International News

Punk Gorki Aguila Returns to Cuba

Gorky Aguila, the front-man of Cuban punk band Porno Para Ricardo, returned Thursday to Cuba after an 11-month sojourn in Mexico. Aguila, who was arrested two years ago for writing songs sharply (and hysterically) critical of the Cuban government, asked supporters, via his twitter, natch, to follow his case, lest he's arrested again.

His return, however, comes during some of the most volatile times in the island in some time. Last week a Cuban dissident, Zapata Tamayo, died after undergoing a hunger strike, setting off a series of protests both in Cuba and abroad against government repression. Guillermo Farinas, another dissident, recently began his own hunger strike to protest Tamayo's death.

Aguila, if you don't remember, was the subject of a modestly diverting international viral campaign two years ago. After he was arrested for "civil disobedience" - in the government's

words - the netroots made him a minor cause célèbre. The news of his

arrest even made it to a New York Times blog.

The 488-member strong "Free Gorki" Facebook group called him Cuba's Eddie Vedder -a high distinction for sure. The hubbub was successful, if only just so. He was fined, not incarcerated, and the attention got him a certain level of immunity from the government. If anything happened to him, the interwebs would be all atwitter. Apparently, that's all it takes these days to scare the Commies.

For the past year, the runty agitator has been in Mexico, working at his sister's restaurant. But the Cuban government recently denied his visa extension and he was forced to return.

On Thursday, he arrived in Havana where he was met by a small army of international reporters and watchful government spooks. His band's Web site posted this:
"We ask that the media spread the news of Gorki Aguila's return to Cuba, and stay vigilant of any problems he might have. The dissemination of this news are the only protection he has against any potential violation of his rights.

At the airport, Gorki, named after the Soviet playwright and novelist (naming babies after Soviet writers was all the rage in Cuba at some point), also plugged the record he's finishing up and announced he expects to tour within a year.

Here he is talking to Reason TV, a Libertarian Web site, about what it's like to be all punk and hardcore in Cuba:

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Erik Maza