’Actuar’ Offers Lynn Cruz a New Contract, Only to Fire Her the Following Month

“Following Orders” Note: Our apologies that this audio file is not subtitled in English

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 24 April 2018 — The director of the Actuar agency, Jorge Luis Frías Armenteros, acknowledged that irregularities were committed by excluding the actress Lynn Cruz from the catalog of that state entity. Today the actress has posted on the internet the audio of the labor hearing that was held last Friday in Havana, after her protest.

Cruz appealed her exclusion from the agency representing actors and her case reached the body overseeing labor justice. During the oral hearing, Frías accepted that the 30-day period to notify her of the agency’s decision had been violated, but justified the expulsion because of the “critical protests” about the government that the actress publishes on social networks. continue reading

The labor trial lasted more than an hour and a dozen functionaries from Actuar were present, Cruz told 14ymedio. The view reminded her of “the judgments of the parametración* era,” a purge in the artistic sector that took place in the 70s, when homosexual, religious and artists not in sympathy with the regime were sanctioned.

“At times I felt like I was in an asylum, it was insane to see how they tried to bring to 21st century methods of the 70s,” laments Cruz who was the accuser, but ended up being accused of writing on her Facebook wall opinions contrary to the political system from the country.

Recently Cruz was informed all of a sudden that Actuar was not going to continue representing her and that lack of representation was used by the International Film School of San Antonio de los Baños to exclude her from the institution’s workshops.

To free himself from Cruz’s accusation, Frias proposed to the actress during the trial that the agency would hire her again for a month with the sole purpose of expelling her, this time, without violating any clause of her contract.

Cruz refused to support that proposal and says that with her appeal she seeks to obtain a document that records the true reasons for her expulsion. In a recent interview with 14ymedio, she said that after what happened with Actuar she feels “freer” than before. Frías affirmed in the hearing that “by agreement of the [Actuar] Board of Directors…the demonstrations” of Cruz on the Internet have been considered “offensive to a group of leaders and executives of the Government, the Party and the Ministry of Culture.”

Without mentioning specific names or citing a single one of the offenses, the official also said that “these demonstrations do not correspond to the ethics and principles” that the Agency represents and defends.

Born in Havana, in 1977, Lynn Cruz has worked for television in cop shows and also in movies in films such as Larga Distancia oand La Pared.

The attack against the artist began after she participated in several creative projects promoted outside the country’s official cultural institutions. She is also a contributor to some independent media such as Havana Times.

Last November, the harassment of State Security prevented the public from attending a performance of her work, The Enemies of the People in the independent gallery El Círculo.

*Translator’s note: Parametración/parameterization: From the word “parameters.” Parameterization is a process of establishing parameters and declaring anyone who falls outside them (the parametrados) to be what is commonly translated as “misfits” or “marginalized.” This is a process much harsher than implied by these terms in English. The process is akin to the McCarthy witch hunts and black lists and is used, for example, to purge the ranks of teachers, or even to imprison people. See here, and here.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Free Education with Clowns and Reggaeton / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz, Havana Times, 19 April 2018 — People here have been talking about reggaeton lyrics for a long time. I remember the famous video which a grandfather uploaded to YouTube, where his trendsetting grandson was grinding on top of a girl like an adult to a raucous reggaeton beat.

In front of my house, and also in front of the Ministry of Culture, is the “Union Internacional de Estudiantes” Primary School (UIE) which ironically has a huge photo poster of Che Guevara laying bricks during the school’s construction in 1961: “The Year of Education.” Today, two or three Fridays every month, birthday parties are held at this center in school hours, where better-off parents hire clowns, decorate the yard and even rent out bouncy castles, sometimes. continue reading

As well as rubbing luxury in the faces of those less advantaged financially-speaking, it is a distortion bearing in mind socialist schools still indoctrinate children with collectivism. On the other hand, lewd and violent reggaeton music doesn’t only bother the community, it also forms a part of these parties at primary schools.

Recently, a neighbor from my building called Xiomara Vazquez, the principal of the school to complain about noise. Vazquez defensively answered, arguing that children were holding a Pioneer (communist kids) activity and that they don’t put reggaeton on. That’s to say she lied outright, which you could confirm for yourself just by going out onto the balcony, and she went so far as to ask my neighbor: And you can hear it from the fourth floor?

The interesting thing is that these celebrations generally start off with children’s songs which compete in bad taste with the monotony of reggaeton music, as if you couldn’t educate children listening to classical music, for example. Clowns hired for these events don’t seem professional either. They look like buffoons and still shout even when they are speaking into a microphone. All of this anachronism provokes a distortion, as well as a strange reading about what the educational foundations are at socialist schools here in Cuba, today.

It’s very contradictory. The government’s efforts to uphold itself as the great righteous one (in appearance only), ultimately ignores or abuses the essence of teaching values. Children spend most of the day at school, therefore, the government has a great responsibility when it comes to the future, but they don’t seem to be too bothered by it.

Of course, if everything that needed to be censored was censored, instead of just artists and the press, the country would probably collapse. Art can’t change anything by itself but it can make people reflect upon certain subjects, which dissociate themselves from their context, that are perceived to be represented.

The recent rise in censorship is due to the government having seen its darkest side portrayed by independent journalism and artists. So many views can’t be wrong. They can gag artists, but they can never silence art. They can arrest journalists, but they will never silence the truth.

In the censored documentary Nadie,” by Miguel Coyula, poet Rafael Alcides, the lead character, talks about double standards in Cuba, about how children are taught to be fake from a young age, thereby losing their innocence very quickly.

Ever since the ‘90s and the euphemism of calling those years of great crisis (unnecessarily too) the “Special Period,” began this journey of social deterioration, which the country is currently facing today.

Maybe teachers’ inertia and Vazquez’ own, not knowing how to deal with economic differences or because teaching staff don’t earn enough to make it to the end of the month, but rather receive extras from well-off parents, or because of the lack of opportunities to relax and have access to entertainment, are some of the reasons why they adopt this permissive and deforming behavior. Where does education stand today as a priority, as the driving force behind future generations?

Translation from Havana Times

“I Knew That Killing Fidel Castro In A Play Was My Social Suicide”

Lynn Cruz says she was recently denied access to a workshop at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School and the Actuar agency stopped representing her. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 10 April 2018 – She was a “vanguard Little Pioneer” in her childhood, later earned a degree in Geography, and now Lynn Cruz has ended up an independent and censored actress. Born in Havana, in 1977, but raised in Matanzas, the actress is convinced that State Security is determined to end her artistic career.

