Roula Roukbi is among the few Damascus socialites who created an alternative space for art, culture, and some politics in the city. She excelled at living as if Syria was a free country, and in many respects, her hotel came to embody a microcosm of what freedom might one day look like.
Alex Skolnick is a virtuoso musician best known as the lead guitarist for thrash legends Testament and his own jazz trio. When he started weighing in on politics, he was told to “shut up and play your guitar.” In an essay for Newlines, he writes about the responsibility of artists in a time of political turmoil.
Cuba’s dictatorship retained an allure for many on the global left. But this adulation of a totalitarian system is not stopping those facing down Cuba’s dictatorship on a daily basis from keeping the island’s culture and desire for freedom alive.