Havana, Cuba

What do the Pope and the Catholic Church have to do with Punk Rock?  Well, the Pope is in Cuba now and Punk Rock and the Catholic church have this in common; both are calling on the Cuban government to stop it’s human rights abuses and allow the Cuban people basic freedoms, including freedom of expression, which has been sorely missing since the elder Castro took power over 50 years ago.

I thought it might be a good time to remind people that punk music and the punk lifestyle and indeed most sub cultures are outlawed on the island nation just 90 or so miles south of Florida. Worse yet, anyone who criticizes Castro in public (and even in private) risk indefinite arrest  or worse.

Don’t believe me? just ask the “Ladies in White”, a group of wives and mothers of Cuban political prisoners who have been harassed, beaten and arrested by pro-government thugs sure to be the Castros’ minions.

Where I come from (Tennessee) if you hit a lady you are the lowest form of a coward and if anybody found about it, chances are you wouldn’t be able to do it a second time.  Maybe a little Tennessee justice is in order for Fidel who thinks it’s cool to beat and imprison little old ladies.

But who am I to criticize a repressive government? How about we let some punks who live in Cuba do it… I only hope they didn’t get punished too harshly for speaking their mind on camera.

Think this doesn’t affect you? Well, O.K. then, neither does Israel, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Syria (anyone besides me begging for a little news coverage OUTSIDE of the Middle East?).

Whether you can connect the dots or not, believe me, it affects all of us. But even if it didn’t, that wouldn’t mean we should turn a blind eye to abuse. If Cuba had huge oil resources do you think for one minute Fidel Castro’s regime would be allowed to survive over 50 years just a few miles south of U.S. soil? “Evil triumphs when good men (or women) do nothing” right?

But alas, Cuba has very few natural resources the “Yankee Oppressors” can’t do without, so the international community allows Cuba to wage a decades long war against it’s own people all because one man in power is probably certifiably crazy, definitely senile and evidently has no qualms about beating up defenseless women.  Why intervention and wall to wall media coverage of Syria, Libya and Egypt but not Cuba?

OK, Cuba oppresses it’s people, so what can you do about it? Not much, I agree. But you can be aware and you can try to correct the incredible volume of propaganda so often regurgitated by mainstream media outlets (and the sheeple that believe them). They tell you that Cuba is an idealistic island paradise stuck in time with great healthcare (a lie) and education (possibly?).

What good is a decent education if you can’t express yourself and have but a limited access to the outside world? Some of the most ignorant people I’ve met went to Ivy leagues schools in the U.S.

Student loan debt in the U.S. recently surpassed $1 trillion. The U.S. is educated, but people are still quiet ignorant simply because they refuse to travel outside the boundaries of the “best country” on the planet (that all inclusive resort in Cancun doesn’t count) and open themselves up to new experiences and see for themselves, if the U.S. truly is the “best country” on the planet.

Cubans are educated (minus the $1 trillion in debts), but they CAN’T travel. How ironic? Ignorance serves a lot of masters.

The Pope is in Cuba as I type. He’s doing a delicate dance, a mambo if you will, around the subject of human rights in Cuba so as not to too deeply offend the Castros while he’s there. But at least it’s shining a media spotlight so often directed at our wars and the alleged “terrorists” in the Middle East. Sunlight is always the best disinfectant, which is why, I suspect, the Castros don’t allow freedom of expression or the international media to get the true story.

I’m not Cuban.. not even close. I’ve only visited Cuba for a few days but based on what I saw in those 8 short days, (arrests for no reason, harassment, poverty, crumbling infrastructures, etc.) I  will never return until they become a free country that allows at least a minimal amount of freedom of expression.

But if I were to return, Fidel, you’d better watch your ass. As I said, where I come from… people who beat up defenseless women usually aren’t able to do it a second time. I’m not a real tough guy. I’ve never trained to be a Navy Seal and I’ve been on the losing end of a few fist fights growing up in  a rough and tumble redneck culture that celebrated brawn over brains, but I think I can take an ailing, delusional and crazy old man… either with my fists or my brain.


Try visiting our buddies at CUBASKATE.COM who help out disaffected Cuban youth.

Or if you are a punk music fan, you might consider buying a track or two or the whole CD “Punktology Vol. 1 – Free Cuba Now!which features 16 songs from 8 artists in Latin America who are supporting Cubans’  right to express themselves freely and without harassment or arrests. And 50% of our profits will go to help Cuba Skate.


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