Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Martha Galarraga about to be expelled from France by the French State: an absurd cultural scandal…

Martha Galarraga is no ordinary artist: she's the daughter of Lázaro Galarraga, one of Cuba's greatest akpwones, reknowned as a major artist in the USA.
Considering her career and talent, Martha is one of the most famous afro-cuban akpwonas, like Amelita Pedroso, Caridad La Bembona or Teresa Polledo.
Martha went to live in Europe in 1998, first in Germany, without any problems on a permanent residence permit. Then she came to live in Paris in 2002, where she did not have any problems until 2008.
The Préfecture de Paris (French local authorities) then transferred her case for inquiry to the French DDTEFP (Direction Départementale du Travail, de l'Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle, Authority for labour and employment), which is part of the French Ministry of Work, Social Relationship, Family, Solidarity (what a nice word!!) and Town.
On September 29th 2008 they refused to renew her work permit. The DDTEFP demanded a permanent work contract for at least three months by one single employer. Martha did find one (we believe it was from French association Odduara) that guaranteed 43 gigs in 12 months, which the DDTEFP refused to validate. They put the limit even higher, demanding a minimum six months contract, that Martha also obtained: and was denied again. What zealous state servant can be dull-witted enough to ignore that a musician in France only very seldom obtains such a contract, unless he works with a major artist or a theater or dance company able to tour for six full months??

"On the 26th of May Martha's resident card has been seized by the 6th bureau of sous-direction for foreigners of the Préfecture de Paris. Martha no longer has any right to work".

Here are the disastrous consequences in sequence:

-1° Martha becomes a "paperless" worker
-2° She won't get any money from French ASSEDIC (unemployment insurance)
-3° She can't leave French territory: farewell to the London Lukumí Choir of which she's the director.
-4° She lost every job in France, including her job in Paris ISAAC where she was a teacher.
-5° She lost her job with the Ensemble Nord-Sud that had a tour in Brazil
-6° She has to wait 1 or 2 years a decision from French Tribunal Administratif
-7° She can be sent off back to Cuba at any time: return to point zero.
-etc, etc…

What is Martha suspected for? How can such a right, sane, human, joyful and serious person be disliked to such a degree by (supposedly) competent authorities?
Some sources say Martha would "change too often her employers". What kind of crime is this? Others say Martha "wouldn't pay enough taxes" and "wouldn't have a sufficient professional activity".

Who could have the right to crush so absurdly the international career of any foreign artist whoever s/he is? Martha has not got any problem with anyone, not with the Cuban state - is she accused of communism? Would the French state prefer she asked for political asylum? Martha does not want any arranged wedding, nor does she want any scheming to obtain a resident card. She's a right and honest person, and she's tired of so many fights with absurd authorities which decided to make her an outlaw.

Martha has nothing to fight back with other than cultural weapons. Her case has to make enough noise to reach French new Ministre de la Culture, Mr Frédéric Miterrand, for he alone can save her.

Journalists, writers, scholars: it's up to you!! Martha's lawyer needs media stuff to consolidate her defense.

Let's remember a big petition in Europe signed by 1300 people did not sway the French institution one single second.

(Martha with Mark Lotz in Holland)

Let's now try to answer to the argument saying:
"Martha Galarraga wouldn't have a sufficient professional activity":

  • just try "Martha Galarraga" in a Youtube search and you'll get 18 results. Martha can be watched there in many different contexts (which proves she's a polyvalent artist not being locked up in one single musical style), in France, in Cuba, in Mexico, in Martinique…
  • try "Martica Galarraga" or "London Lucumí Choir" (11 answers), or 'Galarumba".
  • try "Martha Galarraga" in Google and you'll get… 18,100 results!!
  • try "image search" and you'll get… 6 470 results.

Here are some discographic elements in Martha's career (there are many others):

(Cuba: Lázaro Ros - Olorun)

(Cuba: Oba-Ilú - Santeria)

(Cuba: Yoruba Andabo - Del Yoruba al Son)

(Cuba: Afrekete - Iyabakuá)

(Holland: Mark Lotz - Cuban Fishes Make Good Dishes)

(Germany: Bayuba Cante - Cheba)

(Germany: Bayuba Cante - Orunmila's Dance)

(USA: Omar Sosa - Sentir)

(USA: Omar Sosa - Prietos)

(USA: John Santos - La Guerra No)

(France: Madomko - d'Ouest en Ouest)


(With Bayuba Cante in Germany)

-Martha was born in 1969 in the barrio of Luyanó, Havana.
She's the daughter of master drummer and singer Lázaro Galarraga, co-founder of Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, one of the greatest akpwones of all time.
-In 1990, aged 21, she entered Conjunto Folklórico Nacional, for eight years, as a dancer, then solist-singer.
-At the same time, she sings in many Yoruba rituals in Havana.
-In the late 1990s she came to Europe. First in Germany where she worked in her first musical productions in Europe, together with the Rotterdam Conservatory, and in a salsa group « Macumbachè » in Frankfurt. Then she came to Paris, teaching at the ISAAC (Institut Supérieur des Arts Afro-Cubains).
-She entered Omar Sosa's group, one of the world's main Latin-Jazz artists, playing one concert at Carnegie Hall. In 2000, her meeting with Omar Sosa will carry her to USA, Japan, Morocco, Puerto Rico, and Brazil, for 4 years.
-She formed her own group in 2003: Martha y su Galarumba.
-Since she came to Europe, Martha has taught in many masterclasses in singing and dancing in Germany, England, Holland and France.

(with Conjunto Folklórico Nacional
in the film "In Cuba they're still Dancing")

(with Lucumí in Tony Gatlif's film)

(in Havana with Rumberos de Cuba)

(In Darmstadt, Germany)

(in Germany again)

(with Bayuba Cante)


Jonathan said...

This situation is intolerable- where a venerated singer is not allowed to stay with contract in hand. I have met Martha and can say from personal experience that any country would be lucky to have her. Martha come back to the USA, we miss you!

bjp7185 said...

so, what's going on with her case?

Anonymous said...

the best akpwona by far - i love you Martha, and your pops arara album is one of my favorites. De un boricua con buen oido y hijo de Ochun, eres la proxima Celia Cruz con tu propio estilo de cantar.