About 150 Artists Gather in Front of Cuba’s Ministry of Culture to Support the San Isidro Movement

The artists arrived to express their solidarity with the members of the San Isidro Movement and to demand a meeting with the Minister of Culture. (Facebook / Ahmel Echevarría)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 27 November 2020 — Since 11:00 AM this Friday, dozens of artists have gathered in front of the Ministry of Culture in Havana to express their solidarity with the members of the San Isidro Movement, who have been evicted from their headquarters by the security forces.

In the absence of the minister, Alpidio Alonso Grau, a delegation of 30 creators is expected to meet with the vice minister Fernando Rojas on behalf of all those present.

At 6:00 in the evening, more than 150 artists had arrived, including Tania Bruguera, winner of the 2014 Lázaro Saavedra National Prize for Plastic Arts, Reynier Leyva, Henry Eric, Julio Llopiz-Casal, Claudia Genlui, Solveig Font, Sindy Rivery, José Luis Aparicio, Nelson Jalil, Fernando Fraguela, Edel Figueredo, Sandra Ceballos, Juliana Rabelo, Mijail Rodríguez, Yunior García and Camila Lobón are some of those present.

Filmmaker Fernando Pérez and actor Jorge Perugorría also joined in the evening. “El Pichi and I are here to tell the Ministry of Culture to receive them,” said the renowned director. “This is going to be the beginning of a new language that Cuban culture lacks… it would not have to come to this if they had listened long before,” he added.

The artists have signed a declaration in which they condemn “the inability of government institutions in Cuba to dialogue and recognize dissent.”

The renowned artist Tania Bruguera, in statements to 14ymedio, explained that the group that arrived at the ministry this Friday “is intergenerational,” and is nurtured by people from all artistic branches who have come together to express that this institution does not represent them, nor has it been able to “find ways to negotiate when the life of an artist is at risk and it has neglected its duty, which is to protect artists.”

Visual artist Julio Llopiz-Casal declared: “I am here because I consider that what happened with the San Isidro Movement is a serious symptom of the systematic cultural policy that the Cuban State has had over 60 years, which consists of criminalizing and defaming the people who want dialogue and have no subversive intention.”

The images are being shared on the artists’ social networks and show that minute by minute more people are joining the call. Reynier Leyva Novo wrote on his Facebook wall: “We are already demanding that the Minister of Culture attend to us! San Isidro Movement. MSI. We are not moving from here…”

Another of the artists who came to the call, Henry Eric, declared to this newspaper that what moved him to join was “the lack of civil liberties,” something that in his opinion “results in the lack of freedom in creative and intellectual processes.”

“What happened in San Isidro seems to me to be a process of serious political repression, of the many that occur cyclically in this country,” and he mentioned as an example the Letter of the Ten in 1991, the Black Spring of 2003 and “the end of the 80s, when many artists in the world of visual arts were practically pushed to leave the country.”

For Henry Eric it is also important to “denounce the right that the Ministry of Culture assumes to say who can and who cannot be an artist,” because “no public official has the right to denigrate a person who decides to make art in the manner they want.”

The playwright and theater director Yunior García specified that the majority of those present are “young artists.”

He sees in what has happened in San Isidro “a threat to all our creative freedoms as artists and our freedoms as citizens,” an environment, he says, “very rarefied when it comes to making our art without having to leave the country where we were born.”

Although up until two in the afternoon the day passed peacefully, as 3:00 PM approached several sources in the place have denounced the arrival in the area where the artists are of “some buses” and of State Security agents along with the police.

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