Alexey Brizo Lahera

  • “What is happening? As they are real thieves, they just take out ten or twenty pesos, so that the people fight for this chicken. What does it cause? There are people who fight other people, you know, because everybody is very desperate, imagine you sleep two days on the street, how do you wake up? Upset buddy! Because you want to feed your child. Once I took my brother, we threw us in a queue, we had to sleep there. My wife has a disability card, she should not be at the queue, I should have it too, but they have no longer wanted to give it to me, due to my anticommunist ideals. She does not have it because of HIV positive, it is a card confirming that she is a physically handicapped person. They have not given it to me because of my ideals, my thoughts, therefore, not because my illness does not require it. The next day we had to stand in a line for food again, and we left with a real headache. I spent almost a whole day there, sleeping, when one of my dissident brothers came to me, I told him: ‘I can’t achieve something only if I’m dead.’”

  • “The dictator Giovanni, who was at that time the Head Chief of the State Security in Guantanamo province, organized a repression against the ‘Patriotic Union of Cuba’ [Unión Patriótica de Cuba], where they brutally beat all the activists of the Patriotic Union. Kicking, punches, swollen eyes, broken arms…then they took us to the police station called Operations of the State Security, which is on the kilometer 13.3 on the El Salvador highway. There they beat us again, they used pepper spray on us, and the last thing I remember was, when they forced us to be on our knees and with our heads against the wall. There were several activists that I remember, Yoanny Alberto Gamboa, Rodrigo and Cuba Asendó, Bartolo Castillo [Cuban dissidents], who were condemned to the jail. That time the political police was brutal. They are murderers, they passed the line that time.”

  • “When the music recording companies came to Guantanamo, the trademark director who is my namesake, named Alexey just like me, told me: ‘What do you mean, you sold out all these places and you did not earn any peso for it?’ ‘I am not a professional, I am just an amateur.’ So, he replied to me: ‘No buddy, professional is not a role, the professional is the one who fills the places for his talent, because of his talent people dance, for his talent people applaud.’ And when I heard that, I said: ‘No, that’s not like that.’ When I started with my music, I worked hard, I was improving myself and all the great musicians were by my side. We started to create amazing songs. We started to invite a group of dancers to our concerts. In other words, our concerts were great shows. So, they raised the price. The Government raised the price of entrance. I was looking for the manner how to become a professional. But it never happened, till today I am just an amateur. I am trapped in the past.”

  • “You are talking about the Santa Rita slaughterhouse, that Youth Club in Guantanamo. ‘Tell me about that place.’ Well, that place, every time when it was opened, there were several dead bodies, said in our language. They just killed some young boys, boys who were not over 16 or 17 years old. Every time when this discotheque was opened, something happened. Why was that happening? Because there were no places where the young people could have fun. So, when they opened for few days a week, what did people do? They were gathering there. And what did this bring out? That all Guantanamo criminals went there too, they started to fight and kill each other. This was happening in the slaughterhouse of Santa Rita and Paseo.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Cuba, 17.06.2020

    duration: 01:42:39
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

“During the eighties, the Cuban government incarcerated people who were HIV positive for the crime of getting infected. Even today, people are afraid of disclosing their HIV status; they keep it secret.”

Alexey Brizo Lahera was born in 1981 in a marginal part of Guantanamo, Cuba. When he was 16, he left his school and started to work in the tobacco fields to earn a little money. After five years of agriculture work, in 2002, he decided to follow his dream and became a famous reggaeton singer. The Cuban government insisted that artists singing songs celebrating the revolutionary leaders, which Alexey rejected. This meant that he could never obtain a professional singer´s license and was never paid for his concerts. In 2009, due to the financial situation in Cuba and the mafia environment of the music world, he resigned and began a dark period of his life - he fell into alcoholism, and a year later, he was diagnosed with HIV. At the same time, the Cuban Government was reducing financial and medical support. Alexey looked for support and assistance from the “Patriotic Union of Cuba” [Unión Patriótica de Cuba], an opposition organization to the communist regime. He began to participate in its activities and spread information about human rights among Cuban society. Alexey resides in Santa Rita in Guantanamo with his wife and her family. He sells alcohol and perfumes without the necessary state permission. Despite his illness, he does not give up and continues to fight against the communist government of Cuba.