Listen: “Patria y Vida” – Our Translation

Source: Mondelo Media/ Yotuel Romero in Patria y Vida

Listen to this double Latin Grammy-winning anthem and read an English translation that captures its passion and poetry.   

Patria y Vida won Song of the Year and Best Urban Song at the 2021 Latin Grammy Awards. The song is a protest anthem that calls for the freedom of the Cuban people. We have seen some literal translations of the lyrics online (including in the YouTube video below), but these can be hard to understand and appreciate because Patria y Vida uses Cuban slang and makes reference to parts of Cuban history that many teens may not know. Watch the video and then read our non-literal English translation that conveys the passion and poetry of Patria y Vida as well as its meaning, spirit, and rhythm. Check out the side notes for explanations of the historical references.    

Patria y Vida

My Country and My Life 


Y eres tú mi canto de sirena,

You are the siren song that’s always calling,            

Porque con tu voz se van mis penas.

When I hear your voice, it heals all my pains.

Y este sentimiento ya está añejo,

It's grown so stale this suffering  I’m recalling,

Tú me dueles tanto aunque estés lejos.

Yet even from afar, the hurt remains.

Hoy yo te invito a caminar por mis solares,

Come with me and see my streets, let’s walk the walk,

Pa' demostrarte de que sirven tus ideales.

I’ll show you that you're big ideals, they're worthless talk.

Somos humanos aunque no pensemos iguales,

We’re all human even if we don’t think the same,

No nos tratemos ni dañemos como animales.

Let's not behave like we're animals to beat and blame.

Esta es mi forma de decírtelo,

This is my way of telling you,

Llora mi pueblo y siento yo su voz.

My people cry, their voice comes through.

Tu cinco nueve yo, doble dos,

You’re five nine, I’m double two,

The term “five nine” is a reference to 1959, the year that the Cuban revolution took place, The term “double two” refers to 2022.  The songwriters are saying that the current government is stuck in 1959, whereas they represent the present and future of the country.

Sesenta años trancado el domino.

Locked in a game of dominoes, for sixty years we’ve all been screwed.

Dominoes is a popular pastime in Cuba.  The songwriters are saying that the government and its people have been playing a game that has been locked in stalemate (no one can make another move to advance the game) for 60-ish years (1959-2022).

Bombo y platillo a los quinientos de la Habana,

“Happy Havana-versary! 500 years, isn’t it sweet?"

Havana is one of the oldest cities founded by the Spaniards in Latin America.  Originally called San Cristobal de La Habana, it’s creation was memorialized in November 16, 1519 with a mass performed under a ceiba tree.  The Cuban government orchestrated celebrations of the city’s 500th anniversary in 2019.

Mientras en casa en las cazuelas ya no tienen jama.

A celebration isn’t special when there’s nothing left to eat.

¿Qué celebramos si la gente anda deprisa . . .

How can the people party when we’re all under the lash?

Cambiando al Che Guevara y a Martí por la divisa?

You gave up Che Guevara and Marti to get some cash.

Jose Marti was a leader and martyr in the Cuban fight for independence from Spain. Che Guevara was a rebel fighter allied with Fidel Castro in the socialist revolution of 1959 and who later died trying to spread the revolution to Bolivia. The songwriters are saying that the Cuban government has betrayed the principles of both men. 

Todo ha cambiado ya no es lo mismo.

Everything’s changed, it’s all amiss.

Entre tú y yo hay un abismo.

Between us now, there’s an abyss.

Publicidad de un paraíso en Varadero,

You say “Come to Varadero, it’s an island paradise!”

Varadero is an area that the government often highlights in tourism brochures and advertising.

Mientras las madres lloran por sus hijos que se fueron.

While our children leave their mothers with tears streaming from their eyes. 

The songwriter is saying that Varadero doesn’t reflect the reality of modern-day Cuba.

Tu cinco nueve, yo, doble dos,

You’re five nine, I’m double two,

(Ya se acabó) sesenta años trancado el dominó, mira.

(It’s over now) Locked in a game of dominoes, for sixty years we’ve all been screwed.

(Se acabó) tu cinco nueve, yo, doble dos,

(It’s over) You’re five nine, I’m double two,

(Ya se acabó) sesenta años trancado el dominó, mira.

