Monday, March 25, 2013

Corrected March 25th post - Bebo Valdés, Musician and Cuban Refugee Dead at 95

One of the profound effects of the Cuban Revolution was the fracture of families, as husbands or wives came under suspicion of members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and had to flee, often in the middle of the night. Bebo Valdés, who died last Friday in Sweden, is one of these tragic stories. Bebo was the music arranger and house pianist at the Tropicana nightclub in Havana at the time of the revolution. When he fled Cuba, he left his entire family behind him.

Here is an excerpt of an interview made by El País in 2008 (Bebo was a better musician than grammarian):
"He said that when the revolution triumphed, he was threatened with a 20-year jail sentence. What did he do? Did he murder anyone? I bought a piece of land and placed a foundation on it. One day I went there and found a guy placing rocks and things on it, and I said: 'Hey,! what are you doing here?' 'The government sent me.' I said that this cannot be because this is mine. A policeman came over and said: 'Here no one owns anything, sir. All this, and all of Cuba, belongs to the Government.' Anyone can tell you this. Luis Yáñez, who worked with me and was my friend, pointed a machine gun at me so that I would open a shopping bag where I had a chicken for my daughter, Miriam. Everything was 'fatherland or death, we shall overcome, if you don't like it, leave.' When you wanted to leave, because I wanted to leave in July of the preceding year, he (Castro) came in January, they asked for your passport to stamp a visa on it and they did not return it. I was lucky to have been able to leave with a fake work contract from Mexico."

Bebo left Cuba on October 26, 1960 and never returned.

This is not what the protagonists of Island of the White Rose dreamed for their fatherland, nor was it the dream of the middle and upper classes who fought in the underground to support Fidel in the mountains. They hoped that the revolution would bring democracy to Cuba. There was no plan to establish a system in which the government owns everything. Bebo died in exile on March 22, 2013. He left without realizing his dream of going back and without seeing the dream of the revolution fulfilled. Unhappily, there are many more Bebos still waiting for this to occur.

1 comment:

  1. Both my mother and grandmother hoped someday to see their beloved Cuba again. They died without fulfilling their wish thanks to a vicious dictatorship.