Cruz says she was recently denied access to a workshop at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School and the agency Actuar has stopped representing her, without explaining a single reason for the rebuff. All this comes after the artist participated in several creative projects that disgusted the cultural authorities.

“After everything that has happened to me, I feel more free,” says the artist. Last November, harassment by State Security blocked almost the entire audience from attending the staging of her work The Enemies of the People in an alternative space, an event that was preceded by her participation in the exhibition of the documentary Nadie, inspired in the officially damned poet Rafael Alcides. continue reading

Long before arriving at her current situation, Cruz worked for television in detective shows and her face is known to moviegoers through films such as Larga Distancia and La Pared. A few months ago, when she had not yet become a radioactive actress, she finished filming Eres tu papá, a film yet to be released.

Lynn Cruz recently responded to a few questions from 14ymedio.

Luz Escobar. How has your professional life changed since you are under the eyes of the authorities?

Lynn Cruz. Now I am in a limbo. They are erasing me little by little to make me into a non-person, which is a way of using me to teach a lesson to others. State Security goes around to all the places to let them know that they are deleting the files and now, if a director requests my work through an agency, they can tell him that I am not in the country or they can say directly that I am a ‘mercenary’ [in the pay of the “empire”, i.e. the United States].

Escobar. What were the first signs that something like this was coming?

Cruz. Since I made The Enemies of the People I knew all this could happen, but it is not the same to imagine the outrage as to be outraged. I can’t live worrying about the consequences of my actions, I simply take action because at that moment I am convinced. I did that work because since I started researching the sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat (1994) and I heard the testimony of María Victoria García Suárez, who lost her 10-year-old son, I felt the duty to do something with that.

For the actor it is possible to evade censorship because she is interpreting what someone else wrote and the censors are always searching for the author. However, in this piece I also became an author, which implies a greater responsibility. I came to writing because most of the time I am an unemployed actress and that is the way to release the things that happen to me.

Escobar. Have you received any signs of solidarity since the censorship?

Cruz. Most of the actors did not know what was happening and many people of my generation have gone to live outside of Cuba. I can’t say that I felt either antipathy or sympathy because it was as if it had not happened. When I talked about it, some people looked surprised because they could not believe that I had killed Fidel Castro in a play.

I knew that by doing so I was performing my own social suicide.

Escobar. Does your acting career end here and now?

Cruz. I’m working with Lía Villares and Luis Trápaga on the work Patriotismo 3677, a work I wrote a while ago where I take a tour of prisoners of conscience of these 60 years. It has testimonies from Sonia Garro, Maria Elena Cruz Valera, Nestor Diaz de Villegas and other writers of the diaspora. It is the way I have found to maintain hope and to be able to continue living in Cuba even in the midst of these situations that I am facing.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

An Unjust Punishment Twofold / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 3 April 2018 — After being expelled from the San Antonio de los Banos School of Film and TV (EICTV), the Actuar Agency has decided to not represent me anymore.

Actuar doesn’t find me work but it stops me from being able to invoice my work as an actress if somebody else hires me in Cuba.

There are two companies which represent actors who work in film and TV, Actuar and Caricato, both of which are owned by the State. The fact that they are denying me representation means that my legal assessment documents from here on out as an actress in order to get paid, won’t be valid, as the company won’t validate them. This decision is an attempt to destroy and put the brakes on my professional life here in Cuba. continue reading

But, something strange has happened, it seems that Actuar and the EICTV, didn’t reach an agreement. The EICTV is blaming Actuar for refusing to represent me, but I received word of Actuar’s order after I was banned from taking part in the Norma Angeleri workshop at EICTV.

Jorge Luis Frias, Actuar’s director, bit his tongue when I asked what the reasons behind this decision were. As I caught him off guard and the script he was supposed to repeat hadn’t been written yet, he didn’t know what to answer, so he promised to write down the reasons for my expulsion in a week’s time because the real people who executed the order don’t reside within this agency.

Has this decision come from the Ministry of Culture or Villa Marista, Cuban State Security’s military base?

In face of such an obvious sham, I told him that they had also done something illegal, because before undoing my contract, both parties have a thirty-day period to repeal the decision if need be, if I haven’t worked for longer than six months or because of absences, and if both parties don’t reach an agreement, a legal process could be opened.

So, I am still legally a member of Actuar, however, my last wages from EICTV were brought to my house in cash, when Actuar should have issued me a cheque. Frias, like any good executing soldier, didn’t care about going off his bureaucratic script because the “good director” has clearly been assured that he wouldn’t suffer any consequences, even if I made a claim.

Now then, it doesn’t say anywhere in this joke of a contract that representation must be withdrawn because the artist doesn’t accept being gagged and stopped from saying what she thinks, which is the real reason behind these schemes and manipulations.

I can’t explain how bad I felt while I tried to explain what had happened to Angeleri, who had practically been deceived by every board member at the EICTV.

Nobody who lives outside of Cuba is ready to understand that this is a sick society where everyone wears a mask and that the line between the truth and a lie, between what’s real and pretend, has been lost.

But, they haven’t punished me because luckily enough, I’ve never lived off of this salary, I have always gone to the EICTV because I love film and that’s why I offer my services as an actress to the students and professors there. I feel I have a duty to work there, to give back all of the knowledge that my own teachers have given me, in this marvellous exchange that making a movie entails.

The only thing they’ve managed to do with these decisions is to destroy the school’s image, which is far from being the place that Fernando Birri described during its founding:

“So that the place of utopias which is nowhere by definition, can be found somewhere.”

This is another of the Revolution’s failed dreams, in the hands of irresponsible, unprincipled persons who are blinded by power.

In my case, the measure only reaffirms what I’ve always been, an independent actress and the students that I’ve worked with at the EICTV who want to call me, I’d like to tell them that I was indoctrinated at socialist schools, where I was taught that the most important thing in life was to be good at whatever I chose to do and, for a long time, my History teachers made me believe that money would cease to exist in 2000 in Cuba.

Starting over is a real challenge for any artist. If they want me, I’ll work for free. Artists don’t believe in bureaucracy.

The video below is not translated into English but it is subtitled in Spanish:

Post reprinted from Havana Times.

Chronicle of a Journey After Being Expelled / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz and Miguel Coyula

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 31 March 2018 — The first Independent Cuban Film Festival organized outside of Cuba coincided with my ban from entering the International Film School of San Antonio del Los Banos. With Cubans from the country of “Miami” taking the lead, the event had as its forerunner another that had been organized by the Hannah Arendt International Institute for Artivism, led by Tania Bruguera, which took place in New York’s Museum of Modern Art at the beginning of this month.

