Article 4176 | MIC Buzz
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Nelson Batista – Uncovering ‘His Journey’

His beginning:

As a young man Nelson faced many obstacles regarding his personal career choices. He tried to move forward on several fronts, studied economics, languages and public relations, but when opportunities were presented to him, he was blocked by individuals who seemed to just have the ability to impose, inflict their rules and do so at will. These individuals took the liberty to try and control his path at every junction, like the head of the CDR (A form of ‘neighbourhood watch’, which worked closely with the Communist Party) who vetoed his chances to travel abroad as a translator/public relations officer, when he had actually been selected out of 250 candidates for the position.

Many other opportunities arose along the way, but Nelson was simply “Not communist enough” for such important roles, despite being well educated and highly qualified for the jobs offered.

Alongside this, Nelson had to navigate the compelling backdrop to his life, comprising of a mixture of colonialism, socialism, nationalism, tribalism, religion, paganism and westernisation, that surrounded Cuba, and also was engulfing the whole of the Caribbean during that time.



His ambition was as normal as every young person around the world, he had his likes and dislikes, enjoyed his music, dancing, as well as trying to scramble up the social ladder (the usual things in life).

Like most Cubans Nelson’s general hope was to better himself, to have nice things and to make a better life for himself and his family.


His multilingual speaking skills:

Nelson realised from a very early age that he needed to leave Cuba, if he wanted to be free to improve his life not only financially but intellectually, however while he remained in the country what he needed to do was interface with the tourists and foreign nationals, to network and also to enrich himself culturally even further.

Due to Nelson’s perseverance, he managed to get a job as a translator in one of the government owned companies, that invited foreign nationals from non communist countries to visit Cuba, sometimes as special tourists, sometimes as lectures or highly skilled individuals. The government policy of trying to portray the country in a different light, helped Nelson to take opportunities, because it was very difficult to get translation jobs, or any jobs, where a Cuban would get in contact with foreigners. Certain jobs could not be given to those citizens who did not have the ability to interact to International standards and also with tourists. In Cuba there was also a lot of competition from international and foreign students, for study places and language translation type jobs.

For Nelson this was a great opportunity, which he took very seriously.

Afterwards, Nelson became a public relations officer for the ‘International Department’ of the ‘University of Havana’, where he remained working until leaving the country for the UK.


Music and dance growing up in Cuba:

The mixture of Cuba’s music and dance was dominated by a choice of either; a) home grown traditional Cuban music, or b) gentrified socially acceptable ‘highbrow’ music, this was a clear reflection of the social and economic divisions within Cuba. What was interesting in Cuba and helped Nelson at that time, was the unofficial access to international music and dance like soul, jazz, blues, funk and other forms of music and dance, which were used for socialising between international cultures, through a combination of backdoors, avenues, alleyways and venues.

Nelson and others were able to socialise regardless of culture, race, creed or colour. It was young people like Nelson who at that time were unknowingly part of a greater, silent, powerful and positive social change revolution, which has changed many parts of the world we know today and is still changing day by day.


What about racism?

Nelson in Cuba was too ‘dark skin’ to be white, and too ‘light skin’ to be black, therefore he had to learn to navigate between the psychological and social structures, to which he never solely belonged to any, but still he was apart of and did associate with.

For Nelson dealing with societies views on skin colour and the devastating effect and impact it had on all those lives in Cuba and around the world, was unfortunately equally matched by the ‘social structures’ that were his obstacles growing up, where his every changing environment was a reflection of the times he lived in. As a young man he had to understand that the external world politics, were a direct reflection of how things were in Cuba, and also what had been setup in Cuba, was created and forged during the periods from pre to post Cuban revolution and independence.

Another huge obstacle he faced was the actual ‘social conventions’, in other words what people believed the structure of his life should be, based on what they believe their status in the world should be. The ‘social conventions’ at that time were subject to the backdrop of what their world view was at the time, that affected Nelson like everyone, based on the ongoing legacy and effects of the awful chasm that was the apartheid regime in South Africa, the ‘Cuban missile crisis’ part of the raging ‘Cold War’ between Russia and the USA, plus the Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks civil rights movement juggernaut, sweeping through the USA reverberating around the world. Then adding to all of this was the Middle East with the Israeli land and Southbank conflicts.

Surrounded by all of this was Nelson, just like so many millions of people across the world who experienced this in their daily lives, which is so completely different to the normality that some of us know now and fortunately can enjoy today.

Clearly his skill sets were enhanced out of necessity and that made him strengthen his attitude and determination.


How did he use his looks?

Like any marketing tool, image and the way you look or present yourself are part of your success. Nelson from a very early age and from past confirmations, has taken the view that he had to use all of his skill sets and whatever assets his looks could bring, to forge ahead from where he had been restricted to before.

Nelson however knew that if he just relied solely on his looks, it would have been at his peril, because so many things have happened in his lifetime to more beautiful people, who are currently physically scarred, or who are not alive today.



What you have within Nelson, is a very complex backdrop, in terms of understanding the different issues that are still in the world today.

It is remarkable that Nelson eventually managed to travel the world and enjoy access to things that he was denied previously in his life.

Although this is a small insight into the journey of his life, no one will know as much about how he feels and what he has gone through more than his sister, his children, his long-term Cuban friends and his wife Fayten.


Nelson’s life is a celebration of triumphing over adversities.

Just a small glimpse into a fascinating life!


Posted by under Art, Crafts & Literature, Cultures, Dance & Drama, Jobs, Knowledge & Careers, Media & Travel, Mind, Body & Soul, Music

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1 Comment


One Comment

  1. Jocelyn Mifsud
    Posted 13/07/2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

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