[00:42:39.600] - Fryda
Of what you can't talk about...
[00:42:40.130] - Asiel
You grow up all the time... in a moment when you say that you can or you can't or it will be right or it will be wrong.. When I am of age and I leave my house, that generates a freedom for me when I am in a country where I say “Damn, but I can say this and it is right” and I found that I could do it and that I was free and that freedom to freedom is always rare. You can't go around depriving it for being right you have to go out and look for it.
[00:43:11.420] - Carmen
We invite you to contribute a cubanismo, if you can think of one.
[00:43:22.050] - Asiel
My grandfather used to tell me, “If you keep your pipe in your mouth, your lip will drop,”
[00:43:28.550] - Carmen
We have to explain it now, because there are people who don't understand.
[00:43:28.720] - Asiel
Now let's explain it, that is, when you use a pipe, the pipe… a person who smokes a lot uses it like this... So when you are a person who has used a pipe for many years, if you look closely and my grandfather used a pipe and that's why he used the phrase, he also has the half fallen lip and the shape of the pipe. And then, but it's also a metaphorical or poetic way of saying that constancy and constant work is what makes you achieve your goal. But the guajiros say it like that, comically.
[00:44:05.110] - Asiel
The constancy of the cachimba is the one that knocks down the bemba. Exactly
[00:44:10.860] - Asiel
And the word “asere” which is one of the things that I use the most and I love. That everyone says asere is vulgar language... or or think it's something tawdry… “Asere” comes from African culture coincidentally and literally means in Yoruba language “I greet you,”
[00:44:30.930] - Fryda
But I love it! I love it because it’s used so much.
[00:44:42.290] - Asiel
But well people always, you know when they don't know, they make things up. But because many of those neighborhoods practice Yoruba religion and Afro-Cuban religion and they use those kinds of words too. So that's how it goes.
[00:44:57.140] - Carmen
That's the way it goes Asiel. thank you very much, Asiel. A pleasure from us.
[00:45:01.250] - Asiel
I had a great time, a great time.
[00:45:01.280] - Carmen
We've had a lot of fun getting to know a little more about your work. What impresses me is the difficulty one faces as an artist in Cuba for not following the script and well I'm very excited to see what's next for Asiel Babastro.
[00:45:15.410] - Fryda
And with that Carmen “Asere.” The asere in me sees the asere in you.
[00:45:30.200] - Carmen
And the asere in me recognizes the “Asere” in everyone.
[00:45:38.970] - Fryda
[00:45:40.500] - Asiel
Hey teikirisi men teikirisi!
[00:45:41.110] - Carmen
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