Cubans in Miami have won themselves a piece of land in the US. Terrified of Castrismo, they fell like expatriates into the exile boat and contrary to popular belief, thought and art are buzzing here in this city, in spite of its arid landscape and Anglo-Saxon toughness. continue reading

In addition to meeting friends who stood in solidarity with me after I lost my place in Argentinian director Norma Angeleri’s workshop at the Film School, my first surprise when I stepped foot on Cuban-American soil was to meet Nat Chediak, the founder of the Miami Film Festival, in a Chinese restaurant called No Name, which he had deliberately chosen to pay homage to the belittlement that Rafael Alcides embodies in our movie Nadie.

We met Javier Chavez, who was with Chediak, a young, introverted Cuban-American who is slow and deliberate with a really sharp way of looking at things, who collaborated in the festival showing movies and assisting Chediak. Chediak has never returned to Cuba, but he says he never left. He lives it through film. He has been scheduling movie screenings for nearly half a century.

On the other hand, Chavez confesses that he doesn’t feel Cuban at all; he is 27 years old and the curious thing is that most of his generation who live in Cuba, don’t identify with their own country either. Identity is something that is yet to come. You aren’t born with it. A sick land spoils its fruits. It will never be a reason for compatibility.

The Forbidden Fruit Festival at the Coral Gables Art Cinema concluded on March 29th. It included a varied program with 25 movies, bringing together most of the movies that are left in the dark in Cuba. If they don’t deal with subjects banned by the government, some of them find their way into the Weekly Packet, also know as the Cuban Netflix.

Every week, those who are lucky enough to own a computer can purchase this Packet for 2 Convertible Pesos and receive 1 Tb of information, movies, series, TV programs made in Miami, the most-watched videos on YouTube, as well as independent Cuban movies.

The most daring, which can’t be found in the Weekly Packet, are in the Paquetico (Little Packet), which has a more limited, but bold selection.

Today, Cuba could be analyzed via  “illegality,” a term that was invented to describe something that survives in a legal limbo. Thus, independent movies and media and a large sector of our national economic activity, both public and private, suffer under this irregular status.

There is currently a movement that has been created by new technologies and access to new media, which has sparked the evolution of filmmaking to making movies with low budgets, most of which come from crowdfunding campaigns and the self-management of young filmmakers, who are determined to defend a platform that gives them a voice.

However, many of these movies don’t then find their way into a place to be shown, in or outside the island, if they make Cuban politicians uncomfortable because of its daring content, which aren’t subject to self-censorship which most Cubans movies are.

Bruguera and Chediak have come together accidentally and they are raising their voices in the name of a Cuban community that suffers the pain of having their land kidnapped from them. Thus, the subjects dealt with in these movies revolve around deceit, a lack of freedom, fear which borders on paranoia, neglect, apathy, poverty, movies which live in the Post-Fidel world.

The thing I liked the most about Forbidden Fruit was the willingness to move past the hard feelings and disappointments that Cuban people have, who can only come together through art, especially film. There is an English saying that goes: “The boss sets the tone.” Chediak has promoted a dialogue between viewers and filmmakers which, at least in my case, has led to the most special experience I’ve ever had as an actress.

I could see Nadie in a movie theater for the first time, in high definition, and confirm, alongside its director Miguel Coyula, that its audience are Cubans wherever they live, as Rafael Alcides, the dissident poet and lead character in the documentary, manages to express his truth which is the same truth for anyone who has suffered indifference at the hands of a system after crushing anyone who has judged it outrightly and been in power for nearly 60 years.

We were invited to Channel 41, to the program A Fondo, which is hosted by Pedro Sevsec and accompanied by critic, journalist and one of the festival’s curators, Alejandro Rios, a program which goes beyond the local and deals with more universal issues.

Meeting up with Juan Carlos Cremata, Eliecer Jimenez and Humberto Padron, three Cuban filmmakers who also took part in the festival with their movies, was a gratifying and also sad experience at the same time. Trapped by a black and white policy, just like we are, which hasn’t done anything but divide the Cuban people from its exile community. We were free of all labels and manipulation for a few days. The Forbidden Fruit Festival appeared as a real alternative project for independent works created outside of Cuban institutions and the government.

Note: English Translation from Havana Times

My Unexpected Expulsion / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz, Havana Times, 23 March 2018 — I have been working with the San Antonio de los Banos School of Film and TV (EICTV) for sixteen years.

Normally when teachers, both Cuban and foreign, connect with some actors, they always ask for these every time they hold their workshops, where purely creative interests are considered, as part of a dynamic that transcends any ideology, creed or political affiliation.

This is what happened with Argentinian director and actress Norma Angeleri, who I have been working with in an actors direction workshop for six years. continue reading

I recently discovered that a Cuban professor had been expelled from the documentary school where he had taught for 12 years, who hasn’t gone public with the news, because he is still waiting for a response from Fernando Rojas, the Vice-Minister of Culture.

Rojas and Susana Molina, the current director of EICTV, decided to expel him because they believed him to be: “politically incorrect”.

Of course, this would never have happened when the school was a Non-governmental organization. In the hands of political commissars now, unprincipled subjects with a green light to crush anyone who threatens their weak official discourse, there isn’t any kind of will to maintain the school’s prestige.

On Monday March 19th, an actress friend of mine told me that the casting for Angeleri’s workshop would take place on Wednesday the 21st. The news took me by surprise as I had been working on some exercises the week before for the theses of direction students on the regular course. I was sure they would call me for Angeleri’s workshop, but it seems I’ve also been put in the category: “politically incorrect”, but because I’m just an actress, they didn’t even spare themselves the effort of telling me, as they believed that everything would have been assumed.

I immediately called up producer Rafael Acosta, who I have known ever since I first started working at the school, and after insisting more than once, he finally answered. I really needed Arley Perera’s phone number, who is responsible for calling the actors, but Acosta told me he didn’t have his number, and when I asked him about the casting, he replied that I was indeed not on the list.

Then, I decided to speak to Angeleri myself so as to clear up any doubts, as she had written an email to me saying: See you soon, dear! When I contacted her, she couldn’t hide her surprise and said that she had asked Perera if I was going to the casting and that he had awkwardly replied: I don’t know, I’ll tell you later. It was after 7 PM when we spoke, Perera had already gone home and Angeleri suggested I call Orietta Roque, coordinator of Higher Education, which is where the workshop was taking place, to make sure that it wasn’t a misunderstanding.

