A hit song wins a Latin Grammy. One of its songwriters is in a Cuban prison.

A group of Cuban musicians, including a musician imprisoned in Cuba, won song of the year for their song “Patria y Vida” at the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday – and garnered even more international attention for a song that is an anthem for Cuba’s opposition .

Banned in Cuba, “Patria y Vida” is a song that goes beyond politics and culture. Amid the guitar and rhythmic beat, it’s an emotional song whose lyrics denounce the harsh realities of Cubans in everyday life – including censorship, lack of food and the sadness of mothers whose children have emigrated from the island.

“For me this song was the emotional awakening of Cuban society,” said Yadam González, one of the writers and producers of the song, who performed on Thursday, in a phone interview with NBC News on Friday.

González said the song “served as a bridge for Cubans to reflect on their pain and desire for change”. At the Grammys, the winners dedicated the song to Cuba’s political prisoners.

The group Gente de Zona, Yotuel from the Orishas group and the singer-songwriter Descemer Bueno worked on the song with two rappers in Cuba, El Funky and Maykel Osorbo, whose real name is Michael Castillo. Both rappers are part of an artist collective in Cuba known as the San Isidro Movement, which has protested against censorship by the Cuban government.

Castillo is being held in a maximum security prison in Cuba after his arrest in May 2021. In late October, he went on a six-day hunger and thirst strike to protest his detention and Cuba’s crackdown on freedom of expression. Activists have said that Castillo is sick.

“Home and Life” is an allusion to the famous revolutionary slogan “Patria o Muerte” (Home or Death), a term used by the Cuban government for decades. The song title is symbolic and meaningful for those who oppose the communist government. Acts of dissent, prohibited in Cuba, have increased over the past year. During the historic July 11 anti-government protests that swept the island, people could be heard shouting “Patria y Vida” and some wrote the words on signs.

González, who left Cuba for Denmark in 1996 and now lives in Miami, said that when he heard the words “Patria y Vida” during the protests in July, he “felt very proud to be part of the Cubans’ feelings”. In this case, I am referring to Cubans very personally because my parents still live in Cuba, “he said.

The group performed in white at the Latin Grammys in solidarity with activists in Cuba who called for a nationwide protest on Monday. The protest never took place after authorities surrounded the activists’ homes and prevented them from leaving while a significant police presence was maintained on the streets. Instead, activists dressed in white and hung white sheets in front of their homes, a sign of peace.

follow NBC Latino At Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Leave a Comment