Cuban Punk Rocker Gorki Aguila on Music, Life and Getting Led Zeppelin Records in Cuba


The trial of the Russian feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot does not seem to be going well for the Kremlin. As we learned during an interview with Cuban frontman Gorki Águila, punk musicians don't take well to authoritative regimes.

Here is the original text from the October 13, 2009 video:

Gorki Águila is blunt in his assessment of Fidel Castro's half century of revolution: "Communism is a failure. A total failure. Please, leftists of the world-improve your capitalism! Don't choose communism!" Águila, a Havana resident, wears homemade anti-government t-shirts, frequently denounces the Castro brothers as geriatric tyrants, and heads up perhaps Cuba's only explicitly political punk band, Porno Para Ricardo. And because of his stubborn belief in free speech, he is routinely arrested on charges of "social dangerousness." Tired of his anti-regime music, Cuban authorities made the rare decision to grantt Águila a visa to travel abroad, perhaps hoping that he wouldn't return

In September,'s Michael C. Moynihan caught up with Águila on the Washington, D.C. leg of his American promotional tour to talk about his music, the origins of Porno Para Ricardo, and how long it takes to get Led Zeppelin records in a totalitarian society.

For downloadable versions please visit

Approximately 7 minutes. Shot by Meredith Bragg. Edited by Dan Hayes.

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  1. “Communism is a failure. A total failure. Please, leftists of the world-improve your capitalism! Don’t choose communism!”


    Musicians in commie shitholes condemning communism and advocating capitalism; musicians and entire mass movements in post-industrial first-world capitalist superpowers condemning capitalism and advocating socialism.

    Why is the world such a fucked-up place?

    1. Ask John Cougar Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen.

      The thing about Rage Against the Machine and other artists, of course they’r gonna get the rec carpet treatment and speak to all the “right” people thus ensuring they get a skewed, if not untrue, picture of Cuba.

      Regardless, they’ll come back and wax poetic about it and will look like jackasses to people who really know better.

      I’ve been to Cuba. It’s a shithole. The country, culture and people are beautiful, but as far as a nation-state goes, it’s a shithole.

      Simple as that.

    2. Rebellious musicians in Cuba also dress like Carlton from Fresh Prince.

    3. Just goes to show – don’t listen to musicians, they’re a bunch of contrarians.

  2. Sure wish the interviewer asked Gorki his thoughts about Rage against the Machine playing a concert in Cuba.

  3. I thought punk rock fans absolutely hated Led Zeppelin?

    1. I never understood punk rock. It’s seems like the only form of music where they start to hate you if you become too talented.

      1. That is a good way to put it. The other good quote about punk rock was Keith Richards’ saying “there has to be more to it than standing in front of a mirror practicing spitting on people”.

      2. It’s a useful branch of the Rock n Roll tree – artists like Iron Maiden and Metallica were able to fuse it’s energy with actual talent and turn out some really good stuff. It also serves a role as something of a circuit-breaker against over indulgence. To paraphrase Henry Rollins, one minute rock-guys are wearing sequins and dressing up like sexy pirates, and then Kurt Cobain comes in, kicks down the door and brings rock back to it’s rough and tumble garage band roots.

        As a stand-alone genre, it doesn’t do much for me.

        1. While I liked Nirvana, they pretty much killed rock.

          It just doesn’t exist today. I’d take goofy hair metal bands over what we have now,

  4. I wonder how many people will mistake the line for the concert for one for toilet paper?

  5. OT: I was going to say I failed to honor February 19 in a manner befitting it, but then I realized mourning the passing of Scalia was entirely fitting of the day.

    I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.

    A paraphrase of the last several paragraphs should be branded on the ass of every damn shithead with a good idea who wants to fund their good idea with somebody else’s money. “If this is such a good idea, why aren’t you putting your money into it?”

    1. Excellent quote, but there are even those from earlier in the 1800’s (closer to the writing of the Constitution) saying much the same thing about give-away programs.

      What went wrong?

  6. Let the poverty porn and the rationalizing begin. Don’t worry, you are not giving your money to fund a totalitarian state. That money you spend is going to help the Cuban people not go into the Castro’s pocket and to fund the oppression of the Cuban people. The Castros and Mother Jones said so.