Roque told me that there wasn’t a problem with me personally, that it was the producers’ decision and that she couldn’t do anything to change it. We had a confrontation on the phone, and she finally said that I wouldn’t be able to go to the casting.

Nothing that Roque had said was true, first of all, her husband Gerardo Chijona, who also teaches a workshop on the same program, doesn’t allow producers to organize his casting and he, like the majority of teachers, take their own cast.

On the other hand, the injustice is even greater if you take into account the fact that Angeleri teaches a casting workshop with complex scenes from an acting perspective, with real film rigor, as her students are film professionals, which means to say that even if I went to the casting, that doesn’t mean I’m going to get a place on the workshop as it’s highly competitive.

I have also got several job offers from abroad thanks to this workshop’s intensity.

In the end, and in the face of the blatant situation, I just had to apologize to Angeleri for the shame she would experience for seeing what it means to live in a country where the slightest bit of respect for professional competence doesn’t exist as it isn’t my ability and discipline as an actress that is being decided behind my back, but what my point of view on the country’s current situation is, which is being subjected to a new terror policy.

They didn’t show Angeleri any respect as they lied to her face. The schools’ producers, alongside Roque, have censored me giving vague excuses which only prove the lack of personal conviction those at the head of arbitrary measures have who are only trying to cut me from my profession.

Note: Translation from English version of Havana Times

Cuban Socialism’s New Man in Havana’s Capitolio / Lynn Cruz

text

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 7 March 2018 — “Oprah Winfrey, one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers,” is a critical essay by Nicole Aschoff for The Guardian newspaper about the speech Winfrey gave at the latest edition of the Golden Globes.

While reading it, and as a result of Aschoff’s brilliant analysis, I could understand one of the ways that this economic and political movement is being manifested. continue reading

According to Winfrey, anyone can go as far as she has. She could criticize Trump but not the system that fabricates the fantasy of wanting a life that doesn’t necessarily keep in line with an individual’s real possibilities. In other words, Winfrey defends the “American dream” which is also the “Latin American nightmare,” not just for immigrants but also for the realities of Latin American people.

The heart of Winfrey’s speech addresses the fact that every success or failure is an individual’s sole responsibility. It omits the existence of political, economic or social situations and that’s why Aschoff calls her way of thinking “neoliberal.”

Because ideas also fall into abstract terms, Cubans were also given a dream, the dream of social justice; it doesn’t matter that it might be unsustainable given the fact that the conditions to move towards this “Communist paradise” were never created. Karl Marx didn’t say that a Revolution could bring about a communist system.

It isn’t easy to analyze a system which has been adopting and adjusting certain positions, based on the philosophy of the “temporary.” This has been the trap that the government has fallen into in the long run, a prisoner of its own inclinations, it wants to survive although it has to deny itself, its own rhetoric in order to do so and the most important thing in the name of the majority is to demand that: “We need to improve” in order to disguise this transition towards state capitalism.

Even when it keeps its so-called “achievements” going: “Free healthcare and education.”  As part of a globalized world, Cuba also runs the risk of not being exempt from this neoliberal political and economic movement, in its different forms of manifesting and defining itself.

Reality on the island, the product of the historic exhaustion of four generations which have walked along a cobbled path, in the name of anti-imperialist resistance, is that of apathy and discredit towards politicians.

Cuban society is moving more and more towards individualism, saving oneself at any cost, in the face of the chaos and social disorder that have taken over the country. In the long-term, years of sacrifice have only proved that Cuba is nothing but a poor country, trapped in a geopolitical conflict, which dates back to the Cold War.

This wouldn’t be dangerous if the economy had been strengthened during the nearly 60 years of this same system, with a real rule of law and civil society. In Cuba, poor governance also prevails today with a president and a small anonymous group that control and exercise power from the shadows, who are only worried about their opposition, in any way they take form, whether that’s in art or politics.

El Capitolio de La Habana. Photo: progresosemanal.us

A while ago, during a movie shoot for Cuban TV, I was at the Vistar magazine office, a gossip magazine which has popped up within this low budget capitalism that is becoming more and more visible and tangible here. At the office entrance, there was a slogan: “Consuming what we produce is a way of being patriotic.”

Preparing yourself for Cuba’s future will mean doing business but without questioning the Communist Party and its so-called “achievements.” That is to say, the current Cuban government’s ideology is focusing on the business world. Those who were born in the ‘90s, for example, didn’t live during the time of the Russians and so they became conscious within a dollarized society. For them, the Revolution is just a brand up for sale in Old Havana, where Cuba spreads its legs like a prostitute. And the new Cuban Parliament will establish itself there too, in the Republican Capitolio.

What happened to the idea of Cuba’s “New Man,” forged from the steel of an anti-imperialist Revolution?

From Worms to Repatriates: Cuba’s Exile Community / Lynn Cruz

The Camarioca exodus of 1964. (Havana Times)

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 27 February 2018 – Ever since I began making Political Theater, one thing hasn’t stopped tormenting me, it’s almost psychological torture. It has something to do with the fact that you end up living in a constant state of paranoia.

A prisoner of labels in a world that doesn’t have time to see the nuances of something, where everything is black or white, especially in an authoritarian system which hides behind the guise of a Leftist government which defends social justice, theoretically-speaking. continue reading

In his book Sabbat Gigante, Nestor Diaz de Villegas, the writer who stirs things up among the Cuban exile community, says that the “worm” has been Castrismo’s greatest creation. He was a political prisoner when he was just 18 years old because of a poem he wrote to Carlos III Street, which later became Salvador Allende Avenue after the Revolution triumphed. A teenage prisoner of conscience.

Drawing conclusions from his analysis, you could deduce that Miami became the city of worms. Something that Fidel Castro created together with the US government. This is how Castro purged the island to prevent any kind of political competition. The first “worms” to leave would be the middle class, small business owners, professionals and intellectuals.

 

An organized repudiation of those leaving the country at Mariel in 1980. “Out with the Antisociaists. Out with the scum” (Havana Times)

An organized repudiation of those leaving the country at Mariel in 1980.
However, 54 years after the first mass exodus in 1964, Cuba is a doomed land today. Opposition on the island is also slandered off as “mercenary” for receiving funds that come from these same Cuban-American “worms” that probably left during the Camarioca boatlift.

A new kind of “worm” left during the following exoduses, the working class who don’t live off of funds from the White House once they are there, nor are they Cubans with renowned surnames. When the time came, they were also labeled “traitors”.

