Somos los cubanos que venimos invadiendo,
Somos los cubanos que venimos a decirte a ti
que la timba es brava,
la timba no es como ayer
We are the Cuban invasion!
We are the Cubans who have arrived to tell you
our timba is not like yesterday’s.
(Daniel Ponce, New York Now! 1983)................
Daniel Ponce, himself both a Marielito and a professional rumbero,
composed and recorded “Invasión 80”(New York Now! 1983). Playing with the
stereotype of the Mariel migration as an “invasion,” this recording revealed
the larger history of migration and labor of which the Marielitos and rumba were a part.
“Invasión 80” was a very different rumba from the conga lines that people
had heard and experienced in previous recordings and performances by Mr. “Conga-man”
Desi Arnaz. “Invasión 80” was intended to challenge the Hollywood disseminated
Ricky Ricardo stereotype of Cuban Americans as white and middle class.
Ponce’s rumba also lent visibility to rumberos who had participated
in the emergence of Latin jazz, like percussionist Chano Pozo, who collaborated
with Dizzy Gillespie between 1946 and 1948, the year in which he was assassinated.
Finally, Ponce’s “Invasión 80” also recalled another invasion,
which took place in 1917 during the sugar harvest season in the rural areas
of Matanzas province. According to numerous recollections,borders with his own cohort of Mariel rumberos.
famous rumberos from all over the country traveled the island in search of seasonal farm work,
and after their arduous labor, they competed among themselves,
elaborating complicated dance steps that demonstrated their ability as Columbia dancers.
In his album, Ponce paid tribute to these transregional and seasonal workers’ contests,
reminding listeners that the circulation of workers now continued beyond Cuba’s borders.
from The Acoustic Body:
Rumba Guarapachanguera and Abakuá Sociality in Central Park by Berta Jottar
Jose "Chi Chi" Trapaga
Joe de Jesus
Orlando "Puntilla" Rios