Everything you need to know about Patria y Vida, or Homeland and Life, the play on the words "Patria o Muerte," first spoken by Fidel Castro at a eulogy for la Coubre explosion.
patria y vida yotuel romero
Patria y Vida’s Yotuel Romero.

Patria y Vida – surely, by now you’ve heard the song, seen the video ⬆️, and may even know a little bit about the latest music lyric turned anti-government battle call to come out of the Cuban diaspora.

The piece comes at a time when social unrest and economic distress in Cuba has spurred political dissent and protests unlike any we’ve seen in decades. Rapperos and reggeatoneros, Yotuel Romero, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel, and El Funky have collaborated, together with director Asiel Babastro to bring elements of hip hop, rap and reggaeton, crafting a message of resistance against the Cuban Government. 

Here are a few interesting facts you may not have heard about this song and music video:

1. Patria y Vida

Patria y Vida, or Homeland and Life, is a play on the words “Patria o Muerte,”  first spoken by Fidel Castro at a eulogy for la Coubre explosion. The phrase means “Homeland or Death” and was uttered in defiance, from the belief that imperialist forces were responsible for the two explosions.

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patria y vida yotuel romero gente de zona el funky

2. The Domino Lyrics

The domino lyrics “tu cinco-nueve, yo double dos” compares 1959, the year of the Cuban revolution to 2020 the year of the San Isidro movement. 

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3. Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara

The music video features Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, one of the key members of The San Isidro movement in Cuba. The movement was started by a group of artists in Cuba and has gained a lot of support in and out of the island.

Related Post: Instagram Influencer Marissa Daniela Explains the Cuban Protests

4. One Video – Two Worlds

One video, two worlds. Emblematic of the Cuban diaspora, half of the video — the part with El Funky, Maykel Osorbio and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara (who is not a musician in the song) — was filmed in Cuba and the other half — with Gente de Zona, Yotuel Romero, and Descemer Bueno — was filmed in the U.S. even though the video looks very cohesive.

Showcasing footage shot by civilians of police brutality and the government’s reaction to protests by artists, the music video shines a rarely-seen light on some of the struggles Cubans face in the island. 

patria y vida post by carmen y fryda of teikirisi
Photo: David Rotbard

5. Filming In Cuba Was Very Tricky

Filming in Cuba was very tricky. The crew had to be secretive about renting gear and film in an abandoned house, on top of following restrictions due to COVID. Many rental houses refused to rent gear, and locations refused to allow filming for fear of retaliation from the government. 

6. The San Isidro Movement

The song directly references The San Isidro movement in its lyrics, saying “the world knows the San Isidro Movement will persevere.” El Funky has stated that he and the writers have intended for this to become an anthem for the people of Cuba. 

7. Yotuel Romero Hand-Picked Asiel Babastro

Yotuel Romero, from the band the Orishas, hand-picked Asiel Babastro to direct the film during the writing process. They had previously worked together on Ámame Como Soy Yo, ‘Love Me as I am,’ another controversial song and video that criticized the current regime in Cuba.

asiel babastro post by carmen y fryda of teikirisi
Director Asiel Babastro. Photo: IMDB

8. Patria o Muerte

The Cuban government has released a response video that they called “Patria o Muerte por la Vida,” “Homeland or Death for Life,” digging its heels deeper into the revolution’s motto.  

This clap-back video from the Cuban government has lyrics like “dale agua a ese domino,” which means “shuffle the domino pieces,” likely referencing the lyrics in Patria y Vida, “60 años trancado en domino” ‘60 years stuck in this domino game [the cuban regime].’ 

9. It’s Kinda A Big Deal

Since the video came out, Cubans in and out of the island can’t stop talking about it, with the phrase “Patria Y Vida” becoming a colloquial phrase — and a controversial one to speak in Cuba.  

10. Chests Are Being Painted

In the video, Patria y Vida, Yotuel has the words “Patria y Vida” painted across his bare chest. Many in and out of Cuba have followed his example and sport the words in white or black. Images and videos with these words have been circulating social media since the video came out, continuing traction for the movement under the hashtag #patriayvida

BONUS: Leave Your Shades at Home

Gente de Zona normally wears sunglasses as part of their image and brand, but for this video both the artists and the director felt it was important that emotion was conveyed, and so nobody wore sunglasses. 

(Carmen y Fryda produce a podcast called teikirisi about all things Cuban-American. It can be found on Apple and Spotify.)

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Carmen & Fryda are two Cuban-born, Miami bffs who started a podcast called teikirisi to celebrate and educate on all things Cuban-american. Together, Carmen & Fryda spill the cafecito on Cuban-American identity, navigate Cuban-American culture, and tell stories about life in Cuba & the diaspora. Carmen studied political science and journalism at the University of Miami, and has spent the last 8 years working as a documentary filmmaker. She currently works as a producer for a financial media outlet, and moonlights as an oil-painter. Carmen’s toxic traits include making finance puns nobody likes, hating on Miami, and buying plants she doesn’t have space for. She loves reading, her cat, Isaac, and frolicking around Brooklyn, camera in tow, hunting down the best eats and drinks. Fryda studied political science at Yale University. She has 7 years of experience working in advocacy, community mobilization, and civic engagement. Currently, Fryda works as a consultant in data analysis, strategy, and technology for nonprofit & political organizations. She loves soaking up the sun on walks with her dog, Amelia (who she believes is her actual child), going rock climbing and hiking, and enjoying a delicious meal with a cocktail.

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