However, in his Sabatt Gigante, Diaz de Villegas says: “There is a kind of late vindication in the fact that the monstrous worm returns to Cuba, transformed into a butterfly.”

They sustain the country with their remittances. However, the Cuban government made sure of adding a 10% tax to the dollar with regard to the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC). I’m using its English abbreviation so as to not confuse it with the other PCC (Cuban Communist Party), one of destiny’s ironies.

Thus, every time a Cuban begins criticizing the government in a direct way, and shows them that they aren’t afraid, they run the risk of being converted into a “worm”. You have no other choice but ostracism or exile.

Meanwhile, a new kind of industry created by Castrismo has also been extended to the so-called “missions” that doctors, athletes, artists and teachers go on. They are the ones who really pay for the so-called “achievements of the Revolution” which are of course riddled with corruption.

Cubans rest at the immigration office in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica, on the border with Nicaragua on November 16, 2015. Photo: Ezequiel Becera /AFP
You can’t deny Fidel Castro’s intelligence; he collected all the glory for himself, at the expense of dividing, oppressing and crushing the Cuban people.

On the other hand, Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, who represents the ugly American, has stood out for his hostility towards immigrants from “shithole” countries. He has reinforced tensions with the Cuban government, condemning both nations to live in uncertainty and fear. However, it led to the Cuban government establishing the new category of “repatriate worm” after it was supposedly going to “reconcile with its exile community”.

Even though Cubans have a US passport, they still need a Cuban passport to travel to Cuba. Could Cuban and US immigration services please explain, what the status of a repatriate is?

Lynn Cruz is Committed to a Theater of Resistance

Lynn Cruz in a scene of ‘Corazón azul’, a film currently in production. (M. COYULA)

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Waldo Fernandez Cuenca, Havana, 15 February 2018 — The theatrical work Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People), whose presentation at the independent El Círculo State Security forces sought to prevent, undoubtedly marks a watershed in the career of actress Lynn Cruz. At that time she decided to create, with her partner the filmmaker Miguel Coyula, art in a totally independent and political way.

Lynn Cruz boasts an extensive career. Since 2003 she has worked in several Cuban theater groups, and had an enriching experience in German theater, in 2009. She won the David Suárez Award for Best Actress in Venezuela, and the Cayenne Short Film Festival Award in New York, in 2016, both for her leading role in the short film El niño (The Boy). She was nominated for Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015 for the short film Finales, produced in Ecuador. She has formed part of the cast of Cuban films like La Pared (The Wall), Larga Distancia (Long Distance), ¿Eres tu, papá? (Is That You, Dad?) and the documentary (NadieNo one, by Coyula, censored in Cuba and honored at the 10th Film Festival of the Dominican Republic, in 2017. continue reading

DIARIO DE CUBA talked to her about her beginnings and her constant search for freedom in her professional career.

“In my adolescence I did not have a defined vocation, nor did I know what to do with my life. Since I didn’t want to end up without a university degree, I chose to study for a degree in Geography, which was one of the easiest majors. On that path I discovered that what I really liked was acting,” she explained.

“I ventured into amateur theater groups in Matanzas, where I lived, but I couldn’t make my way there. In the year 2000 I moved to Havana, where I was able to enter a professional group called the Teatro del Puerto. I was there for a year. Then I worked in other theater groups, until in 2009 I traveled to Germany to work with the independent group Pig’s Appeal in that country.”

What was the experience of doing theater in Germany like?

Before that Colombia was the only other country I knew, and it was the first time I was in a developed country. That really affected me as an artist. I started to question my identity, because I worked with German playwrights and actors. I also had to deal with a text openly critical of the Cuban reality, by Carlos A. Aguilera, and my reticence to perform it. That did not mean that I was in agreement with the Cuban political system, because I have always been very rebellious, but until then I identified more with the institutions than with what was outside of them.

The experience of doing theater in Germany was so intense, from every point of view, that it totally changed me. From that moment on, I lost the motivation to work for institutions. Before my trip I had achieved the dream of every actor, which is to play a leading role in a film, in Larga Distancia (Long Distance), directed by Esteban Insausti. But in the end I felt that my life was the same, that nothing had changed. It was then that I begin to think about forming my own theatrical group, independently.

How did you manage to put together the work El Regreso (The Return), which marked the birth of the Kairós Theater in 2011?

The work La Indiana, by the Catalonian Angels Aymar, in which the Catalonian presence in the 19th century is portrayed, and the nostalgia with which those indianos (Spanish emigrants) wrote their letters, speaking of their native land, spurred me to draw a parallel with Cubans who have left and their nostalgia for a lost land. I managed to get the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation to support me financially with its staging. However, the money was not much, and we had to reduce the number of actors, from six, originally, to one.

Then came the opposition by the president of the National Council of Performing Arts, Gisela González, to the work to being presented at the Adolfo Llauradó Theater. But I was determined to stage the work, even if it was in a park. In response to that meddling, the Spanish Embassy secured a space at the Las Carolinas (theater), in Old Havana, but the technicians wanted a bonus to stage it.

This kind of payment is a standard practice when they see you’ve got foreign financing. If you don’t pay it, you pay the price I did: they sabotaged the show. It was a horrible experience because the audience came in ahead of time, because there were no doormen, among other very unpleasant incidents. For practical reasons I could not continue at the Teatro Kairós at that time. I had no money to support it, and I accepted other offers to work in cinema.

How did the play Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People) come about. Was it your return to an openly critical and practically solo theater?

The theater director Adonis Milan found out that I had shouted “¡Viva Cuba libre!” at a show where that was not in the script. He told me that he wanted to work with me, and he showed me Charlotte Corday, by Nara Mansur.

When I saw that work, so timid, I felt that I couldn’t do it. “Cuban theatre cannot continue to bite its tongue. It must make a commitment to the era in which we live.” I expressed to him that I would rewrite the text to see how it turned out, and so was born The Enemies of the People, where the main reason why Charlotte Corday [who murdered Jean-Paul Marat during the French Revolution] wants to kill Fidel Castro is because the crime of the March 13 Tugboat has gone unpunished.

And, as the cause of Castro’s death was never announced, I thought I could invent a murderer and, more than Charlotte Corday, it is history that does justice.

I feel like this work was not my choice, but that it chose me, because of the emotional impact I felt when I saw the images and accounts of the survivors of that crime.

Although I had second thoughts, because of the consequences it could mean for me, I felt it was my duty to do it. From that moment on, the feeling of freedom that I have felt makes up for possible losses.