(It’s over now) Locked in a game of dominoes, for sixty years we’ve all been screwed.

Somos artistas, somos sensibilidad,

We’re artists – let us show you how it feels,

La historia verdadera, no la mal contada.

Not the party line, but the history that’s real.

Somos la dignidad de un pueblo entero pisoteada,

We’re the dignity you can’t steal from a nation under heel,

A punta de pistola y de palabras que aún son nada.

A whole people held at gunpoint, forced to listen to your spiel.

¡No más mentiras!

No more lies!

¡Mi pueblo pide libertad, no más doctrinas!

We want a free nation, not more indoctrination.

¡Ya no gritemos “Patria o Muerte” sino “Patria y Vida”,

No more “My country or my life” I want “My country and my life”,

“Patria o Muerte” –  “Country or Death” is the slogan of the revolution and the Cuban government.  The songwriters are saying that they want “Country and Life” – a new vision for their country that focuses on a good life for everyone.

Y empezar a construir lo que soñamos, lo que destruyeron con sus manos.

We’ll start to build what’s in our dreams, what you tore down despite our screams.

Que no siga corriendo la sangre,

It’s time to stop the bloodshed,

Por querer pensar diferente.

We don’t all need to think with the same head.

¿Quién le dijo que Cuba es de ustedes?

Who said Cuba is yours to run?

Si mi Cuba es de toda mi gente.

My Cuba belongs to everyone.

Ya se venció tu tiempo, se rompió el silencio,

Your time us up, the silence is broken,

(Ya se acabó) ya se acabó la risa y el llanto ya está corriendo.

(It’s over now) The laughter is gone, and the sadness is spoken.

(Se acabó) y no tenemos miedo, se acabó el engaño,

(it’s over) We aren’t afraid, and we’re done with your tricks,

(Ya se acabó) son sesenta y dos haciendo daño.

(It’s over now) We’ve lived sixty-two years with your stones and your sticks.

Allí vivimos con la incertidumbre del pasado, plantado,

We’ve been living in the past, left high and dry,

Quince amigos puestos, listos pa' morirnos.

Fifteen friends holding fast, all ready to die.

This refers to a hunger strike by 15 members of The San Isidro Movement (see below and

Izamos la bandera todavía la represión del régimen al día,

Each day, forced to raise the flag of repression,

Anamely Ramós firme con su poesía.

The poetry of Anamely Ramos, a hopeful expression.

Omara Ruiz Urquiola dándonos aliento, de vida,

Omara Ruiz Urquiola can’t be beaten, teaching a life lesson,

Rompieron nuestra puerta, violaron nuestro templo.

Our doors have all been jacked, our holy temple sacked.

Y el mundo 'tá consciente,

But now the world knows,

De que el movimiento San Isidro continua, puesto.

That the San Isidro Movement’s here to stay and grows.

San Isidro is a neighborhood in Havana, and The San Isidro Movement is a group of artists fighting for democracy in Cuba.

Seguimos en las mismas, la seguridad metiendo prisma,

They keep trying to confuse us, with the government’s delusions,



Esas cosas a mí como me indignan, se acabó el enigma.

Damn!  It makes me so mad, we’re all aware of the illusion.

Ya sa' tu revolución maligna, soy Funky style, aquí tienes mi firma,

Enough of your evil revolution,  I am Funkystyle, and here I’ll stake my claim.

This is a rap song where multiple rappers participate, including Funkystyle.

Ya ustedes están sobrando, ya no le queda nada, ya se van bajando.

You’re days are done, you’re going down and you should be ashamed.

El pueblo se cansó de estar aguantando,

We’re not going to take it anymore

Un nuevo amanecer estamos esperando.

It’s a new day we’re waiting for

(Se acabó) Tu cinco nueve, yo, doble dos,

(It’s over) You’re five nine, I’m double two

(Ya se acabó) sesenta años trancado el dominó.

(It’s over now) Locked in a game of dominoes, for sixty years we’ve all been screwed.

Patria y vida,

My country and my life,

Patria y vida,

My country and my life,

Patria y vida,

My country and my life,

Sesenta años trancado el dominó.

Locked in a game of dominoes, for sixty years we’ve all been screwed.

Patria y Vida lyrics © Lemontree Entertainment