How Hip-Hop Helped Obama Get A Foot In Havana, Cuba


(AllHipHop News) Yesterday President Barack Obama landed in Cuba with the First Family and met with Cuban dictator Raul Castro.

In his meeting with the Cuban government, Obama ceremoniously re-opened the U.S. Embassy and also suggested that the U.S. lift the embargo against Cuba that has crippled the island for decades.

But how did all this come together after 95 years? How was Obama able to make this happen on his way out of office?

While much of the Caribbean country remains in a 1950’s time warp (for now), many see youth movements like Hip-Hop as a catalyst for change in Cuba.

According to an article in The Guardian in December of 2014 by Matthew Weaver, U.S. government organization (USAID) was “secretly trying to infiltrate Cuba’s underground Hip-Hop movement, according to records obtained by the Associated Press.”

Spearheaded by government contracted Creative Associates, the goal was to build a network of rappers and a community that wanted social change amongst the youth in order to spark a movement against the Cuban government.

But things didn’t go exactly as planned. As the Guardian article states, the involvement with the Hip-Hop community and USAID nearly “compromised Cuban hip-hop culture.”

The multi-million dollar initiative by (USAID) also included a Twitter strategy to further entice the youth to rebel against the government and a payment of $15,000 for an arts and music festival with musicians opposing the government.

At one point, pressure from the Cuban government stopped musicians from performing at live shows, and “one of the island’s most popular independent music festivals was taken over after officials linked it to USAID.”

Los Aldeanos is one of the groups that was part of this (USAID) assisted movement that specifically faced scrutiny after it’s rhymes took aim at the government.

“People marching blind, you have no credibility / Go and tell the captain this ship’s sinking rapidly.” – Los Aldeanos  on “Long Live Free Cuba”

Los Aldeanos’s frontman, Aldo Rodriguez, faced continued harassment and was eventually arrested for “illegal possession of a computer” after some incendiary statements at live shows.

After numerous run-ins with the government, speaking out at concerts and other events, Los Aldeanos ended up moving to South Florida to seek asylum.

It’s clear the objective of the Obama administration is to make Cuba more transparent than ever before, by enacting the freedom of speech, freedom of press and other rights available in America.

Check it out below as the AP provides coverage of Obama meeting today (March 22) with some of the oppressed that have spoken out against the government of Cuba.

Obama talks about making sure the Cuban people have a voice, despite the fact that the U.S. and Cuba still disagree on a good number of issues related to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.


Weaver, Matthew, and Associated Press. “US Agency Infiltrated Cuban Hip-hop Scene to Spark Youth Unrest.” TheGuardian. 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2016.