What projects are you currently working on?

For some time now I’ve been writing a series of monologues that I have titled Patriotism 3.677, inspired by the anthology Spoon Rivers, by the American poet Edgar Lee Masters. This work is a discussion about the political situation and the future of Cuba, in which five people talk about freedom, democracy and change.

The Kairós Theatre is shaping up and wants to do political theater, in which the tyranny under which we live is directly criticized. It is a theater of resistance because, as everyone knows, all the other theaters belong to the Government. We have managed to perform The Enemies of the People six more times at private homes. Each stage, because it is different, makes every show unique.

I have also been working for the last six years as an actress, co-writer and producer on the science fiction feature film Corazón Azul, by Miguel Coyula. Shooting this film is like travelling, in terms of time and intensity. Working with Coyula, due to how long it takes to complete his films, becomes a life experience. He is a director who works in an artisanal way, and we were brought together by my conception of theater, with a small team, and independently.

This is related to the part behind the cameras. As an actress I like stylized cinema and, since there is not much of it in Cuba, where more realistic films are made, working with him is a real treat.

In Corazón Azul I play Helena, a mysterious woman who has been part of a genetic experiment carried out by Fidel Castro to create the new man. She is a kind of Helen of Troy, and triggers the main conflict in the movie. We have completed 50 minutes, adjusting to the actors’ time, as the budget does not allow for a traditional production.

Note: This translation is from Diario de Cuba’s English site

“They’re Using You”

The creators of the play Enemies of the People denounce that State Security called the piece “subversive” without knowing anything about it. (@liavillares)

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 5 February 2018 — I recently read Tania Bruguera’s statements about an artist’s rights. One of them referred to the artist’s right to dissent.

Within an authoritarian system, the artist begins to live a double dissidence, first in art, then in society.

Having your own voice is always grounds for suspicion among members of your artistic community, but when it’s the Government who has the last world with regard to a phenomenon which only concerns art, like deciding who is a revolutionary and who isn’t, then this does put us in a delicate position. continue reading

The two times I invited my closest colleagues to the alternative venue: “Casa Galería El Círculo,” (led by artists and activists Luis Trapaga and Lia Villares), some have told me: “I don’t go to those places.” Others have just respond with silence or stop calling you. And if worst comes to the worst, they repudiate you.

There were actors, theater directors and filmmakers among those I had invited to watch my play “Enemies of the People.”

After the scandal (produced by the presence of State Security forces and police at the home/gallery’s doors, saying that it was a counter-revolutionary play), an actor I had invited, who ironically also makes theater at his home, called me to say that: “He felt used by me.”

He was quite frankly terrified when he saw himself in a video that the house’s owners and a journalist had decided to film, as their only form of defense and way to denounce this injustice.

Plus, this actor is someone who has strong opinions about Cuban reality, who I had always had an open and straight-to-the-point dialogue with before the event. I even told him that something similar had happened at this same place when the documentary Nadie was scheduled to be screened, which the creator, filmmaker and theater director Miguel Coyula, couldn’t even attend.

Even so, he had a scornful attitude towards me: “I feel used.”

What do these words mean in our context? If a lie is repeated enough times, it becomes the truth. Fidel Castro transformed the Cuban people into an army, whose soldiers didn’t fight against an enemy, but fight each other instead, while he took all of the glory.

The subtext that lies between the lines of this phrase: “They’re using you” is “Let me be the only one to use you.” Thus, artists who are condemning or approving slander campaigns against their colleagues, who are being persecuted for defending the right to make political art, become pawns in a game of established power which isn’t only being played by arts institutions, but by the Cuban government itself.

“Enemies of the People” deals with an event that continues to go unpunished today: the sinking of the 13 de marzo tugboat on July 13, 1994.

Back then, Castro condemned the US Government instead of the captains of the attacking boats (encouraged by him even?), the real ones responsible for the genocidal event which caused half of those on board to die from drowning, including children. However, survivors’ testimonies are pristine proof of the event.

However, Article 3 of the Cuban Constitution states: “In the Republic of Cuba, the sovereignty resides in the people, from whom all of the power of the State emanates….” it goes on to say: “All citizens have the right to fight, using all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution”… and ends by saying: “Cuba shall never return to capitalism.”

This explains why the people responsible for the sinking were labeled “heroes” and haven’t been sentenced to this very day. We mustn’t forget that the brains behind this system were the brains of a lawyer.

Note: English translation from the Havana Times which also published the original in Spanish.

Cuban Police Detain El Círculo Gallery Artists Villares and Trapaga for 24 Hours

The authorities informed Lia Villares and Luis Trápaga that they are “in the middle of an investigative process.” (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 February 2018 — A police search of Havana’s independent El Círculo Gallery, managed by the activist Lía Villares and the painter Luis Trápaga, ended with the seizure of computers, cameras and video cameras, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones.

The authorities informed Villares and Trápaga, the owner of the house where the gallery is located, that they are “in the middle of an investigative process,” the activist and blogger told 14ymedio, after being released on Saturday night.

Officers of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), State Security agents and two witnesses from the neighborhood, as required by law, participated in the search. They all entered the house showing a search warrant. continue reading

“They did not allow me be present, only Luis, they had me the whole time and I could not see what was happening,” says Villares. “I sensed the flashes of the photos that they took as they went were room by room, from the kitchen to the terrace.”

The search of the four room house began at 10:00 in the morning and ended after 3:00 in the afternoon.

“They took at least six hard drives, which have all my work from over the last ten years and the most recent material for a documentary I’m doing called Free Art vs. Totalitarian Censorship,” laments Villares.

On the drives are the interviews that the activist has done with several censored artists. The officers also took the printer, three laptops, several compact discs, USB memories and two new phones.

Luis Trápaga says that at the end of the search he was given a copy of the list of confiscated objects that he signed. Both activists insist that they will demand justice for all the equipment to be returned.

At the end of last year the El Círculo gallery experienced several episodes of censorship by the PNR and State Security for the activities it organizes. In some cases, the authorities prevented the guests from entering and at other times arrested the artists themselves.

According to the testimony of Villares, the people participating in the search were the same ones who have carried out the repression against the plays of Lynn Cruz and Adonis Milan.

“There were all those who appear in the videos, there is a lieutenant colonel who sounds familiar to me of the case against El Sexto (graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado) and Lieutenant Colonel Kenia María Morales Larrea, who seemed to be in charge of the operation,” she says.

