Dontcha Know, We’re Singing a Revolution



Pido que nadie se asombre


Si le digo camarada


Cuando le encuentre llorando


De rabia ante la injusticia


 


Cuando lo escuche cantando


Al amor y a la alegría


Cuando lo sienta soldado


Del combate por la vida


-Ali Primera: Camarada


I ask that no one is amazed


If I call them comrade


When I find them crying


From rage in the face of injustice


 


When I hear him singing


To love and to happiness


When I feel him a soldier


Of the combat for life


-Comrade

Gustavo Marcos Bazan, an Argentinean born Venezuelan, and member of the Latin American music for change movement Cantores de los Sueños del Alba (singers of the dreams of dawn) argues that political music is the “honest” music that helps us to keep fighting for a better world.

VA: Was it revolutionary politics that brought you to music, or the other way around? How have politics and music been linked in your life?

Bazan: I first came to Venezuela in 1985, and in the lead up to that I had been meeting with Venezuelans and Latin Americans who were studying in Argentina while there was still a military dictatorship. I think it was a Venezuelan who had been in Cuba who talked to me about the ideological concept of a better human being. At this time of dictatorship and censorship, he talked to me about the advances in education that there were in Cuba, and I realised that we were dominated by constant anti-communist propaganda and a single vision of nationalist patriotism. We didn’t see beyond that, we didn’t know about the disappearances and torture. But I went to a clandestine meeting- at this time a meeting of more than five people was considered subversive. It was a cultural meeting, about Argentine folklore and customs. I met my Venezuelan friend there, and he had a beard, but at that time you couldn’t have long hair and a beard in Argentina, you could be detained for being a suspicious person. I felt like I was sitting next to a Fidel Castro, because of that beard, and because people from the Caribbean sound similar to us.

Talking with him I realised I had been brainwashed, manipulated by a system. Until then I hadn’t been very interested in politics and the world situation, but I had been singing things that were prohibited… Mercedes Sosa , Victor Jara… and it bothered me that they [the dictatorship] were interfering with my musical preferences. From there, I started to grow intellectually, and I woke up to the need to struggle to improve our ideals, and I committed myself to reading to understand what was happening in Argentina.

I attended more clandestine meetings, organised by my father, and we organised community parties, youth dances, and amongst them our group continued to converse, to talk about the political situation in the country, and a group of intellectuals was formed that when the dictatorship fell would eventually be part of the basis of new political parties, or the renewing of parties that had been prohibited.

But, to go back a bit, to 1975 or 76, before I became political, I had been singing at night in different places, and one day, very early in the morning when I was walking just near my house, a car stopped and three men got out, and they grabbed me by my hands and threw me to the floor. They put a gun to my head and asked me what I was doing at that time of night, because then there was a curfew. I was scared, I couldn’t talk, but I eventually said that I was drunk. Then they asked for documents, and I realised they weren’t robbers -they were dressed in civilian clothing, so they must have been paramilitaries.  They started to accuse me of things, they kicked me, and I cried because I thought they were going to kill me. But they said they would pardon me this time and they told me to go home. I walked past my house in case they were following me and because I had told them I lived somewhere else. I stayed at a friend’s house.

This event, I wanted to forget it, and I did, for a long time. I didn’t understand what had happened, but later on, I did, and I started to feel very angry, and I became committed to songs with reason, songs that denounce [injustice], the committed song (la cancion comprometida) that in Venezuela is the movement that Ali Primera founded.


Es una noche de guitarras,


Alegre y romántica, y el sabor…


De la libertad


Es una noche de guitarras,


Bohemia y nostálgica.., y el sabor,


De la libertad.


-Gustavo M Bazan: La Patana


It’s a night of guitars


Happy, and romantic, and the flavour..


Of freedom


It’s a night of guitars


Bohemian and nostalgic… and the flavour


Of freedom


 

 In the 1980s I participated in a revolutionary party, I studied music and politics at university, and I met people, including a Venezuelan woman whom I married. I thought that with democracy we would be better off in Argentina, but the rightwing became involved in leftwing parties, and those parties changed, moved towards neoliberalism, and there was the crisis in Argentina, and I couldn’t stand the situation anymore and moved to Venezuela.

Here in Venezuela, capitalism was even more savage than in Argentina, but I thought that I would just close my eyes and work. Then there was the Caracazo [1989 uprising] and later in 1992 [Chavez’s failed coup attempt] I understood that there was an awakening taking place, and it could eventually become a people’s movement. I recognised that Chavez wasn’t just another military man, he wasn’t oppressive like the ones in Argentina, but he was a fighter and a Latin-American-ist. When in 2002 he declared his anti-imperialism, I really started to support the Bolivarian movement and Chavez. I recognised him as a leader of new times and of all that I had lost in Argentina. 


Todos podemos luchar


Igual que Simon Bolivar


Y asi el futuro ganar


Curando tantas heridas


…Venezuela…


No has dejado de ser mia


Y la vida vuelvo a dar


Yo soy: Hugo Chavez Frias

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