In December 2017, inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical, I recreated Fidel Castro’s history as narrated by the Cuban people he subjugated for over five decades of dictatorship. (You can listen to that song here; trigger warning: it is in Spanish.)
Last week, using the same song, I wrote “Cuba for Foreign Correspondents and College Professors” to talk to those two demographic groups that, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, continue to give the benefit of the doubt to the Castro regime, which was recently inherited by Miguel Díaz Canel.
I have a couple of friends who have already included the song in their history unit on Cuba, alongside my articles “Cuba and the Art of Repression” and ”A Tale of Two Cities.” (They teach in middle and high school. So, come to think of it, this is really for educators K-16.) Feel free to include all these materials in your curriculum!
Cuba for Foreign Correspondents and College Professors
Music: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lyrics: Alexis Romay
How does a violent person who came to power
by shooting people, starting in the 50s,
and ruined the hopes of the Cuban nation
somehow manage to gain your admiration?
The Firing Squads he ordered, ala KGB,
became our terror when shown on live TV.
By the early 60s, people were afraid.
Many chose to flee. Many chose to stay.
He called a meeting with Cuban intellectuals.
His gun was in his holster.
He placed it on the table.
He was a horror show,
presented as a fable.
The camp’s motto was:
“work will make you men.”
What don’t you understand?
He wanted to harvest
ten million tons of sugar cane.
(The effect on the economy
was worse than a hurricane.)
He brought the world to the brink
of nuclear annihilation,
but the will of the Cuban people
wasn’t on the equation.
In fact, the will of the people
has never been considered.
Castro’s dynasty bloomed,
while the country withered.
Cuba IS a dictatorship.
Cuba HAS BEEN a dictatorship.
There’s only one legal party in the land.
Would you please take a stand?
Castro turned milk into powder,
dreams into nightmares.
He forced Cubans to march
in the streets and in the squares.
He invented these horrible
“acts of repudiation.”
[Sotto voce] They are pogroms.
They are an abomination.
He ruled with an iron fist.
Raúl was by his side.
He made some strange bedfellows
while looking far and wide.
Now that the documents
have been declassified:
let their mutual crimes slide.
He loved sending Cuban troops
to wars around the world.
He didn’t discriminate,
he sent the young and the old.
Since he wanted to look
like he was doing them a favor,
he also sent Cuban doctors
the ones who had done his bidding.
He terrorized our whole nation.
I wish this was just me kidding.
He colonized Venezuela
under Chávez and Maduro.
To the hunger in the present,
he responded: “El futuro.”
On 2016, he showed
that he was just a mere mortal,
and, for Thanksgiving that year,
he crossed the final portal.
In Dante’s circle of Hell
where the violent lament,
he’ll hear for eternity
the Cuban discontent.
Oh, Fidel Hipólito.
(Yes, that was his given name.)
We are so glad that you are not around.
Yet the repression is just the same.
Oh, Fidel Hipólito.
History won’t be kind to you.
It will note that you used your henchmen
to impose your point of view.
Cubans are in the streets
while the police enforce
their tactics of persuasion.
The New York Times applauded you
(didn’t call you a dictator).
Allende trusted you.
What about him?
And Díaz Canel…
is the idiot who quotes you.
Feel free to fact-check this song.
What was this about?
It was Fidel Hipólito.