The activist also remembers other officers like Captain Efrein. An officer who calls himself Luis Miguel took a statement about the origin of the equipment, printed matter and stickers.

Villares was also questioned about her links with the distribution of stickers and documents about the Cuba Decides campaign, which promotes the holding of a plebiscite in Cuba to change the political system of the island.

At first after the search, Villares was taken to the 21st and C Police Station, in Vedado, and Trápaga was taken to the Zapata and C station. On Friday night she was transferred to another station in San Miguel del Padrón.

Villares was released a little before 8 o’clock on Saturday night and Trápaga a few minutes later. “They spent all their time asking me where I had gotten everything from and what I was going to do with the Cuba Decide pamphlets,” says Villares.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

My First Encounter with State Security

The only performance of ‘Hamlet Machine’ in Santiago de Cuba. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Adonis Milán, Havana, 6 December 2017 — For the past two years I have been directing an independent group called Persephone Theater. We recently premiered the play Hamlet Machine, by the German author Heiner Müller, with a staging that shows the overwhelming parallelism between the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and present-day Cuba.

I traveled with this work to the province of Santiago de Cuba to give performances on November 24 and 25. When I arrived, I received a phone call from a compañero in State Security asking me if I had received a police summons. I explained that I am out of Havana and he said he would call me as soon as I return.

On the day of the first performance in Santiago, a jury of censors belonging to the Provincial Council of Performing Arts and Party cadres from that province were waiting for me in the theater. They demanded to see the work before it was shown to the public. continue reading

After countless technical setbacks to staging the performance for the censorship commission, they finally decided to let the performances go forward but said: “This is a very difficult week since it commemorates the death of the Comandante (Fidel Castro) and anything could be misinterpreted or taken as a offense to his memory.”

Despite how draining this situation was for the actor and the technicians, the performance went on as planned that night. However, the work was suspended by State Security the following day: it was November 25, the date on which Fidel Castro died.

On returning to Havana, I learned that the repression had also touched the capital. Those in charge of the Museum of Dissidence, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Yanelys Núñez, were arbitrarily arrested and threatened. The police entered the house-galleryof the artists Luis Trápaga and Lia Villares where they planned to present The Enemies of the People, directed by the film director Miguel Coyula and written by the actress Lynn Cruz. In addition, they questioned artist-activist Tania Bruguera and her guests who were conducting the second stage of the Behavior Art Workshop.

On my second day in Havana, the Sate Security compañero calls me again, this time on my home phone. He summons me for a meeting at 5:00 in the afternoon at the police station on Cuba and Chacón, in Old Havana. Arriving at the station I am received by a boy in his mid-twenties, handsome and even kind, I could hardly believe it, I was expecting a troglodyte.

He leads me to the second floor of the station, an empty, cold and chilling place, nothing like the downstairs crowded with police, people and posters of the Revolution on the walls.

We entered a computer room where he introduced me to Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Muñoz, a middle-aged man. Then we go to the back of the room where there is a small office. I have to empty my pockets and remove my phone so I can not record the interrogation.

They want to know my relationships with other censored artists, warn me that Luis Manuel Otero, Yanelys Nunez, Lynn Cruz, Miguel Coyula, Lia Villares and Tania Bruguera are counterrevolutionaries, and that any link with them or their spaces would bring me problems. They warn me that my interests and needs as an artist are in danger because I see myself with these people disaffected with the Revolution.

The fundamental reason behind the citation was that a week before I spontaneously distributed a promotion for Cuba Decides at the press conference for the Biennial00, an independent event organized by the artist Luis Manuel Otero. They added the word “counterrevolution” again to describe the Cuba Decides campaign led by Rosa María Payá, whom they accused of being a “mercenary.” The whole time they tried to tear down the people who oppose the Castro regime, even demeaning the work of the opposition artists with ridicule.

The youngest of the State Security agents tells me that he had attended one of the performances of my work Hamlet Machine, that’s why his face was so familiar to me. Since when is State Security following me? They had done research among my neighbors, checked my Facebook wall and even had my phones tapped.

At the beginning of the interrogation I had shown myself before them, making jokes so as not to feel intimidated. After a few hours, all my defense mechanisms were dismantled. The fear arrived, the fatigue of revisiting the same subject, and apathy in the face of what I was hearing. All my energy collapsed.

In the end, what they wanted was for me to work for the Department of State Security (DSE) as an informant, to give them information about the censored artists with whom I relate, especially about Tania Bruguera. They wanted me to inquire about their sources of economic support because they said that someone abroad produced these dissident activities, a head that united the artists, activists and opponents against the Castro government.

If I complied with their request to be a chivato (snitch), and they would provide benefits for my theater group and they would give me a project within the National Council of Performing Arts (CNAE), where I would have a staff of actors and later an official headquarters.

They asked me to sign a document in which I committed to work for State Security. I asked that I be allowed to read the document, to which the lieutenant colonel replied “If you read it, you sign it.” Since the theater runs through my blood, I think of the most naive idea of all, to pass as a double agent and provide false information to State Security. I was playing in a scene that had nothing to do with fiction.

Finally, they take out the document, in which the heading, “Juramento” (Oath) is written in large letters, a word that made me back down. But it was too late or at least that’s how they made me feel. They had to change the paper, since the first one was stained with ink because my hands would not stop sweating because of nerves. I filled in the form, in which they asked me for for personal information and later I signed it.

Then the lieutenant colonel tells me that he is the one who attends the Book Institute and the other colleague would soon start attending the CNAE (Naitonal Theater Arts Council). They express their disagreement with the work Departures and with its director, Nelda Castillo, and ask me if I have any kind of link with her. They say that they will give me a kind of course where I would learn how to get information from people and they want me to tell them what plays have ideological problems. So the repression is beyond whether you are an independent artist or an artist who works for within an institution.

They say goodbye to me with an affectionate handshake, as if to let me know that I am part of them. Before leaving, they let me know that what we are talking about can not be communicated even to my pillow and they urge me to do theater that has nothing to do with politics. The interrogation lasted about four hours.

As soon as I am out in the street I think about everything. I see that playing double agent is not child’s play and how dangerous it can be. Of course working as a chivatón for Security goes against my principles, although they believe that being an artist, young and gay, I would be easy to manipulate. They were wrong. Because I would never betray my faith, devotion and respect towards art and artists.

We artists are and will be the true revolutionaries, we place our trust on a revolution of thought and work. We believe in freedom and respect for individuality, we believe in true democracy. We have faith in the change to come.

