Cuba Protests Examined: A Conversation with Lisset Diaz | Global Dialogue+

Global Dialogue+

Cuba Protests Examined: A Conversation with Lisset Diaz

Editor’s Note: Welcome to the inaugural Global Dialogue+, a program that brings you insights and perspectives on important global developments, featuring brief conversations with newsmakers, officials and specialists. We’re pleased to launch the feature with a conversation about the protests in Cuba, talking to Lisset Diaz, lead singer of the Sweet Lizzy Band. The group came to Nashville from Havanna to launch their musical journey in America. Watch Lisset’s conversation and then check the CFR Backgrounder on Cuba to become familiar with developments there.
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“It’s been 62 years of dictatorship. I have not said this out loud. I never used this term before for many reasons. The first one is that I didn’t know that we had a dictatorship. When you are born and raised Cuba and you have very limited access to information. You don’t have the Internet, you don’t have any independent media.  The only information you get is from the official press, the government.
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“So you know what they want you to know. Which means that basically you don’t know what’s going on out there in the real world. So that was the reason I never called it a dictatorship. And more recently because I was afraid. Because I have friends and family there. Because I know that the more I say about this topic, they’re not going to let me back in. And if they do I could go to jail, which is what happens to a lot of other artists. You don’t have to be violent to go through the repression and the other things the Cuban regime does to those who speak up. So that is what has been happening for 62 years. And that is a very long time.”
— Lisset Diaz

The Sweet Lizzy Project band came to the United States from Havanna after being featured in a PBS TV special on Cuban bands. They chose Nashville as their home base in their coast-to-coast musical journey. TNWAC talked with lead singer Lisset Diaz about the band’s migration for our “Global Tennessee” Podcast in December 2018. In this conversation Lisset talks with TNWAC President Patrick Ryan about the July protests that erupted in Cuba, as citizens risked violent crackdowns and prosecutions to share their rage and demands amidst nationwide economic distress and the Covid-19 health crisis. Join us for our brief talk about how Cubans endured decades of oppression and the situation on the island for friends and family of Lisset and the band.
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About The Sweet Lizzy Project
Sweet Lizzy Project, one of the most culturally significant bands to emerge from Cuba in recent years, has a distinctive sound imbued with overtones of classic American indie pop-rock suffused with an intoxicating Latino flair. Lead singer Lisset Diaz’s incomparable voice, which has been likened to that of a long-caged sparrow finally set free, captures listeners’ imaginations, note by note, leaving fans enthralled as they surrender to the group’s mesmerizing forcefield of sound. In addition to Diaz, who also plays acoustic guitar, the five-piece band includes: Miguel Comas, lead guitar, producer, and background vocals; Wilfredo Gatell, keyboards and background vocals; drummer Angel Luis Millet, and bass player Alejandro Gonzalez. Sweet Lizzy’s songs, all original and penned in English, are reflective of the members’ wide range of ages, from their 20´s to 40´s. SLP has attracted international attention with its high-energy, genre-defying live performances. In 2017, they were showcased on PBS’s “Havana Time Machine,” alongside Grammy award-winning group, The Mavericks. It was a fortuitous pairing, as it gave SLP an opportunity to forge a relationship with Raul Malo, the Mavericks congenial lead singer, who invited them to Nashville,TN the following year. Since arriving in the United States, SLP has performed coast-to-coast. The group, which was featured on PBS’s Emmy award-winning music television series, “Bluegrass Underground,” has been touring the nation with The Mavericks. SLP has just completed its second album, “Technicolor,” which was mixed by renowned sound engineer Niko Bolas and Thom Pununzio at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

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