    1. Are you suggesting that free trade isn’t a panacea for all the world’s problems?

      1. That and “trade” with one of the most totalitarian governments in the world might not exactly be “free”.

    2. Yea,pumping dollars into a the pockets of the scum in charge will change nothing People forget there was no ‘free trade with the USSR and soviet block.

      1. The same people who are all about boycotting Israel are now claiming trade with Cuba will make Cuba free. it is almost as if they have another agenda or something.

  7. I wish there were a way to find out which businesses there were privately owned and not run by the state. It would be nice to voluntarily transfer wealth to real people instead of the autocratic thugs that run the place.

    And I’ve been there before a couple times. It could be paradise if it weren’t for, you know, the government.

    1. I wish there were a way to find out which businesses there were privately owned and not run by the state.

      You can. The answer is none of them. To the extent anything is privately owned in Cuba, it is that way because the Castros allow that person to own it and because they are a loyal part of the regime. Every dollar you spend in Cuba is going in the pockets of the Castros and their partners in crime who have made the Island into a prison state.

      1. Um, I’ve been there twice and I always paid in American cash money so the people could use it on the black market and find out their currency was worthless.

        1. This. People putting dollars into the hands of ordinary Cubans is a very good thing.

          The restrictions that the US government places on its own citizens regarding their free movement is a direct assault on our liberty.

        2. Yeah, and I am sure the Cuban government was totally unaware of that and didn’t take that money. Hello McFly, it is a totalitarian state. You didn’t meet anyone in Cuba that the Cuban government didn’t allow to meet you. And none of those people kept any money unless the Cuban government allowed it, which is very unlikely.

          Sorry dude, you helped pay for the gulags.

          1. I flew in from the BVI. I didn’t go as some kind of government-approved lackey. The only government peeps I saw were at the airport and on a bus/cab thing on my way to Esparanza. It was pretty much all black market trading I engaged in while there.

            Sorry to bust your bubble, but the overwhelming majority of Cubans I came in contact with may have worked for the government. They also worked for themselves in a cash-only society catering to Europeans and Canadians (and the odd American that came in like I did). That cash fuels their spirit to someday be in total control of their own lives.

            And that was 18 years ago.

            1. They were there. You just didn’t see them.

  8. I was sure Gorki would have praised Sanders, and spoke of how great socialism / communism/ etc. are, and the prosperity they bring about.

    Imagine that, someone who actually lives under such a system, promoting capitalism. All while douchebags over here are ready to sell their souls to socialism….along with everyone else’s. No worries, they’ll het their free shit, and be long gone before future generations have to deal with the disasters caused by gov’t.

  9. I think this opening of relations with Cuba may turn out to be the best thing Obama accomplished during his presidency, although I don’t think he is doing it for the right reasons. It will probably be another decade before we see the results, but I am hopeful that it will eventually help to bring down the godawful shitshow of communism there.

    1. HOw does making the Castros richer turn out well?

      1. They have already started to allow some private business to operate there (and I am not referring to that tractor factory but small scale private enterprise) and this will encourage even more of that, and will also encourage more private enterprise that is under the radar of the state. We are going on seven decades of the opposite course, and is has not exactly been a rousing success. Will the Castro’s get richer? Of course. There will be some negative consequences, and it will take some time, but the route to Cuba unshackling itself from the burden of communism will not be brought about by restricting trade and free movement, it will happen from encouraging it.

        1. Since when does money not translate into more power? And who gives a shit if they built a tractor factory if the people working there are still slaves to the Cuban state? And trust me they are still slaves.

          1. The trade and travel embargo would have worked had we just given it another year or two. Americans should only travel to places that its government wants them to.

            1. The bans wouldn’t ever necessarily change Cuba.

              But this just makes the Cuban government richer.

  10. Just think if this had happened 15 years ago we wouldn’t have had to watch a Cuban child custody battle consume our TV’s for 3 months.

    1. I doubt that. The Cuban people are still slaves, basically.

      Recently a couple of baseball players defected from there.

      Why? Because they want to keep all the money they might make playing in the MLB, not having all but $30 a month go to the Cuban government

  11. Eh.

    This actually seems to be the worst thing that can happen.

    Instead of making the Cuban people richer by paying them directly, we’re essentially going to be paying the Cuban government and take advantage of their enslavement of the Cuban people

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