A few days ago, after telling all this to my friend the actress Lynn Cruz, she sent me this text message: “Adonis dear. Nobody remembers who governed in Spain when Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, but everyone knows who Don Quixote is. Governments happen but art is forever. Judas believed that betraying Christ was the thing of a single day, and you see what happened. These are moments of definitions, create, write, do work, defend your theater, resist like Carlos Celdrán, Carlos Díaz, Nelda Castillo. They all started in the rooms of their homes. The force is not in the body, but in the wonder of the minds. Live art forever! I love you so much. Work for yourself and your art.”

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban State Security Blockades a Play in El Círculo Gallery (Updated)

The creators of the play Enemies of the People denounce that State Security called the piece “subversive” without knowing anything about it. (@liavillares)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 November 2017 – Cuban State Security managed to limit attendance to just two people to last night’s premiere play The Enemies of the People. The police cordon set up around the El Círculo gallery in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, where the play was going to be performed, worked as a method of pressure to intimidate would-be audience members.

Activist Lía Villares, owner of the house that that provides the premises for the theater, related via twitter what happened when members of the political police were stationed in the vicinity of the Villares’s house and pressured the numerous guests to not enter. “Everything that happened yesterday in the presence of witnesses and neighbors demonstrates the agonizing situation of cultural rights and freedom of expression in Cuba,” denounced Villares. continue reading

Despite the pressures, the activist said that actress “Lynn Cruz could not have given a better performance.”

The work, interpreted by Cruz and directed by filmmaker Miguel Coyula, offers “a timely vision of Cuban society subjected to a dictatorship,” explain its organizers.

Cruz reincarnates Charlotte Corday, a famous character of the French Revolution and who murdered Jean-Paul Marat. On this occasion, however, instead of Marat, Fidel Castro is the target of her action.

In her Twitter account Lia Villares said that the staging “almost starred the henchmen of Section 21,” the Department of State Security that deals with surveillance against opponents. “They did not allow anyone to enter” the El Círculo Gallery, lamented the activist.

The piece also has an incognito character, played by the musician Gorki Águila who delivers an emotional reading of the list of names of the 41 victims of the 13 Tugboat 13 de Marzo, sunk in July 1994 by four official boats that used water cannons to attack the boat on which the victims were trying to flee the country.

The seats were empty and photographed to denounce the absence of the audience who felt pressured and left without seeing the work. (14ymedio)

Those killed in the tugboat incident were between the ages of 6 months and 50 years. After a week in which the official media silenced what happened, Fidel Castro described the performance of the crews of the boats that attacked the tugboat as a “truly patriotic effort.”

The independent El Círculo gallery is a frequent target of police operations. Last April, a large deployment of troops prevented the public from attending the screening of the documentary Nadie (Nobody) directed by Coyula, which presents the life of the poet Rafael Alcides, censored in the official publications.

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The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

Cuban State Security and Police Prevent Screening of Independent Film in Havana

Actress Lynn Cruz in a scene from ‘Nadie’ (Nobody)

Statement from Miguel Coyula and Lynn Cruz

15 April 2017, 8:00 PM, Havana: Cuban State Security and Police blocked the street leading to the Gallery El Circulo in Havana in order to prevent the audience from attending the screening of Miguel Coyula’s independent film Nadie, which depicts  the story of the Cuban Revolution through the eyes of Cuban Poet Rafael Alcides. On January 29th the film won the Best Documentary award during its world Premiere at the Global Film Festival in Santo Domingo.

We were asked for our IDs, then crossed checked them with a list they had and proceeded to tell us we were not allowed to enter the block. We asked for the reason and they said it was confidential.

Later we found that over 40 people were turned back as well. We denounce censorship in its full scale, as it is the role of artists to create, exhibit and defend their creation.  It’s important for any independent filmmaker to express not only on the screen, but also in life, since life inevitably is reflected in art.

/signed/

Miguel Coyula (director) and Lynn Cruz (actress)

Miguel Coyula

State Security Prevents Screening Of Miguel Coyula’s Documentary ‘Nadie’

Note: The video above is not subtitled but the excerpts from Nadie here are subtitled.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 16 April 2017 – Cuba’s State Security and the National Revolutionary Police surrounded the independent gallery El Círculo to prevent this Saturday’s screening of the documentary Nadie (Nobody), directed by Miguel Coyula and featuring the censored poet and writer Rafael Alcides.

The filmmaker and his wife, actress Lynn Cruz, were intercepted by police at the corner of 13th and 10th Streets in Havana’s Vedado district. Starting several hours earlier the agents had closed the street to vehicles and pedestrians, according to a statement made from the location to 14ymedio.

Cruz and Coyula point out that without any reason and with “only a vague argument” the operation was carried out in the area, and the police asked for their IDs and didn’t let them pass. Only “four Spanish diplomats” managed to reach the gallery, according to Lia Villares, curator of El Circulo. continue reading

On 29 January Nadie received the Award for the Best Documentary during its international premier in the Dominican Global Film Festival.

“A group of uniformed men and others in civilian clothes advanced toward us. One of them took out a piece of paper with a list and compared our names with those written there”

“A group of uniformed men and others in civilian clothes advanced toward us. One of them took out a piece of paper with a list and compared our names with those written there,” said Coyula and Cruz describing the moment when the police blocked their access to the site where the documentary was going to be shown.

Cruz also denounced that State Security warned several of the invited guests that the operation was being carried out to “save” them from the “counterrevolutionaries” who had “deceptively” issued invitations to the screening.

“As authors of the work, we denounce the censorship that the government exercises because this time it went beyond the institution,” said Coyula.

“Art is also about the citizen’s right to share and discuss a film. Intellectuals and artists need to take a firm stand and defend their right to perform and display critical works, without compromise, because the attitude that that they take in life ends us being reflected in their work,” he added, speaking to 14ymedio.

Screen shot of the documentary Nadie with Rafael Alcides.

Following the police deployment that prevented access to the gallery, the filmmaker invited several friends to his home where he projected the documentary. Among the guests was Michel Matos, director of Matraka Productions, who is strongly criticized by officialdom.

The Círculo had also announced a Saturday screening of Carlos Lechuga’s film, Santa and Andrés, but the film’s producer, Claudia Calviño, refused to allow the projection and called the gesture an “illegality” saying “this and other activities are outside the traditional marketing framework.”

Lía Villares circulated an email on Sunday in which she defined the “political” character of the gallery that seeks to “promote a culture that continues to be censored despite international awareness and witnesses.” The activist also points out that it is in Cuba that artists have “a moral responsibility to the present and future.”